FUD, Hummingbird and the future of SEO copywriting

HummingbirdSo, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm has officially taken flight.

And it’s amazing how many people have their collective panties in a knot because of it.

If you’re not familiar with Google’s latest algorithm, here’s what Danny Sullivan reported:

“Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

I’ve been asked a number of times, “Well, what does this mean to SEO copywriting? Is it officially dead? Do I need to do things differently?”

Here’s my take…

Feel the FUD and write on

Any Google tweak causes a certain amount of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt.) Granted, this is a major overhaul – so the anxiety levels are heightened. But for those of us who have always created quality, customer-centered content … it’s business as usual. Danny reports:

“In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.”

Cool, right?

But notice the words, “original, high-quality content.” They’re important.

Sadly, many people have looked for SEO copywriting shortcuts. And for a long time, those shortcuts worked. Stuff the content full of keyphrases? Sure. Write stupid copy that doesn’t even make sense? Awesome. Create a press release with five gazillion spammy links and syndicate it all over the place? Why not?

Now some companies are scrambling. Their quick-fix content bandaids haven’t worked since the Panda update. With this latest announcement, they don’t know what to do, where to place their keyphrases – heck, even if they should bother researching keyphrases. Hummingbird has officially freaked them out.

But really, it’s so simple. It’s always been about developing commanding SEO content, “clicking” with your reader and writing content that’s so damn good, people can’t help but like it.

So, to me, Hummingbird is, to quote the Talking Heads, “same as it ever was.” In fact, I believe it offers us a tremendous amount of freedom. We can release the stranglehold keyphrases had on our content and focus on writing spectacular stuff.

Yes, we still want to include keyphrases (users look for them too – not just Google.) Yes, we still want to write clickable Titles and descriptions. But instead of writing content “that Google likes,” we should focus on our reader.

You know, like it’s always been (but people never believed it was true.)

The new SEO content paradigm

Many of Google’s algorithmic tweaks (beginning with the Panda update) sparked a major paradigm shift for some companies. The day of SEO content being a commodity is officially over – at least it is if you’re smart. In the past, clients have been able to push rates down because Google has rewarded poor content.

That’s not going to fly anymore.

Instead of asking, “How can we source this content for the least possible cost,” the new question is, “Who is the best writer who can connect with our audience? Who can help strategize our site content, write great copy and help us build better online relationships?”

The conversation is slowly changing. And that’s pretty exciting.

This also ties into Google Authorship. Niche writers with a major Google presence are going to command more money because they deserve it. They know their writing can increase conversions, increase rankings, receive more social shares – and will stand the test of Google time.

That’s pretty exciting, too.

Baby, don’t fear the Hummingbird

If you find yourself FUDing all over the place, relax. Hummingbird has been live for around a month, so if you’re not seeing major positioning burps – you’re probably fine.

But let’s go back to that reality check.

Remember the key is writing excellent content that connects with your readers. Content that answers their questions, makes them smile and establishes you as a trusted resource. This is more than “writing content for Google” and producing the bare minimum. It takes work.

There’s no shortcut. You won’t be able to trick Google into thinking your content is relevant. You can’t put content on the back burner.

But if you focus on building relationships through your writing, what you will have is a top-positioned site. And one that makes you more money than ever before.

Isn’t it time to spread your content wings and fly?

Is your site content what Google really wants to see? Are you sure? Don’t stay confused – get educated instead. I can customize an SEO content strategy and training for your team. Find out how!

16 replies
  1. Kevin Carlton says:


    Why is that, every time Google releases a major algorithm update, I see it as good news NOT bad?

    That’s because more and more sites that are just simply trying to play the system are getting penalised – which can only mean websites like yours and mine will move up and take their place.

    So far my convictions have been well placed.

  2. Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

    I feel the same way. Unless Google comes out with a “let’s penalize great writing” update – I think we’re good. :)

    And wow, writing content is so much easier now. Back in the day, it was hard convincing clients back that good content was important – especially since the top results were filled with spam.


  3. Steve Maurer says:

    I agree with both Kevin and you. Content marketing just got easier because we can write real content, not crud, and be rewarded for it.

    This is going to put a real damper on content mill operations, don’t you know.

  4. Alexander John says:

    Good writers, should not fear.

    If you really good at writing, what’s the big deal?

    SeoCopyWriting.com will probable write a post in a week saying, “Hummingbird, the best thing to happen ever for online writers…”

    I think it’s a good thing. Google is evolving but always sees the good.

  5. Dan says:

    Great point Heather, and it’s exactly what I’ve been telling people myself. If you focus on writing in-depth, interesting, and valuable content right now, you don’t have to worry about any Google update ever again. Just make sure the optimization is done in a natural way, and you will be okay.

  6. Graham says:

    Do we praise Google or berate them? Are their updates like Hummingbird for the benefit of the user/searcher or for the benefit of Google’s bottom line? For the humble blogger its bad because they need to write like an award winning author and can not simply bring other published stuff to their niche audience of followers. Even if they rephrase and comment wisely on news, its still old news and not “Fresh”. So to be “Fresh” your humble blogger needs to be a scoop getting journalist as well. So only top media companies flogging crap can afford top notch writers for organic search and the rest just buy adwords to flog us more crap. As long as you pay enough to Google your crap content will be seen by millions. So at the end of the day its all about Google and its revenue, not quality content. Google just wants to force everyone to buy Adwords… end of story.

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Hi, @Graham-

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      I’ve actually seen quite a few (small) bloggers do well in Google – especially with authorship. Granted, they tend to have highly-focused content that appeals to a certain niche – but they’re doing well. Having said that, it’s true that many companies are trying to figure out how to write content that appeals to all parties (including Google, of course!) Actually, large companies seem to have the hardest time of it since many of them were benefitting from bad content in the first place…and now they have to (gasp) consider quality.

      I would argue that Google makes changes for the searchers…and for bottom-line reasons. They want searchers to have a good experience and keep using Google. And the more people search using Google, the more people who will see (and buy) the ads. :)

  7. Betty says:

    Awesome article Heather! I agree that releasing “the stranglehold keyphrases had on our content” will help us create better if not spectacular content!

    This update seems to me like it’s raising the bar another notch for semantic search, which began with Panda, so as you said, business as usual, but even better.


  8. Sutradhar says:

    Hi Heather!
    Its is clear issue that content is all, and it should be rich, qualified, informative and engaging content, no doubt, but its rear to find a clear conduct map on the Hum-SEO issues. Thanks for your points on the content anatomy.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] the Hummingbird algorithm re-enforces that writers don’t have to shovel keywords into the content. Yes, know your keyphrases. Understand the reader’s intent. But focus your writing on the […]

  2. […] with each new algorithm update. Heather Lloyd-Martin explains it well here when she discusses the future of SEO copywriting. Always, always write original, high-quality content that offers value to your readers. That’s […]

  3. […] FUD, Hummingbird and the future of SEO copywriting |Heather Lloyd-Martin via SEO Copywriting. […]

  4. […] FUD, Hummingbird and the future of SEO copywriting, SEO Copywriting […]

  5. […] View the article at SEO Copywriting here: FUD, Hummingbird and the future of SEO copywriting […]

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