Content Marketing Blog

Adjusting your content strategy for Google Hummingbird

Earlier this month, Google unveiled a new search algorithm called Hummingbird – the first wholesale algorithm change since Caffeine in 2010.

Hummingbird (just like a real Hummingbird) promises to be “fast and precise” and incorporates all of the recent updates, including big beasts like Panda and Penguin.

Any time Google makes a significant change to how search works, it’s a good time to review your content strategy and start looking for new opportunities or perhaps new areas of risk.

But while Panda had website owners rewriting or no-indexing all their duplicate content and Penguin prompted a mass dodgy links amnesty, the impact of Hummingbird is likely to be more subtle.

If you’re keen to get ahead of the pack and take advantage of some of the opportunities presented by Hummingbird, here are some ideas:

Answer questions

When you work in the industry it’s easy to forget how regular people use the internet. While you might search for the keywords that you know will get you the result you want, most people just write out what they’re looking for and an increasing number ask questions.

Creating content that answers questions is nothing new. But one of the things Google is trying to do with Hummingbird is to really dig into search queries and understand the meaning behind them. Google’s first stab at this was universal search, which presented different types of results (news, maps, video, images etc) based on your query. Hummingbird will take this principal further, using the whole query rather than focussing on a small number of keywords within that query.

This means content that provides a better match for the query as a whole should outrank content that hits a couple of core keywords. And as more people search for questions, content that answers them is likely to perform a lot better in search.

Create more specific content

This also applies to other types of content. While previously your top level landing pages would win the more competitive terms and longer tail variations of those terms, Hummingbird is trying to dig a little deeper. It might take a while and a few algorithm updates, but Google’s direction of travel is pretty clear.

If someone searches for “wireless double-headed yellow widgets”, Google wants to find a page about wireless doubled-headed yellow widgets – not just your widgets landing page. To take advantage of this trend, you should look for opportunities to create more pages that drill into your top level landing page topics.

As well as serving up the sorts of results Hummingbird is looking for, you’ll also improve your user experience. Whether it’s making a purchase or filling in an inquiry form, you can bet your target audience has done a lot of research before that final click. The more relevant, quality and detailed content you can provide, the more likely it is that they will do some of that research with you.

Everything in moderation

Of course, it’s important not to get carried away. Going back through your blog archive and changing all the headlines into questions is probably not worth the effort. There is also always the danger of over-engineering your content, which as search gets more sophisticated is more likely to raise a red flag than win you more traffic.

Hummingbird also includes all the recent Google updates, so creating lots of very similar pages in an effort to get more specific with your content would be risky. Google Panda is alive and kicking and ready to thump sites with duplicate, thin, low quality pages.

By Rob Cleeve

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