5 Essential SEO Writing Tips for Google Hummingbird Success

8 minute read

Upland Admin

Google Hummingbird? Isn’t that, like, so 2013?

Well, yes.

But Google algorithm updates, or in Google Hummingbird’s case, complete algorithm rewrites, aren’t things you can update your website for once and then forget about.

You need to keep algorithm changes in mind whenever you create new content to get your audience and search engines to fall madly in love with you.

Google Hummingbird is all about semantic search—knowing the intent behind a searcher’s query.

That sounds hard. But don’t worry, we’ve gotcha covered.

Read on to discover five top Google Hummingbird SEO writing tips.

1. Optimize for Mobile

You may have heard of Google’s recent Mobilegeddon update.

As mobile-device usage climbs, Google encourages website owners to give users an optimal mobile experience by rewarding mobile-optimized websites with higher search rankings and therefore penalizing non-mobile-optimized sites with lower rankings.

If you want to be found for mobile searches, optimizing your website for smartphones and tablets is no longer an option.

You can evaluate your site’s mobile optimization here with Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool, and follow the suggestions offered.

Mobilegeddon is about providing a great user experience on mobile devices. The connection to Google Hummingbird might not be obvious right now, but it will become clearer as you read the rest of the SEO tactics below.

Some key mobile-friendly SEO writing tips:

  • Make font size large enough so website visitors don’t need to zoom in to read your text.
  • Use responsive writing blocks to avoid horizontal scrolling.
  • Space out links so it’s easy to click the right one.

2. Use Long-Tail Keywords In Your Customer’s Voice

OK, here’s how Google’s mobile update (we don’t actually need to call it Mobilegeddon since it wasn’t as catastrophic as anticipated) ties into Google Hummingbird.

Mobile search is growing and people use voice search to Google-on-the-go.

That means when you’re on the road running out of gas, you’re asking your phone a full question, like “where’s the nearest gas station?” Google creepily knows where you are, points out the nearest one and you’re saved.

But you don’t need to take my word for it. Google AdWords Keyword Planner says that question gets 8,100 average monthly searches.

Check out the trend over the past four months (green is mobile and blue is total):

There are also a lot of variations on that search, like “nearest gas station,” which gets 90,500 average monthly searches.

Mobile-device usage is changing the way people search online, and with Google constantly trying to determine a searcher’s intent through the Hummingbird algorithm to serve up the best results, it’s important for you to discover the language your audience uses while they’re desktop searching and mobile searching.

Often, you’ll want to use a more conversational tone on the mobile version of your site, which also means more long-tail keyphrases.

When finding the perfect keyphrases your audience uses, remember to actually perform the search in various search engines to make sure the results mean what you think they mean.

I had a facepalm experience when looking for terms used by my audience to search for SEO copywriting help. I came across the term “adult seo.”

Hey, I teach SEO to adults. Hmmm … 110 average monthly searches with medium competition, not too shabby.

But … what are people actually looking for when they search “adult seo?”

One quick Google search and:

Oh. Right. Duh.

(I swear I’m usually smarter than that, really! I’m sure I just hadn’t had my coffee yet that day.)

Anyway, even what seems obvious to us at the time, might not be so obvious after all. So always check.

And, while people in the adult SEO industry might want my help learning SEO, from these results, it’s safe to assume the people searching this term are looking for adult SEO providers. (That’s a service I’ll have to think about!)

Whew – is it getting hot in here? Let’s move on!

3. Optimize Your Site for Local Search

Include local search terms on your website to help Google help searchers find you.

This is just as important for mobile search as desktop search.

Here are some Google AdWords examples of local searches for SEO services:

Keyphrase Average Monthly Searches Competition
Tampa seo 590 Low
Orlando seo company 260 Medium
Orlando seo 880 Low
Las vegas search engine optimization 70 Medium
Dallas seo company 480 Medium
Atlanta seo 720 Medium
Seo in los angeles 140 Low

As you can see, there are many variations on local search phrases used, but the searchers’ intent is quite clear to the Google Hummingbird algorithm when any of these are used.

Incorporate local search keywords naturally in your site content to capture this search traffic for your industry and location. Excluding your location, even for Internet-based businesses, misses out on a lot of potential customers who prefer to do business locally.

4. Keep up on SEO News

I know you’re probably thinking, “Um, that’s what I’m doing right now, and that’s awesome!”

You’re already ahead of a lot of the other content marketers out there, who think they know it all and don’t update their skills.

But there’s a difference between updating your skills and keeping up with SEO news.

Updating your skills makes you a smart content marketer. Keeping up with SEO news makes you an exceptional one.

Of course, continue to read the Kapost blog and other resources for content marketing education, but also follow the latest news from sources such as Search Engine Land, the Google Webmaster Central Blog and relevant individuals from the Google team.

You probably know that we used to be able to hang on every word of Google’s head of Web spam, Matt Cutts, until his July 2014 leave – which was just extended to the end of 2015.

Since then, the search community has latched onto Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, for the latest SEO information.

When you are aware of the latest search engine news and updates, you can analyze trends and make SEO predictions. You’ll develop a foresight to know where search is heading. You won’t have to play catch up later like so many others, and you’ll know what to do to stay ahead of the changes.

In the game of search, you win or you die.

(Sorry, the Game of Thrones geek in me came out there. But, hey, if you like that sorta thing, check out these content tips from Cersei Lannister!)

Mobilegeddon is a Google update that SEOs could see coming after the Hummingbird algorithm was announced nearly two years ago.

You don’t have to become an SEO expert, but by simply keeping up with the industry news, you can become an awesome content marketer, impressing your peers, boss and audience with knowledge that helps you outperform the competition.

Bam! That adds up – in actual cash.

5. Keep an SEO Checklist

Each SEO item that you forget while creating content results in lost traffic.

Trust me, it’s hard to remember everything SEO when you’re putting together a blog post, so keep a checklist!

On a simple search, there are exactly one zillion (I counted) SEO checklists out there, but here’s a great one from our very own, beloved Kapost to get you started.

That post links to a Google Doc checklist that you can customize with additional SEO items.

I added the following Google-Hummingbird-friendly customizations to my Kapost SEO checklist:

Under “Pick Your Target Keyword(s),” I added:

  • Use long-tail keywords in your customer’s voice
  • Test keywords in a search engine
  • Optimize for local search

I also added the following checkbox:

Optimize for Mobile

  • Make font size large enough so website visitors don’t need to zoom in to read your text.
  • Use responsive writing blocks to avoid horizontal scrolling.
  • Space out links so it’s easy to click the right one.

Keeping a checklist seems time consuming, but it actually saves you time on each post when you can quickly scan and check off SEO items on a list rather than trying to remember everything each time you create content.

Any Other Google Hummingbird SEO Writing Tips?

What other SEO writing tips have you come across that will help content marketers succeed in a post-Hummingbird world?

Share your wisdom in the comments below!

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