Do you have to change your content writing strategy after Hummingbird? Flickr photo by Adikos
There is no question that each update in Google’s search algorithm has a corresponding effect on the strategies used by content writers, content marketers, and SEOs.
When Panda was first launched, the quality of the website text became of utmost importance. That included grammar, spelling, other technical aspects of writing, and the value of the information included in the text. Articles had to have meat to be called high-quality content.
The introduction of the Penguin update took content quality up a notch and included the underlying SEO techniques. It is common knowledge that by inserting vital keywords in articles and blog posts, the web page becomes optimized and is on the running for ranking in the SERPs. The Penguin put into check the quantity of keywords stuffed in a text, plus the anchor texts and their hyperlinks. Therefore, content writers had to make sure not to stuff too many keywords or hyperlinks into their articles.
Now with the Hummingbird, the rules established after the launch of Panda and Penguin still stands. There are just several others that have been added. These recommended strategies may still change of course, and it may be due to additional updates in the algorithm or a delayed effect of the Hummingbird’s comprehensive search update.
Keywords are still very important for SEO purposes. Although there had been talk about how the Hummingbird “killed keywords” because the emphasis of Google’s search algorithm now lies in fully understanding the purpose of the search, keywords are still necessary because not everyone uses complex search queries. Hardcore researchers are still using keywords and phrases to find the precise information they are looking for, not asking conversational questions to the search engine.
Consider too that even conversational questions will still contain vital keywords and phrases. For example, if you want to know where the nearest hair salon from your current location is, you will still type or speak into your phone the type of business you are looking for—which is a hair salon.
The key here is not to get rid of keywords but to use them where they can be most effective at ranking.
Question and Answer Formats
Hummingbird is geared towards answering complex or conversational queries. This is now a rampant habit among mobile phone Internet users and even PC users. They don’t use stunted queries like “cute puppies white” or “rubber slippers Ipanema.” Their questions will be something like, “what is the breed of a white, furry dog?” or “how much do Ipanema slippers cost?”
These are the type of questions Hummingbird is meant to answer accurately. Before this update, Google has a tendency to hone in on keywords alone and produce exact-match hits (some of which don’t really answer the query).
Hence, websites today will benefit if they’ll add an FAQ section or publish articles where questions will be stated and answers will be provided.
Do Keyword Research
As usual, keyword research is vital for content optimization. This time though, don’t just concentrate on terms that you as the service provider commonly use. Find out what other synonyms your target audience is using when searching for your products, services, or niche. Hummingbird is designed to understand semantics, so even if layman’s terms are used in the search, your content will still have a chance of appearing on the SERPs. Of course, it is more ideal if your website hits layman keywords and phrases as well as the industry keywords and phrases.
The conclusion we all reached after Google Panda still holds true: producing quality content is still the best and most effective way of ranking and achieving high PR. This is no secret, and this is always going to be the rule.
The competition for niche supremacy increases as time passes though. Think about it: all websites are working on improving their content value. They publish very well-written articles and blog posts filled with relevant and useful information. As more and more websites adapt higher standards of quality, the playing field will also begin to level out. The websites that can continue to step up and stand out, and keep on producing excellent content that eclipse the others, will emerge as the leading thought leaders and niche authorities.
Develop Content under the Hood
Under the hood content refers to the meta data for each web page or multimedia content. There are pros and cons in adding a meta description to an article, but for this topic, consider that the meta description will be shown as a summary of the article when it appears on the SERPs. If the meta data is worded as a question and answer, this can be useful in light of Hummingbird’s standards.
Referencing and Backlinking
We are aware that inbound links from high-ranking authority sites is very valuable for ranking. Posting outbound links to authority sites will actually help as well. Posting them as references to the content on your web page will confirm the accuracy of your data and the relevance of the article as a whole. There’s also the added benefit of crawlers crossing through links, helping newly published articles get indexed faster.
So basically, continue with what you already know as acceptable strategies in content production and marketing. Everyone is kind of testing the waters still where Hummingbird is concerned. Remember to consider the purpose and goals of the update, and always take a look at your content through the eyes of your customers. That will give you insight on what type of content you have to produce.