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google hummingbird announcementHummingbirds are pretty cool; The way they move, their speed and agility. Not to mention the wide range of colors that they seem to come in. We enjoy watching them at the feeder by our living room window. Did you know that a Hummingbird egg is the size of a pea? No joke…

Engineers at Google must dig Hummingbirds too, since they named their most recent algorithm change after the Apodiformes. Google is claiming that Hummingbird is a whole new algorithm, not an update. Sources at Google say the reason for the name is because it’s fast and agile, like a Hummingbird.

Unfortunately, this new algorithm has the search engine optimization (SEO) community up in arms because Google has decided to encrypt all keyword search data. In other words, we can no longer see the terms people used (at Google) to get to our websites. Google claims it’s for privacy reasons. Theories abound however, concerning their true intentions. One of the most prevalent being a cash-grab by increasing AdWords revenue. Think about it… Google doesn’t make any money on organic search!

One of the big differences about Hummingbird, compared to other algorithm updates, is its focus on Semantic Search. Albeit not a new concept, this new search paradigm seeks to improve the accuracy of search results by understanding the contextual meaning of the key terms used in a particular search phrase, according to Google.

Hummingbird also attempts to understand the searcher’s intent, using semantics, which is the science of meaning in language, to produce highly relevant search results. Google says this change will be especially useful with spoken searches on mobile devices among other things.

So, what does this mean to you? First, there’s no more free lunch. Websites that have gotten by on their good looks and keywords aren’t going to get a pass any more. Everything about what is happening is forcing a level of marketing accountability that we haven’t seen in a long, long time. Without keyword data as a reference, we are going to have to start paying very close attention to ‘who’ our customers are.

Making sure that your content is relevant is paramount at this point. But, relevant to whom? Your target customers, that’s who. Truly understanding the intricacies of your target customers just became job #1. The current en vogue term for this is; developing Buyer Personas, a’ la Google.

The following from Wikipedia provides a reasonable description of Buyer Personas:

In marketing and user-centered design, personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persona_(user_experience)

The process of creating imaginary customers with life stories, personalities and fictional names, may seem ridiculous at first blush. However, developing a comprehensive buyer persona, based on demographics and psychographics, is going to provide you with an extremely detailed composite of your target audience. The idea then is that this level of customer information (intimacy) will aid in creating content specifically for your target customers.

But where and how do you get started? We use a process called Customer Composite Indexing, which is the development of a detailed list of characteristics (the more the better), for a particular customer type.

It starts with a series of questions and (narrative) answers:

  • Male / Female?
  • Married / Single?
  • Annual income?
  • Do they have children?
  • How old are they?
  • What do they drive?
  • What do they like to eat?
  • What do they buy?
  • Why do they buy?
  • Why do they buy your product?
  • What is important to them about your product?
  • Where is their pain?
  • What job do they have?
  • What is their job title?
  • Where do they live?
  • Where do they work?
  • How do they use the Internet to find information?
  • What does a day in the life of this Person look (and feel) like?
  • and so on…

Hopefully you get the idea. The more specifically you can describe your target customers, as a Buyer Persona, the better.

The rules have changed. Google has thrown down the keyword gauntlet with Hummingbird, forcing us to become intimately aware of our customers. It’s up to you now to develop a virtual relationship with them, in order to anticipate their wants and needs, responding with a highly focused content development strategy.

Developing Buyer Personas, using the above Customer Composite Indexing process, is the first step you need to take in accomplishing this goal!

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