Boggled by Google changes? A (very simple) look at how your search marketing efforts need to shift

by on November 20, 2013

The latest Google Penguin updateYou may have heard of the latest Google algorithms called  Penguin and Hummingbird. This may have had you scratching you head right there.  What is an algorithm and what’s up with Google and all the animal names?

An algorithm can be loosely defined as “a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations.” So a Google algorithm means a set of rules that defines search engine results. The animal names are just a cute way of titling the different updates; these can get pretty complicated and technical.

Things are always changing at Google and all the details of updates can get quite intense. So I’m going to lay out some of the more recent developments with Google and search marketing and what this means for your small business, keeping things as simple and non-techy as possible here. If your eyes glaze over at any point along the way, not to worry. Skip to the next part and perhaps talk to me or another SEO consultant you trust to help you with the bits you don’t get.

Keyword research

Google used to offer a public, free keyword research tool. They have moved it now into their Google Adwords platform (paid Google advertising that will show either at the top or in the sidebar of a Google search when your keywords are used). So you’ll have to set up a Google Adwords account and do your research from there using the “Keyword Planner” tool.

Keyword data from Google searches

Google Analytics not providedGoogle Analytics no longer shows you the keywords that people used to search and find your website.  When you login into your Analytics (because you’ve got it going, right??), rather than seeing a nice big list of all the different keywords visitors Googled to get to your website, you’re going to see “not provided” right at the top of your organic keyword traffic list (paid keyword traffic refers to any Google Adwords campaigns you are running).

Looking at keyword traffic was always something very handy. You could gauge whether your efforts at optimizing your site for certain keywords were working. You could get some interesting insights into the keywords that were driving traffic that you maybe had not thought of. You could get some content ideas by looking at some of the more popular search queries, creating more blog posts and other content around these topics.

Google WebMaster Tools KeywordsWell, there’s no sense crying over spilled milk.

Now that the Google keyword data is gone from your Analytics, it’s time to look to your Google Web Master Tools. This is a free Google service – get signed up here. In your account you can find the keyword searches that brought visitors to your site by looking at “Search Queries.”

The data is not as robust as what you would previously see in your Analytics account, but it’s still useful.

There are other search engines

But wait, you still can see some keyword information in your Analytics. It will just be from other search engines like Yahoo and Bing. Yes, they are no Google, but it’s still interesting data that can give you good insights.

Focus on creating great content

SEO used to be synonymous with keywords. And business owners and search consultants focused, even obsessed, over them. But quality of content is now front and center, and that is here to stay.

Then: I sell “x”!
Now: I am an expert in “x” and if you have questions, I am a valuable resource for you.

The goal for writing for your website and your blog should always be to create useful and interesting content that’s creative and original. Don’t just write to plug in your keywords as much as possible.  That’s just spammy, as we’ve talked about before here.

How can you be useful?

Answer the questions your customers and your target market are asking. What, Why, How to. Think about questions that people might be Google searching about your business and then address those questions in your online content creation.

The Hummingbird update is all about the questions, with a great emphasis being placed on long-tail keywords searches. What are those? In short, searches that are longer. For example, instead of just searching “children’s clothing” you’d search “eco-friendly children’s clothing made in Canada” or instead of “bedbugs” searching “home remedies to remove bedbugs.” Going after longer tail keywords is not a new thing; the more specific the search the more qualified the visitor to your site or in other words the higher likelihood they actually want what you are selling. Any good SEO was always focused on longer, more specific queries when possible. Queries that demonstrate an intent to buy or a specific desire for the content you’ve created.

… and plenty of it

Google is now carefully looking at the depth and breadth of websites. Really good content? Check. Lots of really good content? Even better. Old school SEO was about homepage, homepage, homepage. Now, you want searchers to find what they are looking for deeper within your site. You want to have lots of entrance pages, or pages where visitors first arrive at your site. So create new website pages (remember, useful ones – if a visitor wouldn’t find the info valuable, don’t bother, it may do more harm than good) and blog, blog, blog.

SEO and search marketing isn’t dead. It has just evolved.

If reading this post makes your head throb, perhaps you need a hand? Search marketing is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is mine. Let’s talk further about how I can assistant your search efforts.

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