Is Your Copywriting Safe from Google’s Hummingbird Update?

SEO Copywriting for HummingbirdAs you may know by now, Google’s gone and done it again — they’ve changed the algorithm they use to give search engine results, and it’s got some content producers running scared.

The update, code-named Hummingbird, is focused mainly on what Google sees as the future of search: voice search.

Think about when you’re driving or out and about and you use the voice control on your phone to search for something. You don’t say “Coffee and WiFi and zip code 80021;” you say something more like, “Where’s the nearest coffee shop with WiFi?”

It takes a lot of math to turn that conversational question into a computer query. Luckily the math is their problem; the question is, what does Hummingbird mean for copywriting on the web?

A big change . . . that’s not really that big.

With most of Google’s past updates there were winners and losers; some websites saw their ranking go up and others (usually those that were trying to “game” the system with dubious search engine optimization tactics) went down.

With the Hummingbird update, the changes have been much more subtle.

You might notice that when you type in a search, you get more relevant results. The best example of this I’ve seen is that if you type in “What is SEO?” you’ll get more articles that answer your question — and fewer websites trying to sell you SEO services. (You find those by typing in something like “SEO service.”)

More than ever, content trumps tactics when it comes to effective SEO. (Tweet this!)

The good new is: If you’re writing great content (which, of course you are), Google is getting better and better are recognizing that.

Keep up the good work.

If you haven’t changed the way you do SEO in three or four years, you probably want to upgrade your SEO skills. But if you’ve been keeping up with SEO best practices, you’re good to go with Hummingbird.

Nevertheless, here are a 3 key points to keep in mind:

1. Don’t worry about how many times you use an exact-match keyword phrase in a blog post or article. Once or twice is enough to point Google in the right direction. Going for “keyword density,” as was the rage a few years ago, may even hurt your rankings now.

2. Use synonyms for your keywords. As Google gets better and better at understanding how people speak, it’s also going to get easier for it to recognize that “restaurant, joint, and establishment” can all refer to the same place that serves your favorite Greek food.

3. Pay attention to how your clients talk — when you’re talking to a client, jot down the words and phrases they use. Those are the things they’ll be typing in when they (and others like them) are searching for your product or service.

I also found this useful infographic on optimizing your website for Hummingbird; it’s got some great tips for the rest of your website and social media strategy beyond copywriting.
Copywriting for Google's Hummingbird
What’s your best tip or resources for keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of SEO? Please share them with all of us in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Infographic by