Long Tail Keywords Take Flight with Google Hummingbird

Is That a Hummingbird in Your Pocket?

You’ve probably heard of Panda and Penguin, the Google algorithm updates. I’d like to introduce you to the flying creature in this digital zoo, Hummingbird. This little critter has been living on your smartphone for about 8 weeks now. It is a complete overhaul of Google’s indexing algorithm – the first in 12years. That statement usually causes SEO-minded marketers to gasp. Overhaul! Twelve years! It does sound intensely dramatic. Rest assured, we are told that the tried and true “produce great content” and “acquire natural, valuable backlinks” will still yield top rankings. In other words, don’t overhaul your website in an effort to please Hummingbird. If you’ve been doing things right so far, your site will remain competitive in search results.

Why the Change?
According to the SEO experts I follow, Hummingbird’s primary purpose is to rank information more accurately for the most modern trend in search requests: questions.

We know that the number of people using handheld devices, tablets and smartphones, has increased significantly. Some research says that half of all search requests are now made from mobile devices. (I will interject here, for dental website marketing, we see the percentage of visits from search in the 20% range, on average.) We know that new smartphones feature voice recognition, and as a result, people often search by voice command rather than typed command. Industry leaders see this trend increasing in the future. So, the Hummingbird algorithm update is “smarter” at understanding voice searches, which differ in content from typed searches. Here’s an example:

Looking for a restaurant on a smartphone: “Where’s the closest Mexican restaurant?”

Looking for a restaurant on a laptop: Mexican Restaurant 76262

See the difference? Voice commands are often made in question form. Long tail keywords, like “closest Mexican restaurant” make sense to Google, because Google knows the exact location of the searcher (if location service is activated on the device). The search engine can factor in that location with the keyword phrase Mexican restaurant to find accurate results. Additionally, any nearby websites that features the exact long tail keyword phrase (question) “Where’s the closest Mexican restaurant?” would, logically, rank higher than others. The match from search query to long tail keyword is more exact.

Don’t overhaul your website content just yet, though. Google experts warn marketers not to focus website text solely on question and answer format or, worse, just slap a question mark on the end of all primary headings and title tags. If Hummingbird is smarter than the rest of the Google animals, it knows a trick when it sees one.

Long Tail Keywords

When blogging about dental website marketing, I’ve mentioned long tail keywords. In addition to the competitive keywords, like Your City Dentist, long tail keywords have significant value to an SEO strategy. The phrase “long tail keyword” refers to keyword phrases that are more than a few words long. Examples include: white lines on my front teeth; how to cure a toothache; why are my gums puffy? When these multi-word phrases are mentioned in your website or blog content, your site could rank high, even number one, for them.

The problem with building a long tail keyword strategy is twofold. One, we can’t begin to guess all of the long tail keywords potential patients will use in Google search. Two, each long tail keyword may only draw in one potential patient. In fact, when writing dental websites and blogs, we don’t know which phrases are going to become long tail keywords. The best strategy is to compose informational, original content and post it regularly, on your website and blog.

Hummingbird Loves the 5Ws

In journalism, we learned the 5Ws, and snickered over the fifth: what, when, why, where, and how. Hummingbird, like Mrs. Shumate (my high school journalism teacher), loves the 5Ws. From a copywriting perspective, writers should consider integrating these words, not just the answers, into their blogs and website content. Subtlety and discretion is important. Again, don’t overhaul your website content in an effort to please Hummingbird.

The Web is a Zoo, and You Need a Zookeeper

Partner with the dental website marketing experts, MDPM Consulting. If you want a website that remains on the forefront of search trends, while remaining clinically accurate and in compliance with ADA advertising guidelines, email or call us today at 972-781-8861. We’ll help your site take flight.