With the release of Hummingbird, many feel that SEO is losing value in the online marketing world. Why? One reason is that Google has recently announced that they are moving away from all keyword referral data, or using “not provided” as a measurement for keyword queries. First, we’re happy to say that SEO is actually still heading forward in full force, just with improved tactics.
So, what exactly does the updated “not provided” mean?
It means from now on, when a search is made on a secure Google webpage and a websites’ result clicked, the search term used is no longer counted as it was in the past. Instead, Google Analytics includes these visits in a grouped counter under keyword “not provided”. Meaning, you can’t track or monitor a specific keyword to your webpage -- well, at least not for performance reporting.
That means we can’t use keywords as a measurement of success?
Sure, but the good news is even without Google Analytics referring keyword data, search traffic is not just about the keywords anymore, and has been moving away from it for quite some time. Through the Hummingbird update, which was confirmed earlier this month, Google has expanded its ability to recognize full search queries; so, in general, users have the ability to perform several searches and get to different SERPs from just one query. Google isn’t picking out keywords to return results, but rather trying to understand what the user is actually attempting to find and matching that with unique, quality content from websites.
For SEO that means: content is still king
As Google continues to move away from keyword phrase interaction, content now becomes widely used as the most trusted source for rankings of a website. But it isn’t just about quality of content anymore: its also about who create the content (authorship), content management for updates (posting regularly), and who’s sharing it (quality link building).
From an SEO standpoint, this means moving away from keyword traffic to gaining momentum to the actual pages. And we can measure success with [mostly] the same metrics:
So it’s important that SEO efforts focus on the quality of content and distribution of sharing that content in both a timely and effective manner -- meaning, quality link building (no blackhat techniques), and sharing new content on a regular basis, so that search engine may index, and re-index to increase page authority.
But what about local search?
Again, the biggest update that Google executed through Hummingbird is the ability for searchers to use full-sentence queries to find closely related results. For organic search results, this means supplying content that tells search engines that, yes, we have a page (or website) that should be recommended, because we are providing the best interaction and information for potential customers. Local search is much the same.
As the “not provided” comes into effect, local search strategies should be reevaluated. Some experts advise that local search professionals, or business owners invest in fresh content for target service locations. This could be something as simple as adding customer reviews and updates to relevant location pages on a website. Posting socially, interactively, or just in general also has added value.
Does that mean higher rankings?
Not necessarily. Since Hummingbird hasn’t noticeably changed Local SEO much [not yet] these practices are simply that: good practices.
Another update this month from the Google Plus space is the ability to change your Google+ landing page URL. So instead of that incredibly long string of numbers, you can assign a proper name to the URL, much like you see below
In all, the updates from Google are allowing SEO practices to improve in how they approach whitehat vs. blackhat techniques. Rankings have not yet been effected, unless of course, bad link building or spamming keywords have been used in the past. Bottom line is still: quality content, share distribution, and quality link building!
See our local weather report below: