Not Another Google Animal!
Just in case you’ve been frozen or living in a cave for the last few years, you should know that SEO isn’t what it used to be after a series of Googlealgorithm updates named after animals.
The not-so cuddly Panda initially released into the wild in 2011 was designed to stop low quality content from outranking useful content by making its way into the top search results. Panda continues to receive updates, and by now you should know better than to mass produce bulk articles in an attempt to game the system.
Not too long after this, Google released a Penguin in 2012 that worked to penalize sites for spamming search results—specifically through shady link building practices.
In 2013, the graceful Hummingbird was released—named for the improvements in Google’s search platform to be “precise and fast”. With these changes, Google pays more attention to each individual word in a search query, rather than the entire phrase as a whole, to provide more accurate results. (This made it so pages that match the intended meaning behind a search phrase will rank better than exact matches based on a few words.)
The latest algorithm update took flight in July of 2014. Pigeon has affected rankings for local businesses based on US English search queries. The shortest explanation is that directories (like Yelp) are placed higher on the front page of search results than the local listings, it’s not exactly a negative impact either.
If you’re doing it right (marketing your website for people) and are a small business owner relying on local search to drive new customers to your business, then chances are high you’re also counting on reviews and directories (like Yelp) to attract new customers as well. A web presence is a web presence, and most industries have actually benefitted by the Pigeon update because it focuses even more on localization.