Google’s latest Hummingbird update and the expansion of (not provided) keywords has shaken the search engine optimization (SEO) world. For once, Search Engine Optimizers will be flying blind, not knowing what types of keywords their audiences are using to search for their brands.
The only tools they can count on: The quality of their content and link-building strategies.
With this change, successful Search Engine Optimizers will need to not only be technically proficient, but understand their customer’s journey through the buying process, create an optimal link-building strategy, and write content that is highly relevant to the buyer’s intent.
Confused? Here’s a short guide to surviving the latest Google updates.
Research Your Buyer Personas and Understand Their Pain Points and Intent
With the Hummingbird update, Google takes another step toward becoming more of an answer engine than a search engine, taking your search intent into consideration to give you the most relevant results possible (we will leave it to Paul Bruemmer tell explain how Google can tell your search intent).
This means that when you are optimizing content, you are no longer trying to optimize for keywords. Instead, you are optimizing the whole page to answer the user’s search intent.
For example, if your buyer research reveals that the most common pain point your customers have is time, then it would be beneficial for your SEO to include how your product can save time somewhere on your website.
Writing Content Centered Around Answers, not Queries
Establishing topical authority has taken on more importance (and perhaps even moreso later) than ranking for keywords.
Google’s move toward structured data means they are able to group keywords with intent, much like how our brains forms schemas to group concepts. In other words, they are not only looking at the specified keywords, but, potentially, other words that are often associated with your given topic.
What does this mean for your content team? They will need to have a concrete understanding of what questions your target audiences are commonly asking. This will require more initial research to prevent your content team from “guessing” at a consumer’s intent.
Based on the answers they discover, dedicate core pages, such as your product pages, to address those questions using more than just the keywords you identified.
Have a Solid Link-Building Strategy
With Google trying to give searchers more relevant results on the search engine results pages (SERP), your page’s authority will matter even more than ever. You can establish this authority by having reputable and relevant sites — directories, trade publications, social media channels — linking to your page. The more high quality links you get, the more authority you have.
Link-building can be a time consuming process. It takes pitching and establishing relationships with webmasters to convince them to link to your page or building a large and active community on social media to encourage more links. There are numerous methods for you to build links and the effectiveness of these methods can be hard to measure. However, the goal is clear: to acquire as many reputable and relevant sites to link to your page as possible.
In this new age of SEO, it takes more than just a single technically proficient search engine optimizer for your website to perform well. SEO may now involve your whole marketing team — from your Search Engine Optimizers to your content team, and even your researchers to create a solid strategy. In short, it will take an integrated marketing approach to perform well in SEO.
If you need advice or help with execution in this new age of SEO, we are here to help.