Just a few days ago, Google held a press conference, in the garage where the search engine first started, to announce its new algorithm. “Hummingbird” (so-named because the new system is precise and fast) is not an update like Panda and Penguin. It is actually a whole new algorithm… a new way for Google to index and rank the pages that appear in its search engine results pages (SERPs).
What shocked many people is that Google has actually been running this new algorithm for about a month without telling anyone.
What’s Hummingbird All About?
While I noticed some changes in the search results, I will admit that they were subtle. It seemed to me that Google had made shifts to tailor the results more to the intent of the keyphrase. For example, adding more information-based pages to general searches such as “search engine optimization” and showing more commercial-types of listings for queries like “search engine optimization services.”
In fact, this is part of Hummingbird.
Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land has an excellent article that is very easy to understand. I recommend you read that for more details on the overall gist of Hummingbird.
In it, Danny explains (simplistically) how Hummingbird works, what’s different and what you need to do as far as SEO goes.
In addition, Bill Slawski from SEO by the Sea, goes into some of the technology and inner-workings of what may make up the new algorithm.
How Does Hummingbird Impact On-Page Optimization & Copywriting?
SEO copywriting changed significantly with the implementation of the Panda and Penguin updates. That’s when I launched my “Writing With Keywords” video series that outlined the updated way web page copy needed to be optimized for the engines to avoid falling victim to Panda quality slaps and Penguin over-optimization penalties.
Those practices are still very much applicable to writing under this new Hummingbird algorithm.
In fact, as Danny Sullivan reported in his article, Google affirms, “There’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.”
In other words, if you’ve made the necessary changes to break away from old-school copy optimization methods like adhering to keyword densities, using exact-match keyphrases over and over, and shoving keyphrases into every place possible, you’re should be good to go.
If you’re still writing and optimizing on-page elements the same way you did three or four years ago, you might begin to see your rankings slowly fade away.
Do you Need to Update Your Copy?
How do you know if you need to update your SEO copywriting practices? A good start is to review the pages on your site (or your clients’ sites) and ask yourself these two questions:
1. Are the exact-match keyphrases this page is optimized for used repeatedly throughout the page?
This is an outdated practice (along with writing to particular keyword densities) that should have been abandoned years ago. With Google’s improvements in technology over the last several years, it is simply not necessary to use the same keyphrases repetitively. In fact, doing so in some cases, can send signals that your pages are over optimized.
Instead, use exact-match phrases sparingly: just to point Google in the right direction.
2. Are you including synonyms in your copy as well as keywords?
One important element of the Hummingbird algorithm is its ability to serve up search results that are applicable to conversational search as well as traditional search. Conversational search takes place when you use verbal search (speaking a search into your smart phone or tablet, for instance, and carrying out consecutive searches based on the first results).
For instance, asking Google, “Where is the Eiffel Tower?” Then asking “How tall is it?” In conversational search, the engine recognizes that you’re still talking about the Eiffel Tower even though you did not specify this name… you said “it” not “Eiffel Tower.”
Generally, people search differently when they speak than when they type a search into Google. Using a smart phone, you might be more likely to ask, “Are there any good Greek places for dinner” instead of typing “Greek restaurants in Atlanta, GA.”
Using synonyms within your copy and content is becoming more important by the day.
Keyword copywriting is certainly not the end-all, be-all of search engine optimization. There are many other elements that play a big role in whether or not your pages rank well. But – since search engines are text machines (they can’t see pictures or listen to podcasts, for example) – words are all they have to go on. That means the sales copy on your sites or the content of your blog posts and articles goes a long way to boosting your search position.
Like I stressed earlier, if you haven’t changed your search engine copywriting methods in the last three to four years, you seriously need to get up to date. The new strategies brought about with Panda and Penguin have only been reinforced by Hummingbird.
It’s getting wild out here. Don’t get lost in the jungle!
Did you know I offer copywriting & Internet marketing consulting? Not sure your site is Hummingbird ready? Need someone to answer questions, make suggestions or work with your in-house team? Contact me and let’s talk about where you want to go and how I can help you get there.
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