Web site operators will have to recalibrate their search engine optimization strategies as the impact of three recent big updates issued by Google Inc. begin to kick in.
The upgrades include: Google Hummingbird; the encryption of all search data; and the shift to a new Keyword Planner tool.
These three changes accentuate the increasing significance of: Optimizing for natural language and mobile search; avoiding emphasis on keywords for SEO; and regularly publishing high-quality content.
These changes make it more important for firms to develop a solid content marketing strategy, according to Jayson DeMers, founder of SEO and social media services company AudienceBloom.
Here’s how the updates will impact existing SEO practices:
Hummingbird – Google called its reworked search engine algorithm Hummingbird because the company says its “fast and precise.” According to DeMers the upgrade does a better job at understanding the intent of long-tail search queries (queries that include more than a few words) as well as spoken and natural language search queries (like questions asked by users on their smart phones).
For example if a user asked: What’s the closest place to buy an iPhone 5s to my home? a traditional search engine might focus on the words “buy” and “iPhone 5s.”
Hummingbird will like understand better the actual location of the users home (if the user shared that with Google) and that “place” means an actual brick-and-mortar store, said Danny Sullivan of online technology publication Search Engine Land. He said Hummingbird goes beyond finding Web pages with matching words.
Google’s SEO dictum of original, high-quality content remains, but this could mean that the Google will be looking for content and Web sites that deliver better mobile experienced, said DeMers.
This means companies need to up their mobile content game, he said.
Content is still king, said Adam Stetzer writer for search engine online publication Search Engine Watch, but it is important for Web site to be able to answer specific questions because Hummingbird is good at matching long-tail queries.
Search data encryption – Except for clicks on Google AdWords, Google is also now encrypting all search query data. This means that keywords typed in a Google query are protected by SSL encryption even if the user is not signed into their Google account.
This move could be to block spying but some SEO experts also believe that Google is now curtailing access to its free data about keywords and encouraging SEO professionals to take out paid AdWords campaign instead.
Before the move Google Analytics showed the number of visits each keyword or search phrase received in a site during a certain period of time; percentage of new visits resulting from the keyword phrase; bounce rate and other data.
This information was useful in determining which keywords would likely deliver the most traffic to site even when content has not yet been created.
Search data encryption deals a major blog to SEO professionals and Web masters because it effectively kills the free (organic) keyword data which they relied on. It also means that Google is telling people to stop focusing on individual keywords ad keep on creating and publishing better content.
Neil Patel writes in the Quicksprout blog site that companies should focus on building “legitimate and relevant links,” and create “awesome content” rather than spend money of SEO firms to build or buy links. He also said there are still alternative sources for keyword data such as Google Webmaster Tools.