November 10 2013 11:52 PM
So what is Google Hummingbird?
Is it a bird...is it a plane?! No, it's Google's new algorithm anticipating what content users are looking for. It is a complete change in algorithm which is the formula Google uses to work out what users are searching for. The new engine apparently knows the ‘keywords’ and understands the true intent behind the search terms.
Google claims that the new engine has a better understanding of the intent of the user, taking context into account, grouping words and looking for relevant synonyms to get at the meaning and intent behind the search.
How does it impact B2B sites?
Google is hoping Hummingbird will provide more accurate answers to queries, because it helps Google to understand the true intent behind each query. As marketers, we therefore need to be more conscious of the type of questions our customers have and how we could develop content to address their needs. By ensuring this, our websites will have a better chance of ranking well on the search engines. Creating better content that ‘helps’ the user in his search for an answer, is a good way to go. The type of content we produce should eventually gravitate around how it will provide users with more useful information related to their queries. It looks like semantic analysis and content strategy have now become essential building blocks of SEO.
Impact on long-tail and short-tail keywords
It has become increasingly common to see users asking whole questions on search engines and writing whole sentences in natural language, rather than typing a few keywords. Using long-tail keywords in the SEO strategy has helped some websites to rank well for this type of searches. But since the Hummingbird engine improves Google’s ability to provide more intelligent results, conversational-type searches and short-tail searches might soon be in competition. With the hummingbird update, Google seems to be treating the long-tail keywords differently. Long-tail search terms generally give more signals about the ‘intention’ of the user as compared to short-tail search terms which can be a bit too diverse sometimes. Time will tell whether the new engine will be good enough at serving short-tail search terms as efficiently as long-tail search terms, but B2B marketers have to be ready and adjust their SEO and content strategy accordingly. For example: B2B buyers often look for editorial content about how to accomplish specific objectives before looking for suppliers of equipment or services they will need to achieve that particular objective. Whislt taking consideration of long tail keywords in the copy was once a good way to help Google understand the intention of the page itself, it is now more important to create content that will serve the intention of the 'user'. Example: The B2B buyer at different stages of the buying process.
Keyword Density seems to have been given less importance as well and crafting tailored content for the different stages of the B2B buying process is the best way to go. On the other side, because Google is now more efficient at guessing ‘intent’, there will be less competition between editorial web-pages and products/services pages. The new algorithm is actually creating a more equitable search landscape for B2B websites to compete in. Furthermore social signals (Facebook likes, Re-Tweets, etc.) seem to have been given more importance, since they are strong indication about quality content.
Going forward, content marketers will have to work even closer to SEO experts. Writing about sector-specific content on blogs, news feeds or social media platforms can make a big difference to the SEO performance. Whilst the overall competition is looking more equitable, B2B Marketers still have to be careful by doubling up efforts on optimising or re-optimising their websites for Hummingbird. This is mainly because the Hummingbird update might be opening a new type of SEO competition which is strongly 'content-quality' driven. Not being on the ball might cost B2B websites to lose rankings and ultimately considerable traffic. However, the truth remains: finding the time, effort and money to produce quality, fresh and engaging content on a regular basis is easier said than done, but this is ultimately the most effective way to ensure your B2B website get found by your customers.