First there was Panda…
…then there was Penguin…
… and now there’s Hummingbird.
If all three of these updates say one thing, the message is clear:
High quality content is more important than ever.
Although Hummingbird is not a penalty driven algorithmic change, unlike Panda and Penguin, it has already had a profound effect on the way searches are delivered, with it said to have impacted 90% of search queries.
Search is on the brink of a major transformation. Marketers and business owners need to create better content that focuses on the end user rather than build content that aims to please the search engines; Google’s algorithm is becoming more and more consumer-focused and it wants to rank web pages that answer questions and pages that offer information that’s beneficial.
Hummingbird and content marketing go hand in hand, and together, they have visually changed the search results.
To give you an example of this, look at Google’s Knowledge Graph. This was released more than 12 months ago however the Hummingbird update has expanded it greatly. Now, when you search for a famous business such as Apple, Samsung or Pret a Manger, you are greeted with this:
What Google is trying to do is transform the way in which their engine delivers results. Google wants to focus on the long-tail, not generic queries. They want to focus on answers, not results.
So how does this affect marketers and business owners?
For years Google has tried to get the point across to marketers that engaging, relevant and valuable content is the key to success. Even so called SEO gurus coined the phrase ‘content is king’. So, you will already know that content is perhaps the most critical stage of any successful online marketing strategy.
Taking in to account information on the Hummingbird update, and researching how Google’s results have changed since it was rolled out, it is safe to say that content marketers, to be successful, must look past organic search and the Keyword Planner. Generic terms simply do not take centre-stage in Google’s transformation.
High quality content and different formats
High quality content does not end at your articles. Quality content can include visual information such as images, video and infographics, interactive content such as games, polls, quizzes and competitions, and educational content such as white papers, press releases and trend reports.
Hummingbird may address the answering of questions first and foremost, but the backbone of any successful content marketing strategy remains the same – mix up your format and see what works for you.
Understand your audience, know your customer
Marketers and businesses need to understand the questions that customers are asking of their service and their industry to develop content that is going to rank well in the new Google. Understanding your customer has always been critical to success, but it is now more critical than ever.
Understanding who is reading your content, developing thought leadership and hitting topics head on is the best advice we can offer marketers for the future. Hummingbird is only the start of Google’s major transformation – adapting your content now will safe-guard you against the steep learning curve many marketers will have to face in the months and years to come.
Get really specific
Once you understand your customer, you can begin to craft content for them that is extremely well targeted. A lot is said about specifity and the importance of it in business, and it is extremely important when it comes to your content whether it is marketing material or not…
…ultimately, if your content is not specific to your customer, it will fail.
Answer the questions your customers are asking in detail – for your content to rank, it must relate to their query.
Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best – John C. Maxwell
Google is taking a step in the right direction with Hummingbird, and is forcing marketers to up their game. For your content to be found and shared now being the best is essential.
Marketers must therefore learn to say no to good content and yes to the best. Thought leadership is easy to establish – write and develop content about what you know. In Google’s ideal world, this is enough for your content to reach the targeted reader. Although this is not 100 percent the case just yet, you can bet with good odds that thought leaders will outrank one-off pieces of content in the future, which is another reason why we think that Google will implement Authorship into their algorithm soon.
Authorship, however, is for another day.
What do you think about the new Hummingbird update? Have you noticed a significant change in the way content is ranked? I would be delighted to hear your thoughts. Tweet us @content_hero or leave your comment below.
Thank you for reading.