Google started implementing their Humminbird algorithm update sometime in mid to late August, 2013. They waited one month to release a public statement that the new algo update was live and had been affecting search results for nearly four weeks. That was a few weeks ago and the news of “Hummingbird” was quickly shadowed by the devastating news that came shortly after which was of course that Google was officially discontinuing keyword search data in Google Analytics.
In the coming weeks we will be outlining in detail our new search and analytic strategy with the removal of organic keyword search data; however we believed it was of great importance to first address and discuss a few of our secret tactics for maximizing brand exposure and increasing targeted search traffic for Google’s Hummingbird update. Lets jump into it.
What is Google’s Hummingbird Update?
Google Hummingbird is the name they have given to their biggest search algorithm update since 2001 according to Google search chief, Amit Singhal. The name “Hummingbird” is meant to describe the “precision and speed” for which the search engine will now provide search results based primarily around what the Silicon Valley tech giant calls “conversational search”.
Conversation search is the concept that search results should include those webpages that have content that is conversational in nature so as to provide more relevant information, answers, examples, and related topics to a search query rather than webpages that simply use the same keyword as the search query.
Conversation search is the concept that search results should include those webpages that have content that is conversational in nature.
Danny Sullivan of Search Engine land had a chance to talk with Google insiders about Hummingbird and was able to pull an example of a pre and post Hummingbird search result. Sullivan wrote, “A search for “pizza hut calories per slice” used to list an answer like this, Google said, but not one from Pizza Hut. Now, it lists this answer directly from Pizza Hut itself, Google says.”
Furthermore Google believes Hummingbird will return more relevant search results than in the past with the emphasis surrounding the algorithms ability to provide these conversational type results. The question begs, how should I go about optimizing for conversational search?
How Do You Tame A Google Hummingbird?
If conversational search is becoming increasingly important in the eyes of Google than that should tell you twos; 1). People are searching for information in a conversational manner. And 2). People must be asking Google more questions than ever before in history. Einstein anyone?
If people are asking Google more questions than your response should be to try to answer more questions. It seems simple enough but there are certainly content marketing strategies that play into this. Lets take a closer look.
Hummingbird Tip #1 – Include More Questions In Your Blog Posts
Matt Cutts and other search marketing representatives from Google still suggest that marketers should aim to provide unique and high quality content on a consistent basis. However they did not elaborate on the fact that bloggers should include more direct questions and direct answers within the content of their posts.
Think about it. People are asking Google more questions and Google’s Hummingbird is looking for webpages that can provide answers to these questions. By basing a blog post around a commonly asked question and then providing an answer to that question you are both demonstrating your knowledge for a particular topic and you are appeasing the Hummingbird update.
To find the best questions to answer you may decide to survey your current customers to better understand a consumer thought process in your industry. Additionally you can also use Google’s auto suggestion search query filter to see what common search queries come up as you begin typing the basis for a question. Looks like we need to do a post on the best SEO plugin for WordPress since we are big proponents of WordPress and could use that blog subject to spin off into our ability to design and build incredible responsive sites.
Hummingbird Tip #2 – Build an FAQ Page
For a long time we have recommended and helped our clients to build an FAQ page on their site. No matter your industry, service, or the product that you are selling; customers are always going to have a few basic questions for you. In order to save yourself resources in customer service (having to answer these questions on the phone or via email) and additionally to provide more information and establish credibility with potential customers, building an FAQ page is a great idea for anyone with a website.
Of course Google is now set to better recognize your content as conversational and these questions could very well rank highly in search results as the result.
Hummingbird Tip #3 – Answer More Questions
For a long time it has been a great marketing strategy to actively pursue answering forum questions online as a means to demonstrate knowledge in your indusry and to build credibility for your personal brand or company. I can’t say how many times we have been doing research on different ecommerce platform plugins and information and come across tips and information posted from a “Mike at Volusion”. (We made up this exact example but you get the point). What is Mike doing here?
Mike is demonstrating exactly how the Volusion platform solves a problem you are facing, he is driving traffic and interest back to his website, and he is planting a seed in the consumer mind that Volusion provides great customer service. Mike is killing it by answering one simple question online.
With the Hummingbird update we can expect Yahoo Answers and threads on sites like Quora to begin ranking better. Better forum rankings means more traffic, larger threads, and the potential for more eyes on your answer. Our suggestion is that you get active on these types of forums and be like Mike. No pun intended.
Side note: Referall traffic from sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers (should you leave a direct link to your site) is currently still available in Google Analytics. Go ahead and show your boss just how much traffic you are responsible for as the result of answering questions over there. You can also use bitly or another URL tracking source to keep tabs on referral tracking from specific threads on the same site.
Hummingbird Tip #4 – Host An Interview
People love doing interviews, reading interviews, and listening to interviews. As a content marketer you should love hosting interviews. Why? Well relatively speaking hosting an interview is very simple and it provides you with at least different three pieces of content to share online and off.
Start by finding an interesting individual within your own company or within your industry (non-direct competitor) that agrees to an interview. Next do some research to discover which questions are most popular and in demand from your target audience. Host the interview, ask those intriuging and hot topic questions and make sure to record the interview so that you end up with both a visual form and an MP3 form of your discussion. Go ahead and transcribe that conversation and incorporate it into a blog post. Now take that content (video, MP3, and blog post) and distribute everywhere online with the source link from the original blog post.
As your content begins to pick up momentum online your post will end up with organic links and social shares. This will help your post to rank better in search engines for those “conversational queries” that Google is now more accurate at identifying.
Finally return the favor and accept offers that you might receive from another blog owners to be interviewed on their blog. This is another opportunity to build your credibility, demonstrate your knowledge, build a backlink to your site, and take a moment off from blogging yourself.
Hummingbird Tip #5 – Increase Customer Reviews on Ecommerce and Review Sites
If you’re familiar with Ecommerce marketing then you know the importance of increasing customer reviews on individual product pages. Reviews help your company to gain trust from potential new customers and often times reviews end up answering questions that potential customers might have had. Not only this but reviews help with page authority and click thru rate (add in some rich snippet review markup) as well as they help assist in the department of long tail keyword rankings. Think of product reviews like hosting your own mini-forum that is super specific to your industry. Not only do you get to moderate the conversation but you literally get to host it on the same page of your site where consumers can easily purchase and checkout with minimal distractions.
Service, software, and product reviews are equally important on 3rd party sites. Go ahead and consider giving away your product for free to the most popular blogger in your industry or neutral industry in return for a fair and honest review of your product on their website. You’ll not only receive a valuable backlink from most likely a high PR site (if the blogger is decent) but you’re more than likely to receive a favorable review. The law of reciprocity anyone? You just gave away your product for free.
Again customer reviews almost always answer questions that potential customers might have and with Hummingbird targeting conversational content this is your best bet for increasing online exposure.
So there you have it. A quick run down of Google’s Hummingbird update, the main changes (conversational search+ results), and 5 tips to increase traffic to your website. Hummingbirds aren’t vicious after all you just have to have that sweet nectar that they are looking for.
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