If you haven’t heard, Google recently changed their search algorithm, a move that will effect over 90% of all queries. That means if your small business website hasn’t been optimized with “white hat” SEO techniques, you might have to revamp your content. If you’ve been working with an SEO company or keeping up with the latest SEO practices yourself, you should be just fine. Either way, it’s important to understand what this latest update—dubbed the Hummingbird update—means for your small business.
Why did Hummingbird Happen?
Luckily, the update isn’t all that complicated to understand. Essentially, the Hummingbird update aims to provide Google users with
more relevant content in relation to their search queries. In order to do this, the Google search engine changed the parameters by which it judges websites based on relevance. Whereas prior to this update, a lot of emphasis was placed on individual keywords that the searcher would input, now it is more reliant on ideas that relate to keywords and complete phases.
This change is mostly driven by necessity. There are conceivably three main reasons why this happened:
- The mobile revolution is in full swing. With more and more people performing local searches each day from their mobile devices, Google needed a way to provide better results based on the way people search on their portable devices.
- People are getting more comfortable with performing Google searches. It used to be that a person looking for “painters in New York” would type that exact phrase in. Now, people are typing in full questions such as “Where can I find cheap apartment painters in Flatbush?” Google Chrome even rolled out a “voice search” option which places further emphasis on full phrases, sentences and questions.
- Google is trying to make their search experience better than Bing. By giving the viewer more relevant search engine results, Google gets an edge up on their competition.
Regardless of why this happened, the point is that it happened. Now, it’s time for you to make sure that your small business website is in line with the new Hummingbird updates.
What Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know About Hummingbird
What you really need to take away from this is that simply having keywords in your content isn’t going to be enough anymore. So what should your small business website content have?
- Answer Questions. Try to think about the questions that your clients want answered. Are they looking for all-weather paint? Do they want to know the difference between paint brands? These are the types of search engine queries that are taking place so Google Hummingbird is placing more emphasis on getting people to the right answers. Know what your clients and prospects want to know and then give it to them.
- Provide Useful Content. Aside from answering questions, you should provide content that will be helpful to your clients. For example, posting a blog on how to keep a paint job looking like it was just finished is a good idea. Or how about some other handy tips that you’ve accumulated throughout the years. It’s not enough to just have your name and address up anymore—now you have to provide some value before you even attract the job.
- More Focus on Semantics. Quite possibly the biggest takeaway here is the semantic search. Semantic searches are more focused on the user’s intent, rather than the exact words they are using. For example, if a customer types in “painting contractor”, Google is going to not only wonder if they’re looking for one, but if they want to become one as well. For this reason, it’s vital that you use LSI (latent semantic index) keywords in your content. A great way to do this is to use a thesaurus when writing content or come up with related words to your keywords. For example, “painter” “contractor” “indoor renovations” “room remodeling” “painting” and “home specialist” are all in the same category, so should be used to attract semantic indexing.
- Long Tail Keywords. While long tail keywords are nothing new, there is more significance placed upon them now with the new Google update. These keywords and phrases are what make up the tail end of search results. For example, whereas most people would center a blog around “painting contractor”, a long tail-centric blog would be centered around “looking for a painter in Quahog.” While the former would get search volume, it’s a high competition keyword. The long tail keyword has lower search volume, but also a lower competition, so essentially, you’re more targeted. Hummingbird likes this kind of website content.
The bottom line here is that as long as you’re designing your small business website and writing your content for your target audience and not for search engines, you’ll actually wind up doing great with Hummingbird. If you’re following strict keyword density formulas and keyword stuffing (or using other “black hat” SEO techniques), it’s time to rethink your strategy.
So tell us, how ‘Hummingbird’ ready is your website?