Google Hummingbird
Every time Google rolls out a new algorithm update, the SEO world collectively holds its breath and waits to see whose websites get the dreaded Google slap.  We’ve suffered and survived through Panda and Penguin, but this recent Hummingbird update is different.

This isn’t just an adjustment to Google’s algorithm; it’s an entirely new search engine.  If we think about previous updates like turning up your car, Hummingbird is replacing the whole engine.

Hummingbird Embraces the New Search

Mobile technology is changing the way people search.  On a laptop or desktop, searchers typically type in a few phrases to find what they are looking for.  For example, if I want to find Mexican restaurants in my area, I’d type in Mexican restaurant Poughkeepsie.  Websites that contain those words would be most likely to come up at the top of my search results.

Mobile search is predicted to surpass desktop search in 2014.  Since typing on mobile is much more difficult, searchers are using voice recognition to find what they’re looking for by asking complete questions.

If I want to use my mobile device to find the closest Mexican restaurant, I’ll speak my question.  “Where is the closest Mexican restaurant?”

The Hummingbird update allows Google to consider the location of the searcher and the meaning of words being searched when delivering search results, rather than just finding websites that include those words.

Guess what?  This means that the tricks that used to work to get your website found online by cramming in lots of keyword phrases don’t work anymore.  Again.  Or still.

How to Make Sure Your Wedding Business Gets Found Post-Hummingbird

There’s no reason to fear the new Hummingbird update changes, but you do need to make some adjustments.  The less you try to game the system with SEO shortcuts, the better off you’ll be.

#1 – Your website must offer valuable content.

If you want brides and grooms to find you online, you can’t use the old SEO short cuts such as keyword stuffing and backlink networks.  You need good old-fashioned articles, images and video that real people find useful.

It’s still important to have relevant keyword phrases on your website, but it’s far more important that people can find helpful information about those topics on your pages.

A good test to measure whether or not your content meets the “valuable” standard: are people leaving comments and linking to your website on social media?  If not, that’s a clue that your website doesn’t include information real brides and grooms find valuable.

#2 – Post the answers to your couples’ frequently asked questions.

Since mobile searchers are going to be asking full questions, the perfect way to make sure they find you is to answer them on your website.

For example, if you want to attract a bride searching, “How much does it cost to hire a photographer in Ashville?” create a page or blog post with this same title and answer the question.

#3 – Ask your couples what they are interested in and create content about those topics.

The easy way to make sure your content is valuable to the brides and grooms you want to attract is to ask them what they like, and then give it to them.

The fact that this is a simple solution doesn’t keep most wedding professionals from neglecting to do it.

Survey your couples using a free service like Survey Monkey.  Listen and pay attention to popular wedding trends so that you can write about them.  Ask your couples what they’d like to find on your website when you meet with them.

Become the trusted resource for what they want and they’ll find you when they search for it.  They’ll visit your site, comment, and share it with other couples who are planning a wedding.

#4 – Get active on Google Plus.

Your activity on Google Plus is becoming increasingly important.  The more your content is plussed and shared, the more visibility and traffic you’ll get.

Set up Google authorship on your website and for any sites where you submit guest blog posts.  This will help you establish your authority as a wedding expert and score more points in Google.

Is SEO Dead?

There’s a movement led by frustrated SEOs desperately claiming, “SEO is dead!”

In a sense, they’re right.  You simply can’t afford to manipulate the search algorithm the old SEO way like you could years ago because the risks are too high.

The only way to get found online is to be worth finding, and your brides and grooms are the judges of that worth.

Google’s goal is to deliver the most relevant search results so that searchers find what they’re really looking for.  Join Google in making that happen and your SEO will fall in line.  Ignore that and you’ll be invisible online.

What do you think about Google’s search updates?

Photo Credit