Redefining SEO for the Hummingbird Era

Every few months, articles crop up proclaiming the death of SEO. When link exchanges were devalued, many panicked and called that the end of SEO. The same thing occurred with the loss of link directories, the introduction of duplicate content penalties and even the algorithm updates that penalised unnatural looking link profiles. While all of these changes were blows to a certain type of SEO agency, they were certainly not enough to proclaim the death of SEO. The idea behind SEO is not to just build links or to trick Google into ranking you for a certain keyword. Rather, SEO is about making content that provides answers to questions that people really have. SEO is a multi-faceted effort that includes content creation, promotion, production and networking. There are technical challenges to SEO as well as content challenges, and SEOs must be good digital strategists, content creators, designers and marketers.

SEO has changed

Modern SEO is most certainly a different animal to the SEO that we grew used to a few years ago. But at its core SEO is still based on algorithms, and this means that if you understand the rules that govern the algorithms you can get an advantage. The only way that one could truly call SEO dead would be if every single site on the web were rated and categorised by humans. Even then, those humans would likely be following a set of rules, and just like preparing for a test, once some webmasters understood the rubric they would be able to design their site in a way that would boost their rankings. Hummingbird was more than just an update, it was a complete rewrite of Google’s old ranking algorithms. It improved natural language search, boosted search speed and incorporated many other improvements including anti-linkspam and duplicate content measures. Hummingbird did not penalise sites in the way that the Penguin and Panda updates did. Few webmasters reported massive changes in traffic when the update rolled out, since its biggest impact was on long tail queries. However, this does not mean that webmasters can ignore Hummingbird. The update marked a turning point for Google. Previously, the search engine focused on matching words and phrases. Now, Google aims to provide answers to questions, and help searchers achieve a goal. In the post hummingbird world, every page must help searchers to find answers or complete a task. Anything else is superfluous.


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