How PR can affect your Google Hummingbird SEO

If you missed it recently, Google announced that it has updated its search algorithm entirely with a new algorithm called Hummingbird. Hummingbird contains a number of changes that will impact your overall SEO efforts, but here’s the biggest one of all: it’s been silently in operation for over a month as of this writing.

What’s new? Google’s stated goals with Hummingbird are to better understand the intent behind a query and deliver results that are more semantic in nature, more like natural speech. This is largely due to voice interfaces like Siri and Google Now which have people asking conversational inquiries of their mobile devices. Instead of short, terse queries such as “NYC PR firm”, people are asking, “What’s the best PR firm in NYC?”.

How does this impact you, and how can you optimize for it? Google has been and continues to ask for rich, useful, informational content in a variety of media types on a regular, frequent basis. One of the best sources for that kind of information is the interview, a mainstay of the PR profession.

Chris Brogan and Nick Saber

We interview people all the time, and we broker interviews between reporters and client contacts. These interviews read much less like heavily-optimized keyword text and much more like natural language, which is what Google’s new algorithm is working to provide. Think about how much knowledge you have at your disposal, how many subject matter experts you have working at your company, and then look at how many interviews you’ve published that highlights that knowledge. If the answer is “not many” or “none”, then you’re likely publishing content that isn’t as rich as Google’s new algorithm would like you to publish.

Here’s a quick, simple tactical suggestion to immediately increase the quality of content on your site for Hummingbird. Start setting up interviews with the media and your subject matter experts, and in advance of the interview, secure the rights to record and publish an edited transcript of the interview on your own site (as many media outlets will edit for brevity but lose some of the depth). Then create a section on your website, perhaps in your newsroom or your blog, where you can publish the long form interview transcripts that are more likely to match the conversational ways that people might ask Google about your company, your industry, or your vertical in natural speech.

Finally, determine if you were impacted by Hummingbird. We made a short video that explains the process of identifying the impact on your search traffic here:

If you’d like help with the process of setting up interviews with the media, SHIFT is more than happy to be of service.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on October 2, 2013 in Public Relations, Search, SEO

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn has been featured as a recognized authority in many books, publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, BusinessWeek and US News & World Report, and television networks such as PBS, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, and ABC News for his leadership in new media and marketing. In 2012 and again in 2013, Forbes Magazine recognized him as one of the top 50 most influential people in social media and digital marketing; Marketo Corporation named him a Marketing Illuminator, and PR News nominated him as Social Media Person of the Year. Mr. Penn is the Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, a public relations firm, as well as co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp New Media Community Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. He is an adjunct professor of Internet marketing and the lead subject matter expert and professor of Advanced Social Media at the University of San Francisco. He’s the author of the best-selling book Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer.

This was super helpful, thanks!

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