Read my lips …“No More Keywords!”

If Google’s Larry Page ever uttered those instructions, Google’s Engineers took them to heart. The new Hummingbird algorithm made it harder than ever to create a comprehensive SEO strategy.

In September 2013, Google’s Hummingbird update rocked the world of every business concerned with search marketing, as simple keyword strategies were detonated as Google stopped reporting keywords in Google Analytics. Read David Amerland’s Google Semantic Search for a comprehensive technical analysis.

We’re going to leave the technical discussion to technical people and focus on the actions business owners must take to win the new game of semantic search.

1. Content Volume

There are two distinct considerations regarding content volume – length and frequency.

Let’s start with length; Did you ever ask your school teacher how long an essay needed to be? I always did, until I was tired of hearing the same answer over and over. “Your paper should be long enough to cover the material adequately!” Well, thanks! It took four years of college to learn that?

So, how long should a post be, whether that is a static page or a blogpost? The magic number for Google appears to be 500 words or more, with the caveat being that you are writing for readers as well.

What about frequency? We recently introduced one of our outsourced sales and marketing clients to blogging. Initially he thought it was some kind of disease we were warning him about. He asked us how often he should write his blogposts. Jokingly, we told him there were internationally recognized blogging standards:

  • Baron:  One blog a week - which is acceptable!
  • Prince: Two blogs a week - which is exceptional!
  • Duke: Three blogs a week – absolutely extraordinary!
  • King - Four blogs a week - are you a man or a machine?
  • Emperor - Five blogs a week and you will rule the blogging world!
  • God - Ten blogs a week and you will be a BLOG GOD!

Russ promptly set his sights on becoming a Blog God. Even Seth Godin would worship him! But don’t worry … he is still an aspiring Baron at this point.

How often should you post?

2. Social Media Profiles Volume

Don’t look now, but Google wants to know … who’s following you? Now they don’t really care how many connections you have on LinkedIn or how many friends you have on Facebook or how many loyal followers you have on Twitter or even how many people are in your Circles on Google+. What they want to know is who is really following you? Yes, quantity is important, but it is trivial compared to quality. “Followers” is a great place to start, but you simply have to get them engaged.

3. Social Interaction Volume

Likes, +1’s, Shares, Retweets are all essential steps. If no one interacts with your posts, do they matter? The key here is to create compelling content that goes beyond your immediate network. Your video doesn’t need to go “viral” to create effective social interaction. But it does need to be re-mark-able, and catch fire at least enough for your connections to like it and share it. If it is re-mark-able enough, hopefully their connections will do the same.

4. Social Engagement Volume

What does Google want here? They are looking for significant volume of activity that indicates both breadth and depth of engagement. What does that mean? What they are looking for are comments. How many comments are there from how many visitors? That’s breadth! How much dialogue is happening in the comments? Now that’s depth! You need both!

It’s Halftime! We’re halfway through the critical success factors related to Volume as it relates to Winning the New Game of Semantic Search. Take a deep breath and chug some Gatorade!

5. Website Traffic Volume

Website traffic is important. Duh! If no one even drives by your store, whether that is in your local neighborhood or online, you have little chance of winning a customer. But if all they are doing is stopping, looking in the window and moving on down the road, did it matter? Google doesn’t think so!

If a visitor stops by store, stays on your site, accesses multiple pages, leaves comments and shares your content with their social media network, now that’s traffic that matters! With enough traffic, you may even convert some of those visitors you attracted to leads and customers too!

6. Mentions Volume

Are you viewed as an authority or expert in your field? Will others point to you in this manner online? Well, the bar has been raised and Google is looking for what is referred to as co-citation. This is where others mention your website, products or service in their posts as a signal to Google that you really matter! This is clearly a standard that you must meet the old fashioned way, you have to earn it!

7. Links Volume

The Old Game of Google Search was dominated by those who could secure links to their website. It really didn’t matter if those links were completely legitimate or not, he who had the most links would win the game!

The New Game detonates that approach. Now, it’s the quality of your links that matters. You not only need a high volume of links, but those links must come from trusted sources that have a high degree of relevance to your business. The old game was based on “gaming” the system. The new game is based on legitimacy and authenticity. Personally, we prefer the new game. Would you really want to play any other way?

8. User-Generated Content Volume

At the top of mountain in the new game, it’s no longer your volume of content that makes the difference. It’s the volume of content generated by your visitors that matters! Of course unless your content is re-mark-able, your visitors aren’t going to be adding their content to your website. So … the only choices left are to create re-mark-able content … or simply leave the game.

The time to start writing more, writing better and writing more often … is now! A recent study reported 93% of B2B marketers are actively engaged in content marketing. Your competition has most likely already entered the game. Get in the game now, before it’s too late!

Winning the New Game of Semantic Search won’t be easy. You’ll have to make a deep commitment to creating an effective volume of content. Fortunately, it’s now a level playing field and you too can win the game!

This is Part I of IV How to Win the New Game of Semantic Search - 8 Steps to Effective Volume. Please also read Part II: 8 Steps to Effective Velocity, Part III: 8 Steps to Effective Variety and Part IV: 8 Steps to Effective Veracity.

About the Author(s)

Bill Merrow

Bill has built and managed a 40,000 person sales force and generated over $500,000,000 in sales through direct mail, as well as consulted with thousands of companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100’s. He has earned a BA in Accounting and an MA in Behavioral Science. | LinkedIn | @synergysm | More from Bill

Co-Founder & Principal, Synergy Sales and Marketing
Semantic Search