Google’s algorithm update named ‘Hummingbird’ made waves in 2013. Although it was just an upgrade to Google’s existing algorithm which has over 200 signals to rank pages in its search results, Hummingbird’s primary difference was the ability to focus more on the searcher’s intent. Until now searches were broken into single unit keywords for example, the search ‘car sales london’ would have been computed as ‘car’ , ‘sales’ ‘london’. Google would have returned websites in their search results pages that had those words on the page either in phrases or individually. Now that Hummingbird has arrived, Google is able to treat that search as a complete sentence and decipher the users actual intent and would most likely return websites or addresses of businesses that sell cars.
A second reason for the need to introduce Hummingbird is that searches are actually changing. Users on Google are now actually entering conversational searches instead of relying on 2-3 keywords. So there is more of this – ‘nearest car sales showroom in london’ rather than this – car showroom london’.
What does all this mean for digital marketing?
The old bread and butter of keywords has now gone. It is simply not good enough to have your target keywords scattered across your webpage, you need to actually represent what the searcher is looking for in a quality and meaningful way.
- Enhanced campaigns
In February 2013 Google launched Enhanced Campaigns for advertisers using its Adwords platform. Enhanced Campaigns makes it possible for advertisers to target multiple devices with a variety of ad settings from one Adwords campaign which had not previously been possible. Enhanced Campaigns also automatically increases and decreases bids when an ad appears to be highly relevant to a potential customer. Enhanced Campaigns has received a mixed reception from advertisers. In a case study published by Google, it found that Woodbridge Financial Services provider received an increase in mobile leads by 50% after upgrading to Enhanced Campaigns. On the other hand, Sid Shah of Adobe had this to say “This means they can no longer separately manage bids by device, based on performance criteria. The new, unified device targeting functionality in Google Enhanced Campaigns does not allow marketers to target individual devices, and mobile bids are now set as a percentage adjustment relative to desktop and tablet bids.”
Enhanced Campaigns is a major overhaul of the Adwords system but it allows marketers to understand when search and display advertising is going – a multi device, multi situational and constantly web connected world.
- Keywords not provided
Yes, another Google issue, sorry, we don’t mean to promote or shout ‘Google’ off the roof tops but they are a major player in the kingdom that is digital marketing. The ‘not provided’ data set has caused upheaval in the SEO world and it seems closely aligned to the Hummingbird update. We wont spend much time explaining now, but here is where you can read more about keywords not provided.
- Twitter for small businesses
This has not caused much of a stir, but I think this change is absolutely fantastic. Twitter is a phenomenon and has over 200 million active users. It’s a great place to gain news, share resources and promote your brand. However, advertising on it was something of a niche for big spenders. If you had a budget of less than £5000 it was not possible to use Twitter’s advertising platform but that has now all changed. It’s now possible to set your own budget to either gain followers or promote tweets.
What does this mean then?
It means it’s great news for SMEs who want to promote themselves on Twitter. Many SMEs probably do not have £5000 to spend on all their advertising avenues in a calendar year let alone a single channel. If they did have £5000 it would most likely have been spent on SEO or PPC. But now they can target a platform that is very popular to all spheres of society which is brilliant.
- Facebook Tweak
Only this month (December 2013) Facebook made an algorithm tweak to its News Feed. The News Feed is the center column a user sees when they log into facebook.com and the main screen they see when they begin using the mobile app. Until now it was possible for brands to publish content through their Facebook brand page and have them show up in users News Feed. However, Facebook has decided to make a change and rank content based on their quality and likes from friends. Facebook said it would favour ‘high quality articles’ over the ‘latest meme’.
Now that this has happened, it means social media marketers can no longer spin content and have it show up in News Feeds at ease and effectively advertise for free on Facebook. What Facebook is trying to achieve from this is revenue. They want brands to buy ads from them and have them show up in News Feeds and of course, Wall St will be happy with this.
This will ultimately lead to the evolution of the Social Media Marketer much like the evolution of the SEO.