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What Google’s Algorithm Updates Mean for Marketing

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Google, in an attempt to increase SERPs (search engine result pages), is constantly updating its search algorithms. Panda and Penguin, updates that effectively penalized websites that utilized redhat SEO and marketing tactics, were the main players until this past fall. With the release of Hummingbird, Google has changed the way online marketing is approached.  Google’s algorithm updates always cause a stir from content and social media marketers; this newest one, however, may not be as bad as it sounds.images

In essence, Hummingbird is an attempt to focalize search queries. The algorithm, largely due to voice activated searches from smartphones, tries to match together keywords in a semantic, rather than robotic, way. Traditionally, people would search phrases like “cheap shoes.” Today, however, Internet users are more specific because of Google’s focus on local search results and conversational queries.

Instead of searching “cheap shoes,” a person is more likely to ask, “Where can I buy shoes near me?” The “me” helps activate local results. This pulls up maps with possible matches, pay-per-click advertisements, and review sites to help searchers decide which link to click. Semantic, meaning meaning, means that Google’s updates are better equipped to answer conversational queries. Google, using geographical search locations and previous results data, is able to find answers that best match the searcher’s intent.

What This Means for Marketing

Businesses still stuck on old marketing formats are likely to struggle with this new, non-keyword centered search algorithm. Most of Google’s algorithm updates are attempts to block out any spam-induced SERP-climbing tactics like keyword padding and SEO; companies doing these things are likely to suffer, though this opens up a lot of opportunities for businesses looking to earn their way into Google’s page rankings.

Because Hummingbird is able to focus on meaning rather than keywords, marketers have to find new ways to support their online assets. Like all Web-friendly strategies, tapping into your audience and learning what they want to find is a necessity. Are you a smartphone wholesaler? Do you do personal financial portfolio management for future retirees? Are you a private contractor in Mississippi? The idea is to be who you are and not to pretend to be who you’re not.

Google knows if a company is supporting an agenda and trying to draw in site visitors through sketchy means. These tactics lead to penalties, not promotion. Instead, you have to take the crux of your business (product or service) and support it through social media, blogs, and a number of other marketing strategies that attempt to match what people search.

Creating Hummingbird Content

Google’s algorithm updates eat up content like nothing else. The search engine wants to find reputable, authoritative sources to add to SERPs. In order to make this a reality, you have to write, promote, share, and deliver authoritative content. Google Authorship, for example, has an authorial markup promoted through Google+. Authorship results, often linking to blogs and articles, are pulled up by Hummingbird because A) Google likes to promote Google+, and B) Because it puts a face to the name.

Readers are more likely to click a link to an article if there is an author associated with it, as opposed to a nameless brand or writer. Authorship, of course, requires a lot of work to do properly. For one, authors need to work at becoming an authority in a subject. The more articles about “bank loans” a person publishes, the more likely search queries are to match the authored blogs. The same idea holds true for businesses wanting to get a leg up on Hummingbird.

Algorithm in Action

Say you are a real estate agent in Little Rock, Arkansas. In order to take full advantage of Google’s searches, you need to create a professional profile on Google+. This, alongside a Web-friendly website (full of excellent content, mind you) and social media, increases your overall online exposure. Next, you need to find a blogging platform that makes it easy to share your posts and content throughout your other Web assets. The more traffic they generate, the more of an authority you become.

Finally, you can tap into your local market by writing blogs about Arkansas real estate, the housing market in Little Rock, how to secure mortgage loans, or anything else that applies to your demographic. Google’s algorithm updates are not impossible to beat; in fact, they grant more opportunities for success.

Photo by:  Danny Ashton

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This article was written by Zsolt Bicskey

Zsolt’s professional background includes work with many companies throughout his native country, donning the mantles of CEO, HR and IT professional, and more.Currently his major focus is on: corporate social media marketing, lead generation, local search optimization, video marketing and mobile marketing.