What does the Hummingbird update from Google mean for apartment website SEO?
It’s been a momentous month for Google, SEOs, and online marketers. First came the rollout of Google’s latest algorithm update, Hummingbird. (In fact, technically speaking, Hummingbird isn’t an update so much as an entirely new way of organizing search.) Then came the news that Google wasn’t going to provide marketers and webmasters with keyword data. Finally, Google rolled out its latest Penguin update, Penguin 2.1. In other words, we had an algorithm update that affects 90% of all searches and a shift in company policy that completely eliminates one of the most valuable pieces of data traditionally relied upon by marketers. The past month represents a fundamental shift in how SEO functions and how marketers should approach their work.
That said, it isn’t a shift that should come as a great surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to what Google’s been doing lately. Google’s long-standing advice to webmasters has been “Build your website as if search engines didn’t exist.” Google’s goal has always been to create the most intuitive, human-like search engine imaginable.
Viewed that way, keywords were essentially a necessary evil–they aren’t the most natural way for a human to search and access information, but they were the best option available to us with the technology we had. But with the rise of Siri, Google Glass, and similar devices, finding this kind of information has become easier–simply ask a question and the tool gives you an answer. “Siri, what is the weather going to be like tomorrow?” etc. Hummingbird is simply a change to Google’s search that allows you to access information with search the same way you would with Siri or Glass. And the good news is that this approach is much harder to cheat than keywords were and makes accessing the correct information significantly easier for users.
Hummingbird and Apartment Website SEO
So what does this mean for apartment websites? Well, for those SEOs who built solid, relevant, helpful sites, it actually isn’t that much of a game changer.
Think of it this way: If I tell my toddler daughter not to touch the stove, there’s two ways she can obey that command. She can crawl as close to the stove as she can and play right next to it without ever actually touching it. This obeys the letter of the command I gave her, but completely misses the spirit of that command. But it’s hard for me to know how to respond to that because technically she hasn’t disobeyed. The other way to obey it would be to play a safe distance from the stove, which is what I was really wanting her to do all along.
The spirit of Google’s laws for webmasters have always been clear: Create a site that is relevant and helpful to humans, not a gimmicky, dishonest attempt to, as Copyblogger put it, “chase algorithms.” Don’t build a site for robots and formulas, build a site for humans. Unfortunately, the actual rules themselves haven’t always been able to distinguish the person obeying the letter of the law from the one obeying the spirit of the law.
Hummingbird is a step toward solving that problem. With Hummingbird, Google is rewarding the people who have been following the spirit of the law all along. (For what it’s worth, the Hummingbird updates have been very kind to us here at Rentping Media–we’ve seen a 50% spike in organic traffic since the updates.)
Did you create an apartment community website with useful information, valuable visual content, and an easy-to-use navigation? Great! Google wants people to find your site. So don’t change anything. Keep doing what you’ve been doing.
Did you create a site that didn’t include that valuable content because creating it was too hard and instead used black hat SEO gimmicks to trick Google into ranking you highly? Well, you’re going to have a hard time adjusting to life after Hummingbird. You’re going to have to start doing the difficult work of creating valuable content. The good news is that Google’s system will reward that work. The bad news is you’ve given yourself a severe disadvantage by waiting so long to start.
The rise of Hummingbird and elimination of keyword data doesn’t have to signal disaster for your community website. If you’ve been doing your apartment website SEO correctly, then it should only help you.
photo credit: Dario Sanches via photopin cc