Google has recently released a large algorithm update named “Hummingbird”. This is a significant move as it is the first major update to its algorithm in years and signals a potential change in trends for the future of SEO.
I’m not going to even attempt to decipher the technical elements behind the update, but after going through a lot of the comments and discussions around it on the web it is clear that while Hummingbird is not going to fundamentally change how SEO is done, some activities will take more prominence.
In addition to more focus on semantic indexing (move from a focus on keywords to a focus on the overall meaning behind the query and then provide the content that best matches the question or inquiry) it appears that Google will now give a lot more value to social signals and social authority.
Social signals are all the little clues that will show Google how valuable and relevant your website is in the market. Signals are the acknowledgement given by users to your content via Facebook Likes, tweets, retweets, mentions, +1 and so on. Think of them as a vote of confidence, each time a user decides to engage with your content and show their community that they like it, then it is a vote for your website and your brand.
Google then analyses these social signals via its algorithm when choosing results to display for a search query in its index. If your website is well optimised, has good content and inbound links and strong social signals supporting it, then it is likely to rank better than a similar website without social support.
I know some of you will be saying by now “but that’s already happening, isn’t it?” and the answer is yes, Google already uses some sort of social analysis, but this is now going to become a larger part of the algorithm formula. How much is not known, but enough for us to say that social media and social engagement are soon going to become a necessity for good rankings.
A lot of businesses underestimate of complex and time consuming producing quality content and managing social accounts can be, so be sure to do your homework before jumping in. These activities need to be planned carefully and integrated within the wider marketing strategy of your business.
We help of lot of businesses with all social media and content aspects of digital marketing, so do get in touch if you have any questions.
Etienne is the Head of SEO here at Mahon Digital and he’s been involved in the digital & search marketing industry for nearly 11 years now, working for small family owned businesses as well as international FTSE 500 companies. He’s passionate about all things digital, but more specifically about digital & search strategy and marketing analysis.