To celebrate their fifteenth birthday, Google recently launched an entirely new search algorithm called Hummingbird. Google claims that this algorithm presents a more natural, “human” way of interacting with the search engine, and that Google search will now provide better results and answers to queries. The algorithm can make sense of more complex search requests and has a better understanding of the human language, making itself more useful for longer term search queries and for those who often search Google by voice command.
So what does this mean for small and mid-sized businesses and their marketing strategies? Quite a bit, actually.
One way the Hummingbird algorithm works is by focusing on social media interactions and by analyzing search histories to emphasize branding over specific keywords. As a result, Google search results will now place added emphasis on the use of branding and longer search queries (in other words, long tail keywords and fully typed out questions). If a company isn’t utilizing social media to converse and promote their brand, they’ll be missing out on an extremely important part of what Google looks for when returning search results.Essentially, businesses should build a social media presence to send Google signals to show that they are part of an ongoing online “conversation”, using branding and language that ties into the content of their website.
Beyond social media, businesses will also need to pay attention to their content on their websites. Websites that have cohesive, interesting, useful information on their website will be promoted, whereas sites that have disjointed or shallow content will fall behind. Does your site convey a strong message about what your company does, why it is effective, and why people should utilize your service? Is your written content useful and on subject? Is it easy to navigate and understand? Does it tie into your content marketing strategy outside of the site? Does the site get updated frequently with new content?
These are the questions that businesses will need to ask themselves when reviewing their website. If you find that you have recently drifted lower and lower in ranking, these should be the first things that you look at.