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As you may know, Google is the largest search engine, moving about 73% of all the world’s internet searches. I looked up a statistic that says Google processes 40,000 searches per second, which translates to 3.5 billion searches per day.

google-pigeon-update-SEOWhen your site has strong search engine optimization, it appears high in Google’s search engine listings, which often results in more visitors to your website. Among those who invest in search engine optimization (SEO), the goal is to get their website listed in one of the top spots on the first page for their search terms.

In the past, this was much easier to do than it is now- and, in fact, Google constantly tweaks and adjusts their search engine algorithms, which they say is a way of providing even more relevant search results. (Personally, I think it also has something to do with whatever generates them more advertising revenue, but that’s a topic for another post.)

In any case, each time Google updates their search engine algorithm, it causes a tremor in the SEO community. Their past three updates- Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, were all named for animals.

There is a running “joke” in SEO circles about Google’s animal updates. I say “joke” because most of these updates are not really funny, but those of us who offer SEO services still try to find something to laugh about.

Google’s latest animal update (so called because they name the updates for animals) is Google Pigeon. In this case, Pigeon was the name given by, as Google did not name this update themselves. Google Pigeon began rolling out in late July 2014 and appears to be aimed mostly at adjusting local search engine results, and directed towards queries made in English in the United States. The ‘official’ word is that local sites will now be weighted on the same ranking factors as other sites, which means that social signals and inbound links from reputable sources will become increasingly important.

Local directory sites (like Yelp and TripAdvisor) are becoming increasingly important in weighting and ranking of local search results.

Although the big directory sites have strong SEO and larger budgets, the smaller local business can still compete. The best ways to do this are by having targeted and relevant content on your site, seeking highly reputable inbound links, and encouraging your customers to leave reviews on Yelp or within TripAdvisor.

This way, you, as a small business, can harness some of the benefits for yourself.

Google’s updates take a while to roll out, and the impact of these changes takes a while to be felt and noted, but, while we wait for the dust to settle, it’s a smart plan to continue to build your business’ presence online with relevant content and customer reviews.

I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.