In the last couple of months there has been a Google search engine redesign which far surpasses anything they’ve done for years. Earlier we had Google Panda Update, followed by Google Penguin Update, both designed to tweak the way data is treated. Google Hummingbird, the latest update, is a complete rewrite of their search algorithm; a brand new, all singing, all dancing engine.
Why should we care?
Because for the first time, Google really does favour well written content above keyword overuse.
Let me explain: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has usually comprised of picking a keyword and forcing it into text as many times as possible in the hope that Google would place it ahead of rivals. We’ve all read poorly written sites which say:
In the old days (yes, 12 months ago is the old days in the world of websites) this form of writing would get you to the top of page one within hours. Now it will be either ignored or downgraded. In fact, I had to put this example in as an image to avoid Google reading it and slapping me with a penalty.
Instead, we’ll now write:
“Visit XXXX for all your web content writing requirements. Here we take our writing seriously and provide website text tailored for every client’s personal needs. If your website needs a great content creator then give us a call, and we’ll introduce you to the finest Google-pleasing content in the South West.”
The new Hummingbird update uses Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) which recognises the contextual use of words as well as the words themselves. “our writing” is linked to “web content writing” for example, and Google knows it’s nothing to do with letter writing or novel writing.
The way to rank your web pages is to write properly for humans, not search engines. My first quoted passage may have been great for Google once, but it was always lousy for humans. The second passage is good for both. It means two things for writers: firstly, we get an opportunity to relax and forget about having to write poorly just to rank; secondly, we get to use our imagination and display some breadth of knowledge when picking related phrases. It’s fun to work out how to say the same thing several ways, providing it doesn’t produce a ridiculous parody.
Overall, Hummingbird is good for everyone. Or should I say, almost everyone. It’s meeting with some negative comments from SEO specialists who relied on the old methods of ranking a site, including some of the old “black hat” methods of stuffing keywords in hidden places knowing that searchbots would find them and improve the page’s ranking.
Google has also reduced the effectiveness of back links (links from relevant peer sites) and directly penalises websites which link through overseas link farms, which produce countless links to unrelated websites. You know those comments you get on your website which seem completely unrelated to your business? Here’s one from one of my other sites:
“tolpuddle, globalisation would have happened whether Lady T was or wasn’t in power, it couldn’t have been stopped any more than the introduction of textile looms could have been, the thing the Luddites objected to.
Canada Goose Whistler Parka sort http://xxxxxxxxxx.com/images/xxxxx/xxxx”
Well these are links, or attempted links which some poor soul has paid for to try to improve their site’s position. A waste of money of course and can only cause harm to the website’s owner.
The key from now on is to write as you think people speak: normally, unforced, and with no trickery.