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Last week I posted some theories on why Google’s Pigeon update may have hurt the local rankings for some big local brands. While we have seen a lot of positive rankings improvements for our local clients, we have also heard of some large multi-location brands that got hit with 5-10% traffic losses. My take was that the combination of overweighting of Google’s brand algorithm and the narrowing of the radius for many local queries could have pushed some of these big brands out of the local packs. Today James Robinson adds a new piece to the puzzle:

According to James:

“This came up in a call back we had with GMB support the other day. They were saying that big local brands have been slower to be upgraded to Google +, and there is a ranking benefit to being upgraded. So big brands (bulk managing their listings) are at a disadvantage based on that.”

Mike Blumenthal recently mentioned on his great Local U Forum that Google is upgrading the simplest cases first. This means that multi-location businesses that have a lot of complexity (e.g. multiple owners, lots of conflicting data, etc.) are going to be the last to be upgraded. Our advice to these businesses has been to sit tight. Those that try to delete their locations and start all over again, most likely increase the complexity and get sent to the back of the line.

So I suppose if in fact the upgrade does improve rankings, then they would be at a disadvantage and can’t do a thing about it. Now that’s some serious Pigeon crap.



  • Hermes  November 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I can confirm the above; I work on a multi-location big brand account (1k locations) that have seen a huge boost in rankings and impressions after the upgrade to G+; but it was a nightmare to upgrade.

    Impressions have doubled overnight and organic traffic to local store pages on the website increased as well.

  • Colleen  November 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I’ve seen a similar type of push towards weighting the Big Brand accounts. I had a page claimed, verified, showing on the Google map, fully optimized, active posting, all that jazz. Unknown to me, it was listed in a bulk account with a different phone (same company, I had just worked with the specific client to upgrade theirs earlier.) when Google updated the bulk account dashboard, it built second pages, moved the reviews over to that page, and made all the previous listings duplicates, and started showing these knew pages in the knowledge graph.

  • Brian Barwig  November 6, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Great read and article! Huge find by James as well.

    While I have had a theory about brands being knocked out of Pigeon, mine is a bit different than James. I dont think brands are necessarily being punished for not having an upgraded dashboard. The new dashboard makes it easy to have uniform NAP, verified profiles, added pics and categories. All of this information is easy to manage with 1 location. The amount of edits made on the location from outside users can be deterred quickly and easily.

    Im seen some big brands being updated now. With multiple locations, it would make sense that with the ease of the new dashboard and the new features, a rankings increase could occur due to uniform NAP information, verified profiles etc.

    Essentially, brands are being held back because their information is a mess and cant be corrected until the dashboard is upgraded, rather than there being a direct ranking boost because the dashboard gives it one. Does this make sense? Just my theory anyway…

  • Andrew Shotland
    Andrew Shotland  November 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

    There’s probably something to that Brian. Anything that cleans up the data should in theory have a positive effect.

    BTW just head from a Fortune 500 brand with thousands of locations that got upgraded last week but still cannot edit anything in the new dashboard. #doh!

  • Brian Barwig  November 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Any reason they can’t edit anything in the dashboard yet? Im seeing some companies still being upgraded and the reason they cant edit is either because the account isnt fully upgraded yet or there are “errors” on the listing.

    I’ll report back once our account is completely upgraded and the listings are cleaned up. I expect a nice jump in organic rankings/traffic.

  • Andrew Shotland
    Andrew Shotland  November 7, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I am guessing it’s because they haven’t been fully upgraded yet


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