March 18, 2014
2 min read

BLOG: What the latest evolution in the Google search algorithm means for online advertising in 2014

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Read more from Paul M. Stubenbordt.

Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird, oh my! Just when you thought you were getting the hang of how Google’s search algorithms of Panda and Penguin worked, Google turned 15 and surprised everyone with Hummingbird, which affected 90% of searches worldwide.

A search engine algorithm is a formula used by Google to take a user’s search terms and combine them with information on websites to provide the person performing a Google search with the best possible match. Seventy-seven percent of patients looking for health care information online begin by visiting a search engine. Roughly 80% of those use Google as their preferred search engine. The obvious question now is: What does Hummingbird mean for your current and future SEO?

The good news is, if you haven’t noticed a dip by now, then you’re likely in the clear. Hummingbird is designed to be precise, fast and user-friendly. It uses more than 200 factors to determine the best results for the person performing a Google search, and these still include quality, unique content (very important), links and keywords. If you were using good, clean SEO tactics before, you should continue to rank well post-Hummingbird. The Hummingbird update addressed the fact that conversational search (asking a question rather than entering key words) is becoming the norm, especially because most people now search using mobile devices by speaking queries out loud. This new algorithm looks at the contextual meaning of the query and not just a few keywords.

If you have been affected by Hummingbird, or if you’re just looking to increase your ranking, here are some tips to help you.

  • Fresh, original and quality content is key — I can’t stress this enough. You need great original content, with some keyword optimization, and you need to refresh frequently with new content to keep yourself relevant.
  • Mobile SEO: Because one of the biggest driving forces behind the rise in conversational search is the popularity of mobile devices, mobile optimization is crucial. If your website is not responsive — meaning it doesn’t adapt to screen sizes depending on whether it’s being viewed on a computer, tablet or phone — then it’s time to update.
  • Keyword optimization: Keywords, carefully placed and used in moderation, are still important.
  • Use videos: Everyone loves videos. Refrain from using medical procedures for videos, but instead use informational videos, patient testimonials, etc.
  • Incorporate questions into your content: Because questions and not keywords are the new standard for search engines, it’s a good idea to incorporate the questions your target demographic might be searching for.

If it all seems too complicated or if you simply don’t have the time to deal with it, remember that outsourcing your SEO can be very effective and worthwhile. Let the experts deal with monitoring your SEO, optimizing your website, increasing your ranking and staying on top of search engine algorithm updates and changes.

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