Copify’s Martin Harrison looks at how you need to adapt your content in order to achieve those top page rankings in the wake of Google’s latest algorithm update, Hummingbird.

What is Hummingbird?

Hummingbird is an update to Google’s algorithm, the system that it uses to determine its results. This update is claimed to affect up to 90% of results and is claimed to make Google better at interpreting searcher intent and delivering the results which it believes are the most relevant to users.

A change in behaviour

The reason for this update represents a fundamental shift in the way that people are using Google. Historically, most users used short, generic keyword queries, such as ‘Holidays’ which were the goal of most SEOs.

Increasingly, however, they are becoming more likely to search for long, complex, question-based phrases, such as: “What is the best resort for family holidays in the South of France?”

As a result of this, SEO copywriters would now be well advised to structure their content in a Q&A style to take advantage of this long-tail traffic.

Quality content

With this update, Google has reinforced its consistent message down the years – spend time creating quality content that delivers value and focuses on the needs of users and doesn’t try to manipulate or trick either users or it’s spiders.

This is summed up neatly in the Quality Guidelines outlined on the Webmaster Tools Help site, which offers the following, simple advice:

– Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.

– Don’t deceive your users.

– Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.

– Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging.

– Make your website stand out from others in your field.

Focus on users, not keywords

The days of keyword stuffing in content are long gone, but this update means that increasingly, SEO copywriters are going to be less and less concerned with keywords and more about the customer journey. As respected SEO Barry Schwartz rightly states:

“Don’t optimize for keywords, optimize for a satisfied customer from stage one of the buying cycle to the end.”