7 Key Points for Better SEO after the Google Hummingbird Update

Oct 30, 2013 Comments Off by

Over the last few weeks, Google has made a major update to its search algorithm.  It’s called the Hummingbird Update.   (Why Hummingbird?  Google says it is “Precise and Fast”.)

There is info here on Google’s official blog, and some good articles here at Search Engine Land and here on the Huffington Post.

Here are my seven key points for better SEO to work with Hummingbird rather than fight it:

      1. Re-think where you are spending SEO money at the moment.   SEO is still important, but a lot of single-keyword SEO work and dodgy link building activity by the SEO snake-oil salesmen will be even less effective than before. Question your SEO people. Challenge them to show results. If you’re not happy, then sack them. Use the money you save to improve your website content.
      2.  Take a really good look at your website content.  Think about the questions prospective customers are likely to ask at different stages in their buying process.  (You need to map their buying process to do this properly.)  Make sure you have content pages on your website to address these questions.   You may need to add more pages to your site to do this effectively.  Make sure you also have prominent Calls to Action on these pages.  What action do you want the visitor to take after viewing the page?
      3.  Rather than just thinking about individual keywords, think about the whole search phrase a customer may use.     Rather than attempting to identify the individual keywords or phrases that are found in a search query, the new Hummingbird update looks at the query as a whole. It considers the whole sentence and then looks for the most relevant results.”
      4. Think about keyword phrases and sentences, especially the Questions someone may type into  Google for searches.  “Hummingbird concentrates on whole queries rather than individual words…  Long-tail keywords have always been considered beneficial because they typically have a high conversion rate from highly targeted visitors. However, it has proven difficult to benefit from much traffic as a result of their being found on a page. Hummingbird will be looking at search strings of three, four, five, or more words and rather than breaking these down it will provide results for the whole search string. Long-tail keywords, which are normally added to pages during the natural process of writing high quality content, may generate more traffic for a website in the future.”
      5. Develop your site as an authority on your subject matter, and develop your own authority as a page and content author.  “Hummingbird will help ensure that Google delivers users to the most appropriate page of a website, rather than to a home page or top level page. As such, every single page should be closely targeted to potential visitors. Not only will this help improve conversion rates as part of a conversion rate optimisation campaign but it may also help to drive traffic to the pages of a website via Google results too.”
      6. Mobile is the big growth area. Hummingbird appears built for mobile users to use and to love.  Mobile users type questions into Google, but they also use Apple’s Siri to speak and ask questions. Google’s Android also has Android Voice Search, and the latest version has a new command called OK Google. This is available in the USA only at the moment, but will roll out globally in time. Voice search is where Google is going.     “Voice search naturally tends to mean more conversational and more natural language. Rather than searching for a one or two word phrase, people will be more inclined to use whole sentences, questions, and more complex queries when they speak. Hummingbird will be well placed to determine the most relevant and highest quality pages that meet the needs of the searcher. Websites that place well under the new algorithm changes may also experience an increase in their mobile traffic as a result.”
      7. It’s all about Quality.  Hummingbird is the next step for Google to deliver higher quality search results.   “Website owners need to ensure that their website is built on quality. This is not only beneficial to search optimization campaigns but to online business in general. Conversions will increase, bounce rates drop, and average sales value will also rise. For the business owner this represents an opportunity to ensure that they make the most of every single website visitor while the market will benefit from naturally generated links and a greater authority rating in the eyes of Google.”

The above quotes in italics are from Don Dodds in the Huffington Post article.  It seems to be a very good guide, and Don provides a lot more comments and advice. It’s well worth reading.  Don is a smart fella.  (Click here to follow Don on Twitter.)

So, the upshot…  

a. Good content on your website is more important than ever.  That’s a good thing.

b. Many questionable SEO firms will struggle with this.  Don’t be caught by them.

Another point…  Google is now SSL encrypting all searches, which in theory adds to our privacy but has the result of  removing the ability for search terms and keyword data to be passed on to website owners. This means your Google Analytics reports on the keyword search terms people used to find your site organically are now gone.  Except for the search data when users do a search and click on a Google AdWord ads.  (Gotta keep the paying customers happy. Bugger the rest.)  There’s a good article on it here.

Google Analytics is a free service. Using Google is free. We can’t really complain, can we?  Hmmm…

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