Google has recently made some important changes that will affect your online presence:
Google makes 200+ updates to their algorithm each year. Simply put, this algorithm determines what you see when you conduct a Google search. The big updates are named after animals, and the most recent update is called Hummingbird.
In the past, Google attempted to take a keyword search (“chinese restaurants close to my house”) and provide relevant results. The focus was on the words and not the intention. In this case, Google might return a result of a Chinese restaurant called My House, even if that restaurant was nowhere near your location.
The Hummingbird update shifts from keywords to understanding the intent behind the search. With the rise in mobile & voice-initiated search, Google has realized that we type in searches in a different way than how we speak searches. Typed searches are often short and keyword-heavy. Spoken searches are often longer and consists of phrases and questions. Hummingbird is Google’s attempt to better understand the meaning behind the search.
Historically, you’ve been able to sign into your Google Analytics account and see a list of keywords users typed into Google to get to your website. Google is now phasing that information out of Google Analytics so that you will no longer have access. You will still be able to obtain the information, but only if you pay for advertising using Google Adwords. The NY Times does a great job of covering these changes in this article.
The New Star in Google Ads
Guess who is the new face for Google Ads? You are! If you’ve ever left a comment or review about a product, restaurant, or service in Google’s world, they plan on using your photo to show others that you recommend that particular item. If you are not keen on Google benefiting from your good looks and excellent review writing, please follow these simple steps to opt out.
What does this mean for you?
Despite these Google updates and the 200+ other algorithm updates each year, the fundamentals remain the same. Quality trumps quantity. A focused website is better than attempting to be all things to all people. Attempting to cheat or game the search results system will result in worse website rankings.
This also means that optimizing your web presence will include more than just using the right keywords. Understanding phrases and search intent will now be just as important as targeting the right keywords. If your focus has always been to create high quality and relevant content for your clients, then the Hummingbird update will reward you. If you’ve been focused on ranking high for a specific set of keywords, it’s time to expand your understanding of how clients and potential clients are going to be searching for your product or services.
While Google creates these updates, they also provide services to best prepare your online presence for these changes. In addition to having high-quality content on your website, it is important to make sure your presence on key Google offerings such as Google Places, Google+ and Google+ Local is up to date.