In late September, Google rolled out its latest major algorithm update – nicknamed "Hummingbird" – which might just bring the biggest-ever shifts to search engine optimization.
If that seems like an overstatement, we understand. The previous "Panda" and "Penguin" algorithm updates generated a lot of press, and most businesses quickly discovered that the sky really wasn't falling, regardless of what they might have read on Internet marketing forums. And yet, a little bit of context is in order. While Panda and Penguin affected 5% of searches each, at most, early studies show that Hummingbird has changed results on more than 90% of all search queries.
Beyond the raw numbers, Hummingbird isn't just another algorithm change, but the first real step toward a new way of thinking about search results. It's not so much an update as it is a shift in philosophy. Whereas Google and the other search engines use to consider different terms independently, and then try to find good matches for them within indexed web pages, the focus now is on understanding the intent behind the search string.
In other words, Google is no longer satisfied to show you results for the exact phrase you are looking for… instead, it wants to anticipate the answers and information you need, and deliver those as quickly and accurately as possible.
For searchers, this means more precision and a heavy dose of common sense. For marketers and business owners, it means singing to Google's new tune if you want to continue to see traffic flow to your site.
Here are a few steps you can take to get started:
Stop worrying about traditional search engine optimization techniques. Because Google is adopting a contextual approach to determining search results, things like keyword density and inbound link volume no longer matter in the way they used to. The focus is on high-quality content from here on out, not simple statistics.
Focus on visitor engagement. One of the ways that Google figures out which pages are "better" than others, in the absence of strict keyword-matching, is by looking at the way visitors behave on the site. If they spend a lot of time, click through to other links, or comment on it in their social profiles, it's going to gain more credibility – and see more search traffic. Build your content accordingly.
Organize your content for readers and viewers. Beyond coming up with great content, it's important that you organize it in a way that's easy for readers to find, scan, and search. The old rules of "one topic per page" don't necessarily have to apply, especially since you're not trying to divide keywords between one page or section and another.
Keep the great content coming. With Hummingbird in place, the best content is fresh, unique, and interesting to readers. So, even though you might not need as many keywords as you did before, you do still need lots of timely and relevant articles and blog posts.
Looking for creative ideas and experienced Internet marketing advice? Get in touch with WebRevelation today and see what our team of experts can do for you.