Has this pigeon cooked your goose?

Google has changed what appears on the map when you search

Google has recently changed how it decides which businesses appear on the map that often appears when you search. For some reason this has been unofficially referred to as the "pigeon update".

Despite the silly name, its effects could be devastating on any business that (unconsciously) depended upon appearing on the map to get enquiries, and beneficial to others.

Spend 1 minute going through the following to check how this might have affected you - good or bad.

Go into Google search, and search for whatever it is you do, eg "plumber" or "accountant", and see what appears on the search results. We are wanting to see whether a local map with lollipop markers and a list of relevant businesses appears. If not, try searching again, but this time including your location, eg "dentists Aberdeen" or "Aberdeen hotel".

  1. If there is no map, and there wasn't one before, then you are no worse off than you were before.
  2. If no such map appears, but you used to get one, then you have a problem. People who have attended my training courses will recall that this is a concern that I have expressed, and always suggested that a Plan B be put in place.
  3. If there is no map, then Google has decided that, for whatever reason, it would provide no value to someone searching. (It is possible, although unlikely, that Google simply doesn't have any information.)
  4. If there is a map, and you appeared on it before, and still do, then great. However, there is a random aspect that means that you cannot rely upon this to always be the case.
  5. If there is a map, and you appeared on it before, but no longer, then you should be concerned. Although this might be down to the random factor mentioned above, it is quite possible that you have been demoted, and might not appear again without making changes. If you used to get enquiries from your appearance, then these will stop.
  6. If there is a map, and you didn't appear on it before, but you do now, then great. This suggest that although you haven't been doing "bad" things, you haven't been very proactive either. However, you should now gain the enquiries that your competitors used to get.

If you fall into 1, 2 or 3 above, then there is probably not much that you can do directly. It is Google's prerogative as to which searches trigger the map, and indeed which businesses appear on it. You can only undertake alternative search marketing.

But what if there is a map? There are various things that you can do to both maintain and enhance your position. This is a very valuable spot on the search results, so you really do want to be there.

So what if you are affected? If you don't care about your website marketing, then it's not really an issue. However, you wouldn't have read this far, would you?

This is all part of local search, which is part of SEO (search engine optimisation), which in turn is part of online marketing.

If you have someone who looks after your web marketing, then you should not really be affected by the above changes. If you are.......

If you need help with the above, either to restore or maintain your position, or to implement some alternative strategies, please get in touch. Initiative2 is Aberdeen's specialist in this area. We've been getting more visitors since 2002.

By Kenneth Mackay, 12th August, 2013

This is one of a series of articles that deal with common issues when promoting your business online. We hope that you found it useful. Go to our online marketing tips to see previous pieces of advice. If there are any topics that you would like covered, please let us know.

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