Google recently released a major update to the local search algorithm. Referred to as the Google Pigeon update by industry leaders, this new update is aimed to provide more useful, accurate and relevant local search results.
While there are still quite a few ‘unknowns’ and questions coming out of this recent update, we wanted to share what the current thoughts and findings are in the SEO industry.
What We Know About The Pigeon Update
The update is impacting local businesses and their local search result rankings, specifically in relation to Google local listings that appear on page one. Some businesses will notice an increase or decrease in website referrals, site traffic, and/or ranking position because of this change.
According to SearchEngineLand.com (who officially named the update ‘Pigeon’), “the new local search algorithm ties deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search along with search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and more.” In short, Google is now focusing more on your website SEO and other ranking factors related to your website.
Google is also giving more authority to directory sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisior, UrbanSpoon and more. While this doesn’t affect therapists as much as it does local businesses, such as restaurants, it is important to note.
The new algorithm is currently only affecting US English search results, with no information as to when (or if) the update will affect other languages and/or countries.
So how does this update affect your private practice?
Because so much is still unknown about the new algorithm, we recommend not panicking if you see your ranking drop. Rather, focus on what can be done to increase your ranking organically — i.e. continue to grow your website to increase authority through blogging, adding pages and creating strong, relevant content.
Below are some simple tips to ensure your website is continuing to flourish in Google’s eyes.
Tips for the Pigeon Update:
1. Don’t Forget About Google
While this update has given more exposure to directory sites, don’t forget about Google. Google releases new updates and algorithms (500-600 times each year!), so really, anything could change at any time. Continue posting to your Google+ page, and sustaining your Google local listing. If you do not have a Google local listing for your private practice, or a Google+ business page, create one. If you need help with that, let us know.
2. Continue practicing good SEO strategies on your website
More than anything, this update has come to show that your domain authority and other SEO ranking factors are vital for gaining visibility in Google’s search results. Continue adding pages to your website through blogging, optimize all of your specialty pages, and make sure your website has the 5 ‘must have’ factors for an effective therapy website.
3. Optimize your pages for longer tail terms
Currently, terms that show up with a map associated in Google are short tail terms. Short tail terms are terms like ‘counseling,’ ‘counselor,’ or ‘psychotherapist.’ By optimizing your pages and blog posts for long tail terms, you will not be as affected (at this very moment) by the Pigeon update. Optimize your pages for terms like ‘depression treatment,’ ‘anxiety counselor,’ etc. These terms will not show up on a Google Map search.
4. Be patient
It seems like Google is still working out the kinks of this recent update and has not released any specific details regarding the changes. Continue practicing the habits we preach here at CounselingWise for a highly effective therapy website, and you should be fine.
Have you noticed any specific changes in your local ranking on Google?