Google’s search algorithm update ‘Hummingbird’ back in August is a sign of things to come in the world of digital marketing. According to Danny Sullivan’s interpretation on Search Engine Land, Hummingbird is focused on the entire meaning of a search query, not only particular words in the query. So, how can you be prepared when future algorithm updates continue to cater to natural language queries and contextual search?
Focus On Understanding Mobile
According to Matt Cutts at Pubcon last week,
“If your website looks bad in mobile, now is the time to fix that.”
Google has seen mobile search grow at an exponential rate, the rate of growth is comparable to the early days of Google’s desktop search. These mobile searchers are often action-oriented. They tend to search while on the go and are ready to take action or make a purchase. In fact, 50% of mobile queries have local intent – focused primarily on restaurants, electronics and auto. This on-the-go mentality with a need for very specific search-engine results means capitalizing on voice search. This influx of more “conversational” or natural-language queries means Google has to find a way to better serve these searchers. As do digital marketers. While ‘Hummingbird’ is only scratching the surface of addressing this change, expect to see algorithm updates that address mobile’s natural-language queries (or voice search) in the near future.
Emphasize your authority and establish trust
Authority is often seen as an off-site factor, relying heavily on links and social signals. While PageRank is rumored to retire, there still lies the question concerning what will be seen as authoritative. I think this question intersects with the bigger question Hummingbird is starting to address: What is quality content? Relevancy is key. So is content depth. Think about it this way – what makes you choose a primary physician? A common response is a family/friend recommendation (or in a website sense, these would be links). What made your friends/family recommend him or her in the first place? What makes you continue to return to this physician? Expertise & knowledge could be some of the reasons, but also, you’ve begun to build a relationship based on trust. A website or page’s authority should be based on the depth (or knowledge) of the subject/topic and also the visitor’s trust. In turn, links and social signals will come naturally.
What can you do in the meantime? Black-hat SEO practitioners, take shelter. Quality content creators, try not to worry so much. Focus on creating valuable content, not simply keywords. Your content should address the ever-changing needs and desires of your customers, not Google.