Content marketers wanting to own their search engine position and make a real impact with their audience have to pay attention to recent developments from Google which show that the future is all about mobile and that long form content will be increasingly important. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.
Google’s been working its way up to a complete search revolution for some time, eliminating everything that marketers took for granted about search and replacing it with something it thinks is better. First there were the search algorithm updates. Panda cut the search rankings of low quality sites, then Penguin took a bite out of link spam. Then there were new products: Google+, the rise of the all in one Google Account and the development of Google Now as a new way of bringing everything together. All of these have been integrated with the search giant’s flagship product, which also includes in-depth articles in search results (more on that later).
And now there’s the latest search algorithm update, Hummingbird, which brings everything together into an integrated whole. The most important thing to know is that mobile SEO has become a crucial part of your content marketing strategy as a result of the changes. In fact, we’d go so far as to say go mobile SEO or go home.
Think about it – our mobile devices are now the modern equivalent of Star Trek’s communicator. They go everywhere with us at all times of the day. We can get information on practically anything, as long as content providers make that information available in the right format. That’s why it’s important to look beyond the Hummingbird update to what it tells us about Google’s view of the mobile content landscape.
One of the best insights into what it means comes from Danny Sullivan on SearchEngineLand. In a nutshell, content marketers still have to produce original, quality content that’s findable when people search in a more conversational way. The emphasis has shifted away from keywords (which you can’t really see in Google Analytics anymore) to relevance and context. Mobile searchers tend to look for information they can act on right away. That could be anything from finding the nearest restaurant while on a trip to buying the book a movie was based on while watching TV at home.
And the advent of Google Now, along with the rollout of voice search, not just to Android devices but to anyone using the Chrome browser, shows that people are going to be searching in a different way. More than ever, your content has to reply to users’ questions and their intentions – not just what they say, but what they mean. Again, it’s all about context, concepts and relevance and not about keywords.
But there’s more. Google also recently released its in-depth articles feature, providing longer content to respond to search queries. These articles show up alongside the shorter snippets, giving users the option of finding depth on a topic if they need it. As a content marketer, wouldn’t it be great to produce content that showed up there? There are a few things you’ll need to do to make that happen, like using the right schematic markup and getting authorship sorted.
So let’s recap and put it all together:
1. Enormous numbers of users are switching to mobile devices. In fact, half of all users only use mobile devices so it’s essential to have content made for mobile users.
2. While it’s great to provide snippets to whet readers’ appetites, providing long-form content is the best way to answer their questions and get your content ranked in the search engine listings.
3. People are using their mobile devices and voice search to find content that makes sense to them given the context and location of the search and Google is helping them find that content.
Search Engine Journal‘s Marcela de Vivo gives a great summary of the changes and what they mean for content marketers:
“If you focus on content marketing, building authority, high quality links, and offering solutions to people’s problems across relevant communities, you will already be fulfilling the requirements to rank according to Google’s Hummingbird.”
It’s no coincidence that when Google made the Hummingbird presentation, all the screenshots were taken from mobile devices. It’s the clearest signal yet that if you don’t want to strike out – either with Google or your readers – you need to think mobile SEO first. After all, that’s what they’re doing.
Thirsty for more SEO juice? Take a look at our SEO Strategy Guide for Inbound Content. It’s full of SEO tips and tricks to help you optimize ALL of your online content!