Entries Tagged 'Google search' ↓

The Hummingbird Cometh – Google Strikes Again

The end of September saw yet another Google algorithm update – the Hummingbird. Hummingbird update

At the heart of this little bird is the difference between what people are looking for and why they are looking for it.

Search engines have always delivered ranked results by matching the keywords typed in the search box to the keywords on a web page.

The problem with that is that words can have different meanings, as illustrated by Google’s Senior Vice President of Engineering, Amit Singhal when talking about the Taj Mahal: “Was the search about the monument in India, the musician, or a local curry house? What was the intent behind the search?”

Hummingbird’s semantic search capabilities are an attempt to clarify the context of queries. In other words, it tries to understand how we use language and how the meaning of words varies depending on context.

Hummingbird and search marketing

With all the Penguins, Pandas and Hummingbirds in the world, it’s hardly surprising that the face of search marketing is constantly changing.

In fact it was only recently that Google announced it would no longer be providing webmasters with data about which keywords were driving traffic from search results to their websites.

Google’s explicit message being that webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share. In other words, engaging website content.

Hummingbird and website content

It’s important you understand how to make sure your website copywriting and content align with Hummingbird’s aim.

What does your customer need?

It’s important to think about why customers want or need your product or service. For example, if you have a travel site, do you offer information about travelling to the destination, what there is to see, local customs, restaurants, galleries or where the best beaches are?

Analytics

Look at your analytics to discover what people are searching for when they’ve reached your site, but can’t find immediately. This will help you understand what they are looking for and optimise your website content accordingly.

Blogs aren’t the be all and end all

Think about varying your content. Great information doesn’t only come in the form of a blog post; it could also be video, graphics, an eBook, report or white paper.

Just make sure its form and function match.

Language

Don’t just go for an exact keyword match when describing what you do/offer. Use synonyms too, which will provide alternative phrases that people may use when searching for what you offer.

Make sure the language you use isn’t dry and dull. Show your personality through your writing so it informs and inspires.

Social

Make sure all your content is easy to share.

Above all, make sure the content on your website complements your sales strategy by being relevant to your products and services.

A well written website should already have all those features, but it’s worth checking yours out to see if it can be improved in any way.

It may, at times, seem as though Google is playing God with your business, but all these changes are there to make the search experience more rewarding and relevant. Provided you abide by Google’s rules and aren’t tempted to take any short cuts, you should be able to weather these changes with minimum fuss.

 

 Image courtesy of Idea go/FreeDigitalPhotos

The Death of Keyword Data

Google has been playing again according to a recent post on HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing blog.search

It is to encrypt all keyword searches except for click on ads.

What does that mean?

Basically, marketers won’t be able to get keyword data for searches made by people who aren’t signed in to Google.

Apparently, this move is to give “extra protection” to searchers, but considering the exception for ads, the more cynical would say it’s an attempt to get more people using Google AdWords.

The guys at Hubspot go on to say:

“You may recall that back in October 2011, Google (citing the reason of privacy), announced it would start encrypting search results for logged-in Google users (including any Google-owned product like YouTube, Google+, Gmail, etc.). This meant that marketers were no longer able to identify which keywords a person who was logged into Google.com searched for before they arrived at your website — even if they were using a web or marketing analytics platform like HubSpot. And without these keyword insights, marketers would have a much tougher time knowing which keywords to target to achieve greater visibility in search. No bueno.

“While Google initially said this would impact less than 10% of all searches conducted, we quickly noticed that percentage rise. In November 2011, we analyzed the keywords of HubSpot’s customers to find that more than 11% of organic search traffic was being affected, and by January of this year, we’d found that for the HubSpot website specifically, about 55% of the organic search we got each month was encrypted (and we’d seen that percentage steadily rising by about 4 percentage points each month). Things appeared to be getting more serious.”

Eek, not good.

So is there any way marketers can still measure and use search data?

The HubSpot guys say:

“It is still possible to tell how much traffic your website is getting from organic search. Although you might not know the exact keywords, you can still correlate the work you do to optimize your site and create content to increases or decreases in organic search.

“Other search engines like Bing and Yahoo continue to pass along keyword data. According to comScore, at present, Google.com has about 67% of search market share, Bing has 18%, and Yahoo has 11%. Although this will not provide the full picture, analytics tools like HubSpot can continue to show keywords for the 33% of searches that come from search engines like Bing, Yahoo, AOL, Ask.com, etc. This data will give marketers at least some indication of which keywords are the most useful.

“If you use Google AdWords for pay-per-click marketing, connect your company’s AdWords account to your Google Analytics account and use that data for keyword research.

“Rank will continue to play a role in helping measure the results of search engine optimization and content creation.”

You can read their full post here.

 

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

Matt Cutts – What’s Coming in Terms of SEO for Google

The final video in this Matt Cutts mini series relates to a question all online marketers want answered – what does Google have up its sleeve in terms of SEO.

This video was shot in May 2013 so it initially talks about Penguin 2.0 which has already happened, but Matt then goes on to cover other areas, such as:

  • Tightening up on advertorials that violate Google’s guidelines
  • Link spammers
  • More sophisticated link analysis
  • Hack site detection
  • Identifying niche authorities

Of course, the world of SEO changes rapidly, but this short video gives a heads up to what you should be looking out for.

So, that’s the end of our mini series for now.

Thank you to Matt Cutts and his team for these great videos. They are a great help to businesses trying to get to grips with what’s happening in the fast moving world of search.

See you soon.

Sally Ormond

Copywriter @ Briar Copywriting Ltd

Follow me on Twitter and Google+

Can a Non-optimised Site Outrank Yours That is Optimised?

If you need to know anything about SEO (search engine optimisation) there’s only one person to ask, Matt Cutts of Google.

This is the first in a series of posts that looks at various aspects of SEO. This one relates to a phenomenon you may have seen – how an apparently non-optimised website can outrank your site that’s been optimised to the hilt.

This is what Matt Cutts has to say on the matter:

 

Hmmm, so things aren’t always as they seem. But then again, if achieving top rankings was easy it would make a mockery of the whole search ranking process.

The next instalment will look at the qualities of a good site.

See you soon.

 

Sally Ormond

Copywriter @ Briar Copywriting Ltd

Follow me on Twitter and Google+

 

 

Is There a Future For SEO?

In the aftermath of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm ‘tweaks’, the fact that we all get search results that relate to our location (yup, you’re no longer seeing country-wide results*) and the prospect of even more changes on the way, is there the future of SEOa future for search engine optimisation?

Let’s face it, small businesses with a national (and international) reach relied heavily on their SEO to get great rankings in the search results. Now, they have no way of knowing who will see their listing because everyone sees different things.

OK, for local search this isn’t too much of an issue, but how are SEO companies dealing with the fact that they can no longer state, with any certainty, where their clients’ websites are ranking?

The changing face of SEO

Once upon a time, SEO could be divided into 2 categories:

  1. Internal SEO – relating to your website’s structure
  2. External SEO – articles, content, blogs, press releases, links etc.

Of course, the reason for Google’s changes comes down to that small minority who couldn’t be bothered to do things properly and had to find short cuts to make money.

These ‘black hat’ SEOers spoilt the party for all the other legitimate businesses who worked hard to get their rankings playing by the rules.

Now many face an uncertain future, or are being forced to rethink their whole marketing strategy because they can no longer reach out to the wider market place.

Search goes social

The focus behind all these changes is for our search results to become more social and therefore (apparently) more relevant.

The relevancy of your website is now to be dictated by the number of followers, comments, views and shares your content gets.

The problem I can see with this, is that it won’t be long before the cowboys work out a way of faking that too.

Where does that leave us?

For most of the big brands out there these algorithmic changes have little or no effect. But for the smaller businesses they can have a devastating impact.

Google claims that if you have followed their SEO rules your website won’t be affected, but thousands and thousands of sites have seen their rankings plummet because of them.

Online marketing is a fast changing environment. Keeping up with these new techniques is proving to be a major headache for many small businesses out there. They don’t have the budgets needed to get an expert on board to help them and so are left floundering in the wake of the might Google’s whims.

Over to you

Are you an SEO company? How are these changes affecting you and your clients?

Are you a small business struggling to keep pace with it all?

Leave a comment below because, whatever your story, we want to hear from you.

*If you want to return to national results, simply go to your Google home page,  click ‘settings’ (bottom right), click ‘Search Settings’, click ‘Location’ and then enter UK in the ‘Where are you?’ box.

Author:

Sally Ormond, copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd - blogger, cyclist and mum.

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