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SEO Ranking Demystified: Go Long and Deep

What Does Google’s Hummingbird Release Mean To You?

Search engines are now the top resource used by B2B and B2C customers when researching a purchase. There is power on the top position on the search results page, and it’s smart to optimize your site for search.

Google’s latest Hummingbird release has changed the search game, making now the perfect time for small companies to shine on the web. Let’s look at the specifics.

Hummingbird can be summed up in one keyword: relevance. Hummingbird is one more crucial step in refining the search process so that it matches the intent of the searcher. In other words, Hummingbird is designed to use long-tailed keywords to decipher the context of the question, rather than flagging the keywords within the question.

This is good news, right? Sites stuffed with keywords will no longer appear in your search results. Google is now looking for meaningful content. To achieve the power position on the search results page, your content needs to be deep and rich, filled with answers. Google wants to see sites that are stuffed with answers instead of keywords.

Keywords are vital: They are still the natural, conversational building blocks you use to explain how your products and services work, help and solve problems. Beyond keywords, Hummingbird also increased other factors, including word count (1000 words + has more weight than 250) and Flesch readability. This indicates that Google is shifting its focus toward understanding the user’s intention as a whole, so that they can lead the searcher logically to the best-structured pages. Google wants to see that you are using keywords to show a searcher that you understand their problems, and can help lead them to a solution.

It’s Not About You: It’s About The Customer

Writing content for search should be the same as writing content to educate your customer. Think less about what you do, and more about what is leading your prospect to search for a solution. Your job is to anticipate what the customer needs from you, and tailor your content to match.

For example, a prospect looking to entertain, educate, and inspire the audience may not realize he might be looking for training in podcasting. Do you see how words about the Blue Yeti USB Microphone, ScreenFlow, and Blip TV are great keywords for a podcasting company, but are not the keywords a prospective customer would type?

If you want to win newbies to podcasting, think about where the customer is, what the needs are, and what might inspire them to try podcasting. What about words like charismatic, entertain, spark, or educate?

Please understand that technical jargon definitely does have its place on your webpages. With Hummingbird asking sites to go long with words and deep with content, search engine optimization today demands that you fill your pages with content that runs the full gamut, educating beginners to experts with a variety of meaningful content. Companies that don’t take the time to write about and publish their expertise on the web will suffer in search marketing.

Create Resonance with a Brand Thesaurus

Many companies create a brand standard — a set of design guidelines that identify the color, placement and trademark infringements of the company’s logo and identifying symbols. The handbook simplifies decisions for designers, website developers and vendors when they create promotional materials, brochures and collateral. The goal is to create a unifying look that is instantly recognizable. Brand standards are what make the apple, the eye, and the domino recognized as Apple, CBS and Pizza.

To gain traction in search engine marketing, your content should have the same identifiable footprint. More than ever, you need a brand standard for content. The brand standard equivalent for content is the Brand Thesaurus.

The Brand Thesaurus is a list of power words, the shortlist of keywords, for anyone in your company to use every single time you write a social media update, a blog post, brochure, your next ebook, and even an email reply to your customer.

These words, used consistently, signal to the search engines, your prospects and your customers, that you are serious about solving this particular problem for this specific target market. These power words should resonate with your employees, your target customer, your business goals, and your mission. These words give your mission statement legs, and lets prospects see your work in action.

Let’s take a look at two very different Brand Thesaurus keywords for two very similar companies. Both companies want to reach people in hospitals who work in organ transplant, but each list targets very different specific people within the hospital.

Organ Transplant Company A Brand Thesaurus

Organ Transplant Company B Brand Thesaurus

Tissue Recovery Audit, compliance and regulatory reporting
Miracle Registry agent solid organ
Transport Speed Best Practices
Waiting Patients Seamless integration across multiple networks
Careful Recovery Real-time statistics
Quality of Life Organ procurement
Family Support Services Track, manage and report patient care
Honoring Loved Ones Mobile compatibility
Emotional Process Tracks progress across multiple care facilities
Gift of Life Complementing the EMR

Each list speaks to a different target audience. Company A is targeting the transplant facilitation staff who works with the patient; while Company B is targeting the clinicians and administrative staff who track the financial, insurance and regulatory aspects of the transplant procedure.

Good SEO Is Good Customer Stewardship

Building your Brand Thesaurus involves putting on the mind of your customer. This is one place where social media research can show you the way. As you scroll through user groups, focused on the problem you solve, you will begin to see recurrent words and phrases your target audience uses. These are the words that will give you the most leverage.

Put Your Brand Thesaurus in Writing

Make copies of the list, and hang it right along side of your mission statement. This list can help everyone in your organization begin to think like your customer, anticipate needs and of course, generate better content.

Search engine optimization is no mystery. It simply thrives on good, solid writing. Good writing starts with research and insight into the needs of your customer. Put your content to work to help you attract those customers who energize and inspire you to do your best work.

Susan J. Owens is an personal and product branding specialist. You can find here: Plumbline1.com

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