So far, any rumours of the death of SEO has been greatly exaggerated. Anytime Google makes a change to the way that it performs searches, those who seem to carry a grudge about optimised content are happy to scare the socks off the SEO world. The Penguin, Panda and Caffeine updates to the Google algorithm created quite a nervous buzz about the future of SEO, and guess what? SEO is still alive.
It is easy to buy into the rumours if you do not understand how SEO really works. Many people think it is all about including the right keywords on your web pages in order to trick search engines into granting you high rankings. This is really an outsider or amateur view and demotes the art of SEO to useless spam.
SEO has always been about creating great content. The best SEO writers have a deep understanding of what their audiences want to read and how they will search for it in a search engine. Yes, this may include knowing the right words to keep your content search engine friendly, but good SEO strategy always considers reader friendliness a first priority.
The most recent Google algorithm update, nicknamed “Hummingbird,” has made some corners of the SEO world re-up the frenzy. People are talking yet again about SEO being dead. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, most people did not even know about the Hummingbird update until a full month after its release. Google did not make it known right away, and high quality SEO was still doing just fine.
So, what’s different about the Hummingbird update? It makes search engine results more intelligent, personal, specific and, when possible, local. Rather than focusing on the most important query words as the Google search engine has done in the past, searches focus on the meaning behind the word combinations. In other words, the meaning of entire sentences now matters.
Google applies what is called conversational search. This enables Google to continuously give responses that reference information you provided in a previous query. For example, you could ask the search engine, “Which clothes stores in Perth will be open for business on Christmas day?” The search may give you a list of stores. Then you could simply make this query, “What are the hours?” The search engine will relate this very general question to your very specific first query.
The good news is none of this changes how we should be doing SEO: high quality content with user friendly keywords. This is the hallmark of SEO survival. Those who are mastering it may find new benefits in the world of the Hummingbird update. If they are doing SEO the right way, their well-written pages could come up in the search engine “conversation” at least twice.