In the tech space, disruption is a good thing. In the marketing space, disruption is the enemy. Somewhere in the middle, in the marketing tech space, disruption is a necessary evil. While marketing technologists love trying the new SaaS product on the block, they hate it when a platform like Google or Facebok forces them to change their strategies that have been working for months, or even years.
At the end of 2015, Google did what it does best and changed the game again. Google’s Hummingbird algorithm is, to many outside observers, the biggest leap forward the search engine has ever made. This is the biggest shift in organic search since Google’s “Caffeine Update” in 2010, and it dwarfs the Panda and Penguin updates that scared SEOs a few years back.
A new Google algorithm is a huge deal. Hummingbird, however, is more over-reaching than a new algorithm. Hummingbird has potential ramifications that could stretch across the entire suite of Google products, resulting in a monumental shift in digital marketing for the better. Today, I want to outline how and why Google is changing the game, and what you can do to get ahead of it.
Hummingbird is, in a nutshell, machine learning applied to search. The idea is simple. What if, instead of crawling the web for sites that mention the words you’re searching for, Google could understand the intent of your search and deliver results based on what you actually want, not what you say?
Now they can.
Hummingbird is extremely complex, and if I could explain how it did this, I would be sitting on a beach somewhere with a billion dollars right now instead of blogging. Hummingbird is, by design, enigmatic. As opposed to Panda and Penguin which consisted of broad principles that could be applied across all SERPs, Hummingbird has a different impact on every search term. To combat this, it’s important to take a step back and recognize the universal principles that tend to guide Google’s decisions. The biggest of these principles is that the user is the king.
Google has been heading in this direction for five years. Slowly but surely, they’ve been incorporating user behavior data into their search algorithm. Things like bounce rate, pogo-sticking, and search refinement were top of mind for the world’s best SEOs. Today, those metrics are still vitally important.
While we can’t look behind the curtain with Hummingbird in quite the same way we could with Panda and Penguin, we do know that user behavior data is a vital component of how Hummingbird interprets SERPs. This is a vital realization for SEO success in 2016 and beyond.
So how do you use this to your advantage? Here are three simple steps to improving your user behavior data:
Once you’ve mastered the basics of leveraging user behavior data, it’s time to start using these principles to improve your marketing results.
So, now that we know the importance of user behavior data, and we’re keeping an eye on our site’s user behavior data, how do we take advantage of Google’s rule book? Here is a brief rundown of things you should do to understand how Google views your site:
If you’re looking to improve your marketing strategy to conform to Google’s changing rules, you may need expert help. Reach out to us and we’d be happy to set up a free consultation to assess your needs!