Google's Hummingbird Shapes Web Content: 9 Ways Bloggers Must React
Information is a commodity regulated by Google, created by bloggers.
Can you believe that Google began as a corporation only in 1998? The empire has grown exponentially to be the master of search.
In 2014, valid information is solid gold on the web. Power and authority elevate websites with the best content, in theory, and who determines what is best? Google.
The work that Google accomplishes is equal in importance to the sites and information. Imagine the internet without a powerful search engine to navigate the glut of information. A billion websites do you no good if you have no way to navigate them. The web would be virtually useless. Unorganized information is nothing more than chaos.
In the coming year, Google will continue to expand its information monarchy, and the impact is far from trivial for creators. As websites scramble to keep up with Google's algorithm changes, content creators alter and finesse their information in an attempt to attract both search engines and readers. Websites must write content that Google deems valuable to receive organic traffic.
In the process, Google increasingly influences the content that websites produce and searchers consume. Their algorithms exert power over creators and consumers.
Information tyrants are valuable and scary
Prior to Google's Penguin and Panda algorithms, internet searching worked sporadically, employing Google's Page Rank. Page Rank used elements such as traffic and number of backinks to determine a website's popularity, and it was a tremendous advance in search technology.
Page Rank revolutionized searching and made Google famous, but it had flaws that Penguin and Panda aimed to correct in 2012 by adding keywords and other content features to the mix, making the quality of the information on the website as influential as its popularity.
Penguin and Panda made searching more efficient by targeting the keywords that users were searching for and evaluating how websites used the terms. Websites could no longer, for example, cram their pages unnaturally with repeated keywords. Unscrupulous websites found it more difficult to manipulate searches.
Content changed across the web, becoming more relevant, informative and accessible.
By stipulating how websites design and construct content, Google wields a heavy influence on what searchers consume. This much power in the hands of one corporation is frightening. The trend continues with the Hummingbird algorithm, but the engine is more intelligent.
Does Hummingbird change the game?
Google named the algorithm after the speed and precision of the animal, but hummingbirds symbolize much more. They are tiny, most only 3-5 inches. The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird species at only 5 cm. They can fly in excess of 34 miles per hour, their wings beating anywhere from 12-80 times per second.
Their unique ability to hover and fly backwards allows for high levels of precision in flight and targeting food sources.
Some birds weigh less than a penny, and their colors include some of the most dazzling in nature. Hummingbirds are uniquely adapted to thrive in their environment.
Google's Hummingbird algorithm has many of these same qualities: intelligence, speed, precision, quick judgement, and a light footprint. Google released the tool so subtly that web masters were unaware of its launch announced on October 3, 2013, but the algorithm's power will grow increasingly complex with time. It is the foundation for bigger and better tools to come.
Hummingbird is designed to quickly comprehend the meaning, context, and intent of search queries. Keywords are still significant, but their context is more important now. Hummingbird does not replace previous algorithms, but it is comprehensive retooling that targets conversational phrases and sentences rather than simple keywords.
Hummingbird is smarter and faster, understanding what you intend rather than just the words you write in your query. It is unique in understanding real speech, and for websites that took Penguin and Panda to heart, hummingbird requires no new strategy changes. You can attract the bird with solid content containing strong keywords, in language geared for the reader's questions and queries.
Hummingbird, local, and mobile searches are linked
Creators must write powerful and unique content to catch the quick eye and movement of the Hummingbird. In this sense Google exerts more influence over content than ever, determining what appears on our search pages and what we read. Some see this as restricting freedom, but the reality is that it improves the user experience on the internet.
Searchers can find what they need easier and faster. Oftentimes efficiency and ease come with the sacrifice of freedom.
Much of the impetus for the new algorithm was likely 2013's surge in local and mobile searches. People began searching with voice rather text input, looking specifically for local resources. Because they are voicing their queries, the searcher's use common language compared to the search methods of old: listing keywords and phrases.
Moz's local search ranking factors in 2013 indicates that queries tend to take the form of complete questions such as "Where is a good restaurant near me?" or "Where is a bookstore in Boise, Idaho?" The escalating importance of local searching became apparent in the past year.
How do you react as a content creator?
With so much change in the past year, and more to come in 2014, SEO is actually becoming easier, the real difficulty being the generation of superb content. These tactics will help accomplish your marketing goals:
- Identify keywords, phrases, and ideas. Use them strategically as you have done with Panda and Penguin, but be subtle, avoiding repetition.
- Use these main ideas as a guiding thesis statement. Be sure not to stray far from your focus, but plot an undeviating course with a narrow scope.
- Keep your readers possible search queries in mind and respond directly to them. How will a searcher phrase the questions she asks Google? Answer those questions specifically in your content, speaking directly to your reader.
- Develop your ideas with responses to journalist questions: why? what? when? who? where? how? Providing answers to these questions will ensure rich content that is relevant to readers.
- Deliver the best, relevant, cutting edge, and helpful content for your reader. To do this, you must be a reader and researcher yourself. Part of your job in generating content is to act as a filter to eliminate unimportant and erroneous information.
- Learn more about your readers. While this is challenging, the more you learn about your readers the better you can write to meet their needs.Use indicators such as comments, emails, and social media feedback to figure out where your audience needs help. If you know them well enough, you can predict what questions and problems they will encounter and respond in advance.
- Position yourself to attract local traffic. 2013 illustrated that the internet is no longer only for distant corporations, and businesses who do not use the web to develop local communities will be left behind.
- Improve your writing skills. Strong writing will rise to the top of Google's Hummingbird searches, and you can always practice and refine your skills.
- Build your online authority. Step out of your own website to establish yourself as an authority on Google Plus and other social media networks as well as guest posting on reputable sites.
The list demonstrates the way that Google guides, directs, and determines content, but at the most basic level, all they are pushing for is excellent content for searchers on the internet. If you focus on insightful, authoritative, and cutting edge material, you will succeed with each algorithm shift Google makes. They are not out to destroy websites, but to improve content and make it easier to locate.
Darin blogs at ZipMinis and works for BlogCatalog. He is a freelance writer and publishes widely across the web. Social Media, Technology, Psychology, Science, Literature, and Writing are his passions. He has been professor of English, Writing, and Humanities for 11 years.
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