Google updated its core search software with the implementation of Hummingbird, the first such sea change since 2001. Its purpose is to interpret user query content, putting keywords into context to deliver the most relevant search results.
Now, when a person types, “clean saltwater pool for clarity”, Google will return results based on the searcher’s intent and not just saltwater pool cleaning products.
Combined with other technologies, the search engine is also able to form a composite of a user’s search history. For instance, a user searching “Dublin hotels” also searches for “rental cars”, “Indians’ tickets”, and “O’Hare preferred parking” is on obviously planning a trip where Dublin, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio, and Chicago are destinations. Google will exclude Dublin, Ireland from its results in this scenario, because it forms a picture.
A Clear Pattern in SEO Evolution
Putting SEO history in a contextual timeline gives us a very clear understanding of where Google is going–steadily away from fragments of code and right to what people see–on-page content. It’s content that’s long said to be king; and now, that’s more true than ever before.
…a lot of SEO has been focused on technical matters and very highly specific ways to configure your website and stuff like that. There are best practices, and you need to make sure you get the basics right, but it is true that a lot of SEO is now circling back around to good old fashioned marketing. —Matt Cutts
Let’s start with keyword density, an SEO practice which died some years ago. Google can now tell a page contains a keyword, even if it’s split up–for instance, “dog training” need not be together. That brings us to stop words, or words which broke up a keyword phrase; it too, is completely dead. Then came the revelation of LSI, or latent semantic indexing–synonyms or related key phrases–still out there, but now somewhat undiscoverable due to keyword not provided.
On to meta descriptions, which Matt Cutts states he doesn’t include in his personal blog because he believes it best to let the search engines automatically generate snippets. That too, is less important; especially when compared to just a few years back.
SEO becomes Blogging
What all this means is Google is embracing the very purpose of the internet, to find and disseminate information. This was the sole parlance of newspapers and magazines before the world wide web; and now, it’s incorporated into a digital medium.
With so many tools and techniques taken out of the occasion, content is crucial. It’s why Cutts repeats time and again, “create a great looking site with quality content.”
More evidence of how important blogging is comes from the recent reduction in Authorship images in organic search where only authoritative writers appear. Add to this a warning by Cutts not to accept guest posts for link building and his advice to keep a site “fresh” (see video below). Pair that with in-depth articles being given more prominence and Google’s recent purchase of DeepMind, an artificial intellegence company, and it’s clear blogging is now the most powerful SEO.