Google’s “Pigeon” Makes a Mess

This week a Google update to their Local Search Results has caused quite a flutter. The Google Pigeon update has had a very visible impact on local map rankings. Some businesses who weren’t provided with local results, such as ourselves in the SEO industry, suddenly have a “7 pack” of map results again, while industries like realtors find themselves with all of their local results completely removed from Google’s first page.


According to an article on Search Engine Land, Google has stated that they will not be making an announcement about this “Pigeon” update and that the name “Pigeon” was created because Google has not selected a name internally like they did in the past with Google Penguin or Panda. This may be because they wanted this to go under the radar, but I’m not sure how you can go under the radar when you’re impacting so many results.

So Who Is Affected?

We were the victims of Google Pigeon first hand as our tummies began to rumble and we typed “Buffalo Wild Wings” into Google’s search. We were searching in Google Chrome, with tracking turned on, and Google’s results showed us Buffalo Wild Wings locations near Buffalo New York (see photo) and not here in San Antonio.


One of my favorite places to eat, California Pizza Kitchen, is also having similar issues. We simply typed in “California Pizza Kitchen” and our results were showing us “pizza kitchens near California” as opposed to one of the three CPK locations here in SA.


Also very surprisingly – it looks like all Realtors who used to enjoy local results as a way to compete with the national brands like Zillow and Trulia, are no longer featured in a local “7-pack” at all. As you can see the first page is now dominated by national brands.


If California Pizza Kitchen isn’t your thing and you’re looking for New York Style Pizza, you’re sent straight to the source in New York City. You can see non-local results still realize that we’re in San Antonio, but the local map wants us to go on quite a trek for a slice and a coke.


Well Can I Panic Yet?!

Yes and no. The sad reality is that this change is going to impact the bottom line of many businesses who rely on local results to be seen at all. Especially small companies like realtors who normally have no way to compete with the Zillow’s of the world.

On the other hand, this change cannot be intentional and it is our instinct that Google will either roll back these borked search results, or resolve the issue where unintentionally excluded results will be restored and that local results will stop sending hungry patrons across the country for a pizza.

We’ll certainly keep you updated…