Linda Buquet

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<img src="http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/MapOopsSM.jpg" alt="MapOops" width="w5%" />​

I don't know if you guys have been following this story, but it's getting interesting and relates to our world since it may revolve around the Pigeon algo.

There have been several stories on this but in a nutshell if you searched maps using certain racial slurs like "nig*** house" maps would associate the White House and show you that result. Now at 1st in just skimming stories I thought it was another map prank but no.

According to Search Engine Land and with semi confirmation from Google in official post below, this was happening due to the Pigeon Algo. An extreme case of Pigeon Poop! (The Pigeon connection was raised by Danny Sullivan in the 2nd post below.)

So Google is planning to literally GOOGLE BOMB the Pigeon Algo?

Here's the important question: I wonder if this algo change Google refers to below is simply going to filter out those bad queries OR will it be a core algo shift in the way Google ranks based on scraping random information from the web.

OFFICIAL GOOGLE BLOG: (Bold by me)

<a href="http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2015/05/sorry-for-our-google-maps-search-mess-up.html">Google Lat Long: Sorry for our Google Maps search mess up</a>

This week, we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries. Like many of you, we were deeply upset by this issue, and we are fixing it now. We apologize this has taken some time to resolve, and want to share more about what we are doing to correct the problem.

At Google, we work hard to bring people the information they are looking for, including information about the physical world through Google Maps. Our ranking systems are designed to return results that match a person?s query. For Maps, this means using content about businesses and other public places from across the web. But this week, we heard about a failure in our system?loud and clear. Certain offensive search terms were triggering unexpected maps results, typically because people had used the offensive term in online discussions of the place. This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren?t looking for.

Our team has been working hard to fix this issue. Building upon a key algorithmic change we developed for Google Search, we?ve started to update our ranking system to address the majority of these searches?this will gradually roll out globally and we?ll continue to refine our systems over time. Simply put, you shouldn?t see these kinds of results in Google Maps, and we?re taking steps to make sure you don't.

Again, we sincerely apologize for the offense this has caused, and we will do better in the future.

So then here is the Search Engine Land post by Danny Sullivan that suggests this is Pigeon related:

<a href="http://searchengineland.com/googlebomb-fix-for-racist-maps-221466">Google To Implement Googlebomb Fix To Prevent Racist Listings In Google Maps</a>

Crowdsourcing The Web Goes Bad

As we explained yesterday, our assumption was that these weird, strange and offensive results were happening because Google was making use of content from across the web in attempt to better understand what places were relevant for. This is something it began to do as part of what was called its Pigeon Update last year.

With the Pigeon Update, Google sought to correct this. Imagine that some customer of the site wrote a blog post saying that the store was a great place to get skiing equipment. Google, seeing the business named in that post, might effectively add this information to the business listing, making it relevant for skiing equipment. To our understanding, there doesn?t even have to be a link to the business site or listing in Google Maps. Using a business name alone might be enough to create the connection.

That?s a simplified explanation, of course. But it helps explain how we then ended up with places showing up for racist terms. If people are mentioning places alongside racial slurs or derogatory language, Google?s Pigeon technology ? despite its good intentions ? is making those places relevant for those terms... It?s also a problem that?s probably been happening for weeks or months but only noticed now.

Click over to read the rest of the Danny's post. There is a lot more and it's very interesting!

I've written a ton about Pigeon and read probably every authoritative article about it. And tried to analyze it A LOT! OK so maybe I've been living under a rock or something. But I've never heard until now that Pigeon was at least partially based on pulling info from around the web and even sites like discussion sites.

So I'm having a bit of an ah-ha moment right now and wondering if this is why we saw so many Pigeon Poop results in the beginning? The algo was drawing from all over the web just based on Words associated with a business name. Is this possibly why we had that one-box problem where a business with a name totally different from the query would score a one-box. Prominence was assumed just based on those keywords being mentioned a lot in forums or whatever and the business name was also in the post?

Now also wonder if possibly some of the ranking puzzles we've had where a listing ranks on top for no apparent reason - maybe it's due to words across the web being mentioned in association with that business, enough times to give it a boost?

So again, the big question: I wonder if this algo change Google refers to above is simply going to filter out those bad queries OR if it will be a core algo shift in the way Google ranks based on scraping random info from the web?

What do you think???

Haha my Dragon still needs training. When I said "since it may revolve around the Pigeon algo"
Dragon typed: "prepolymer rezone the pitch in Elko". Grrr :eek:
<meta property="og:type" content="article"><meta property="og:title" content=""><meta property="og:description" content="">
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So is the Local Search algo called Pigeon? I guess I'm not following the reference because there are likely a bunch of algos t that drive Local Search for Maps. It seems that people toss Pigeon around when they're merely referencing a perceived change to the Local Search algo. I suspect different chnagrs have occurred in the interim. I'd like to call them Uncle Tom. Kidding aside, its quite apparent that they're going to better filter certain places and/or weight certain words based off given queries.
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Andrew.

Pigeon is the name for the most recent dramatic algo change that happened in July 14 and for the most part has been with us since. (Didn't hit overseas til a few months ago.)

But I agree there are a bunch of other algos at play and it's always changing.

However there was a complete and dramatic shift in July, so that's what the Pigeon reference is about. And when it 1st hit it was uncovering lots of old dead scraped bad listings, spam and bogus one-boxes - which is where the term Pigeon Poop came from. As they refined it, it got a little better. But it's still called the Pigeon algo.
 

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Linda Buquet

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Oh dear, missed those posts. Thanks for sharing Phil!

I know I'll be doing some algo analysis this weekend. Have not had time to study SERPS much lately, but seems like there is so much changing!
 

mborgelt

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This is really eye-opening to how Pigeon really works. I hope they can resolve the issue without influencing integrity of their searches. This makes me wonder if pervasive mentions of your business with completely unrelated terms can hurt rankings and if so to what degree? The answer could be alarming to those who spend lots of time and money on inbound marketing.
 
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Confirming what Phil is seeing.
I often do an incognito quick local search with location set to a particular city just to get a ballpark idea of Map Pack and Organic rankings, but today, I'm seeing weird little 2 and 3 Packs with businesses that aren't normally in the packs and the organic rankings are not showing listings for the location that I've set but instead are showing for my city (where I'm searching from). Weird.
Now if I do add a geo modifer, I'm seeing more typical results. Not sure what's happening.
 

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This makes a lot of sense I suppose.

I've heard a theory floated around for awhile in some circles, and some of them were more adamant about them than others, that Google looks at "citations".

Now, these aren't our normal citations we think of in local search (although the concepts are very similar). They're simply just mentions of a website, brand, name, etc. that are counted in much the same way that links are. When you think about it, it makes a ton of sense. Just because someone can't find the link code or neglects to doesn't mean the information is useless. This would explain Google's explanation of why the White House was ranking in that fashion.

Also, content around a backlink is important in terms of how well a backlink ranks. It makes sense that the content around a "citation", in the traditional ranking sense, would matter as well.

This is really eye-opening to how Pigeon really works. I hope they can resolve the issue without influencing integrity of their searches. This makes me wonder if pervasive mentions of your business with completely unrelated terms can hurt rankings and if so to what degree? The answer could be alarming to those who spend lots of time and money on inbound marketing.

I don't think that it could be used for negative SEO in the traditional sense. Negative SEO is used to derank people or cause them to lose rank. This could be used to rank people for undesirable terms. However, I doubt that would be an issue as a) Google is "bombing" it apparently and b) it would probably take a lot of time and effort to rank someone for an undesirable term only to have almost no one ever type that term in. If the fact a business ranked for that term got out it might be a PR nightmare but it would be a situation that could be traced more than likely back to a culprit, who would probably face federal charges. In summation, it's probably unlikely.

But I love where your head is at. Got to protect the clients!
 

Linda Buquet

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Damian from UBL just did a post at StreetFight about this and the other map hacking.

<a href="http://streetfightmag.com/2015/05/27/exploits-and-vulnerabilities-challenge-the-integrity-of-google-maps/">Exploits and Vulnerabilities Challenge the Integrity of Google Maps | Street Fight</a>
 
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