For years, content creators and SEO specialists have focused on keyword-related tactics for improved Google search result rankings.
Those days are ending.
In yet another algorithm change, this one named Hummingbird, Google is devaluing the focus on keywords in favor of a semantic search, and driving more toward user intent.
What do Google’s changes mean for website owners?
The Hummingbird update doesn’t seem to have had the same type of effect as did Panda back in 2011. But if you’ve only been focusing on keyword-based content, you may eventually feel the impact. What it means is that you must do what you should have been doing all along: provide valuable, engaging content that’s of interest to your target audience.
It’s time to get social . . . no, really
Many B2B and small business site owners bemoan the thought of maintaining an active presence on social networks. The B2B crowd generally doesn’t see the value in it. And when they do, there’s too often no clear content strategy to guide the work. If their ROI perspective is too short-term, they deem the effort a failure. Small business owners, already wearing too many organizational hats, don’t have the time to take on another task.
But despite what reluctance you may have, social media marketing will play a growing role in determining what content gets read and, in turn, what traffic comes to your site. Google wants to know more about how real people engage with your content, who follows you, and who reads your content. This engagement is likely measured across various social networks, but you can guarantee that Google+ is their primary metric for social engagement. If you haven’t been active on Google+ already, now’s the time to get started.
What’s clear about the future is that Google will continue to refine their semantic search algorithm. Search results will be based more on the way people naturally ask questions. Much of the semantic improvements come from the more complex search queries created by voice-based searches. When we vocalize our questions, we tend to use more complex phrases.
Google’s Matt Cutts compares structured written queries with those of natural language.
. . . if you add words onto your [written] query . . . you get fewer and fewer results. What you would probably want, if you have spoken word queries is, the more you talk, the more results you get, because we know more about it.