Keywords, search queries and Google
As many people are aware, Google recently announced Hummingbird, a new ‘semantic’ based algorithm. It was the biggest single change to its famous algorithms for over 10 years, and many say has been brought in to cater for the increasing use of searching using mobile phones, (to actually cope with people speaking their requirements into their phones – and into Google search).
So What Has Changed?
Let’s Look At The Traditional Search Query First:
The traditional search in Google may look something like this:
– You put “golf clubs” into the Google search box..
From Google’s perspective however, the following needs to be taken into consideration:
· Is someone looking to join a golf club?
· Is someone looking to buy a golf club?
· Is someone looking to visit a golf club?
· Does someone want a list of golf clubs?
You get the point.. Obviously there are many more variations and it’s difficult to know what the user is actually looking for here.. The search is said to be the explicit aspect of a search query.. (the old way where the user explicitly states what they are looking for).
The other side of the same coin is called the implicit aspect of the query (that is the stuff the user doesn’t provide consciously) it would come from information that Google could (and do) glean without us knowing about it.. (e.g. location, IP address, connection speed, device etc.. there are many more.)
The implicit aspect refers to the CONTEXT of our search.. Which now gives Google a better chance of getting our query right.. This in addition to further contextual data that Google could pick up,
So we have learned that Google then returns my results based on my Explicit AND the Implicit details:
· Google has used my implicit search details to show me results that it thinks I want to see.
· Despite making no conscious effort to provide this information, Google knows where I am.
· That is implicit search and it means that the keyword is no longer at the centre of the search.
· It means that a local golf club can appear in a vastly elevated position for an ultra competitive search term, based on the data Google analyse.
· It means that measuring rankings is a wild goose chase (more than it was already).
· I might be seeing one result, you may be seeing something completely different.
This Is What Has Changed:
We need to stop looking at random keywords and start thinking about the context of the search queries.
In other words we need to be concentrating on what the user is actually looking for, rather than second guessing all the different ways they could say it.
We need to stop using the term keyword as much as we can, and look at focusing on our business goals, not be blinded by the randomness that a keyword position offers.. the keyword is not a definer of success.
What Should My Goals Be Then, If Not Keyword Rankings?
Goals might look like this:
Increase overall website traffic by 15%
Increase new visitor % from 20 – 25%
Increase conversion rates from 54% – 63%
Those goals define a successful progression of a site.
SO YOU NOW WANT TO SAY – “BUT WE HAVE TO RANK!!!”
I’ll then politely ask if the keyword is the most important thing for me to report on, then why ?
The answer is usually because that’s how you tell if your site is ranking, or if your “SEO is working.” (That I’m doing my “job”) But the above goals when being achieved, should do just that, shouldn’t they?
Actually, websites sites rank in Google for many reasons. The keyword phrase is only a part of the jigsaw. We need to:
Define our customers’ requirements
Make a page or site in order to fulfil that need, as best as we possibly can. (CONTENT)
Then optimise that page to be the best it can be, based on the content.
Think about this..-> there are hundreds of variations of keywords for any one singular subject. Your focus needs to be on that subject and producing content that fulfills the customers’ needs. It shouldn’t be on just one or two of the multiple number of keywords that are possible.
The two major factors in ranking that you can have an effect on are related to the target page. Having relevant content and strengthening the page are what you/we should be focused on as a search marketer.
If you look at the highest correlated factors to ranking from the 2013 Ranking Factors Survey
. All of the top factors are page-related. Content (relevant content that is about the subject, answers the query that the user or potential customer has) is king.
Producing and then promoting that content is the key to success.. on and off line.