Press releases have long been a tool for boosting search rankings. Now that Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm has had a bit of time to settle in, it’s time to take a look at how the new search affects press releases.
First let’s clarify what Hummingbird is. The writers at SearchEngineLand give a succinct description:
Hummingbird allows the Google search engine to better do its job through an improvement in semantic search. As conversational search becomes the norm, Hummingbird lends understanding to the intent and contextual meaning of terms used in a query.
In other words, Google is learning to recognize conversationally styled inquiries. (I believe this is being primarily fueled by voice search on mobile devices, but I have yet to find corroborating research.) This brings the focus onto the intent of the inquiry rather than specific keywords as in the past.
Just like other good Web-based content, good press releases have been keyword optimized. Now that Google is looking at context and social signals, the goalposts have shifted. Overall relevance is the goal now. Conversational style and quality writing are becoming the new normal. This is because Google is getting a solid grip on one of their long stated goals: natural language. The intent of the search, phrased in a sentence, is what the search giant is parsing now. (How effectively it does this is a question as yet unanswered.) I will repeat myself ad nauseum on this: relevant content is the most important goal. Targeted keywords are diminishing in the rearview mirror of the Internet.
Optimizing Anchor Text
This actually has become much easier. Matching the anchor text in press release links to the target’s main keyword is not really a useful strategy anymore. Right now it seems as though branded anchor text is the best strategy for the moment. Another good way to play it is by using a phrase such as “Visit [Website URL] for more information,” which embraces the natural language approach Google is adopting.
I cannot stress this enough, and I know hearing it over and over again can be tedious, but it is the most important takeaway for anyone creating online content: Provide value. Make good stuff. Whatever phrasing works best for you, having useful, high-quality content is the most important thing. Every day Google gets more discerning, and the days of keywords are dwindling.
Smart brands need to stay ahead of this curve in order to ensure that they do not get swept under the virtual rug. This is why here at SixEstate we take pride in producing the best possible content for our clients.
Image by thms.nl
George "Loki" Williams is the community and brand manager for award wining game company Savage Mojo, Ltd. and the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content and online communications. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters, Kobold Press, and Kaiser Permanente. His work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, The Gambit Weekly, and NOLA.com, among others.