When a company as inextricably a part of the Internet as Google introduces changes to the way it does things, people sit up and take notice. Then they start worrying.
The good news: Google’s latest change to its search algorithm was implemented a full month before it was even announced, and by and large, people were unaware of the change.
By now, you’ve probably heard something about Google’s “Hummingbird” algorithm. One can imagine that the name was chosen in part because it suggests being both fast and agile. The algorithm was designed to better accommodate mobile and semantic searches. In short, Hummingbird is better able to interpret the context of a search and make educated guesses about the intent of the user.
Let’s take a quick look at what Hummingbird is (and is not).
Don’t Forget the Keywords
For some time now, we’ve been at a loss for keyword data. It indicated that Google was changing and improving its search techniques. It was also beginning the slow process of moving marketers away from the now-familiar approach that was largely keyword-based.
Your marketing team or SEO company may have been watching the gradual loss of keyword data and wondered what changes you’d have to make. More good news: Hummingbird will mostly be business as usual. While the focus has changed, it’s important to note that keyword optimization will always be an important part of the SEO process.
It Still Starts with the User
Now that keywords are no longer the be-all and end-all of SEO, you can better focus on identifying the needs of different types of Internet users. This way, you create content that both meets their needs and is optimized for Hummingbird.
Staying on top of Hummingbird might require you to do some basic qualitative research about your users. Since Hummingbird works for you best when your content is written with specific queries in mind, you’re going to want to survey your customers about what topics matter to them. The content you create will be your answer to their interests and needs.
Quality Over Quantity
SEO in a post-Hummingbird world will be shifting the focus from the performance of your keywords to the performance of the content itself. As a result, your focus should shift to assessing the success of your site at a page level. Look at the bigger picture of which pages are driving engagement the best, which contribute the most to ROI and which pages create the most conversions.
All of this is to say that, before Hummingbird, much of the focus was on the quantity of content. Now, the focus is on the quality of the content and how relevant and credible it is.
While the needs of Internet users might change over time and companies like Google change to follow, the most basic tenets of SEO are still in place. At the end of the day, the quality of the content will still be the best indicator of the success of your campaign.
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