Earlier this year, Google implemented their most radical change to their search algorithm – “Hummingbird”. Unlike previous changes to their search criteria, Panda and Penguin, which altered existing inquiry calculations and influenced approximately 2 to 5 percent of website, Hummingbird is said to have influenced about 90 percent of all questions and significantly changed the way the search engine handles requests.
The reason behind Google’s update is simple: Better content equals better results. Previously, Google’s calculations where based on a single word basis of the whole search query. For example, if you search “Affordable E-commerce Web Design”, Google would go through its database and find the best results for the words “Affordable”, “E-commerce”, “Web” and “Design”.
But today people are more inclined to enter complete questions, like “What design agency is the best e-commerce company in South Africa “, and Google wants to understand deeper into the question in-order to display the best results. Did you mean the best design agency in terms of price or opinion? Are you trying to find the best agency closest to you? Essentially Google’s update serves to understand the context behind your query in-order to provide the best, and most relevant results.
So naturally, with this update, you as a business need to evolve with Google, especially if you are using some of the “old tricks” for SEO. Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to your SEO:
Market research is better than Keyword research.
Conventional keyword analysis – where you measure the volume and competition metrics individual search queries – is clearly becoming obsolete. Google wants to know if your website will answer the questions people are asking, not if your pages are optimized for a specific keyword or term.
So instead of focusing on your various keyword combinations, focus of editing and creating high quality content that will answer the questions people are asking. Brainstorm what questions your visitors are asking about you/your brand/your industry, and make sure your content answers these questions in a clear, and understandable format.
Include questions in your content
As mentioned above, you need to ensure your content answers the questions users are asking. The easiest way to do that? Put those questions into your content and answer them! But before you go ahead and turn all of your content into a glorified FAQ, keep the following in mind:
- Unless your content is terribly written, there is no need to waste time rewriting it (your time can be better utilised, see further below). Rather add on additional content if you have to, but don’t take the chance of negatively effecting content that is performing well.
- Theres no need to take on the mentality of answering only one question per page as many marketers did previously. A single page on your website can address several topics, provided that Google can easily understand and navigate through your content.
- Give your visitors as much relevant information as possible. Many of the people in the SEO industry are worried about Google’s new information card feature, which displays answers to questions asked directly in the sidebar. Even though this feature is currently only present in Google Chrome, chances are this will expand to all browsers utilizing the search engine. To prevent traffic poaching, make sure you give your visitors as much information as they want so that its worth their time taking the extra step to look through your website.
The more (quality) content, the better.
This is probably the most important aspect of Google’s new algorithm. Providing new content on a regular basis has been an important aspect of SEO for a long time, but after Hummingbird, this is now essential. The more content your have, the more questions you can answer, the better you can answer these question, the better your website will rank and the more traffic you will receive. As a business owner myself, I understand that not only is it hand to find the time to create new content on a regular basis, but at times you fall short of topic ideas. The easiest, and probably best way to combat this is to include new content that address your clients questions, such as “How to’s”, “Case studies”, “FAQ’s”, “Comparative pieces” and “Market trends”.
Together with the points above, keep following the SEO Best Practices that have been put in place during previous updates, and focus more on creating high-quality content and a lot less on trying to trick Google into giving you a better ranking. In fact just don’t do it! Google is leaning more and more towards providing real, quality content that is intelligently selected, so make sure your content is intelligently prepared and submitted. Quality content equals quality results. Its as simple as that!