We all know Google’s search algorithms are regularly updated and tweaked to ensure they are serving up the most useful content for their users. One of the benefits of Google’s latest algorithm – Hummingbird – is that it no longer focuses just on the keywords that users are searching on, but has become better at understanding key concepts and relationships – and therefore the intent of a search.
This is good news for users for many reasons, but some key ones from my perspective:
No more keyword stuffing on websites.This practice was almost necessary to rank well in search and as a consequence website content was written for Google’s robots not human users. Despite every man and their dog telling website owners (and marketers!) otherwise, in the mist of trying to be found online, people were forgetting that the information they were putting out there was for customers and prospects, not robots. With so many fantastic looking websites around I’m hoping this means that well-written, quality content will now fill their beautifully designed walls.
Telling stories and being authentic. The rise of social media has meant many brands are facing the need to drop their corporate facades and authentically engage with their customers. Now that Hummingbird is working on being able to understand context and relationships, part of the well-written website content might be around authentically telling brand stories and creating an ‘experience’ online as opposed to dry, repetitive drivel. (Can you tell I’m excited about good writing??)
Response to real human behaviours. Research is telling us that not many people search just with one keyword. Rather, they’re punching in questions they want the answers to (remember Ask Jeeves back in the day? He knew!). Google being able to intuit what you’re looking for by linking concepts based on your questions is going to mean you’ll be served up with more relevant results.
From an (inbound) marketing perspective one of the most useful things about these changes is that thought can now be put into content based on the customer lifecycle. What stage they are up to in the buying cycle is certainly going to affect their search request. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can create great content that caters to a particular need at a particular time. And that might just help you stand out from the competition.