Every so often Google shakes up the search landscape with an unforeseen update that sends SEO managers into a frenzy. Maybe it’s a new security encryption, or maybe it’s new piece of the search puzzle. In select cases, we’ve seen a comprehensive algorithm rewrite.
In the last month or so, Google has introduced all three. In an unprecedented slew of updates, Google eliminated organic keyword data, introduced hashtag value in its search results, and more importantly, released Hummingbird, the biggest technological update in at least three years. Marketing managers are trying to put the pieces of their SEO strategies back together, in many cases with pieces missing. It’s a classic Google move: Invoke chaos and see who comes out on top. It’s up to you to employ the proper responses to keep your website relevant in search rankings.
Google took over the search market in the early 2000s because its engine was smarter than the competition’s. Despite exponential growth in a few different directions, Google hasn’t forgotten what put it on the map. Hummingbird is the next generation of search intelligence.
“Our algorithm had to go through some fundamental rethinking of how we are going to keep our results relevant,” Google senior VP Amit Singhal said when he revealed Hummingbird. In this latest update, Google further distances itself from the “exact match” keyword weight that drove early search results. No longer can marketers expect instant results from linking their websites to a specific keyword numerous times. Instead, Hummingbird is better at handling conversational search. In a blog post explaining conversational search, Google noted that it is now more equipped to handle full phrases like “Will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?”
Because of this linguistic boost, relevant content is more important than ever. High-quality, viral content will receive more weight from Google. Businesses who have maintained their SEO prowess through link-building and low-quality content will have to shift to a more content-focused approach. Even if businesses wanted to continue pursuing specific key words, Google is making it more difficult to do so.
Webmasters used to receive organic search data that would reveal what keywords brought visitors to their sites. In an effort to promote security, Google has slowly added an extra layer of encryption to searches. Earlier this year, Google put a fork in keyword data altogether, adding an SSL encryption for all searches. That means no more organic keyword data to guide your SEO efforts. It might be a blessing in disguise for businesses who relied heavily on this data. Google was already moving away from specific keyword optimization. This closed door may speed up the shift to content marketing for some websites.
It’s no secret that Google values the world of social media. It’s own social platform, Google+, is growing faster than any of its major competitors, and a report by SearchMetrics indicates the Google+ could surpass social giant Facebook by 2016.
Another example of Google’s commitment to social media is its inclusion of hashtagged content. Search #SamsungGalaxy in Google and you’ll be more likely to find social content from Google+, Twitter and Tumblr. The takeaway is simple: social media isn’t a fad. Google values this social data, and sites like iAcquiretweets.com are more likely to come up in search engines because of their commitment to social content. If you’re not interacting with followers and potential customers, you’re losing out on the fastest-growing lead pool in the world. Not only will social media help your SEO, it’ll help you business or website as a whole.