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With every algorithm change that Google makes, how search engine-optimized content is written changes. Sometimes in small, hardly noticeable ways; other times in major ways. The Hummingbird update in August 2013 was widely touted as one of the most significant algorithm changes the search giant has done in a dozen years.
Many search and internet marketing experts say that this is the update that officially “killed keywords.”
So if keywords are not what you can depend on to use to write effective content to get found on the web, what is? How exactly do you write SEO content in this post-Hummingbird world?
It’s something that has a lot of content marketers scratching their heads – because so many of us are used to relying on things like keywords, anchor text and backlinks to “optimize” our content to drive traffic. So, following are three of the most important things you should know about writing online content these days.
1. Keywords are Not Dead: The first thing you should know is that the effectiveness of keywords is not dead. As a matter of fact, they’re just as important because they still factor into how web surfers find stuff on the web.
It’s just HOW they do it now is different, which brings me to my next point . . .
2. Ask Questions: Mobile devices like iPhones have changed how we search for things on the web. For the greatest part, this is what Google’s Hummingbird update was all about – ie, responding to this.
For example, if you were to search for info on SEO writing in the past, you might type in the keyword phrase “SEO writing,” right? But on a mobile device, you might ask a question, eg, “What is SEO writing?” or “How much do SEO writers make?” or “What does an SEO copywriter do?”
See how the keyword phrase “SEO writing” (or some variation of it) is still important, but now it’s used in the form of a question.
The reason you need to know this is, Hummingbird has moved us from just a keyword-focused environment into a semantics environment. And what this means is, Google is more focused on finding out the INTENT of what you’re searching for online.
The article, Google Hummingbird And The Effects On SEO Techniques on the blog ReginaldChan.com (an SEO expert) explains it this way:
How often do you type a two letter words on Google? Possibly one out of ten times maybe?
That’s the whole point!
Nowadays, we are typing nearly a complete sentence whenever we are searching for information. Google algorithm update affects how the search engine figures out what you are actually searching for. In other words, this makes Google better at solving complicated search queries.
3. About Backlinks: Backlinks are still very important, but they may no longer be enough, according to the post, How Will Google Hummingbird Impact Links? Here Are 6 Ways on Search Engine Land. In that post, the author states:
The post goes on to explain why having strong backlinks on your site may not be enough – and it’s not something you can really do anything about. Why? Because Google is giving searchers a lot of the information they’re searching for right there on Google.
That’s right, searchers never even have to leave Google’s page to get the info they need. To illustrate this point, the author points out what happens when someone searches for a sports stat, writing:
For example, you may have the greatest NFL stats website on the Web, but when I do a search for [Peyton Manning stats], here’s what Google gives me, without me having to leave or click anywhere else …
To see what he means, type in “Peyton Manning Stats” and see what happens. It’s tons of info right there on Google, right? So, so even though you may have everything on your site about Peyton Manning from the day he started playing football dating back to the pee wee leagues, the visitor may never get to see it because Google gives them the info they need without having to click away.
If you’re a freelance SEO copywriter who has clients, or a content marketer, you might be wondering right now, “How can I create content that will rank well post-Hummingbird? It’s all so confusing!”
Well, there’s good news. The one thing that Google has been consistent about across all of its updates is to create great content.
Advice I’m Giving My SEO Writing Company’s Clients Post-Hummingbird
And what I’m telling my clients is this:
“Create great content, consistently – and promote it via different outlets, eg, social media, video, slideshares, webinars, etc.”
What you’re doing when you do this is building your own community around your content. This way, you create loyal followers who’ll come to you – NOT Google – when they want what you have to offer.
This is the way to “Google proof” your online business – and not have to worry so much every time the search giant goes to its zoo and pulls out another animal to wreak havoc across the web.