Hummingbirds 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.
Engineers at Google must like Hummingbirds too, since they named their most recent algorithm it. Google is claiming that Hummingbird is a whole new algorithm, not simply an update. Sources at Google say the reason for the name is because it’s fast and agile, like a Hummingbird.
The Google Hummingbird Algorithm Update
The Google Hummingbird algorithm update is changing how Google operates and interacts with internet searchers.
Unfortunately, this new algorithm has the SEO community up in arms, and understandably so. Every time Google introduces a new overhaul algorithm, it throws traditional SEO and SERP ranking strategies for a loop, leaving many in the dark.
One of the big differences about Hummingbird, compared to other algorithm updates, is its focus on semantic search. It’s not a new concept, this new search paradigm seeks to improve the accuracy of search results by understanding the actual contextual meaning of the key terms used in a particular search phrase, narrowing the available results in a search. Google “crawlers” are smart enough to figure out what a searcher really means when they type a search query like, “best Mexican food”. Crawlers are taking into account context, related language, location, and so much more to give the best results possible to search engine users.
Hummingbird attempts to understand the searcher’s intent, using semantics, 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, language constants like slang, contractions, misspellings, and for voice search dialect and accent, will be more easily processed and accepted thanks to Hummingbird.
Google’s bringing the focus back to natural language to make searchers easier for the user and weed out the webpages using black hat ranking techniques.
How to Get Back in the Game
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’s happening with the Hummingbird algorithm is forcing a level of marketing accountability that we haven’t seen in a long, long time. Because the focus has shifted so severely to focus on user intent and actual meaning, businesses need to do the same. It’s not just about SEO now, it’s about having an in-depth knowledge of your clients and your target audience too.
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. Only by knowing the ins and outs of who your typical customers are, will you be able to optimize your pages to show up in the results based on their search queries. It’s time to create buyer’s personas!
The process of creating imaginary customers with life stories, personalities, and fictional names may seem ridiculous at first, but it makes a difference. Developing comprehensive buyer personas, based on demographics and behaviors, are going to provide you with an extremely detailed composite of your target audience. The idea then is that this level of customer information 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, the better chance you’ll have at creating valuable content that actually gets clicked on.
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 and using the above Customer Composite Indexing process is the first step you need to take in accomplishing this goal!