What Hummingbird means for content marketingWhen Google released its latest Hummingbird algorithm in late September, it caused widespread panic across the SEO community. Some of the changes have severely impacted those in the content marketing game, but thankfully the only ones that need to worry are those in the habit of practising shady black-hat tactics.

The long and short of Hummingbird

Simply put, Google’s Hummingbird is a brand new search algorithm. While Penguin and Panda updates were used to tweak specific elements of the former search algorithm, Hummingbird is a brand spanking new feature that Google says will make searching faster, easier and more precise. We haven’t seen this sort of revamp of Google’s search function since Caffeine several years ago – and it’s exciting!

Say goodbye to bad SEO

The biggest worry people had upon Hummingbird’s release was Google’s decision to basically do away with Google Analytics. Marketers can no longer access organic keywords in Google Analytics to find out how web users came upon their page. For SEO managers who aren’t very good at their jobs, this may be the final nail in their coffins, but as Thom Craver puts it, if you think the Hummingbird update means you can no longer do your job, you were probably never up to the task of being in charge of your site’s SEO anyway. There are so many other ways you can find out how users came to your page without resorting to free keyword statistics.

What does this mean for content marketing?

For content marketers, the keyword era is over – and that’s something to celebrate. It means that Google’s dream of making search behave like people behave is closer than ever before, and it proves the search giant is truly invested in making great content the most important feature in search results. Better content means better ranking results – no longer do we live in a world where black-hat SEO managers using the ‘keyword spam technique’ will force a dodgy website above your own.

Content marketers can now truly tell their clients that great content will improve their search results. We’ve all known this for years but with the Hummingbird update it’s finally been written in black and white. The basics of how we search won’t change, but the results will. And thanks to Google that means the results will be even more appropriate to our search queries.

Top Hummingbird tips

Paul Hill wrote a great piece on how to maintain your site ranking after Hummingbird, and here are a few of the best tips he provided for those worried about how the update will affect their sites:

  • Make sales relevant to your content: This doesn’t mean rely on the hard sell. Instead you need to find a way to complement your sales efforts with excellent content. Hummingbird wants content that is relevant to your product or service.
  • Edit your content: I can’t stress this one enough. If your web content isn’t properly structured or formatted, or contains glaring errors or plagiarised content, Hummingbird will penalise you. Remember the importance of sub-editing.
  • Diversify your content: When people hear ‘content’, the written word is what usually comes to mind. But think about videos, infographics, slides, white papers, e-books and a host of other content options that can broaden your horizons and give Hummingbird a better chance of improving your search rankings.

Hummingbird has completely changed the face of SEO and, to a lesser extent, content marketing. While many poor SEO tacticians will be crying over Google’s decision to no longer provide free keyword analytics, the rest of you should be excited by these changes and ready to usher in a new era of content marketing. It can only get better from here.