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This week, Google released what SearchEngineLand.com is calling the “Pigeon” Update to their search algorithm.  The goal of this update is to provide more accurate results for local searches.   It does this by associating local results more closely with regular web search results, while also including improvements to the way distance and location ranking works.

What does all of this mean?   As with any update of this nature, the real results will become apparent over the next weeks and months.   But based on initial analysis, it appears that Yelp and other local directories are getting improved visibility.

Not everything is working as planned – Expedia, the travel website, was mistakenly listed as a Hotel, although the issue has since been fixed.   The lesson in this case is to make sure you are using proper categories, as Expedia was not.

For a more technical assessment of the changes, from a selection of leaders in the local search world, see  “Experts Weigh In On Google’s “Pigeon” Update Aimed At Improving Local Search Results”.

What does this mean for medical practices?

Given the increased visibility for directories, making sure you have a consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number on all your directory listings is more important than ever.   In addition, using correct categories is critical – and, use as many as you can (most directories allow five, and as long as you can find at least five that are relevant, you should use them all).   Finally, optimize these listings with photos and important details such as your hours.

Beyond that, we’ll be keeping an eye on the changes, and will report back here as we learn more.