What’s the New Google Pigeon Update all About?

If you want to know how hard it is to stay on top of all the Google updates, this is what we inbound marketing companies have to deal with:

  • 500 Google algorithm updates per year
  • 15-20 of them make the news
  • Even Matt Cutts, Google’s spokesman, makes mistakes when talking about the latest updates
  • These updates don’t always impact websites the way Google says they will, so we have to analyze the real results for clients

Google tends to pick animal names for its updates. Usually, they’re seemingly benign animals, with names like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

Google did release the “Pigeon” update, but SEO thought leader Search Engine Land coined the official name.

So What’s the Point of Pigeon?

The whole reason it’s been rolled out is to make local search results more useful and relevant. One concrete example of what’s happened is that the local search pack listings that look like this now appear much less often:

google_pigeon

This blog post at Link Assistant says Pigeon means Google now focuses more on traditional domain authority factors as ranking signals for local search listings. To put it simply, domain authority is made of:

  • The quality and frequency of content published on your website
  • The number of links pointing to your site, and the quality of the websites linking to you
  • Getting listed on authoritative local business directory sites like Angie’s List and others relevant to your niche
  • Positive customer reviews
  • Optimizing everything on your site with as natural of language as possible

What Should You Do to Make Pigeon Happy?

Really, Google’s not changing what you need to do to rank well. They’re doing exactly what they’ve said they would do all along.

When you think of authority websites in ideal terms, envision those websites that are household names like:

  • Time.com
  • Forbes.com
  • The Huffington Post

“But my site will never attract massive readerships like those!” is your first objection.

You’re right – it won’t. Only a few websites attract such massive audiences. But the point is, the more you aim to be like those niche-leading websites, the better off you’ll be in the search rankings in the long run.

Remember, most local and small businesses do not understand the importance of content. Most also don’t realize what an “awesome website” looks like in the eyes of Google and their users.

If you realize and acknowledge where your website is and where it needs to be, you’ll be ahead of 98% of all other local businesses.

For a nice example of a simple, but useful website, check out PaylessPower.com and their blog. They have 4 blogs per month, and a simple web design anyone can use.

Top 5 Benefits of PPC Advertising

You’ve seen those ads along the top and right of Google many, many times.  They’re called PPC ads, and in case your memory’s a little foggy, they look like this:

ppc

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, and it’s Google’s leading source of revenue, so you can rest assured it’ll be around for some time.

It is yet another marketing tool at your disposal.  It may or may not be right for you.

However, here are the benefits of PPC advertising, and then you can decide whether or not it makes sense for your business:

You Can Get Business Now

It can take anywhere from weeks to 6 months to a year (more likely 6-12 months) before you start seeing revenues come in from your inbound marketing efforts.  PPC, on the other hand, requires some research and administration, and then you’re ready to get started.  It depends on how fast the company providing the service is, but you can get the campaign started within a few days to a week after agreeing to have the service performed.

You Don’t Need a Massive Budget to Start, But…

It’s true, you can get started with a few hundred bucks and get those leads coming in right now.  However, you have to be careful because of Google’s Quality Score.  This score weights factors such as the quality of your landing page, and the relevancy of your ads and keywords to a person viewing your ad.  The higher the score, the less you pay per click.  The lower your score, the more you pay.

So, it’s important to get a nice ad and landing page set up so you can get those leads coming in, but you don’t want to go too fast, make mistakes, and cost yourself money.

You can Compete with the Big Dogs

…For at least some keywords anyway.  The cost per click for a keyword ranges from a few cents to over $70 for terms like “auto insurance quote.”  On the lower cost keywords, anyway, you can compete with industry leading corporations immediately, even if it’s just you sitting in your basement or apartment.

Increase Your Local Visibility

If you’re a local business, you can pre-qualify traffic based on location, which ensures you get the right people to your site immediately.  As people search on local terms, they’ll also see your ads, enhancing the image of your brand in your local area.

Keep Control of Your Budget

Even though costs can rise quickly if you’re not paying attention, it is possible to set a daily budget limit that you don’t exceed.  You get all the benefits of advertising locally, and you don’t have to worry about unexpected costs.

So Is PPC Right for You?

If you’re just getting started, it can be a big boost right from the get-go.  And if you’re already marketing online, it can be another great way to diversify your marketing efforts.

So just keep these benefits in mind, and consider whether they’re an appropriate fit for your business now or in the future.