Contents are central to SEO, but thanks to Google and specifically, Hummingbird, the recent changes are shaking the core and dynamics of SEO quickly. Impliedly, most of the changes are brought by Google. Should online publishers change their content strategies to reflect the major SEO changes? Let’s trace the reasons you should.
1) Search inquiry
Before, Google delivers results based on keywords the search contains. Hence, SEO experts turn to partial and exact match keyword research so a website or page containing the keywords will be shown on SERPs. With Hummingbird, however, the search engine will look into the context of the inquiry to generate results that actually answer any given question.
Thus, exact matching may no longer be relevant; long-tail keywords are. These keywords contain specific phrases which the consumers are more likely to search for when looking for information. Long-tail keywords increase organic search and boost conversion.
2) Knowledge graph
Google exists for 15 years, monopolizing the access to a huge collection of knowledge. Google made such knowledge base available to Hummingbird. You might have noticed that Google shows images, basic information and people also search for recommendations on the side instead of ads when you search for a particular term. This is called the knowledge graph.
For online publishers, this might mean building own knowledge base first by publishing more articles and blogs so Google will display your information on knowledge graph when the user searches for terms relevant to your brand, product or service. Conversely, this might take years unless you are a global brand like Xerox, Nestle, Dell, etc.
3) Conversational search
By now, Chrome users have already noticed the microphone icon at the right corner of the search bar. Users can simply click on the icon and just voice out whatever question (or query) they have in mind. Google prompts the users to ‘Speak Now’ and displays the question on the search bar. If the inquiry is unclear, Google will display an information card with a list of information and sites to visit and the user will have to click on the best answer. Chrome also speaks back the answer to you.
For SEO professionals, this could only mean one thing. Now more than ever, they need to understand more deeply how the users behave online specifically what their approaches in weaving search terms are. Understand what motivates the users to ask these questions as well. This could also mean putting as much information on the articles that your target audience needs and might need in the future.
4) Publisher rank
About 10% of all the information needs of the online users involve a broad topic, changing how sites and pages are ranked in SERPs. Author rank is no longer the focus, but Publisher rank through in-depth articles. Put simply, Google requires publishers to write relevant contents as it ranks contents based on its topical relevance. Critically, Google also demands to cover important points about a particular topic and ensure its proper readability despite being keyword-rich.
When creating contents, an SEO copywriter’s focus should be on semantic relevance and user importance. Understanding the target audience first is paramount so you can create contents that the audience will find useful. Think of writing a Wikipedia entry, and let your vision guide you in writing articles and blogs.
What the future holds for SEO?
These changes are actually an invitation to opportunities. It is now in the hands of the SEO specialists to give Google the opportunity to find their contents. Broadening horizons through creating more pages that answer the questions that the users posted on your niche is a must. These entrance pages with 100% unique contents may:
- Answer more queries more accurately,
- Cover area(s) of expertise comprehensively,
- Integrate more long tail keywords,
- Draw the curiosity of more users,
- Build conversations between you and the users, and
- Develop ongoing relationships with customers.
The idea that SEO is already dead is an exaggeration, and whoever told you that it will die anytime soon is wrong. SEO is here to stay despite the changes brought by Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. While the changes are evident on content writing and publishing strategies, SEO can only evolve into something that is more valuable and sustainable for everyone involved.
About the author
Jeric is a Filipino blogger and a business enthusiast. He’s currently working in Optimind, a digital marketing agency in the Philippines that provide services including SEO, Facebook app, mobile app app development and web design.