Google’s new Hummingbird update has been making waves recently—and for a very good reason. Because of this new release, your Google search ranking is now primarily dependent on the quality and originality of the content on each and every page of your website. In other words, Google wants to see a more natural, conversational tone that’s more tailored to your audience, rather than odd-sounding text filled with repetitive keywords added to “game” search engines. To ensure a high SERP ranking under the new framework, you should write your content with the idea of answering the most common questions a first-time visitor would have while perusing your website. In other words: write for people, not machines.
Why Unique Content Matters
Hummingbird stresses originality – in fact, Google now checks to confirm that at least 75% of the content on each of your pages is unique. What’s more, Hummingbird attributes authority based on traffic, so that if two pages share the same content, the more frequently-visited page will earn an SERP boost while the other receives a penalty for duplication. When writing content for your website, keep the following in mind (in order of their importance):
1. Use long-tail keywords as page titles. A descriptive page title, followed by original and engaging content, is the best way ensure a decent ranking on SERPs. Each page of content should answer one question (i.e., address only one topic per page), and your title should state that question as descriptively as possible, without being overly verbose (for example, “How to Successfully Prune Your Lilac Tree”).
2. Create search-engine-friendly URLs that display the location and topic of your content, including the title of each page (for instance, Johnson-Bros-Nursery/What’s-New/Blogs/How-To-Successfully-Prune-A-Lilac-Tree). The use of descriptive keywords on your URL helps with the indexing of your page content.
3. Place relevant keywords in your headers. The main headers and sub-headers on each page (H1s and H2s) should support the content of your page with relevant keywords. Be sure to code these in the backend of your website—and don’t assume they’re correctly set up if you haven’t checked to confirm. Bold text is not the same thing as a proper header tag.
4. Don’t forget to use keywords within your content. Contrary to rumors, keywords have not gone away. Before setting out to write content for a page on your website, think of 3-5 keywords related to the main topic you’re addressing, and incorporate them smoothly into your writing —as if you were answering a customer’s question in person. Again, you should write with your target audience in mind, not Google spiders.
5. Be descriptive with your image Alt Text and file name. Make sure they include at least the name of your business and the title of the page, or an explanation of what the picture is about, as it relates to your content (for instance, “Johnson-Bros-Nursery–How-To-Prune-A-Lilac-Tree”).
6. Use long-tailed anchor text. Whenever your website content includes a link to your blog, other sections of your site, or external pages, be sure the text provides a detailed description of where the link leads. “Be sure to use the correct tools to prune your lilac tree,” for example, will help you reach better SERP results than just a generic “Read more” link.
7. Share your content – and pay attention to how you describe it. Every page of your content should include social sharing buttons, so that readers can quickly and easily share your content on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Also, be sure to preface your post with an engaging introduction to encourage readers to not only follow your link, but to share it as well.
8. Make sure to properly code the metadata for each page in the backend of your website. Your page description, title tag, and keywords are vital to the success of your SEO efforts.
9. Write, code, share, and repeat. Remember that SEO is not a one-time task, but rather an ongoing process. Keep your website, blog, and social media profiles up-to-date and engaging. The more content you produce, the higher your chances of increasing your organic ranking on SERPs.
10. Monitor your progress, and reach out for help if you need it. If the Hummingbird update has kicked you back a few pages on your SERP results, don’t panic. If you’re a good writer and know how to navigate the backend of your website, you can follow the above-mentioned steps on your own. If you’re not, consider hiring a seasoned professional to handle your content writing, SEO, and social media engagement on your behalf. Whatever you do, though, don’t ignore SEO! After all, there’s no use having a website if nobody can find it.