Last month, Google released another major update in their US English search results, affecting the way local listings appear in search results. This update has been named “Pigeon” by Search Engine Land. It is aimed at significantly improving local search accuracy, relevance and usefulness, as well as how Google determines the searchers’ locations.
In the last two weeks local search experts have observed the effect of this update. In particular, it seems that major directories like Yelp have gained prominence in search results. This has had a negative impact on many small business local listings, pushing them down in the blended pack (a local search feature of search listings).
Many webmasters in the States have also noticed a reduced number of blended pack listings showing locations for searches with local intent. MOZ, a specialist inbound marketing agency in the US, has done a query study and determined the top ten winner and loser terms. As well, they have found that the rate by which local results have dropped is around 12.1%.
Another substantial feature of the update is that it ties the local search algorithm with the traditional search algorithm. This means that local search positions will be more dependent on the website’s domain authority, which is linked to the local business listing.
Why is this important to online marketers in the Middle East with local listings?
While this update has only rolled out in the US, there is no doubt that it will soon hit emerging markets as well. Businesses with local listings here in the MENA region need to be ready. Search visibility and traffic from local listings is likely to drop after the update and may need to be complemented temporarily with paid search traffic. In the long term, however, more emphasis needs to be placed on overall website optimization. Since domain authority will matter more, additional focus needs to be placed on improving the link profile of the connected site using quality and authoritative link acquisition.
If you are interested in improving your local SEO in the Middle East region, contact us to review your site and local presence and offer your business a customized solution.