Google recently unleashed two major changes '(Not Provided)' and Hummingbird. As these new changes affect your marketing efforts, we want to make sure you know about them and offer some tips on what you can do to work with them.
Say Goodbye to Keyword Data. Say Hello to '(Not Provided)'
This has been a very dramatic year for SEO with major changes from Google that created a lot of commotion in SEO and Marketing communities, and are causing many business owners to adjust their thinking and approach to marketing.
Recently Google made a change aimed at encrypting all search activity - except for clicks on ads, stating:
"We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibus earlier this year. We're now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in."
Google states the reason for the switch is to provide "extra protection" for searchers. Search Engine Land, a trusted industry news source, suspects that Google may also be attempting to block NSA spying activity - since Google was accused of giving the National Security Agency access to its search data back in June (which it has strongly denied).
We can't help but think that because Google is encrypting search activity for everything but ad clicks, this is a move to get more people using Google Adwords.
What This Means to You
With Google encrypting all keyword data, this means you will not just lose some of their Google keyword insights - you'll lose ALL of them. While there are still a lot of unanswered questions Google has yet to address, there's still some cause for concern. How will we know how searchers are finding our websites? How will this affect our content strategies?
There are still a few ways you can measure and use search data:
- It will still be possible to tell how much traffic your website is getting from organic search. Although you might not know the exact keywords, you can still correlate the work you do to optimise your site and create content to increase organic search results.
- Other search engines like Bing and Yahoo continue to pass along keyword data. According to comScore, at the moment Google has approx. 67% of search market share, Bing has 18% and Yahoo has 11%. Although this won't give you the full picture, analytics tools can continue to show keywords for the 33% of searches that come from search engines like Bing, Yahoo, AOL, Ask.com etc. This data will give you at least some indication of which keywords are most useful.
- If you use Google Adwords for pay-per-click marketing, you can connect your company's AdWords account to your Google Analytics account and use that data for keyword search.
- Rank will also continue to play a roll in helping measure the results of search engine optimisation and content creation.
But Wait… There's More!
SEO is changing (again). Google has made several large algorithmic changes in 2013, and the net result of these changes is that many old tactics for link acquisition don't work anymore.
About a month ago, Google rolled out a new algorithm named Hummingbird which is meant to improve search results - especially for long tail queries or "semantic search." According to those in the know, Hummingbird is the biggest overhaul to Google's search engine since the 2009 ‘Caffeine’ overhaul (which focused on speed and integrating social network results into search) and that it affects ‘around 90% of searches.’
If you haven't noticed any dramatic changes in your website traffic recently, you're probably in the clear. It seems that 'short tail' key phrases with one or two words won't be affected much by the change.
If there has been a significant drop in your website traffic due to Google's recent changes, don't hesitate to contact us. We're here to help.
Why the New Algorithm?
Hummingbird focuses on searches that are 'more human.' When someone enters "how do I fix the motor on my lawnmower?" Google now understands that you're not shopping for a lawnmower or a motor, but you're looking to FIX the lawnmower motor.
Google is now prioritising the context of the query as much as the content. By emphasizing the intention of the searcher vs merely matching key phrases, this will help Google deliver more relevant results - which is the name of the game for Google.
These long-tail searches are also the kind of things you might say into your phone, so it looks like Google is laying the groundwork to continue its dominance in search for an increasingly mobile world.
How Can You Benefit from Hummingbird?
Google's answer is "have original, high-quality content that answers specific questions."
The Hummingbird update requires that a website gain new keyword rankings every month to show that it's a helpful resource for people.
How do you do this? By Introducing new content regularly. Blogging is a great way to create fresh content! If you don't have time to create fresh, quality content on a regular basis talk to us. We can help.
Also, note that SEO signals that mattered in the past are still relevant:
- inbound links
- social share
- descriptive page titles
In addition, branded mentions are a key signal in the Google algorithm. Mentions of a company name, even when it's not accompanied with a backlink, are still believed by many to be a signal of legitimacy.
Our Two Cents
The Internet and technology are constantly evolving, and your online marketing and SEO efforts need to adapt or you'll be left behind.
Hummingbird is part of today's shift to a mobile-first online landscape, so if you want to capitalize on this traffic, how ready is your site for a mobile audience? Is your site responsive? Is it optimized for social?
Having the following in place will ensure that you come out ahead:
- a responsive website that adjusts to various screen sizes (mobile, ipad, desktop computer etc)
- engaging, fresh content
- powerful digital endorsements from relevant and authoritative websites
- marketing strategies that go beyond the keyword conversion