Monday 3 March 2014

The Recent Google Update: What This Means For You

Google Hummingbird
In the latter half of 2013, Google launched yet another update that had SEOs and digital marketers on the edge of their seats worrying about the effect it would have on all their previous hard work. Hummingbird, the latest update, may not have wreaked as much havoc as the infamous Penguin update a few years ago, that undid pretty much every SEO's efforts thus far, but there are still things you need to be aware of when pushing your business to the top of Google.

So What's Changed?

Like all Google updates, the intention of Hummingbird is to improve the user experience of the search engine, making the search more intuitive to present only the best possible results. Although past updates such as Penguin and Panda were so destructive due to them targeting low quality back linking practices, they had the same aims at heart, to improve search for everyone involved. Thankfully though, the Hummingbird update isn't quite so harsh with its methods of improvement.

Here's the main changes:

More Conversational Search Language

Technology has a huge impact on the way we search, and with smartphone and tablet technology allowing us to speak our search request rather than type it, the search terms we use are becoming more conversational. Without necessarily meaning to, when you speak a search query you don't tend to self-edit as much as you would if you had to physically type it. When typing something into the search box, we have become accustomed to just using the key words, where as with voice searches we tend to ask full questions, and therefore Google is taking this into account when bringing up relevant results.

The Knowledge Graph

Another way in which Google is trying to provide improved answers to the questions we ask through search is using a new feature called Knowledge Graph. This takes the form of a box on the right hand side of the search page, and provides you with different concepts linking to the original search term. So rather than scrawling through all the pages of search results to find your answer, a sort of summary if you like is displayed to help you find the answer you are looking for faster.

So What Does The Update Mean For You?

Based on the main changes brought about with this recent update, coupled with the key changes of previous updates, we have put together some tips on how you can get the most out of the improvements to search that Google continues to make.

  1. Keep The Quality Content Flowing

    Content marketing isn't just a trend, it's now a way of life thanks to the continued focus on natural, conversational language. As mentioned earlier, searches are becoming longer, with fuller sentences and more natural language being used instead of being edited down to just the bare keywords. For this reason, simply filling content with relevant keywords isn't enough anymore. You need to write for the reader, not for Google.

  2. Links Aren't All Bad, Just Keep Them Relevant

    With Penguin coming down hard on back linking, you wouldn't be blamed for being extra cautious about link building. But Penguin's motive was to punish those back linking to thousands of poor quality sites just for the sake of linking, and reward those who linked to genuine, relevant sites and focused on quality not quantity of links. Therefore, links are still important to the SEO process, you just have to make sure those links are high quality sites with genuine relevance to your site.

  3. Offer More Valuable Information

    One current worry regarding Knowledge Graph is that there will come a time when users will not have to even leave the Google search page to find the information they need, as it will all be displayed in the Knowledge Graph. This would mean websites that are offering simple, popular facts could lose out on the traffic typically gained from offering this information. To avoid this, it's advisable to provide more valuable, detailed information that go deeper than the popular facts, that people searching for more than basic information would not find simply by glancing at Google's Knowledge Graph.

All the updates since Panda and Penguin, we can see an ever emerging theme of Google trying to become more intuitive, offering ever more personalised results without undermining the efforts of SEOs. As it stands, this personalisation process is only set to continue with future updates, and the key take-away from this is that if you offer detailed and valuable content containing long tail key phrases over simple keywords, you will be on the right track to appear in searches.

About The Author: Sarah is a Search Marketing Executive for international digital marketing agency Silverbean.

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