At the Deconstructing Pigeon Panel at SMX, David Mihm, Adam Dorfman and I shared a lot of data about the algorithm and how it had affected the local search engine results pages (SERPs). One thing we didn’t really discuss was why big multi-location brands may have been dinged.
Over the past few months, we have received reports that some big brands have lost 5-10% of their organic traffic post-Pigeon.
As we discussed during the panel, Google had told Search Engine Land that Pigeon focused on the following :
- Increased importance of “Web ranking signals” (aka “backlinks”)
- Increased focus on Location
- Increased emphasis on Knowledge Graph results
But perhaps the real insight discussed by the distinguished panelists was that Google had perhaps overdone it on its “brand” algorithm and it now was incorrectly interpreting a lot of queries as “brand” queries which was leading to a lot of spam.
For example, if you search [miami movers] you now get this spamtastic result (exact match domains, fake virtual addresses, etc.):
We think this is because Google is interpreting the query as a brand query. So if your brand/domain is “miamimovermoving.com” (rolls right off the tongue doesn’t it?), you are more likely to show up #1 in the pack results, effectively pushing legitimate brands down and/or out.
If we combine this “Brand” over-weighting with the “Location” factor, this may start to explain what’s going on.
The Location factor appears to have made “implicit” local queries display local results in narrower radii than previously. So if you search [hardware stores] and are located in Portland, instead of getting a Portland-wide set of results, you now are more likely to get a set of results that are only within 10-20 miles of your actual location.
Basically, …read more