Google released its Hummingbird search algorithm in August. Hummingbird reportedly impacts 90 percent of all search queries. You should care about this. You should care a lot. If any of your business comes from online sources, this affects you.
Unlike Google’s Penguin and Panda launches that were just updates to its existing algorithm, Hummingbird is a complete overhaul. Google’s search guru Amit Singhal said that Hummingbird is the first update since 2001 that a Google algorithm has been so totally rewritten.
Google’s most recent algorithm update, known as Hummingbird, was set up to handle more complex search queries. This update cranks up Google’s ability to understand the meaning between word combinations rather than just looking for keywords. In the geeky SEO world we live in, this is known as LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, and is getting baby steps closer to the holy grail of computers understanding natural human writing.
Keyword Optimization Is Now Old News
Reading between the lines on Google’s most recent update seems to point to the lessening the impact of keywords just being on a page. This theory is supported by another recent move by Google to encrypt all keyword search data. Online marketers won’t be able to (easily) determine exactly which search queries sent traffic to their website. This foundation of SEO metrics has been critical for optimizing a website for specific keyword phrases.
Google is being very clear in pushing search marketers to optimize content and actually create value for audiences rather than keywording and technical whiz-bang.
Classic Marketers are Going To Win
The first decade of SEO was much like the Wild West: we all tweaked the technical elements, and threw content all over to gain links, results and listings. Clients unfortunately encouraged this as the folks winning SEO bids were the ones who took a low-price winner, short-term, slash and burn approach (we refused and thankfully are still here). This left clients to plummet in the search engines as algorithms changed and the SEO companies simply shrugged, and moved on to new clients with new tricks. As the search engines have evolved, this cowboy process is becoming obsolete since the latest algorithms can understand meaning, context and quality without needing much of the technical backend ways of telling Google what’s on your pages.
Today, SEO looks a lot like “marketing”. Good marketers focus on delighting our audiences for clients, making interesting content that is cool enough to share and promoting a positive image of the brand. Technical optimization is losing to real world optimization, and gaming link building is losing to digital public relations.
SEO isn’t dead, it’s just getting “more real” every day.
The cut-rate, shadowy, technical SEO firms overseas are becoming irrelevant as firms now have to embrace brand building, actual communication and business goals. This is harder work, and some firms aren’t up for the challenge.
Focus on “Long-tail” Searches
Long-tail keywords are the term used for longer search queries that are more specific in nature. These are generally posed in question forms, like “how do I lose weight in my hips fast?” For a long time, great marketers have used this lucrative traffic segment to boost online sales. Long-tail keywords are naturally really specific. This makes them lucrative in search, because a person with a very specific question is typically more motivated and in a position to buy “right now” if you answer their question or give a compelling solution to their problem.
Think of it this way: if you were selling cars, would you rather deal with a customer asking for “a car,” or would you rather talk to the customer asking for “a Black Camaro with tan leather seats, a v8 engine, and a stick shift”? Long-tail keyword phrases convert at three times the rates of general keyword phrases.
The Hummingbird update is now honoring the longer tail searches in an effort to give better search results for more specific and complex search queries.
While many Search Engine Optimizations companies are scrambling and crying about the updates, many are popping champagne (well, sparkling cider in the office anyway…), and are excited about what this will mean to the clients of SEO.
Hey, if you want to know about how your company and competitors stack up in the search engines, and get some information on what could help you succeed in the future, just call us! 727-490-9336.