By now you've probably heard about Google's most recent algorithm update and if you are like many people, maybe you feel as though it's going to be another round of you making adjustments to your online marketing strategy. You most likely have heard some of the reasons why Google came up with Hummingbird, but have some questions about it.
Why does Google keep changing the algorithm?
That's actually a great question, why can't they just figure it out and stick with something? To answer this question, you have to go back to the very basics and put yourself in the seat of a search engine company. Remember, the most fundamental objectives for any search engine is to beat out the competition when it comes to relevancy. Google should, and does strive for excellence when it comes to delighting its customers by serving up exactly what they (we) ask for when using their tool.
Great, but you aren't answering my question!
Well, hang on now, we haven't addressed the other half of this equation: online businesses. As online businesses, we are all trying to figure out the best way to get the attention of Google so that our web pages are served up at the top of the list to those searching for our products and services. As such, we look for ways to optimize our strategies for search engines which sometimes leads to solutions that undermine Google's efforts.
As a simple example, recall when Google first arrived on the scene and focused primarily on keywords. This lead to unscrupulous site administrators stuffing their pages with the keywords they wanted to get found for in the hopes that the highest number of occurances would result in a top ranking for that keyword. To some extent that worked for awhile, up until the point that Google released a re-developed search algorithm that treated this as a black-hat activity. Many sites went from feast to famine overnight as a result.
So is Google no longer looking at keywords?
Google's Hummingbird release evolved partially to plug holes in the existing release, but mostly to respond better to the way people are using their mobile devices today. Know that recent mobile email research shows that smart phone usage comprises 47% of email opens, and 24% of all site visits are conducted on them, up from 13% in 2012. This is particularly important given the emergence of voice entry quickly becoming the foremost method of submitting a search query. This makes specific keywords less important to developing content relevancy than complete thoughts submitted in the form of keyword statements.
Strings of meaning become king
Instead of only matching one or two words of a query, the Hummingbird algorithm gleans more meaning from the typically longer voice-entered statements before providing its search results to the user. For example, the search string:
"Where can I buy tools near my home to fix an engine "
isn't simply interpreted to mean that you want tools or even want to buy tools for an engine, but that you want to fix your engine and that you are looking for engine tools near home (useful only if you share your location with Google).
Why is the Hummingbird update good news?
It's great news for Inbound Marketers who have already been applying the methodology properly. That is, creating remarkable content crafted to help people rather than generating blocks of text mainly for the purpose of optimizing it to rank highly in search engine results. Most of us make a big effort to develop useful content so the Hummingbird update ought to be a help to us! Great news!
How to proceed from here
Here are the first few things you should do if you have a website that you want to attract visitors to today:
- Identify your typical customer persona
- Develop a list of keywords that might be used in search strings
- Build content that addresses the pain points of your various personas using the search strings
- Convert your visitors to leads via landing pages.
Okay, maybe there is a little more to it than that, so you can start by downloading and taking a look at our beginner-level ebook (for free), or just ask us "how to get it all done" by clicking the orange link below the ebook:
(Hummingbird Photo Credit: Hart_curt)