Google’s Hummingbird & What It Means for Your Content Strategy

Lauren Owens - October 4, 2013

Last week, Google announced the release of its new algorithm – Hummingbird.

Hummingbird represents a move toward semantic search. That is, it’s Google’s attempt to interpret the user’s intent in order quickly to deliver precisely what the user is searching for. To do this, Hummingbird interprets an entire string of text from a search (aka the long tail) rather than a few keywords.

For content creators, this means that if you’ve been using content best practices – creating fresh, interesting, sharable content – you have nothing to worry about. If, on the other hand, you’ve been relying on old, outdated content that’s optimized for search engines, rather than users, it’s time to change your strategy.

Content Strategy in the Age of Hummingbird

During client trainings, and in strategy docs, we often preach “content as customer service.” This means creating content your users want and need.

How do you know what they want and need?

1. Ask them. Turn to social media to connect with your users. What do they need? What do they want? How can you help them?
2. Read industry forums and blogs. And don’t just read the main content, read the comments. Comments sections are a wealth of information not only about the subject, but also what users are struggling with, and how they’re finding solutions.
3. Perform keyword research. Yes, keyword research is still meaningful – especially when you look beyond two and three-word phrases and toward the long tail.

When it comes down to creating that content, best practices still apply:

• Create content for users, not search engines. This means using natural language and writing for your audience.
• Create visual, sharable user-friendly content.
• Keep your website fresh by continually adding content.
• Include social media sharing options on your website.
• Share your content in relevant social media channels.

Remember that Google’s primary focus, as far as search is concerned, is delivering good content to its users. If you’re creating good content for your users, you will have a website that will withstand any algorithm change.

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