Impact of Google's 'Pigeon' Update

In July 2015, Google released an unnamed update to it's algorithms. Soon after, it was nicknamed the 'Pigeon' update. It was intended to tie local search results more closely to traditional rankings and improve geo-targeting.

A poll by Bright Local revealed that the majority of SEO practitioners thought that the update had been good for businesses and consumers alike.

Source: Bright Local

Source: Bright Local

Analytics for one of our education clients in Saudi Arabia showed significant benefits from the increased visibility of local results as the Pigeon update rolled out into their territory.

There was a 62.72 percent increase in organic traffic between 2014 and 2015. Here you can see the spikes in traffic volume coinciding with the update as it rolled-out in the region.

Diving deeper into the data, we can see the impact on organic traffic from Saudi and other countries in the region.

Source: Proctors analytics for Saudi client in the education sector.

Source: Proctors analytics for Saudi client in the education sector.

Google Judges Financial Websites Differently

While looking for information surrounding Google’s recent quality update, I stumbled upon this article from that explains how Google holds the quality of content on websites related to financial matters to a much higher standard than other topics.

The article reports on a copy of Google’s ‘Page Quality Rating Guidelines’ leaked in 2013, which advises it's Search Quality Raters (Google's human assessors) to hold websites that advise in financial matters, or health issues (dubbed 'Your Money or Your Life' pages), to a higher standard. 

The document states:

"There are some pages for which PQ is particularly important. We call these pages Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages. They are pages that can have an impact on your current or future well being (physical, financial, safety, etc.). YMYL pages should come from reputable websites and the content should be created with a high level of expertise and authority.”

SearchEngineLand report that the document then lists five examples of Your Money or Your Life pages:

  • Pages that solicit personal information, such as personal identification numbers, bank account numbers, drivers license numbers, etc., which could be used for identify theft.
  • Pages used for monetary transactions, on which users might give their credit account or bank account information; for example any page that allows you to buy something.
  • Pages that offer medical or health information that could impact your physical well being.
  • Pages offering advice on major life decisions, such as pages on parenting, purchasing a home, a vehicle, etc.
  • Pages offering advice on major life issues that could impact your future happiness and finances, such as pages giving legal or financial advice.

The lesson here is that to remember that Google is not only assessing your website from the perspective of an automated algorithm, but is also accounting for the human element - it is considering the reliability of your content, placing integrity, honesty and intent alongside keywords, social shares and inbound links.


Google's Phantom Quality Update

You may have known of the ‘mobilegeddon’ update to Google’s algorithm that rolled out in April, but there was another unannounced update on or around May 3rd 2015 that has refined how Google scores the ‘quality’ of on-site content.

This update has had a broad impact, and some business has seen organic traffic plummet as a result, but - as usual - Google hasn’t revealed any specifics about what exactly has been changed.

While Google does not supply specific technical details about what makes web content 'quality'  it does provide guidance as to the type of content they are looking to provide to users, you can read how Google defines 'quality' here.

You can read more about the Phantom update and what it means over at SearchEngineLand

Thankfully, none of our clients appear to have suffered as a result of the change. In fact, we appear to have have seen a boost in organic traffic from a couple of properties. It's too early to say for sure, however, and  this is something we will be keeping an eye on in the coming months.

Google's 'Mobilegeddon' Update

In April of this year, Google rolled out a significant update to its search algorithm, designed to increase the ranking of websites that are optimised for mobile devices. 

Dubbed 'Mobilegeddon' by SEO specialists, Google reported a 4.7% increase in mobile optimised sites through the months of March and April, as many businesses scrambled to prepare for the change.

Early results from the update have started to trickle through, with some interesting analysis coming from the team at

To find out more about Mobilegeddon, take a look at this update from Google

To check if your website is optimised for mobile, check out Google's mobile friendly tool here 


Google's Panda Still Rolling Out

A further update to Penguin is also on it's way, although no-one is sure when this will happen.

Google hasn't launched a new update, it's still rolling out the last one apparently. Whilst Google don't usually discuss or confirm their updates, Pierre Far did update the market via Google+

"Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice. "


The Importance of Internal Linking and Hub-Pages for SEO

This is a really useful article from eConsultancy, highlighting the need to structure web pages to link through a hub/landing page, in order to concentrate search terms around a single page.

It uses the world cup as a case study to show how the Guardian got 1st page positions for the term, whilst the Mail came nowhere. The reason? The Mail kept adding pages in an ad-hoc fashion, so Google got confused as to which page it should prioritise for the term. In effect, whilst the Mail created lots of content, it canibalised itself by not linking all of the related content to one main hub page.

The case study is in-depth and features lots of data and graphs.

Read the article here