Google has been busy lately with the new Hummingbird search update, the increased percentage of (not provided) search terms, and the alleged development of a Google AdID in place of third party cookies. Big changes like these always make some people skeptical, but savvy marketers can use these changes to their advantage. It looks like Google is pushing content marketing toward something it’s always wanted: an online community dominated by the highest quality content.
1. Turn Your Content into Hummingbird Nectar
Google has a new search algorithm, called Hummingbird, and it’s important that you know what entices it to pull your content into search results. Previously, good content involved strategic use of relevant search terms to optimize a website, focusing on single words or phrases like “hot dog stands” or “hot dog stands pittsburgh.”
Though that’s not going away completely, Hummingbird pulls top search results from a much sweeter content arrangement. This algorithm allows Google to interpret more conversational search queries, like “where can I find a hot dog place close to home,” which is also more specific than the old generic search phrases.
In a recent Mashable article, Amy Leefe at Arketi Group explained that Hummingbird can now interpret the meaning behind words in a longer search query. For example, Hummingbird recognizes that the word “place” means a “brick-and-mortar” establishment, so instead of pulling results that have the word “place” and “hot dog” randomly throughout the content, it is able to show results of physical places that actually serve hot dogs. It can also know where your “home” is and give you even better results, if you have provided that information through your Google account.
Your business can take advantage of this by targeting search terms and questions your audience is actually searching for. I like to use sites like Quora and Yahoo!Answers to generate real questions from shorter search terms. Also make sure you use long-tail keywords, or conversational phrases, instead of focusing on singular keywords.
2. Beat (not provided) Keywords
Google has drastically reduced the number of keywords shown by free tools, such as Google Analytics, which limits marketers’ access to insightful information about which keywords are referring visits to their site.
The implications for businesses, as predicted by Switched On Blog, are that landing page quality will grow in importance, so websites can focus more on leads than what keywords actually drive those leads.
If you’re like me and you prefer to know how to drive people from search to your landing page before testing how it performs for lead generation, you probably want to commit at least a small budget to Google AdWords. This paid Google advertising tool allows your business to bid for placement in search results, and, because you’re paying, Google will show you what keywords generate conversions for you on your website.
If you’re on a budget, another option is to use Google Analytics to analyze your referral sources and optimize those sources instead of tracking keywords. For example, your Analytics data can show you what images, social media channels, and other content pieces lead the most people back to your website. This will allow you to find which channels people are coming from, but not the language they are using to get to those channels.
3. Be Prepared for Google AdID
This update is a still somewhat of a mystery, and although it is not implemented yet, marketers should prepare for a possible time when Google and Apple (who already uses a similar IDFA tracking system) gain ultimate power over search.
Overall, this system is suspected to be able to prevent third party cookies, little files on your computer that track what sites you visit, from tracking users on the Internet, and each user will instead be connected with a unique ad tracking system, AdID. That sounds like a better way to identify users, but it can easily be turned off or restricted only to certain sites, affecting a marketer’s ability to track leads if your site is blocked. I’m thinking it could affect retargeting campaigns on AdWords, as well. It is expected that AdIDs will be available to marketers who agree to specific guidelines, one of those being that a user must give permission to be tracked.
The best course of action right now would be to optimize your blogs, whitepapers, website content, etc. on your website to make it enticing enough for users to “opt in” to being tracked by your system. And, obviously, if and when you have the opportunity, your business should opt in to the tracking system Google (hopefully) makes available to advertisers.
The good thing about Hummingbird, (not provided) keywords, and AdID is that we will probably start to see a transition to more search results having higher quality content for users – these updates force marketers to focus on optimization! So if your content and marketing strategy is good, you should see an decrease in people just “happening upon” your website, and increase in relevant leads who were genuinely searching for what you have to offer.