There is a brand new Google local update and it is definitely getting some major attention from those in the local space in the US. Local pack results have been reduced dramatically, spam is being targeted and Google is trying to reduce the number of duplicate local listings on a single search results page.
Here is a run down of all the things we have seen changing.
Local Pack Results Drop 62%
7-Packs in the search results are clearly down significantly. MozCast is showing a major drop in the number of search results it tracks that no longer show 7-Pack.
We first saw the initial drop Thursday in MozCast. But the drop from Thursday to Friday has dropped by 62.1%. On Thursday pack was showing in 11.2% of search queries, dropping from 12.1% the day before. But if that dropped looked bad, it is even worse today. Today it is showing in only 4.2%.
For those not sure what 7-Pack is, it refers to the group of 7 listings shown with pins in the search results:
Some Local Markets Hit Harder with 7-Pack Removal
It seems to be market areas that tended to be hit more by spammers that have seen the 7-Pack reduction. On the Local Search Forum, some of the local searches others track include “DUI lawyer” and realtor/realty/real estate that all saw their pack results drop off. But it clearly shows that even more local search marketers are going to discover their packs gone today as well.
One interesting thing is that while MozCast is showing a huge drop off in pack, 51 Blocks Local Search Weather has been holding steady at 44 degrees for a week now.
Local Carousels Dropping
Local carousels were also hit, with a drop of 14.7%. However, because they are in such a low number of search results now, it might not be noticeable as it dropped from 1.2% to 1%.
Here is an example of what local carousels look like:
Duplicate Listings Between Local and Regular Search
Google seems to be tackling the issue of duplicate content between local search results and the regular organic search results, which is connected to their push to tie local and web search signals closer together. While some businesses might have had two listings on the page – one in pack and one regular result, they seem to be trying to consolidate the multiple listings so only one will show on a page. So a local business who had two results previously will likely only have one result – either in the pack or the regular search results. While this will hurt those benefiting from the double listings, it will help those who were struggling to get into pack or the top 10 but were thwarted by several duplicate listings.
Tighter Geo-Location (Search Radius)
Google also seems to be tightening geo-location (search radius) quite a bit, something that they have also been trying to do with mobile search. Pack seems to be favoring locations closest to the searcher or the locale searched for, rather than top listings for an entire listing. This seems targeted directly to the benefit of a searcher and to make a better search experience. If someone is searching for a grocery store for example, they likely want the location closest to them, not one located 25 minutes across town when there are numerous ones located closer.
Spam seemed to have been hit particularly hard, but others noticed that new spammy sites are taking their place. And some of the spammier market areas seem to be still suffering from a spam issue, although it remains to be seen today if they are the same sites or just different ones using newer spam techniques taking their places.
It seems this update is only targeting US local searches and traffic, and the MozCast data is US local searches from a US IP. Outside the US, local search results aren’t showing any changes in multiple countries including Canada, the UK and the Netherlands. Currently, searches done on Google.ca or from a Canadian IP show pre-update results, however Google could just be rolling this out slowly and it hasn’t rolled out internationally yet. But I currently see 7-packs for keywords such as “[US city] real estate” etc.
I have reached out to Google for comment and will update this post with any new information.
Update: Google has confirmed the new local algo update is “starting out for English results in the US initially.” They do not have specific percentage to share around affected sites. They do not have a timeline for when the algo might target local search outside of the US.
Update July 26: The local pack has dropped by another 42% over the past day and is now down to just 2.5% according to MozCast. Search Engine Land is now referring to it as the Pigeon update.
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