Google Hummingbird Update

googleGoogle has recently updated its search algorithm to respond to longer, more complex search phrases and questions that people enter through their smartphones and mobile devices. What this means is that the traditional keyword-based system has been changed to handle questions and more complex phrases to adapt to the increased use of mobile devices for searches.

Studies have shown that up to 46% of Americans search Google exclusively with mobile devices and with the Hummingbird update, Google can better handle the more complex search queries and questions that people speak into their smartphones. The mobile-first approach of the Hummingbird update is causing businesses to focus more on their mobile presence in their content marketing and SEO strategies.

One of the main reasons for the Hummingbird update is that people have been speaking searches into their smartphones and mobile devices in a more natural way which is more complex than simply typing in keywords. The new algorithm uses formulas that can respond better to these types of searches and recognize the context of the terms being used within the search phrases or question to yield better results. Scott Huffman, a key engineering director at Google, explains that the ultimate goal of Hummingbird is “to get to a natural conversation” between people and Google search on their mobile devices.

So what does this mean for SEO and content marketing strategies?

The Hummingbird update shifts the focus of Google searches to mobile devices so businesses must begin taking a mobile-first approach to their SEO and content marketing. This update is also more focused on ranking sites based on their relevance as opposed to the previous update, Caffeine, which ranked sites based on better indexing for keywords. Therefore, companies must develop mobile marketing strategies to better respond to the Hummingbird update.

One important thing to remember is that it is not necessary to change or rebuild your content marketing strategy; only to make mobile the central focus of your website’s design, content creation, and overall delivery. The basic fundamentals of effective content marketing such as developing an editorial calendar, crafting messages that resonate with your audience, understanding your audience profile, and measuring the outcomes still apply but require a mobile-first mindset. Here are some key things to consider when developing mobile-first content:

Length: High-quality, in-depth content is a very important aspect of SEO and longer articles written for SEO purposes tend to rank well in search engine results. However, most users on mobile devices with smaller screens are less likely to read longer text and they demand the specific information needed to answer their question or complete a task without having to sort through a lot of content. Therefore, shorter, more focused pieces that address a specific issue are more valuable within a mobile context. Posting shorter summaries or introductions on a mobile site to longer pieces is another approach to consider.

Visual and Audio Content: Visual content is easier and faster to consume for mobile users than text so it is important to incorporate visual content such as images, infographics, videos, and micro-videos into your content.

Socially Friendly: Mobile users can share content through social media much easier than ever before so it is important to actively engage on your social media channels and make sure your content can be shared across a wide range of mobile devices. This strategy can help boost your shares with minimal effort. Also, e-mail marketing templates should be mobile-compatible so they can be easily accessed on mobile devices.

Topic Focus: By using Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, you can determine what mobile users are doing on your website and see whether they are shopping or looking for information on products or industry trends. This information can help you develop better topics of interest for your content based on how mobile users are actually using your website.

In addition to shifting to a mobile-first mindset for content creation, businesses must also adapt a mobile-first approach to designing their websites. The Hummingbird update causes websites that are less mobile responsive to be at a disadvantage in the search results, so it is important to make sure your website functions well across all devices. The old strategy was to scale down a traditional website to work on mobile devices by stripping down the design and limiting functionality. However, mobile users are demanding more effective, full featured mobile websites. Therefore, websites should be designed with a mobile-first approach in functionality and flow which can then be scaled up for standard computers.

The new Hummingbird update from Google shifts the focus to mobile devices by introducing a new algorithm to handle more complex phrases and questions that people enter into the search engine by speaking through their smartphones or other mobile devices. By adopting a mobile-first approach to SEO and content marketing, you can help your website rank better in the search results under the Hummingbird update.

Previous month’s topic: Video SEM – 8 Web Video Marketing Tips.

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