The web has been buzzing since Google recently announced Hummingbird, it’s biggest search algorithm update in twelve years. The biggest change is that searches are now more “conversational” than in the past, due to the increased number of mobile voice search queries with technology like Siri. More on that below.
With the new update, Google is saying that websites producing the best quality content geared toward the needs of their target audience will have the easiest time getting organic (not paid) traffic.
In the end, Google’s only goal is to help searchers find exactly what they want or need.
What do the changes mean, and how will this impact your website?
Here are a few key highlights.
Forget Keyword Stuffing
Forget trying to rank for “keywords” and keyword stuffing blog post titles. Google is now moving toward ranking based on content and collective meaning rather than just keywords. A combination of content, personalized search and the Hummingbird update also means that ranking is relevant based on the person searching for answers.
Authorship & Google Plus
It’s not just good content, but also who creates the content. Google Authorship is becoming even more important for search results. Google is indexing content shared on Google Plus, and having authorship markup tied to content is a major trust factor.
Being on Google Plus and connecting your site to it is no longer optional.
More In-Depth articles
Google In-Depth Articles is a new search result option that came out this past August. This supports Google’s new push to show more quality content. Longer more in-depth articles are now getting featured more prominently in the search results.
I’ve talked in the past about Google recommending mobile responsive sites. Mobile web browsing is growing and people are increasingly using voice enabled search requests. Google Chrome also recently added a “conversational search” feature to the chrome browser. The Hummingbird update is geared toward this shift in search habits.
Social Signals are important
Your brand should be something that people talk about. On the web that means commenting, sharing, Tweeting, Liking and Google +1. These social signals tell Google that people find your content valuable. Use social media not only to share your own content, but share good content from others as well. Make it easy to share content on your site by integrating social sharing and Open Graph Meta.
Rather than focusing on keywords in search queries, Hummingbird is focusing on longer more complex search queries. Mobile is one of the biggest drivers behind this change since a good portion of mobile searches are voice searches that are more conversational.
Authority and Links
Link building is really just relationship building. Social signals, links and references from other sites helps establish your site as a trusted source.
Stay away from low quality article and link directories. They are a thing of the past, and in fact can hurt your own site in the search engines. Focus on guest posting on sites, social shares and creating helpful or relevant content that people want to share.
Ways to take advantage of the new Hummingbird update
- Create useful content for your target audience. This could be images, videos, ebooks or articles on your site. Provide solutions or content that people want to share.
- Share your content everywhere. Use social media to drive traffic and promote sharing. More social shares means more authority.
- Get on Google Plus, and make sure you website has the proper Authorship markup on your site.
- Set up your website so people can easily find the information they are looking for.
- Mobile and voice search are increasing. Make sure both your site and content are mobile optimized.
Good SEO is really about marketing and relationships, and Google has said that quality relevant content is the key to doing well in the search results. The Hummingbird updates are a great move in the right direction.