Anytime Google changes their search engine algorithm you need to be ready to adapt. And while many Google updates haven’t affected most home improvement companies, Google’s latest update, Pigeon, went live at the end of July… and it’s had big consequences for lead generation in the home improvement industry.
Unlike previous updates, Pigeon is intended to increase the amount and the quality of local results that searches produce. Generally, this is a good thing! Google is actively trying to promote genuinely local results, as opposed to national organizations pretending to be local. The changes are subtle, so don’t expect sweeping differences, but as a local company trying to compete with national brands like Home Depot, Pigeon will almost certainly be beneficial to you.
The Pigeon update is significant in both immediate terms – and it theoretical terms. Immediately, Google is improving local searches and attempting to drive listings with higher quality. It’s factoring in details like location and the distance of businesses from the searcher in its search results. Google’s also looking to increase the profile of Google Maps, with local results receiving more of a focus on searches done within it as well. This is great for regionally-oriented home improvement web sites.
In theory, this is also a giant leap forward in Google’s thinking. In essence, Google wants to take the big, impersonal Internet and make it feel more like your community. While many of us in the local search community have scratched our heads over why Google hadn’t implemented something like Pigeon in the past, the head scratching is now over. Google is incorporating the “local” aspect of search in a much, much stronger way.
This is a blow to larger organizations, and a win for the little guy. In the online world, your biggest online competition comes from national brands like Home Depot and Lowe’s. Emphasizing local results will help you compete against the big companies – even while Home Depot probably has a location near you, Pigeon seems to deemphasize the local listings of national brands.
However, there are also indications that fewer search terms are producing local results – you need to put in a specific query in order to show up. The sites that are benefiting the most seem to be directories like Yelp, Urban Spoon, etc. – they’ve seen a considerable boost in traffic. While you should already be paying attention to directories that list your business, now’s a good time to further emphasize your performance on them.
The intricacies and impact of Pigeon are still being figured out, but any update that emphasizes local listings over national results should be good news for business owners looking to generate home improvement leads. The trick will be figuring out precisely how to take advantage of this new priority and get a leg up on your national competition.