It seems that every time I open my computer, Google has gone ahead and made another change to their algorithms and have named it after some kind of living creature or other. It seems like only yesterday, I was writing about how not to upset the panda with unoriginal content. Now it seems I’m back with another update about Operation Hummingbird.
So what gives? Are the powers that be simply doing this to make our lives difficult or is there something much less sinister at play?
Personally, I always welcome a Google update as it proves that Google is becoming more and more serious about having quality, original material on a site and that’s great news for people like me:).
But what if you want to make your site more hummingbird-friendly? Are there some simple fix-its?
Google Hummingbird Means Quality Content
Actually, the bad news for people who are looking for simple fix-it solutions to content is that it is becoming harder and harder to get away with shoving some keywords in prominent places on your page. It seems the search engine giant’s spiders have evolved into beings that now demand ‘quality content’.
That leaves us with the mystery of what the hell ‘quality content’ actually is.
I have a simple answer to this and that is…… content that answers specific questions your users have.
In fact this situation was recently summarized perfectly by Hubspot in one of their latest posts:
”In the last three years, there have been 45 Google Search algorithm updates, all of which have enhanced the search engine’s ability to properly evaluate the user’s search query and provide the most relevant search results possible. As Google gets better at understanding the user’s motivation and the context of their query, the more important it becomes for you to create content that anticipates what your target customers are looking for, what questions they have, and why they’re searching for them.”
So it would seem that the strategy you may have adopted in the past which was no doubt based on searching keywords and optimizing specific pages around those keywords (title tag, meta keywords, meta description, the H1 header, and a few times in the body text for good measure) is now a thing of the past.
It’s not that keywords and phrases are not important anymore, it’s just that it is no longer considered enough to constitute “quality content” for SEO purposes.
Google now wants you to develop a content-centric SEO strategy that is optimized around customer interest and based on their behavior, rather than their keywords alone.
Understanding Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm
Google Hummingbird was born (or rather created) in late August 2013 as a way to better understand natural search queries by factoring in the context of the search. In other words, Google Hummingbird wants to understand not only the words of the search but the reason the searcher is looking for that information. Your content has to be ‘in the spirit’ of what the searcher is actually looking for.
Google Hummingbird does make a few assumptions; it takes into account the user’s location, interests and other web activity as well as the actual query.
So if I am looking for information about a latest release movie, my search is likely to produce a local cinema where that movie is being shown or some other result based on my recent web activity, such as a video on Youtube.
How to Create Hummingbird-Friendly Content That Doesn’t Get Crapped on
1) Know your customers
Quality content means writing for your target customers, not optimizing keywords.This means doing research both on and offline. Without annoying your customers, try asking them what is about your brand that they really love and problems they have that you can solve. The psychological triggers behind why they choose you is the topic of your future content.
Then create different customer personas that you can feel as though you are talking to and aim your content towards them.
Meanwhile, your blog readers are not always ready to buy, they may be looking for general information. Therefore, create content that informs and promotes you as an authority not just sells.
2) Produce Higher-Quality Content.
It used to be that you had to produce a post a day to keep the engines happy so they could see you were busily updating your site regularly. But that’s no longer the case. Google Hummingbird realized there was simply too much rubbish content on search engines and scrapped that policy. High-quality, well-researched, informative and original content is king now.
It is better to create several in-depth pieces of content per month than a poor-quality post every day and focus on aligning it with your social media strategy. Hire a professional to do it (hint hint) and if English isn’t your first language don’t think a translator can do the job. Think of content as an investment in your brand and give it the full attention it deserves.
Don’t forget to diversify. Videos, info graphics and reviews are great. I’m a big believer in FAQ’s as a great way to directly address customer needs. Surveys can really get into the minds of your customers.
3) Google Hummingbird Still Wants to See Some SEO.
It’s not that SEO isn’t cool anymore; it’s just not as cool as it used to be. That said, you still want to optimize headings, first sentences etc. Ideal strategy is to think about customer concerns and questions and then find phrases and words that match them and optimize those. Now everybody is happy.
As I said before, there’re no quick fixes when it comes to quality content. I know that I for one want the internet to be a place where there is still good stuff to read and businesses who respect their customers and their brand enough to only publish the best. It look alike the Google Hummingbird and I can agree on this.
firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.