Quietly, in late August of this year (2013) Google released its latest algorithm update, calling it Hummingbird. It wasn’t announced on their blog until a full month later, on September 26th. According to some reports I read around the web, it’s the biggest update to come down the pike from the search giant in the last decade -- affecting some 90 percent of web searches.
Following is an overview of what it’s all about – and what you need to know to still write content that sells, in spite of this update.
What Is Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Update All About?
The main focus of this update is that the focus is on semantics. The reason for this is that Google is concentrating on the fact that more and more of us are using mobile devices to conduct searches.
For this reason, the use of keywords has basically become unimportant; the search leader is shifting away from keywords to deliver results. Why/how?
Quite simply, we speak differently than we type. So some is doing a search on their mobile phone using voice, for example, their voice directions are going to be longer and more involved.
As explained in the Convince&Convert post, How Google is Forcing Your Content to Get Better:
. . . how we ask for information via voice differs from how we ask for information via typed phrases (voice searches are typically longer and can be more vague and amorphous).
5 Rules for Writing Content That Gets Results Post-Hummingbird
So what does this mean for how you as a freelance online / SEO writer produce content – content that still converts into sales and leads? Following are five rules to live by in a “Hummingbird” world.
I. Write Themed Content: Google’s Penguin 2.0 in May of this year update kinda forced us away from relying so much on keywords anyway. This was a natural progression from its Panda and Penguin updates in 2011 and 2012.
Themed content is the way to go now; instead of focusing on ranking for one or two keywords in an article, with themed SEO content you can typically rank for a hundred or more keywords. Yes, you read right.
II. Be an Information Provider: As in, answer specific questions in your content that web surfers in your niche want to know about. In today’s world, this is known as content marketing.
Think about it, web surfers log on to look for information that helps them solve a particular problem or get an answer to a specific question they have. Be that information provider – and this can’t be done with general info you find all over the web. This is why algorithm changes like this are forcing all of us to become content marketers.
Those who master creating content like this will truly leave their competition in the dust.
FYI, a good way to find out what prospects in your niche want to know scour answer sites like Yahoo! Answers to see what questions are being asked. Then answer them on your blog, on your website, in your newsletter, etc.
III. Use Google’s SEO Writing Guidelines: What are these? In 2011, the company came out with what I refer to as a 23-question “test,” if you will, of how content that ranks well should be written.
I discussed this in detail in the post, SEO Copywriting Tips: 23 Questions Google Says SEO Copywriters Should Keep in Mind When Creating Content” on the blog, SeoWritingJobs.com. Learn them – and apply them.
IV. Create Original Content: Using things like PLR (recycled) content won’t work. Google wants – and rewards – original content. And they want it regularly, so get in the habit of putting out new content consistently.
V. Use Social Media: One thing the Hummingbird update makes very clear is that it relies on social signals to rank content. So, get active on social media, especially Google+ simply because it’s Google’s social media platform and you can bet – dollars to doughnuts – that they favor this one.
Beating Google – In Spite of Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin and Any Other Zoo Animal They Throw Your Way
Be sure to distribute every piece of content you produce to your social media accounts and actively work to start building a community around it.
This way, you won’t ever have to worry (so much) about what Google is doing because you’ll have a tribe of loyal followers to sustain you – even if the Big G unleashes more animals from its never-ending zoo of species. Proof?
Even Google itself said of the Hummingbird update:
No, SEO is not yet again dead. In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content.
Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways. [Source: Search Engine Land post, FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm]
So there you have it – how to write SEO content in a post-Hummingbird world.
About the Author: Yuwanda Black heads New Media Words, an SEO writing company. She’s also the publisher of SEO Writing Jobs, a blog devoted to helping others start successful, home-based SEO writing careers. She says, “With proper SEO copywriter training, there’s no reason you can’t earn between $35,000 on the low end, on up to $75,000 (or more) – your first year as a freelancer.” Ms. Black has authored over 50 ebooks, most of which cover some aspect of freelance / SEO writing. They can be found on major outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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