Pandas, Penguins and Hummingbirds, Oh My!
Recently I was asked: "What methods, besides paid traffic, would increase new leads and visibility in the B-to-B market?"
This great question opens up the door to a conversation about Google's newest cast of characters. (Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird) in the last few years.
Let's review what each of these changes brought and where business marketers' focus should be to score the elusive front page rankings of Google on the terms that matter to you.
In February 2011, Google introduced Panda. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling ..." and many more exclamations could be heard on the internet marketing forums. Many blamed the update for taking away rankings, traffic and even livelihood. Why was Panda needed and what goal was it put in motion to accomplish?
First, Panda affects the ranking of the entire website or a specific section, rather than just a single page. Why is this so critical? That leads to the next reason: Second, Panda focused on sites with "thin content." These were sites that were created to basically game or manipulate the search results to the site's creator.
The combination of both of these two factors resulted in many "doorway" or exact-match-type domains, content and pages to be devalued and taken off the front search engine results page. We can all say, "Thank You," now that we are seeing less of the cookie cutter spam pages on the first page of results.
Panda just celebrated version 4.0 in May of 2014, so it's here to stay.
At this point, we start to see changes happening to the overall strategies in place. Take our little friend Panda and then bring his cousin to the party.
In April 2012, Google brought Penguin to the party to rock hard. This was a link strategist's worst nightmare—for years many in search were focused on 3 areas:
- Link building
- Building more links
- "How many links do our competitors have? Let's do 1 million more than them to WIN ..."
As you can see, there were too many ways to continue to manipulate, and not enough focus on the value of the source and link or recommendation. Penguin affects the link "types," seeing if there are too many keyword anchor texts containing the same keywords and terms. To sum it up, Google was looking for people trying to over-optimize content, websites and anything else you may be trying to gain rank. Penguin 5.0 just rolled out in October 2013. Notice a trend here? These friends are here to play for awhile.
Uncle I cry uncle, there can be no more, right? Wrong. We have one little creature left.
Google Hummingbird was introduced in August of 2013. Oh, I have always LOVED hummingbirds!! They seem so agile, the way they can move and react to their surroundings. Response to what is going on is critical in their flight to live or die.
So what did Google's Hummingbird set out to implement? The ability to understanding what the user is saying or meaning. It takes the whole query or question into the decision making process. Simply, we should be asking why people are searching for something instead of what they are seeking.
To sum it up, what, besides SEM/PPC, will increase new leads and overall reach?
Now don't start running off with the idea we need content, content, content. A strategy needs to be in place, and by using these three simple points you can create content that converts and is shared.
- WHY Are Your Customers Looking? Remember, the "why" will always come before the "what." How are you solving problems? Start content creation listing WHY your product or service fits the WHY people are searching for.
- Winning Content: Content that is winning is content that is shareable, readable, and also shows a human wrote it. Don't get me wrong, I like a great white paper or tech manual as much as the next nerd, but why would I write my content like that. Get it? ... WHY? (Insert snicker or giggle here.)
- Be Tree-Like: Matt Cutts has said many times that he and Google prefer a site with tree-like Structure. So don't go off and start writing 100 articles of "why" content without putting together a complete list of pages, links from blogs etc.
So where should you start right now?
Review your current content. What is related right now that has no internal linking? Step back and improve your current traffic and behavior pattern flow. This strategic exercise will improve organic reach and rankings. Fortunately, no animals or birds will be harmed in the process!