Looks like Google has done a significant update to their Hummingbird core algorithm last week (June 17th, 2015). Let's take a look at Google's Hummingbird algorithm and what seems to have been the impact of the update.
Talk abounds of this update with even confirmation from Google but little mention is made of Hummingbird. It seems to me that it's a clear sign of a core update as we've been seeing the SERPs shuffle to reveal more topically-targeted pages showing in the results; which are more closely related to the specific terms searched.
We've even seen some sites have their homepage swapped for a more closely relevant subpage. This to me marks a clear sign of Hummingbird's fast and focused targeting they promoted on Hummingbird's launch.
What we've been able to see from this update is a focus on content, supplemental content and media. It may be time for companies to invest in LASER focused content which would be based on the main keyterms that you believe will drive you traffic.
We've also seen freshness of content to be a feature.
Follow That Trend
Google's update also coincided with an update to Google Trends.
I agree with the author that what is trending may affect the SERPs but how "real-time" that will be is something we'll see as time goes by.
One thing you should definitely do is to use Google Trends for keyword research (if you're not already).
Quality is King
Since this is another core update dealing with what we believe to be semantic targeting we should look at how you can target your site better for semantic search.
You can find an in-depth description here: How to do Semantic SEO for Google's Hummingbird Algorithm
Since Google is constantly upgrading their "Quality" algorithm then we should look at what they mean by "quality".
From the Horse's Mouth
• Would you trust the information presented in this article?
Trust is a key factor but it can mean is this article well researched or provide detailed information on the topic? When writing you should write in-depth and try to cite authorities. Present the content in a unique manner, not just quoting the same old stuff everyone else does.
• Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
Is the writer just a writer or is it from someone who really knows the topic. Many companies hire writers who don't know their market or products. This is why it is vital to include the client in the process because they're the expert in their field. Get the client to jot out the main points of the article or comment and then provide those to the writer to research a bit and to elaborate on. Also putting the client's name to the article gives it that much more weight.
• Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
This one is very straight-forward; don't write the same article twice and just change a few things. If you have this happening then combine the articles and use semantic variations of terms on the one article. If the two articles are able to be differentiated then you should attempt to do so as much as possible. For example; if you have two products that fit the same or do the same thing then to write about each product uniquely may be difficult. Try to focus on the differences between the two products as much as the similarities. Speak some about the brand difference, price difference, even color options, etc.
• Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
• Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
Straight-forward. Fix problems, typos, etc.
• Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
Well they say don't write for keywords but that's just Google trying to stop people from actively optimizing. You can definitely write for keywords because they are what your market is targeting. Remember Google allows you to do this for Adwords so they're being hypocritical. The thing is just to make sure that you're using keywords that are relevant to what you do. Don't create content around keywords that aren't going to be driving you qualified traffic and don't dilute your site's relevance by targeting irrelevant keywords.
• Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
Don't copy and paraphrase. Take down the information, do the research, then write an article that is unique, in-depth, informative, answers questions, gives new and interesting information.
• Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
GO LOOK AT THOSE OTHER PAGES IN THE SEARCH RESULTS! Get out there and look at the competition and read their content and ask yourself if they have a better offering on their site than you do. Would you pick them over you? If so then list out why. Do they have more research done, do they offer more information such as supplemental content like a video or PDF manuals or social sharing features, commenting or other user generated content or do they offer some helpful apps on the page?
• How much quality control is done on content?
Is it good or bad? Does it look like someone is actually editing it or making sure it's solid content or is it just there for keywords or to fill space?
• Does the article describe both sides of a story?
Be balanced. You can even be controversial. Ask questions and then answer them. Talk about both/multiple sides to a topic.
• Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
Remember it takes an authority to make an authority. Do people in this field link to this content? Is the author an obvious specialist (being made obvious by his bio which states that he is a graduate in this field) or is this person or website part of an association? Does this person write in authoritative journals on the topic? Build authority by contributing online with others in your field.
• Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don't get as much attention or care?
Be careful with syndication. Also don't robo-create content (EVER!!!). Syndication can have a blow-back effect by stealing the thunder of the content on your own site. Make sure that you product unique content on your site and that you date that content and put in the author's name. This way if it's picked up or syndicated then Google knows that you had it first. Link to it from Social Media outlets and more.
• Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
• For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
This can speak to whether there is a medical professional directly associated or behind the content or whether there appears to be just content to sell ads or is there really quality content. Does it stand up to comparison or large medical/health websites? Does it copy from them? Does it cite sources or refer to other sources for further information?
• Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
This is all about branding. Build your brand in association with your topic and get people out there on social media or traditional media to use the two in conjunction. Hire a PR firm and get a press release out or get on some guest blogs or a magazine or newspaper article or op-ed.
• Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
In-depth articles are very powerful. Google seems to like around 750 words and that's just to start. You can split up large pieces of content into smaller ones but those smaller ones should be around the 750 count. Break up your in-depth content logically (if you want to generate more ad-views) but don't just break up content to break it up. You can have a couple thousand words on one page but if you can separate based on topic/subtopic then you should. This gets the topical focus honed to a LASER sharp focus for semantic search.
• Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
Is it DUH! content or did the writer actually do some research. Research and write... it's the way to go! Be original!
• Is this the sort of page you'd want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
Is it good or is it junk? Does it provide regularly updated content that makes one want to come back or does it provide something awesome like a seriously funny infographic or video.
• Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
Don't inundate the visitor with ads. Place ads strategically and don't just do content for ad-views because you'll get better rankings from having better content with fewer ads which means more ad-views in the long run.
• Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
This speaks to quality in the sense of is the article professionally written? Review the way articles in magazines and newspapers are written. Copy the format. Link to references and cite your sources.
• Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
Short, dull and uninformed content is bad... build it out, research it, write more than 750 words and integrate related images.
• Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
"Attention to detail" is a subjective term. This can mean the details of the content or the details of grammar, wording, and even if the topic was fully explored or the initial questions were answered in the content.
• Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
If it's hard to read, full of ads, not well researched or written, just there for spam or otherwise causes an epileptic fit reaction from too many things going on - then the short answer is yes. So don't do that.
There's my take on Quality according to Google. Research your market and terms, target your terms specifically, research your topic; write like a pro; include multi-media and supplemental content; show you're an authority; share it socially; write more than less, show your site is safe and secure, be original and informative and don't duplicate your content. Build your brand and your own personal authority with others in your field.