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by Dean Marsden on 4th October 2013
Last month I wrote about Google returning Semantic Search results and making big moves forward in understanding users through conversational word. Incredibly it turns out Google had released a completely new Algorithm that powered its Knowledge Graph during this time, although no one really noticed!
This is a good thing, with the update rumoured to affect 90% of websites there wasn’t really any significant noise of traffic changes from webmasters during this time. It was only when Google publicly announced the change that people really noticed it.
The new algorithm, Google Hummingbird, managed to keep the hard work the old updates had done so far in delivering great web results whilst incorporating advanced conversational search and returning greater knowledge graph results.
So what can digital marketers do to get more from Google Hummingbird? Well Knowledge graph is going to get a lot smarter and this means traditional web results are being pushed down. In essence, increasing your websites’ visibility is even more important.
The first step you can take to get in on the action is to improve on your AuthorRank. In the future Google will need to identify experts in different fields to return greater informational results. After all this is Google’s main goal. If you can be seen as an authority on a particular subject through AuthorRank then Google will likely place trust in content you have created on the web and this will lead to greater visibility of your content.
In order to build your AuthorRank you will need to actually use that Google+ account you created back when it launched. If you want Google to notice you, building connections and a reputation through Google+ is the best way to do this. Sure it may be argued that you can build a great AuthorRank just through linking your Google+ account to all the great content you’ve published on the web and building an authority through external personal branding. But interacting and building two way relationships on Google+ means that Google can get a better idea of your areas of expertise.
As illustrated in my previous blog post, Google now auto suggests complete sentences based on what you’re inputting. If Google thinks a query is best written a different way, users are going to be ‘pushed’ into results for these suggestions. This means increased search volume for certain keyword phrases and if you’re quick you can start to dominate these.
There are a couple of ways you can find out what these queries are: The first is to try using Google suggest tools such as Ubersuggest.org but at this time it doesn’t always return rewritten results like those that I’ve seen in Google. However it is still a great tool to get ideas for synonyms and phrase variations.
The best way to find these alternatives right now is to manually search to find a given page or product on your website. In these examples from my last blog post, Google completely reorders and rewrites search strings.
Sure organic keyword data is disappearing, but it’s almost forcing us to totally rethink keyword strategy. ‘Writing for the user’ is something we’ve all heard from Matt Cutts a billion times but this time ‘Answering the user’ will be far more beneficial.
This offers a chance to drive more relevant traffic to your site. People use Google for answers to their questions. Create or edit content to put more of an answer to their questions.
We’re all aware Mobile devices are becoming the most popular source of web searches and with that more and more people will be searching for local products and services. Google Hummingbird is designed to return better localised results to users, especially in mobile friendly formats; maps, directions, click to call links, etc. All of these mean a greater chance of reaching customers that are nearby.
Optimising for local search is probably one of the most rewarding tasks you can do if your business relies on local custom, i.e. restaurants, takeaways, supermarkets, shops, gyms, plumbers, electricians, gas men, mechanics and more.
As well as the usual local search optimisation techniques, having a Google+ Local page is a must so that your business details appear correctly. Also if people search for your business name directly then a knowledge graph style panel will appear with your details.
When users search a given object, the chance of pictures popping up is greater than ever before. Therefore it is important to fill your content with rich, high quality images with optimisation of the file name and alt tag. Use the keyword research techniques already outlined in this blog post to find the exact phrases searchers are using.
Before the introduction of Semantic Search visitors would have probably found your site via broader keywords that may not have had much detail, however once a visitor is on your site it’s likely they would have used built in site search to help find a specific product, service or blog post if their original Google search wasn’t detailed enough to show a better landing page.
These search terms may give you more of an idea of what people want, making them potentially more detailed and providing you with a good insight into visitor behaviour. These site search keywords can be incorporated into your overall keyword strategy.
These are some ideas of how to benefit from a future with Google Hummingbird. I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.