Google Pigeon Update Hits the UK  - First Test Reveals Wacky Results for Local Searches
23rd Dec 2014

Google Pigeon Update Hits the UK - First Test Reveals Wacky Results for Local Searches

Five months after launching in the US, Google's Pigeon update has reached the UK, but our first test shows some wacky local search results.

Flashback to July 2014

Back in July we wrote about Google’s Pigeon algorithm update; we optimistically predicted that following its launch in the US, it would roll out to the UK within a matter of weeks. 

We were wrong. Google was inundated with a maelstrom of reports from US-based marketers telling them Pigeon wasn’t having the desired effect. That’s actually putting it mildly – the quality of some Local-Pack search results took a real nose-dive. Phrases like “completely haywire”, “major flux” and “no rhyme or reason” were bandied about.

Google held back on a global Pigeon launch, we presumed to iron out some anomalies in the algorithm.

December 2014 - Pigeon lands in the UK

Map of UKYesterday, 22nd December, Google finally confirmed that Pigeon had arrived in the UK (and also Canada, Australia and other English-speaking countries).

Having that extra five months to get it right must really have sorted things out, right? Well…not quite yet by the looks of things. More of that in just a moment.

The main point of Pigeon was to improve the quality of local searches for users. So if you live in Bristol, for example, and you need to get your mobile phone repaired, Google should give you a quality list of relevant repair services in the Bristol area.

On mobile devices especially, the Local Pack (a block of 3 or 7 results with map listings) is very prominent, appearing above organic search results and taking up a huge amount of real estate on smaller screens, so it’s important that Google gets this right.

We put Pigeon to the test

LocalPackWe gave Google the search query “mobile phone repair Bristol” this morning and here’s the [totally bonkers] result we got back in the Local Pack (click the image for a larger version).

Diving into that result in more detail, here's what those listings actually represent:

  1. We Care & Repair is a website that helps elderly and disabled people live independently and maintain their homes.
  2. PC Repairs Bristol is self-explanatory – it doesn’t list mobile phone repairs among its services.
  3. Motorcraft Ltd is a car body repair shop
  4. PC Dial A Fix offers various computer repair services but again, no mention of phones.
  5. Commercial Repairs Bristol is another vehicle body repair shop.
  6. G&D Smart Repairs – Car and body work again
  7. Laptop Repairs Bristol is a PC and Apple laptop repair company. No mention of mobile phones.

Not one single result in the local pack is remotely relevant to the original search for mobile phone repairs. Sites with the word “repair” in the Title tag or url seem to take precedence over a business which actually repairs mobile phones.

Way to go Google! After five months of tinkering Stateside, Pigeon scores 0 out of 7 in our very first test search in the UK!

We’re being harsh. It’s only Day 2 after the official roll-out in the UK. But the prospect of months of similar search result fluctuations to those experienced in the US the last few months is disappointing, both to internet marketers and to deserving local businesses whose websites lose traffic while the dust settles.

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