Google’s new algorithm, Hummingbird, is so named to represent a new “fast and precise” searcher experience. Is it a coincidence that website visitors wish this too in the form of user experience?
Google and Bing want to provide a good quality experience for each individual who types words into their search engine. To achieve this they need to know what you want and there’s the rub. We can’t be depended on to know what we want and we are not very good at asking for that thing we think we want.
Search engines have learned how to get most of us from point A to point B, even if it takes several ways to get us there. They’ve tried different placement opportunities on their pages, paid and natural, plus images. For years the way to get a web site to appear high in search engine results largely depended on how well words on pages were presented.
Everything I just wrote could be said about website usability and user experience design.
The SEO and UX Connection
Although I’ve been writing about and putting into practice how SEO and usability are kissing cousins, it has just been in the last two years that it has dawned on the people in charge of websites that their attention should be on search engines and user experience. For most site owners, all that’s ever mattered are choosing the most popular keywords and making landing pages for them. This limited thinking has made search engines wealthy but the same can’t be said for most businesses who depend on the Internet for their survival.
Search engines know inexperienced website owners and online marketers believe that if they have the right content worded in various ways that sooner or later a search result will click into place, or a PPC ad will appear or someone will follow the scent of their advertising programs and visit the site.
More importantly, search engines know that simply crawling the Web looking for new websites to provide for search results doesn’t help them generate revenue. The new algorithm, Hummingbird, is listening to all the ways people search from their various devices, including speaking into a cell phone and asking it a question. We type one and two words that we hope will convey exactly what we want into a search field. Search engine marketers track those search terms and content writers compose entire pages of text using the words that come up the most often in keyword analysis. The emphasis and over-use of keyword dependent text caused Google to put up a defense system known as Panda and Penguin.
We search differently based on what we use, whether we key into a web site search field or speak into a mobile device. When we speak, we tend to form sentences, like “Who sells local produce?”, “Local restaurants that use locally grown ingredients,” or “Find organic stores in my town.” Google’s Hummingbird algorithm is intended to respond to both one and two word search phrases and verbally spoken sentences with the same zest and understanding of what we really want.
For user experience design, the golden rule is to provide enough information in less than 5 seconds that answers these questions:
- Is this the correct place I was looking for?
- Does it have what I want, how I want it?
- Where do I start, to get that thing I want?
Knowing this user behavior, search engines have been trying to help searchers by providing the very web sites that answer those questions. They track how long searchers remained on the site, what pages they chose, when they left, if they completed a task or if they “bounced” off. They also follow our referrals, recommendations, ratings and reviews that we leave about.
Usability and SEO have been tied together ever since websites were born. There has been an odd disconnect between the two sides, like two families who are at war with each other and each believes they have the true methods to achieve online success. One family is attached to their ugly website that’s been pushed up the search engine mountain by hook or by crook. The other invests in the website experience which includes organic SEO and conversions design.
Even software application developers know that what they build has to please their end users because if their product doesn’t function as expected, or better, people will walk away with a negative experience and tell others. Bad use experiences lead to more expensive Internet marketing strategies.
The Hummingbird algorithm is a step forward for Google in their mission to deliver search results that make an instant, correct, useful connection. Your efforts at building user friendly websites that everyone can use, including special needs people, enables Google to place your site first.
Take advantage of these changes by designing your landing pages, homepage and entire website for the conversions you want, whether sales, providing information, quotes, subscriptions, registrations, online bookings, etc. How visitors respond and feel about your website matters more than ever in getting ranked well in search engines.
Not sure what to do to attract Hummingbird to your website? Ask for a usability and persuasive design site audit performed by IMN. We have the expertise and specialize in combining user experience design with organic SEO, plus you get the options of all the other top Internet marketing services.
To reach the top of search results and remain there, you will have to catch Hummingbird’s attention and earn its loyalty.