November 12, 2013

Google Hummingbird: Everything Marketers Need to Know about the Algorithm

Ever since Google released its Penguin 2.0 search algorithm in April, businesses have been in a state of flux, continuously trying to readjust their marketing strategies to guarantee their placement in search results. But just when it looked like a new way was found, Google released an entirely new algorithm, dubbed Hummingbird.

The algorithm, which was stealthily released in September in celebration of Google’s 15th birthday, was designed to enhance search results for consumers, by generating only the most relevant and accurate results. With a speedier and more efficient approach to organizing websites, as its namesake suggests, Google Hummingbird is able to go beyond the question of what a user is searching for and instead attempts to figure out why a user is searching for it. Moreover, through the use of Google’s new Knowledge Graph, a user will be shown a list of websites that are more in-line with their search queries instead of the most relevant businesses.  

While companies might initially cringe at the thought of having to re-adjust their marketing strategies to stay in compliance with Hummingbird, the change will actually benefit businesses. In fact, the new algorithm will reward companies that create and disseminate unique, compelling content by placing them at the top of search results, while preventing companies that use “shady” SEO practices—such as content farming and keyword stuffing—from reaching the top.

So what do businesses need to do to remain on Google Hummingbird’s good side? Here is a look at some important aspects that marketers must consider when drafting content:

Keep the tone conversational

Since Google Hummingbird is designed to optimize for voice recognition and mobile-based software, marketers need to address language use accordingly. Sentence construction and the use of synonyms are now more important than ever before. Because users speak differently into a phone than they do when they type, content needs to be written in a more conversational, yet informative, tone so that phrases can be picked up and shown in search results. Try writing with a specific person in mind (i.e. your consumer) as this will help create more conversational writing.

Think about purpose

With Google’s new algorithm, it is important that a business’ website directly addresses consumers’ needs through its content. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and determine what type of information they search for and what type of content they would find most relevant/useful. Then, determine how your current marketing strategy addresses these questions. For instance, a consumer searching for a new car will have a slew of questions about everything from environmental impact to the latest safety regulations to price. Therefore, when a user asks Google for the long-term environmental impacts, websites that can provide such an answer will show up first.

Optimize for mobile

In addition to optimizing for voice recognition software, it is vital that businesses begin to optimize for mobile. As Google Webspam Team Leader Matt Cutts recently explained at the Pubcon Las Vegas show, slow sites, those in which mobile traffic is routed to a homepage and those that struggle with mobile flash will all be ranked lower on Google. That being said, marketers must find a way to optimize existing content. For example, marketers might want to consider implementing visual or audio content into their mobile strategy or create shorter “mobile-friendly” pieces that can be easily shared across social networks.

Link for success

Since the purpose of Hummingbird is to find websites that are the most relevant to solving a user’s search inquires, it is important to link to other relevant sites as well as social media channels. The more “socially shareable” and authoritative an article is, the more likely it will reach the top of search engine results. 

Tell us, are you equipped to handle Hummingbird?

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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