Google’s Hummingbird update is forcing marketers to reassess their SEO and social media optimization strategies, and adjust based on the updated algorithm. Google says Hummingbird’s goal is to promote quality content and organically shared content. One of the best ways for businesses to allow for their content to be shared is through the strategic use of social media.

Hummingbird is also Google’s official transition into semantic search, meaning a switch to trying to determine what someone is looking for, instead of only using the keywords typed into the search bar. In essence, Google is trying to determine a user’s intent.

Semantic search has a very social component in that Google search is attempting to understand what a searcher wants so that it can answer queries meaningfully, not just with keyword dense content. Because Google wants to give the most relevant results, it uses some social measures to determine which content is the best and which writers are the most authoritative. Quality content by trusted sources is shared more often, making it more relevant to Google.

With Google’s Hummingbird update, it’s important to focus on easily shareable content because Google now indexes many social media interactions, including all content on Google+.

Beefing Up Social Content for Hummingbird

One of the keys of SMO with Hummingbird is creating content that will be shared. This doesn’t mean marketers should just post the same article in every LinkedIn group possible. What it does mean is that Google uses the assumption that users will want to read quality content, and if the content is useful and engaging enough, they’ll want others to know about it as well.

Link building is a traditional SEO technique that can take a lot of time and effort if marketers are focused on earning quality links from high-authority websites. With social media, if content is shared, it can act like link-building. So, by creating quality content and allowing it to be shared using optimized social media outlets, businesses have the ability to increase rankings naturally.

Jason Squardo, executive vice president of optimization at ZOG Digital, agrees with Hummingbird, it’s best to focus on what’s relevant to a target audience, not just finding a way to pump articles full of as many keywords as possible.

“The SEO conversation we should be having is about authorship, user-generated content, and social signals such as Google+ and YouTube, that will help identify a user or website as an authentic resource for credible information,” says Squardo. “If you provide relevancy and authenticity in the right places, that’s what matters. The principal of providing quality content in the right places doesn’t change based on where you are or what you are doing. Keeping that at the forefront of strategy is how to stay ahead of Google changes.”

Google+ Takes Center Stage Google+, Social Media, Schmidt, 2014 prediction, Digital Marketing

Google now indexes all Google+ pages, meaning that by posting content on Google+, a marketer increases the chance for the content being found. Google cannot index other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as completely as Google+ because Google doesn’t own the data from other sites. This means marketers should work to increase their influence and credibility on Google+ by leveraging authentic engagement and participating social discourse frequently. Additionally, while Google will not confirm it, many experts believe that Google+ shares have a direct impact on search results.

Another way Hummingbird attempts to give users the most relevant results possible is by   personalizing results as much as possible. For example, that content being shared inside someone’s Google+ circle is more likely to show up in their search results. This is another example of why businesses need to have a strong Google+ presence as also make sure their content is informative and interesting enough to be shared repeatedly.

Humming up with SMO Strategy

When it comes to digital marketing and SMO after the Hummingbird update, we continue to say that content is king. Google is rewarding marketers that put effort into creating valuable content that consumers want to read and share. Google+ and other social networks are the perfect places to allow for content to shine.

ZOG Digital is a full-service, search and social marketing company. Contact us for more information about search engine optimization, social media marketing, paid advertising, and design and development.

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