The SEO landscape and long tail keywords

Getting more out of your SEO with pandas, penguins and hummingbirds

Once upon a time SEO was all about having those all golden keywords strewn into your content, wherever and whenever possible. The best words were those with low competition and had most relevance to your business. However, today, when a client approaches you and says “I want to rank #1 for this keyword” we know they’re stuck in the out-dated ways of SEO, because today, that keyword strategy is wrong. It’s no longer all about that one keyword or keyword group that is going to drive traffic to your website.

So, what does it take to achieve good SEO today? A ‘long tail search term’ is the answer to that question. Think about it, if you’re focussing on dotting singular keywords here and there, then you’re probably not being found by the people searching for you. They’re most likely lost in the sea of results that shows up for that one word.

For example, if your company designs custom motorbike helmets, chances are you’re less likely to get found for the keyword “motorbike helmets” because there is just way too much competition with such a broad search term. However, if you were to implement keywords like “custom matte wrap motorbike helmet design”, you are far more likely to be found by the consumers looking for that specific product.

Therefore, the aim is no longer about repeating the same keyword in your content as much as possible, but to turn that keyword into a long tail search term that will bring better and more focussed traffic to your website.

What is a long tail search? And what is dictating all of these rules? Pandas, penguins and hummingbirds are…

If you’re not familiar with SEO, you’re probably wondering what these animals have to do with writing good content. Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird are Google’s ranking algorithms and they play a big part in delivering the right content to readers, so if you want to get seen by the right people, you really ought to know at least how they do just that. While there are several long Wikipedia pages explaining how they work, we’ll be covering a simpler break down of how these algorithms analyse content to differentiate between good and bad SEO.

What is Google’s Panda algorithm? 

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Google Panda is concerned with the quality of your content. Its purpose is to lower the rank of low-quality sites and show higher-quality sites near the top of the search results. This means that any website with duplicate content, thin content, keyword stuffed content, or content that doesn’t really serve any useful information to readers will all be penalized and rank lower. How do you avoid being penalized by Google Panda? Well, does your website contain any duplicate content? Does the content serve substantial information to your readers? Is your blog littered with redundant articles on the same or similar topics containing different variations of the same keywords? If so, then it may be time to consider updating your SEO strategy.

What is Google’s Penguin algorithm?

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Google Penguin focuses entirely on offsite issues and reads the keywords used in links as a ranking signal. If you are trying to manipulate the number of links pointing back to your site, and if your links are unnatural or spammy, Google Penguin will penalize you. The key to avoiding the penalty slap from Google’s penguin god is to earn as many natural links as possible through your content and social outreach. This goes hand in hand with Panda, if your content doesn’t contain valuable information then nobody is going to want to read it, let alone share it. Create good content that speaks to people on a personal level, promote said content, and you will naturally see your website increase in the search rankings.

What is Google’s Hummingbird?

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Google Hummingbird, so what evil punishment does the Google Hummingbird bestow? Well actually, Hummingbird isn’t penalty based and is a friend to you; it makes SEO much more fun and not so restricting. The hummingbird helps Google move beyond keywords. Remember that ‘long tail search’ thing? This is where it shines. What exactly is a long tail search anyway? To simply put it, a long tail phrase is the use of natural language in search engines and they are more relevant today in driving results than keyword stuffing. In other words, Hummingbird helps Google to fully understand conversation. So when you’re sitting there trying to remember the name of that one film, you can just describe it to Google and it will understand what you mean, then return results relating to your natural language search. Because really, Google knows these are the type of searches we really do, and it understands the human’s unrelenting design flaw – the brain fog.

screeny lol

People rarely search using singular keywords any more and this is one of the reasons that Google has removed keyword specific data from Google analytics. Users are including more detail in their typed searches; this is why long tail keywords are much easier to rank for. Natural language search is never all the same, so you’re rarely trying to beat the competition on one unique word. This makes long tail phrases much less competitive and more likely to convert to traffic.

So let’s review what we’ve just covered! Or TL;DR

Long tail keywords : Good natural language searches.
Singular & randomly placed keywords:  Bad, spammy and looks unnatural.
Panda:  Create relevant, useful and awesome content.
Penguin: 
Don’t over optimize or spam your content with links and keywords.
Hummingbird: 
Google can understand natural human conversation.

SEO has taken a huge leap forward and you won’t make any real progress if you’re still concerned with getting that one keyword to the top by spamming it into your content. It’s all about real content marketing for people now, not lazy keyword stuffing and link manipulating strategies. Create the most amazing content you possibly can about your relevant topics, promote the hell out of it through social shares and other blogs, and you’ll see the results.

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