SEO Is Dead; Long Live SEO! or…
by Andrew Millar
Google has celebrated its 15th birthday by letting its new search algorithm, Hummingbird, loose on the land. Amit Sinhal, one of Google’s top search executives, allows that this is the first major alteration to its search engine since he arrived in 2001.
So what’s the big deal and how does it affect what I’m doing to promote my site, you may well ask. Am I going to have to change my SEO and is this Hummingbird all that different from Penguin, Google’s most recent iteration this past year? Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities.
Ever since Penguin was introduced we have been getting instructed that Google is directing its search engines away from specific keywords and more towards keyword phrases (‘long-tail’). This emphasis was said to pinpoint better the user’s search. That made sense to us. After all, a ‘jet-ink, color printer’ is more specific than just a ‘printer.’
We were then told that content is king and that best practices SEO require us to focus on informing our end-user through increased content. Relevant content. And then just this past month Google stopped supplying specific keyword analysis leaving us hanging in space wondering how we were to figure what our best keywords should be. This was the tip-off; the fore-telling of what was to come.
This new Hummingbird algorithm is based on the intent of the user’s query and it employs Google Knowledge Graph and semantic search. More about those in a minute. What is different about this search algorithm is that it examines how users think. It attempts to arrive at the intent of the user’s query or question.
Amy Gesenhue of Search Engine Land quotes, in her recent blog, David Amerland, author of Google Semantic Search: “Hummingbird is a definite expansion of Google’s semantic capability evident at the search interface level that reveals, significantly, two things. First, Google has increased its ability to deal with complex search queries which means that it also has got better at indexing entities in Web documents. Second, it has got a lot better at relationally linking search queries and Web documents which means that its Knowledge Graph must be considerably enriched.”
According to Amerland, this helps us with SEO:
“From a strategy point of view this opens the horizon for companies and webmasters considerably. From a practical perspective, the need to identify the USP of each business and become authoritative within it is now a key criteria for continued SEO success.”
Social Media Over Time
Gesenhue goes on to report: “He emphasizes the importance of content not being left in isolation, but instead shared across social networks via identified influencers. ‘This is not something that can or will happen at the drop of a hat,”’ said Amerland, ‘It requires time and commitment to building a relationship with influencers and sharing with them content that is of real value to their network.’ Quick SEO, according to Amerland, ‘is now firmly in the past.’”
Pay attention to what he said about the USP (or UVP) of your business. I talked about it in a recent blog:
It will become even more central to SEO success along with effective and regular social media participation. Google is both recognizing this and creating it all in the service of providing seamless user experience.
Google characterizes the Hummingbird algorithm as ‘Conversational Search’ with its intent to recognize more specific aspects of a user’s query.
For instance, if the question is “Where are the two closest places to my work to buy a sea kayak?” Well, if you’ve shared with Google your work address and it recognizes this item is likely to be purchased in a ‘brick and mortar’ store it now has the ingredients to provide you with a definitive answer.
Google’s Amit Sinhal has said the goal of search is to Answer, Converse, and Anticipate. “A computer you can talk to? And it will answer everything you ask it?…” He is reported to have said. (Wikipedia)
It is beginning this process by utilizing its Knowledge Graph. According to Wikipedia:
“The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used by Google to enhance its search engine‘s search results with semantic-search information gathered from a wide variety of sources. Knowledge Graph display was added to Google’s search engine in 2012, starting in the United States, having been announced on May 16, 2012. It provides structured and detailed information about the topic in addition to a list of links to other sites. The goal is that users would be able to use this information to resolve their query without having to navigate to other sites and assemble the information themselves.”
Semantic search also attempts to increase the accuracy of a search by examining searcher intent and the context of the search terms as they appear in the searchable” dataspace.”
It’s a brave new world and SEO still has an important place in it although the parameters of its role are changing. Yes, SEO is dead; long live SEO.