Question. What changes, strategies do I need to make to my website to reflect the Pigeon Update that Google made? The 3 featured organic listing vs the 7 listings that used to show in the search results. I read on searchengineland.com that the City+keyword website pages were phased out in the Pigeon update. Will you be offering a course/class on the Pigeon Update?
I have some of my ~ pages done what changes should I make to these type of pages? if any, or do I need to lay off the coffee & keep doing what was in your course?
Okay, well don’t lay off the coffee! Everything I read says that coffee is actually good for you, although I actually prefer tea as a healthy drink.
Now, what do we really know? Let’s use coffee and tea as an example. There are blog posts that say coffee is good for you, there are blog posts that they coffee is bad for you, there are blog posts that say green tea is better than black tea, and on and on and on. On my list of pet peeves: the blogosphere. There is a ton of misinformation out there! Just because someone says in a blog that Pigeon is/was a big deal, doesn’t necessarily mean it really was.
SEO: A Testable Endeavor
One of the most wonderful things about search engine optimization is that it is a testable endeavor. Now, for example, there are many blog posts about the so-called pigeon update, as well as other local SEO updates that claim that Google is strongly penalizing local landing pages. Well, are they? Are they really? Are they for you, are they for me, are they for our clients? That’s a testable item – do your searches, and see how you rank. (I just tested them for an undisclosed client, and apologies to the blogosphere – Google loves these local landing pages, and they show up ALL OVER SEARCHES.
So the evidence is that local landing pages do work. What is a local landing page?
A local landing page, is simply a page this optimized around the city name plus a service that you offer. Now, the reality, if you test your results, is you will find that when done well, these sorts of pages actually show up very well in search. So point number one, is that a local landing page is still a good idea.
A little salt is good for the soup. Too much salt ruins the soup.
What I mean here is do not overdo this! Do not have 65 different landing pages for 65 different cities on your website, and do not have them all with nearly the same text! Obviously the Google crawler can easily detect that kind of going overboard about local city landing pages. However if you target perhaps 3 to 10 city landing pages, and you write each with unique and accurate content, and you make sure that they are all different from each other at some fundamental way, you’ll probably be fine. Google calls badly written local landing pages “doorway pages.” That’s their way of reiterating: WRITE QUALITY CONTENT that’s unique and has some value for the user.
So point number one, is that I’m still a fan of local landing pages within reason.
The pigeon update, and the panda update are really working to penalize low-quality content. So keep your quality up and you’ll be fine. (Even better, what Google considers good quality content in many industries is pretty simple. You do NOT have to run faster than the bear, only faster than your buddy. Look at your competitor websites, and just write A LITTLE BETTER than they do. It’s not that hard in most industries, because most websites are really terrible. So just be a little less terrible than your competitor.)
The other aspect that you allude to is the very recent change in the so-called snack pack seven listings to three listings. Google has dramatically reduced the presence of free Google local listings from seven free organic listings to just three. In addition, on the mobile phone it has crippled them so that they are call only. Many people, myself included, think that much of this change is to encourage more advertising. (Gasp! Google wants to sell more ads! Gasp! Google didn’t just change its logo to look friendly! Gasp! Google cares about money and tries to make us all advertise rather than get free organic placements! Oh my goodness, gasps the blogosphere).
Google has made it more difficult than ever to show in the local snack pack. Why? Because they want you to advertise.
They’ve upped the game; they’ve made it more important than ever to rank in the top THREE of the snack pack.
What’s the take away here? First and foremost, you have to get into the top local positions for short tail searches. How do you do this? The variables are as follows. First, make sure of course that you have claimed your Google plus local page, and optimized it, and done all the things I teach in the class on local SEO. Second, you need to get local reviews. Reviews are still paramount in terms of success: every customer review on Google is worth its weight in gold, no, platinum. So motivate your customers to give you reviews! If possible have each city location have its own Google plus local page with its own review opportunity. Third, you need inbound links. Links are still very important to the algorithm. Fourth, if possible, you need an active social media strategy with many post to these pages.
You want to think about your local SEO strategy as a combination of the local snack pack and traditional SEO targeting city-based searches. Your snack pack shows up on short tails, that lack the city name. Your traditional SEO shows up in short tail tales that include
Thanks for the great question!
Got a question? Click this link to email Jason or call 888-993-1122. Dr. Jason McDonald is founder and Senior SEO / Social Media Director of the JM Internet Group. He teaches the SEO training classes for the group, and therefore provides most of the SEO tips for this blog. His goal with this blog is to provide an easy 'one-stop shop' for the busy marketer looking for tips, tricks, and secrets on how to get to the top of Google and Bing for free using proven SEO tactics. When not dreaming up SEO tips, Dr. McDonald lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two dogs, a cat, four iguanas and twelve children (just kidding). Really you read down to the bio on this guy? Enjoy the blog.
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