The Hummingbird update of Google’s search algorithm, the most extensive update in years, marks Google’s efforts to move search results beyond keywords and links. Keywords still matter, but the connections PR and SEO writers make to relevant topics and people in their content matters more, Denis Pinsky analyzes in What Google’s Hummingbird Update Means for You.
Hummingbird will return more relevant results with its “Knowledge Graph,” which recognizes intent and maps the relationships to past searches to answer more complex queries. The update affects all search queries and SEO and is optimized for voice searches on mobile phones. Pinsky illustrates how Google “remembers” previous searches so searchers don’t have to re-enter the same information, and recognizes that “here” means the searcher’s current location (see example below).
For PR pros, a Hummingbird strategy requires networking with peers and creating content that people can interact with and cite in their own content, Pinsky explains. Hummingbird will also emphasize AuthorRank to identify true experts on different topics.
To optimize for Hummingbird, Christopher Penn recommends a staple PR practice: interviews. In How PR Can Affect Your Google Hummingbird SEO, Penn points out that interviews provide content that is less keyword-optimized and much more like the natural language that Hummingbird’s algorithm calculates. Written transcripts should supplement audio and video interviews so Google can pick up the conversational dialogue that searchers might enter in a query. Text transcripts of video interviews also save time for readers who want to scan the material for important tidbits.
Semantic searches should also stimulate PR pros to think in a question-and-answer format, Gini Dietrich contends in Hummingbird Update: What it Means for PR Pros. Comments and social sharing activity plays a greater role. Before creating content, writers should ask: What are the questions people ask your sales and customer service teams?
In addition to interviews, PR pros can also use their company’s webinars to optimize content for Hummingbird. Dietrich advises transcribing the webinar’s content for your blog, or answering audience questions asked during the webinar in content.