The latest Pigeon algorithm update released on the July 24th, focuses on boosting local search rankings, rather than punishing low-quality content, as has been the case with previous algorithm updates.
Now, a business with a strong back-link profile and high page authority should naturally rank in the first few results pages of Google when searched. In my opinion, the aim of this update is to ensure that customers are provided with more relevant, useful, and accurate local search results. The Pigeon update currently only affects US English search results but it is expected to be released in other countries and languages in the coming months.
An interesting aspect of this update is that it will now give prominent local directories, (e.g. Yelp) a chance to gain more visibility in local search results, removing the pressure on them to constantly compete with “Google places” for locally listed businesses. With this in mind, now is a great time to start listing in local directories (e.g. gulesider.no in Norway), as well as maintaining a presence in Google places.
Following the launch of this update, industry specific directories will become increasingly important to SERPs for high-value keywords. For SEO purposes, this means carrying out citation building tasks on industry specific and relevant local directories. A brief discourse about local SEO citations can be found in this blog post.
In addition to the above, businesses can also take advantage of the local image carousel which appears for some Google search results.
This also contributes towards achieving a bigger digital footprint in local search results. Placing an attractive, relevant image along with up-to-date business details in your Google+ business profile will increase the likelihood of appearing in the image carousel and so increases the probability of achieving a high rank in the SERPs.