Written by Katherine Tattersfield
Online Marketing Director, PrintFirm.com

Hummingbird

Image Courtesy of PrintFirm.com

Most small business owners have a love/hate relationship with Google. They know they need web traffic to generate sales, but they’re fed up with the constant changes and conflicting information. But have no fear, fellow printers! While the latest algorithm update may mess with your website’s rankings, it also opened up a huge opportunity for you to grow your printing company.

Big Rewards for Content Marketers.
The new Hummingbird algorithm reflects changes in technology and user behavior. In the old days, Google couldn’t match long queries to very many results. The more words a user typed, the fewer listings they’d return. Google also struggled to connect queries that didn’t contain exact match keyword phrases. For example, a potential customer may search for brochures by typing, “where can I get pamphlets printed online?” If your website didn’t use the word pamphlets, then you wouldn’t appear in front of the user even though you offer the product.

Google recognized this as a flaw, and now they’re on a mission to truly understand user intent. In the example above, the user clearly wants to find a brochure printer; he or she just doesn’t use the word brochure in the search. So Google’s trying to focus on semantics as well as past behavior (aka the knowledge graph) and social media signals to improve the relevance of their results.

If you’re engaged in content marketing, then this is great news for your SEO. Hummingbird rewards sites that provide a quality user experience through good content, so there’s less emphasis on technical details i.e. keywords and backlinks. You can attract visitors by publishing regularly, answering questions for your customers on your blog, and starting conversations on social media instead of chasing inbound links all the time.

Actionable Tips: Get to know your users. Find out what problems they’re having, what they’re interested in, and give them a voice in your company.

The Data Drawback.
Unfortunately, Google made it harder to figure out what users are looking for unless you’re using AdWords for paid search traffic. You’ve probably noticed that the majority of your organic search data is “not provided” in Google Analytics anymore. That means you no longer have an easy place to find long tail searches, which often appear in the form of a question. These low volume searches allow you to capture highly targeted traffic, so don’t give up on these juicy marketing morsels. There are other ways to obtain this type of data, although none of them will be as easy or inexpensive.

Actionable Tips: Leverage data from suggested searches, Bing Webmaster tools, and third party providers, such as Wordstream or Wordtracker. Pump your customer service reps and sales team for information. Encourage all staff to write down the questions your customers ask for reference, and get suggestions from your social media communities.

Capitalize on Online Marketing Weaknesses.
You’re covered on the online marketing front, but what about your customers? Chances are the people who fit your target market aren’t as internet savvy or they’re so frustrated with poor results that they’re giving up on SEO. That’s where you come in to save the day with affordable offline advertising solutions that increase web traffic and sales. Turn their angst into selling points; position print as a way to create real-life brand awareness and stimulate online activities without search engines as gatekeepers. Low cost services, such as EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), are the perfect alternative for brick and mortar businesses suffering from SEO woes. Recommend personalized direct mail for those with bigger budgets or as a follow up for an EDDM campaign. The key here is to help your prospects see that there’s lots of light outside, and it doesn’t come from computer screens.

Google didn’t intentionally revitalize the printing industry, but if we printers play our cards right, we’ll be able to reap the benefits of Hummingbird on all fronts.


Katherine is a professional copywriter and social media manager at PrintFirm.com. She fell into online marketing in 2010, and built her career around this dynamic field. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Northridge (Summa). When she’s not writing, Katherine enjoys photography, skateboarding, graphic design, and chasing her dog around with her husband. Connect with her on FacebookLinkedIn, and Google Plus.