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The PR and SEO Hummingbird Debate

Google HummingbirdIt’s really been in the works for quite some time, but with Google’s latest Hummingbird update it seems that SEO has been ousted. The updated search algorithm now puts attention on engaging and timely content, and it doesn’t matter how many keywords you layer into a post anymore.

Will PR and SEO disappear completely as Google optimizes search? Will SEO firms and PR agencies even be necessary anymore?

Google has doomed agencies that are unwilling to change, as both fields are now heading in the same direction. The spotlight has shifted to content marketing, which means that experts from both sides have no choice but to join forces.

Google Hummingbird and SEO

Realistically, Google has not killed off SEO. The Hummingbird update allows the search engine to return more accurate results. Instead of looking at individual keywords it now analyzes an entire string, such as a complete question. In other words, Google’s search engine will now take into account the entire query instead of one or two common words that stand out.

This will affect sites out there that have put an emphasis solely on keywords. Site owners that have cheated their way to the top with spam heavy links, and silly nonsensical content will now face the wrath of the Hummingbird.

You can’t blame Google though. After all, end users have been searching the web using questions for a long time. Search has been optimized so that the answers to those questions are in the limelight. If you want to make it to the top of the search result listings, you will need to help users and potential visitors find what they are looking for. Sites must offer engaging and informative content that gives something back to the user, instead of stealing ten minutes of their time by shoving links and useless filler in their face. The real issue is that there are no more shortcuts.

Changing with the Times

Sites that have embraced the change will not only offer great content for their users, but will remain in their rightful place at the top of the search rankings. Consider this example. Maxwell Systems project management software is offered on their site. Because they have catered their content to users interested in their products and didn’t focus on keyword stuffing, they remain at the top of the list for those searching for construction software.

PR and SEO agencies are definitely still necessary, but the responsibilities that were once separate have since been meshed. A good PR agency will need to know both SEO tactics and content marketing strategies and the same holds true for SEO firms. More importantly, since the shortcuts no longer work content producers will need advice on how to proceed.

For example, relevant links need to be used more often while advert based links should be peppered in. If the latter form of link is all that exists on a site, then it will result in much lower SEO rankings. Many still believe that you get higher rankings by using tons of links, advert based or not.

Experts from both fields will become general advisors and that means they will need to learn the absolute ins and outs of content marketing. It puts PR firms ahead of the game, as they’ve always been focused on content anyway. Still, SEO will be just as important when generating content.

A New Opportunity

There are many advantages to this new targeting system, and site owners will still require help focusing on the right elements. The new Google returns more personalized results. For instance, a search using the old algorithm would require something like “Italian restaurants in Tampa,” yet it would still have users scouring through endless pages of results to find the most relevant answer. Now, users can simply search “what is the best Italian restaurant in Tampa,” and the results will be right near the top.

As you can see, Google is now more intelligent and precise. That in turn means that content needs to be tailored in the same way. Everything now will be in the best interest of the end user. What are they looking for? How can you better answer their questions? What type of query will return your content or niche, and how do you optimize for that?

The goals are still very much the same because it’s actually the content that’s changed. PR and SEO agencies shouldn’t be worried about which of the two fields is going to disappear, but in fact they should be more focused on how content producers can use these new tactics to their advantage. To do that, PR and SEO teams will need to learn how to play nice.

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