Google announced Hummingbird at the end of September and we felt it was time to review what this actually means for you (publishers) and quash any fears you may have about its effects. The good news – the changes are mostly positive for content creators (woop!). Jenny Stowemarket writes for www.WhoIsHostingThis.com and works in online marketing and is familiar with the recent updates in Google. She has kindly agreed to share her insights on why this change is great for bloggers.
The last two large-scale algorithm updates Google released—Panda and Penguin—continue to cause ripples throughout the Internet, and for the most part, not in the most positive ways. A lot of sites are still trying to recover traffic and revenue lost as a result of those updates’ initial releases. So when news broke about Google’s latest big update, Hummingbird, there was understandably a moment of panic among digital marketers and businesses that rely on search for their traffic and revenue.
Not to worry. Hummingbird is actually here to help you.
Just as Panda barreled through, swinging its clawed paws through thousands of marginal sites, knocking them down in the SERPs, Hummingbird flits by, alighting ever so gently on sites that are moving, as Google is, toward more natural-sounding content. You may have to make a few adjustments to how you’re currently creating content, but if you embrace it, Hummingbird can be great for your blog.
You Have More Freedom to Write Naturally
Whether you’ve written your content yourself, or outsourced to a professional copywriter, it’s likely much of your content strategy hinged on keyword research. If Google Analytics told you someone landed on your site by searching for the phrase “buy red widgets online,” you turned around and made sure that phrase popped up in strategic areas of your site. Maybe you were even counting the number of times it appeared in your content, trying to hit some magical, mythical keyword density number.
Now you can throw that strategy out—to a degree. Of course keywords are still important. But they’re not everything. Rather than writing to keywords and search engines, you now have the freedom to truly write for people. You no longer have to contort your content to accommodate awkward search phrases. As long as you keep your content relevant, make sure it naturally contains your primary keywords (and if you’re just writing about your products, of course it will), and ensure your content is high quality, Hummingbird will smile upon your site.
You Can Focus on Intent Rather Than Keywords
In the same vein as writing naturally, Google Hummingbird means search intent is more important than ever. That’s a term that gets thrown around quite a bit, but think about what it really means for a moment. If someone searches for “best digital camera,” what do they mean by “best”? Highest quality? Lowest price? Most popular brand name? Search intent is all about context.
Keeping potential intent in mind will allow you to create content across a broader spectrum. It opens up possibilities for richer content that will speak to every intent for vague search terms like “best.” As of now, you should be bursting with ideas for new content that drills down into smaller niches and more specific meanings. And with every piece of content you create with a specific intent in mind, you cater to the person who searched with that intent. Serving up to people exactly what they’re looking for is a sure way to gain readers and customers, not to mention keep them coming back.
You Must Maintain or Increase Quality
At first, this may not sound like a benefit to your blog. Why? Because quality takes time and costs money. But think for a moment about how Hummingbird and Panda are now working in tandem, one seeking out poor quality content, the other looking for more natural, organically created content. The blogs with the highest quality content are naturally going to rise to the top.
Not only is quality content going to help you in the SERPs, it’s going to go further to landing new customers, and securing conversions. Get into your customers’ heads for a moment. It’s easy. You’re a consumer too, right? What impresses you? If you go online to buy something, and the website selling it is full of errors, and is poorly designed or structured, and difficult to navigate, what does that make you think about the product they’re selling? Is it just as poorly designed? So while quality content is going to help you in search, it’s also going to help you convert casual visitors into customers. Quality breeds authority and trust. Never underestimate its power.
You Can More Easily Surpass Your Competition
Make no mistake, Google Hummingbird doesn’t mean you can just sit back, relax, and let the search engine do all the work for you. You must still work to gain or maintain a competitive edge in your vertical. However, there will undoubtedly be those out there who don’t heed Hummingbird’s move toward more natural search language, and who, either out of habit or just plain stubbornness, will stick to what they know—basing content on keywords.
Those who become or remain stagnant will begin to fall further and further behind, both in the SERPs and in sales. By not adjusting how they create content to accommodate semantic search and cater to search intent, a lot of marketers and businesses are going to deny themselves a lot of organic search traffic—and a lot of customers. This is true of any part of any business venture, really. If you don’t continue to evolve and keep up with industry changes, you will soon become obsolete, surpassed by those who make the effort to stay abreast of new developments. Continue to create high-quality, natural-sounding content, and you’re on your way to the front of the line—or the top of the SERPs.
One of the most important things to remember, though, no matter what algorithm update comes out next is not to put all your conversion eggs in one search engine basket. If you’re relying on Google (or any search engine) for all your traffic and all your sales, you’re missing out as well as setting yourself up for failure. Expand your marketing efforts beyond the search engines to see an even greater return. But no matter what marketing method you use, the ultimate goal is to bring people to your site, so make sure it’s a site worth your visitors’ time.