Gone are the days of writing keyword stuffed content and launching keyword only campaigns. In fact, if that is the strategy you’re banking on, you might be doomed to fail. Why? Because search has changed. Early this month, just in time for the holidays, Google announced yet another addition to their search algorithm, Google Hummingbird, which allows Google to understand the context of long tail search queries to deliver more relevant results. This has business owners, brands and content creators tripping over themselves as they attempt to understand the changes and adjust their strategies.
The search evolution is the natural response required to meet growing consumer demands fueled by new mobile technologies. Consumer behavior today is: always on and demands instant access. People don’t have the patience nor the time to waste scrolling through pages of results, they want instant access to content. This behavior isn’t new, in fact, just one year ago 94% of consumers bypassed search ads, opting instead to click on content links. The advancements in search technologies such as semantic search, entity search and graph search are making it possible to answer questions that consumers are asking.
How can content creators and advertisers take flight in the post Hummingbird world?
Brands and content creators must develop new strategies in order to stay relevant. The most recent changes in the way that Google indexes search, and the design of their pages, will have a significant impact on website traffic. Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President and Software Engineer at Google, recently commented that these changes will “affect the analysis of about 90 percent of the search requests that Google gets”. It’s going to get more challenging, and more costly, for businesses ranked at the top of the page as organic, graph based results increase.
We could see the cost per click increase as advertisers clamber to secure the shrinking space dedicated to search ads. Now more than ever, advertisers must recognize the undeniable truth; they must uncover more meaningful ways to connect with their consumers. Brands need to think strategically about ad placement and by opting for technologies and platforms that ensure they will appear alongside relevant content. Building content for keywords is outdated strategy. Content creators need to focus on developing high quality, informative content. Focus on user intent and the context of the content you are creating by asking, “what questions will my target audience ask and what information will they seek that is relevant to the content I am creating”.
We’ve created 4 tips to help your business keep humming along in a new search era:
1. Mobile is Key to Growth in the Present and the Future
Mobile devices are quickly becoming the gateway for how we consume, discover and access content. By 2015, mobile usage will surpass desktop usage according to a Morgan Stanley report. In fact, a recent study conducted by Telemetrics noted that over 50% of searches begin on a mobile device. Tailor experiences for mobile by: creating mobile optimized sites and landing pages, creating emails for mobile, developing short form videos, writing short form content suitable for mobile reading, and infuse and update local based information that pertains to your business and content.
2. Content is King
Now more than ever, brands and content creators need to be focused on providing answers to the questions their prospective consumers are asking: “How do I fix…?, What are the best…?, Where do I find…?”. Advertisers need to do more than just put up a product listing page. They need to focus on building out a content strategy around their consumer by creating entry pages full of helpful information and compelling content. Content creators need to focus on creating concise, actionable and eye-catching content that relates to their target audience.
3. Distribution is Queen
An interlinked content strategy replaces a keyword stuffed content strategy in order to boost SEO. Distribution, recognition and validation through social, email and blogs are keys to successful ranking in the post Hummingbird era. Make sure your content is suitable for sharing and plan ahead: Syndicate content through your blog first and make sure it’s ready to roll for socialization; share on social during peak engagement times; send bite size nuggets of content to consumers in a mobile friendly email format.
4. Reach Consumers In Relevant Places
The keyword craze has ended. The introduction of entity search and graph search is quickly decreasing a brand’s ability to pay for premium placement. Search today, and tomorrow, focuses on getting the best, most relevant content to consumers. That means less space for traditional search ads (see the Breaking Bad query below).
Brands and business owners must adapt new strategies to grow their business and look to advertising platforms that feature their businesses, products, services and content alongside relevant content on the sites that consumers are navigating to.
Over the last year the search landscape has shifted dramatically with major changes on Google, Bing, Yahoo and Facebook. All of these changes, including Google’s Hummingbird, represent the future of where search is heading as we prepare to enter into the mobilized world. The search evolution is about serving up answers in the fastest, most relevant way possible. Brands, business owners and content creators must shift their strategies to ensure success in the rapidly changing, semantically driven, new world of search.
By Kerstin Recker, VP Marketing and Business Development