For years, SEO marketers have relied on decades of tried and true tactics: keyword saturation, backlinks and focusing on short phrase searches. No more. Hummingbird, Google’s new search algorithm has changed the face of online marketing once again. Here’s what you need to know to take full advantage of Google’s shiny new search maths.

Check those bad habits

Keywords, keywords, keywords? Still true, but you need to simmer down on overstuffing your content for a number of reasons. Last year’s quiet introduction now penalizes sites that place too many unnecessary keywords on their websites. More importantly, Hummingbird is now able to recognize long-tail keywords due to the popularity of voice searches via smartphones. This frees marketers to create great content that focuses on delivering the answers that searchers need. Gone are the days where we would have to figure out fancy keywords to try and get to the top of the search page. Now, we can rely on a “what is hummingbird” query to get to this very webpage. Basically, Google has finally adapted to our late night conversations with Siri.

Backlinks, the old practice of incessantly linking back to different parts of your website to keep visitors in an endless maze, are now out too. Kind of. Useful backlinks are still good! Keep in mind that Hummingbird prioritizes good content, and good content can involve a link or two to your own stuff. Just make sure that it’s ONE link to that post about fixing your pipes, not three.

In with the new

Time is money. Part of Hummingbird’s ranking system is determining how long your visitors are willing to stay on your page. Keep that engagement up, since it’s now become an integral part of keeping your page ranking up too. Infographics, good visuals, maybe a well put-together video or two are all the rage these days. Truly the time to be alive for graphic designers.

Hashtags? I know. But much like Twitter or Facebook, Google can now differentiate hashtag searches from regular searches as well. In fact, Google will now prioritize the hashtag over a plain ol’ keyword. When drawing the younger crowd, great implementation of #hashtags in the #Hummingbird era will set your content apart. Just try to #not #overdo #it.

Content is king

We’ve always known that more content means better indexing, and better indexing leads to an easier climb up the SERP. But this adage has never been truer: part of Hummingbird’s new evaluation system is the frequency in which websites can create new content. If you want to stay successful, you can no longer stay stagnant. Updating weekly is a good start – see how that feels and go from there.

More than anything else, good content is has become the underlying factor that influences how Hummingbird even came to be. How do you get more organic referrals? Good content. The switch from keywords to specific, full question-style searches enables what? Good content. And hashtags? Just another way to find good content! Forget the year of the Horse; let’s ring in the year of the Hummingbird.

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