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Thursday, 24 October 2013

To kill a Hummingbird


Over the last two months, Google have announced a number of significant updates: from a new algorithm to encrypting all organic keyword data.

Here is a snapshot of these updates and what they mean for your online marketing activity.  

Hummingbird watch 
Google’s recent announcement to change its algorithm is probably the largest overhaul to the search engine giant. The change, nicknamed “Hummingbird” was rolled out in August and fundamentally changed how the search engine works by focusing on content and relevance of individual pages to search query - not just the site as a whole.

It aims to improve the users experience by providing more relevant results to their search. This potentially means better visibility for blogs and top content, concentrating on long tail keywords delivering better, more accurate results.

It also means that more pages buried deeper in your site can get better search engine positions; in the past mostly reserved for pages from your top and secondary navigation. 

Google is moving to a more conversation tone for search queries - understanding human speech patterns and questions, rather than just 2-3 word key phrases.

It shows the growing importance of long-tail keywords, optimisation of sites and – as Google has been emphasising for years - varied quality content. 

Encoded searches
Google made it known a few weeks ago that they are moving all organic visits to an encrypted platform, not just of those people who are logged into their Google accounts.

What does it mean for you? 

Soon we will no longer be able to identify (any organic) phrases bringing traffic to your website from Google (it does not affect other search engines). This change has already resulted in an increase in the phrase “not provided” being reported in our keyword reports in Google Analytics (and will soon reach 100%).

Penguin is back 
Google is constantly changing the digital landscape – and have just released yet another algorithm update called Penguin 2.1.

The Penguin updates focus on link spam and have had a great effect on many websites since first introduced in April 2012.

This latest update is believed to impact only 1% of search queries and will be felt by sites with numerous low quality inbound links.

What does this mean for your digital future? 
Online strategies should continue to focus on high quality content and natural link building. If sites have been following these guidelines in recent years, they should see no major changes to their strategy and results and they may notice a positive increase in direct traffic to pages lower down their navigation structure.

With limited keyword data, marketers will need to make deeper assessments of traffic and websites to evaluate organic performance, analyse trends and assess results. Tools such as Google Webmasters, Maps and Analytics can be used to identify what phrases give you impressions and clicks through in Google, while other search engine keyword data can be reviewed for optimisation opportunities.

SEO reporting should not solely concentrate on keyword position and top phrases, but visitors’ origin and journey on the website.

None of the updates are unexpected since the past year has already seen an increase in encrypted key phrases and Google have been emphasising the importance of content for some time now.

If you business is focussing on quality content and great visitor experience, you should continue to see growth and positive organic results online.

Read more information on Hummingbird: 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/10350564/Google-Hummingbird-algorithm-to-elevate-niche-websites.html

Read more information on encrypted searches:
http://blog.hubspot.com/google-encrypting-all-searches-nj 

Read more information on Penguin 2.1:
http://searchengineland.com/penguin-2-1-and-5-live-173632