As you no doubt are aware, Google announced that they have significantly changed the algorithm that determines search results. Code-named “Hummingbird” this new system de-emphasizes specific keywords in the search/search results schema in favor of semantic searching. This means that the derived, inferred “meaning” of the search is more important than the exact words composing the query.
This type of semantic searching has been discussed for years, but natural language processing capabilities weren’t able to truly handle it. But, powered by an enormous trove of data from Android and Google Voice, Google now has the capacity to interpret what you really want, even if you don’t phrase it well. This is particularly important as more and more searches are performed hands-free, as how we ask for information via voice differs from how we ask for information via typed phrases (voice searches are typically longer and can be more vague and amorphous).
Additionally, Google’s own “Knowledge Graph” has been expanded and enhanced, and Google will itself attempt to answer questions and provide data when it can. This means that Google is becoming even more of a provider of content, in addition to its traditional role as the traffic cop for content.
Lastly, you might be concerned about Google’s announcement that they will make all searches anonymous, robbing website owners of data about what search terms were used when people ended up on their site. There are some workarounds for this, such as looking at paid search traffic in your Google AdWords account, exporting your historic keyword data, and even looking at Bing searches, but there’s no question Google is throwing the cloak over organic keyword data, in general.
What This Means for Content Marketers
Taken together, these multiple changes from Google bring to a close the era of the “keyword” and usher in the new era of meaning and intent. Google has stated for many years that their goal is to make search behave more like people behave (one of the reasons social signals like clicks and +1s factor into rankings), and this is just the next step in that direction. Content that people like, Google will like. Google wants you to figure out what content to make not by obsessing over keywords and data reports, but to answer the questions that you can genuinely answer well, and be authoritative for the topics about which you truly are a good solution.
The rich will get richer. If you create great content, answer questions well, and provide resources that real people love, Google will reward you.
If you continue to believe that you can find a “shortcut” to search-referred traffic, Google is closing that loophole forever.
Don’t just make content, make content that matters. (tweet this)