As is usually the case, the announcement of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update prompted a collective profanity from the world’s online marketing contingency. The thought that everything already in place in an SEO sense could be reduced to ashes in the space of a day or two is indeed enough to drive any professional to distraction.
And when you consider that this is the biggest change to Google in the history of history, you can pretty much understand the blind panic it triggered.
But does such a huge change really spell nothing but doom and gloom for a business that depends on content? Not necessarily as it’s all about the approach you’ve been taking to date connected with willingness to adapt.
In fact, savvy and genuinely hard-working content creators have the very real potential to thrive from Google’s latest and ‘greatest’ algorithm update.
In the simplest of terms, Hummingbird does its best to make the Google search process more conversational by way of the queries it processes. Take for example the difference between a search for “World Trade Centre” and “show me images of the World Trade Centre” – technically the same query but entered in very different ways.
Now, the first keyword phrase is written in a manner we’ve all come to know as the standard way of entering search terms when we want to find something. The thing is though, it’s a totally unnatural break from our general everyday language patterns and can in some instances prove to be very awkward.
And here’s the thing – over the coming years it is largely guaranteed that voice searches are going to become massively more common than they are today, largely due to the mobile device revolution…i.e. Smartphones, Tablets, Smartwatches and so on. Google Hummingbird has been programmed…at least to some extent…to learn by use of natural language and respond better to natural search terms.
For example – using the above example of “show me images of the World Trade Centre” followed by a second phrase of “what is its address” will with Hummingbird return the address of the building…the building referred to as ‘it’. This all comes down to Google’s Knowledge Graph which for want of a better description exists to try and read the minds of web users before they even know what it is they want.
Where We’re Heading
Over time, the intent is to create a world-leading search engine that will be able to answer queries that are more specific and natural than ever before: For example”:
- What time of the day would be best for me to take an antihistamine?
- How can I find someone to repair my leaking toilet bowl?
- Is a Ford Focus a more economical buy than a Ford Fiesta?
- Will the weather next weekend be better than it is today?
Most of these would return less than perfect answers today, but over time will become the standard way in which Google works.
And What Does All This Mean for the Content Marketer?
Well, first and foremost you will no longer be able to get away with repeating words and phrases time and time again in order to score traffic via Google. This is something you should technically have eased off long before now, but over the coming years keyword and phrase stuffing will be worthless.
In addition, as Google will eventually offer a system that will take searchers directly to the most appropriate sites and pages for their queries, that’s precisely what must be provided. People will be slowly trained to use longer and more complex search terms, rather than the single or few-word searches they make today. For publishers, this will mean creating separate pages catering to the separate needs of the site’s primary audience. This of course means knowing your audience well and knowing precisely what it wants – also of crucial importance moving forward.
On the whole, content is still king and will continue to be, but over the coming years it will no longer be a case of creating content that’s in any way directed at bots and expecting to win any traffic.
About the Author Rocky John Tayaban is a veteran in search engine marketing. For the past 8 years, he has been helping companies in the US, Canada, UK and Australia in their online marketing. Follow his tweets @SmartOnlinePros to receive updates and news on search engine marketing.
Photo credit: Rocky John Tayaban