Back in September, Google unveiled Hummingbird, an algorithm adjustment which overhauled the way search results are ranked and sent waves across the marketing world.
Around 90% of search inquiries are affected by the change, which moved the focus away from keywords and onto context, meaning and “conversational search.” Like all other major algorithm changes to date, Hummingbird was introduced to improve the search experience by making it easier for users to find the most relevant, best quality content online.
So, moving forward into 2014, what does Hummingbird mean for your resort’s online marketing campaign? How much you need to change depends on your current strategy. If you’ve noticed a dip in your website traffic in recent months, here are three steps to get back on track.
1. Create Helpful Content
Hummingbird has made creating useful content more important than ever. Thanks, in part, to the rise of Voice Search, people are increasingly making their search enquiries in the form of fully structured questions rather than simply typing a few words into the search box. And more than ever, content that answers those questions is being pushed to the top of the search results by Google.
This isn’t a new concept – marketers have long been striving to create content that’s useful to its audience. But with Google now focusing more on the context and meaning behind search inquiries, instead of simply picking out keywords and phrases, content that directly addresses a specific question may secure a higher search ranking than content that doesn’t.
2. Take Mobile Seriously
Almost half of internet searches are conducted on mobile devices, and this trend can only escalate as we move into 2014. Post-Hummingbird, mobile search is an even better experience for users. Look at it this way: people searching via mobile devices are on the move, they are using voice search or keying in specific questions they need answered, which leads to more conversational search.
As Google strives to serve up only the most relevant and helpful results for all its users, creating a mobile-friendly version of your property’s website is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.
3. Focus on Social
For years, the volume of links directing to a website was one of the most important factors in determining its search ranking. Each time someone linked to a site, it was like a ‘vote’ of confidence – they thought the site contained useful content worth directing others to. Of course, it wasn’t long before unscrupulous marketers began gaming the system, and link-building gradually became a less important SEO tactic.
Now, thanks to social media, anyone can ‘vote’ for content they find interesting and helpful by hitting the Share button. If you can generate enough of them, all these votes of approval could help your content climb the search rankings now that Google is better than ever at identifying social signals.
Although the jury’s still out on exactly how social media signals will affect search rankings in the post-Hummingbird world, a consistent social media strategy should form a core component of your online marketing campaign, if it doesn’t already.
Have you noticed any differences in your search traffic after Hummingbird? Do you need to adjust your strategy in response to the algorithm change? Let us know in the comments below.