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Google’s Bird Has Landed

February 2014

HummingbiOn Oct. 3, 2013 Google’s complex new search algorithm Hummingbird instantly changed the way search results posted on its pages. Google has not had a dramatic change to their search algorithm since 2001, according to Google search chief Amit Singhal. In fact, Singhal first applied to patent this upgrade in 2003, so it has taken Google a very long time to introduce its new engine. Users have changed the way they search in the last 10 years, and with the massive move to mobile, Google is preparing for the future.

Hummingbird is built to respond to a more conversational and intuitive request. One of the advantages built into Hummingbird is that it takes into account each word and how it relates to all the words in the query, more like a spoken search for information. In other words, searching by a sentence rather than a few keywords will get a more desirable result. And, it favors results that offer quality over quantity.

Hummingbird also awards a higher SERP (search engine result page) ranking for well-written, high-quality content. That’s simplifying it a bit, but Google’s search bots now actually consider how well an article is written and edited, and if the quality of the writing is useful and relevant. The bot searches for language that engages and informs readers and/or solves problems. It shouldn’t surprise you that content published in magazines that follow journalistic methods are ranked at a high level of trustworthiness and legitimacy in the eyes of the bot. And, we think that’s a very good thing, especially when a magazine publishes online in addition to print.

The web is words. Yes, it also includes many images and videos. But the bottom line is that the web has always been about words. It is search engine driven, key word driven, content driven. Search engines have always served as content organizers. While PageRank algorithms continue to be part of the mix, Google’s new bird is rewriting the way consumers search and retrieve results. And, it should rewrite your business marketing plan.

Consumers no longer want spammy, link-laden online content, as they are hungry for useful articles and search results that inform them. The masses are demanding better stories and better content. This, in turn, is raising the status of online magazines and newspapers, now referred to as publishing channels, because they are a trusted and reliable source of quality content. Public relations reps continue to cultivate relationships with writers and editors hoping to see their content get published in trusted sources.

Content marketing initiatives made headlines in 2013 and changed marketing strategies for many businesses, especially those out in front of this trend. When the bird landed last fall, it changed the game for content marketing as it put more value on words. Content must be created to connect across multiple social media platforms. According to an article recently published by Content Marketing Institute contributor Hana Abaza (Jan. 16, 2014), one of the hottest trends in 2014 is for companies to integrate great journalism and storytelling into their strategy to improve their SERP rankings. Marketers have heard the demand and 92 percent are including content marketing strategies in 2014. The hottest job in marketing is the Content Marketing Director. And, journalists are playing a role in this newly minted department.

This opens new doors for businesses that have a story to tell. Content marketing is especially effective when paired with a paid key-word digital marketing strategy, as it raises SERP rankings. In 2014, it is essential that marketing plans have a multi-level, multi-platform strategy that includes smart content marketing.

If you have any doubt that content is driving business strategy, consider that last December, Katie Couric announced she will be joining Yahoo as their Global Anchor. She will “lead a growing team of news correspondents at Yahoo News who will cover the world’s most interesting stories and newsmakers,” according to CEO Marissa Mayer. This part-time job will pay the highly-branded Couric a cool $6M, and illustrates how important Yahoo thinks developing content is to its own strategy. I95