google hummingbird, social media, SEO, inbound marketing

How to: leveraging social media to make Google Hummingbird sing for your brand

One thing that amazes me about my job is that I meet so many industry professionals who still don’t know much about the infamous Google algorithm updates. Everyone who works in any type of marketing (because we’re all generating content for brands here, amiright?) needs to keep themselves apprised of these updates- because they do drastically affect a company or brand’s visibility/position within the organic results on search engines.

Which, you guessed it, wields the power to stuff your brand into the proverbial black hole under their bed to collect cobwebs and spiders, never to be heard from again.
So let’s stay on top of this- it’s not hard. I don’t want to come into meet with someone ever again to a shocked gaping look of “where did it all go so wrong?!” when the respective site is found on page ten or worse- not at all.

If you remember nothing else from this article, please heed these three sentences: Your website and online branding is a fluid, living, breathing thing. It needs to be fed and watered, talked to and petted lovingly, it needs to be PAID ATTENTION TO at least three to four times each week. Or else it will shrivel and die.

Here’s my list of how to make the newest addition to “THE ZOO” – the Hummingbird- sing for you.

Google+

Get on Google+ immediately if you haven’t already. Google is now indexing Google+ pages, which means that the new “communities” will be as well. Show your marketing muscle as much as possible, start a community about your brand for your audience, talk to people. Hummingbird loves Google+ much more than other social media sites for not so subtle reasons, one may guess.

LinkedIn

Hummingbird loves Tea. As in “T”-shaped authorities. What does this mean? It likes authorities who have knowledge in a wide range of topics but deep, critical understanding in a few. That means drive-by stops into Twitter and Facebook to post a back-link to your site doesn’t mean anything. Getting back links from your industries influencers- where your brand is actually influenced- DOES. Like Linked-In. Are influencers in your field linking to your brand? Are you engaging them? That’s good, keep doing that. If you haven’t, you need to be active in Linked-In like yesterday. I know. So obvious. Thank me later.

YouTube

YouTube- did you know it’s the second most trafficked search engine? And you didn’t have an active thriving channel because…. why? People love videos. Even if you’re making playlists of industry relevant videos or three minute “vlogs” about relevant topics (seriously, just use your phone!) – you can work it- no fancy camera crew needed!

Pinterest

This social media site has been oft overlooked. But lately has been very effective for brands- do you notice a trend here? This update is very visual. And if you’re not creating content- at least stay busy curating content- sometimes just as good- you can influence your audience as an “authority” on what is relevant on Pinterest because as we know there are a lot of Pinterest fails out there as well. Why weed through all that garbage when you can follow a trusted buddy and get what you’re looking for very easily? Exactly. Pinterest. Now.

Quora

It’s a total time-suck, but really it helps you stand out as the “world’s best” at whatever you do by showing off your deep understanding of certain topics (remember, the Hummingbird will sing for “T” authorities!).
Work on building your presence on these sites- along with other best practices as far as updating your blog, on-site SEO, etc. and you’ll start seeing progress. Consistency is key.

And if you’re unfamiliar with Hummingbird, before you freak out, just remember- just like the other two algorithm animals, it’s designed with information-seekers (read: your customers, your target audience) in mind. Content generation for your audience still wins above all else. So chances are if you’ve been optimizing your brand the “right” way (and not key word stuffing, or using any other shady black-hat SEO tactic) you’re still going to be doing just fine.

Why is Site Structure Important?

Site structure is very important not only for search engines, but also for your audience.  Since how you rank in a search ultimately will help your potential audience find you, the question can be answered very simply.  The importance of site structure- and a good site structure- provides (yes, I’ll say it again)- the gold standard of customer service.

In providing access to organized information that is easy to find within your site, you are making it easier for the audience to get what they need.

Some keys for structuring your site well:

  1. Sit down and put together a list of services/products you provide.  Ask yourself whether some of the services/products fit into different categories.  Make sure each type of product or service you want to display on your site is described in detail.  Remember, the more content, the better.
  2. Determine who your audience is- and determine what each type of audience would be looking for.  One client I’ve worked with for years- they manufacture custom solutions for companies in the medical device industry, as well as companies in the food packaging industry.  Although the base technology is the same, they want to showcase the solutions they are capable of providing by vertical so it is very easy to access the necessary information for the potential customer.    
  3. Organize the pages within your site to meet what the audience is looking for.  You can do this in a variety of ways- you can organize by type of product, type of service, business verticals.

Structure is very important.  I have seen a lot of websites with tons of great content, but no real structure to it- a landing page and then access to lots of different pages.  It appears to be a mish-mash of content.  Organization is good- for the user (most important) and secondly, for search engines.  Search engines index your pages based on a number of things.  They want the most credible and informational pages at the top of their results.  One of those ranking criteria is based on how organized your site is- how easy the information is to access.

Can your site’s structure improve?  What have you found going through this process?  I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

SEO: Reaching for Low Lying Fruit?

Often times when talking to someone about what their goals are for search engine optimization we look at several different aspects- such as what their business is about, and what key words one can use to describe that business.  Relevancy is the most important thing.  Sometimes its easier to try to optimize your site for key words having a low competition – meaning that there are less websites for the given search term trying to compete for the number one position.  So this way, you can get to the top of the heap faster.  I don’t necessarily think this is always the best route to take.  Yes, it’s important to increase your web presence right off the bat, but you want to do it the right way.

I do advocate trying to go for the best term for your business.  Even if that means its extremely competitive.  One can still reach the top of they optimize their site the right way, by creating remarkable content- frequently and consistently.  The reason that google ranks certain pages at the top is because they are THE most credible.  They are viewed as the leaders in their industry, the creme de la creme, if you will.  How, pray tell, does one become an industry leader?  By knowing the most.  By being the best.  To me, in this customer service driven age, the best DOES equal who knows the most.  Who wants to hire a quack for an important job?  Not me.

Whats really important is that the expectation is set.  Glory is not achieved over-night with SEO.  Not if it’s done the right way.  It can take months, even a year.  Be wary of those who promise immediate results.  Dig for more information- because you’re either getting to the top quickly by optimizing for the easiest (and maybe not necessarily pertinent) terms- the low-lying fruit, or you’re getting to the top quickly by use of black hat SEO.  And if you need more information on that, please refer to my previous interview with Jim Gubiotti.