Google is creating a lot of buzz right now. On September 23, 2013 Google announced keyword traffic data would immediately become 100% “Not Provided” inside of Google Analytics. Just four days later on Google’s 15th birthday, Google announced a search algorithm update called Hummingbird. And these two changes are just the latest of many. So why should you be paying attention to Google? What does it mean for your business?
Google made this change to encrypt its data. It’s speculated they want to monetize selling this data at a later point in time. Regardless, it’s going to be more difficult to determine your successful keywords. You’ll still be able to track revenue, but you won’t be able to tell how many visitors are reaching your site through a particular keyword. Instead, results will soon become 100% “Not Provided.” If you have the proper software, such as Conductor Search Light, you already know where your rankings are on the keywords you are tracking. So for the company I work for, I know where I rank for “women’s plus size clothing” on a week to week basis. But if you don’t have an SEO software, you’re losing out on one of the free insights Google Analytics gave.
Impact: Reporting becomes more difficult. Companies relying solely upon Google Analytics are hurt most.
Hummingbird is supposed to return better search results. As Forbes analyzes, it’s to make it so if you type in a search query such as “Apple vs Kiwi” you’ll be able to see immediate results that compare the two associated fruits. Google revealed that this update is supposed to make search more about the customer experience through “precise and fast” results.
While the announcement for Hummingbird occurred on September 27, 2013, it was actually turned on about a month ago. I personally saw some rankings go haywire the last two weeks of August and the first week of September. As with most Google updates, it will be several months before the industry experts truly understand the full impact. Google doesn’t release their formulas and so experts are constantly speculating on what does and does not impact search rankings. In fact, if you talk to 20 SEO experts, you will find vastly different varying strategies on tackling SEO. Ultimately, I hang my hat on this: Google wants a good customer experience and it wants your content to be relevant and digestible. If you’re failing to do these core best practices, the rest is moot.
With that said, page load times are increasingly becoming important to search. I recommend getting your page load times to less than 2 seconds. You can test your website speed with various free tools such as Pingdom.
As one of my friends in the industry candidly put, “Got Content?” Your company needs to be blogging, and putting up quality landing pages. Blogging three times a week is going to get you much better results than blogging once every other week. As for landing pages, it’s helpful to build these with keyword strategies in mind. Each landing page can focus on 1-3 strong keywords. For example, if you wanted to create a coupon landing page to prevent your customers from buying your products from your affiliates, you could focus on keywords such as “(Product) coupon” or “(company name) coupon.”
I also believe Hummingbird is going to help mobile search due to the “conversational search” aspect. When you speak search queries into your phone, they are drastically different from your keyboard behaviors. As mobile becomes more of a dominate player expect it to change how SEO is achieved. I predict it will further segment the keywords making the list of keywords you should chase to be broader. Conversational searches are going to be very long tail key phrases, and they may be hard to write content around. How many times can you write the same conversational search query into your content may make URLs and titles increasingly more important due to a less friendlier phrase to repeat verbatim in your content.
Impact: Google continues to emphasize quality content and user experience. Focus less on anchor texts, link building strategies, and more on relevancy and user experience.
About the Author: Steven Pope is an eCommerce marketing manager at Ulla Popken. He has several years of experience in digital marketing efforts, especially SEO. Steven has an MBA from Western Governors University, and a BS in Communication from Weber State University. You can connect with Steven Pope through his LinkedIn page.
Steven will be co-hosting a webinar on the recent Google updates as a part of NetElixir University’s Guest Expert Series on Thursday, October 17th, at 2pm ET. Register here.