Google’s Latest Update and your Business

Google's new algorithm HummingbirdGoogle has just launched it’s new algorithm named “Hummingbird”.

If you didn’t already know, Google uses a secret algorithm to determine what should be displayed in a search query. The latest incarnation of this algorithm is called Hummingbird.

So what, I hear you say. Well if you are a business owner with a website, you should care because there is the potential that it will affect your search rankings and because of the way Google now deals with what it shows the searcher, it could also reduce traffic to your website.

This algorithm overhaul aims to limit the “fluff” that is sometimes present on a website purely for SEO, and filter that stuff out, so that the the searcher gets more relevant and useful search results.

The Hummingbird algorithm has moved away from traditional keyword analysis of the content, and now uses “conversational” techniques that are more in tune with what the searcher is looking for.

Google have found that user searches are becoming longer and very specific, so the new Hummingbird algorithm focuses on the searchers’ “intent” by trying to answer the searchers’ question.

How does the Hummingbird Update affect your Business Website?

This latest update will undoubtedly affect your current rankings.

It may be negative or positive, or in other words, your rankings may improve or get worse or a combination of both.

For those businesses that had poor rankings for generic non specific terms, you may well find that your rankings improve.

If you don’t want your rankings to suffer with this latest update, Businesses will need to rethink the content of their websites to come more into line on how people use the internet to search for goods and services.

Hummingbird places a higher emphasis on conversational techniques and natural language, and has been driving towards better support for longer search queries. Hummingbird takes this a step further by trying to provide answers to questions rather than finding matches for keywords.

This is because serving up results based on keywords does not always reflect what it is someone is searching for.

When formulating the content of your pages, you will need to consider what sort of questions will be asked by a searcher and incorporating the answers within your content.

What this means is that simply having content on a page for the sake of having content, does not have the same impact it once did.

Why Hummingbird may affect traffic to your website

One of the big changes that has come with the new update is the way Google displays information.

Search data may now be displayed to the right of the search results.

For example, if you type “Gravity” and then search, to the right of the search results you will see information from the IMDb website showing data from their website about the movie Gravity.

Now this may be great for the searcher, but what this means is that the searcher is now less likely to visit the IMDb website.

Other things that may be displayed in the Brave New World of Google Search are things like links to YouTube videos or a link to “Watch It Now” on Google Play, ie. Google’s own content.

Wherever possible, you will now find Google trying to direct people to their own content rather than your website.

So what can your Business do?

Well not a great deal.

About all you can do is try and concentrate on the content, framing it in a way that answers questions people may be searching for, ensuring at the same time that it uses natural language without looking spammy and without keyword stuffing.

Stick to the other principles of SEO by including relevant images, videos, headings, page titles and page url’s.

What your Business should look for in a website

There are several things you should be looking for when getting a website developed for your business.

Below is a list of the top seven considerations that I believe are the most important.

  • It should use a Responsive Theme.  This has been touched on in the content on our Home Page, but it’s worth reiterating it here because I think it’s the Number One consideration.  A Responsive Theme will adjust itself to display well and correctly as the screen size of the device used changes.  So in other words, if you view a website on a 24″ Desktop Monitor, and then a Laptop, and then a Tablet and then a Mobile Phone with a small screen, the website should adapt and be usable on all the different screen sizes and resolutions.  Images should scale themselves down as applicable, and the Navigation structure should adapt as well.  So why is this so important?  Well the use of mobile devices and tablets to access the Internet has skyrocketed in recent times, nowhere more so than in Australia where our population has embraced the use of mobile devices.
  • It should have Cross Browser compatibility.  Not everyone uses the same Internet Browser.  Some people prefer Internet Explorer, or Firefox, or Chrome, and if you are using a Mac or iPad, then it’s most likely to be Safari.  In each case however, your website needs to display correctly.  If your business website does not display as intended, and parts of it are not where they should be or missing, then that will present an unprofessional look for your business and possibly result in a lost sale.
  • It should contain quality and relevant content.  Again, this has been touched on in the content of our Home Page, and what I am referring to is SEO or Search Engine Optimisation.  You can have the best looking website in the world, but if the content on the pages is not well written and relevant to your business and you are not targeting key words related to your industry, then you may as well not bother.  Take the time to do some Key Word Research, do a Google Search for some keywords and then check out the competitions websites to see what they are doing to get those top rankings.  You can’t guarantee you will get the same results, but it sure is better than doing nothing.
  • It should be easy to navigate and find things.  There is nothing worse than visiting a website and finding multiple navigation structures.  Some things can be found in the top menu, other things in a side menu and yet further things in the footer.  Now having said that, there are some valid reasons for doing this.  For example, on this website you will find our “Website Terms of Use” and “Privacy Policy” in the Footer and not on the Main Menu.  This is because they are not the sort of thing most visitors would be looking for.  Everything else however, should be accessible from the Main Menu and you shouldn’t have to guess where to look.  You should also have some sort of Search capability.  I use two different types of Search, depending on whether there is eCommerce involved or not.  If eCommerce is involved, then a Predictive Search plug-in is useful.  A Predictive Search will display a list of results as you type, and is handy for visitors looking for a particular product.
  • It should look clean.  Now this one is a hard one to quantify as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Colours that I would say are garish, have been insisted on when I have designed websites for some customers.  All I can say is that just as you wouldn’t normally paint the walls of your house bright pink, so should you NOT do the same on your website.  Your logo may well incorporate bright orange and yellow, but that doesn’t mean it should permeate through the pages of your website.  It may even detract from the message or products you are trying to highlight.
  • It should allow visitors to engage via Social Media.  Now this one is the thing that most Business Owners struggle with.  The number one thing that I hear when I mention this is, I don’t want anything to do with that S*#!@.  Let me tell you that I hear you.  The fact of the matter though is that more and more people are using Social Media to communicate, shop, find out information, share information, and it can affect your Search results if you do not have a Social Media presence.  As much as we might dislike it, it is now part of online life whether we like it or not.
  • Make sure you own the Website and Domain Name.  I can’t count how many people have come to me after having their website designed by another company, being dissatisfied, and then wanting to transfer the Management of the website to us.  But when you ask for the log-in details for Domain Name Management, FTP log-in credentials, Website Hosting Account log-in credentials, and they don’t have them and the web designer won’t provide them.  Worse still, they have registered the Domain Name and Hosting Account in their name instead of the Business Owner, and setup the website so the Business Owner does not have full Admin control of the website.  This makes it almost impossible to transfer to a different Domain Registrar and Hosting Provider, and at the very least a frustrating and time consuming exercise.  So the lesson here is, make sure you are the owner and point of contact for your Domain Name, Website Hosting and that you have full Admin control of your website.

Every Business should have a website.

Every Business should have a WebsiteIn this day and age, if you don’t have a website for your business, you are doing yourself a disservice. As our slides above say, Embrace the Online World and Take the Road to Success.

Building a website for your Business will increase your Businesses chances of success.

Almost everybody these days uses the Internet to search for Goods and Services, and if you do not have an online presence, you are missing out.

But simply having a website is not sufficient.

Not only does it need to look good, but more importantly, the content on the pages needs to target what it is you want to show up on search results. This is known as Search Engine Optimisation.

Another key consideration for a modern website is that it needs to be responsive.

What that means is that the website design should allow the pages to scale and fit the browser widths/resolutions on all devices including mobile devices.

Go ahead and shrink your browser window now and see the results.

Note how elements on the page change size, and when the screen gets really small the whole navigation structure changes.

This is particularly desirable when viewing a website with a small device like a Mobile Phone.