It doesn't take much to get the Google name in the news - let's face it the response to most questions these days is to 'Google it'. So it's not surprising that the launch of Google Hummingbird hit the national press (as well as pretty much any news outlet and personal blog!) last week despite the fact it is, wait for it, an algorithm. Er? Well the news is that it's a completely new algorithm, rather than just an update. Not hooked yet? As a communications professional and definitely not a mathematician, I was particularly interested in this new algorithm. Why? Well, Google is changing how it approaches the results it delivers via natural search. In future, things that will be most important are:

  • More natural language (the search engine algorithm will understand the whole query rather than just keywords)
  • Semantic search "understanding things not strings" (concepts will be understood instead of just individual words)
  • Content must be helpful and have authority (is the information of use, informative and from a credible source?)
  • Engagement is key (are people sharing the information, commenting or continuing the story via social media?)

It's an age old adage, but content really is key. Identifying what your story is, who your audience is, what they want and how you can help is what I've always been told are essential elements of a good PR story. As the lines blur between how information is shared with employees, investors, customers, partners and candidates thanks to digital, these elements will be key for all forms of communications.

Whether you're an individual, a brand, organisation, charity or corporate, having a clear story to tell that offers individuals value will be key. This is a main driver behind our next thefuturestory event where we aim to provide attendees with a clearer idea about where and how to find captivating stories within the organisation that will interest all stakeholders.

The final driver behind Hummingbird is that the future is mobile! 50% of people now start their search on a mobile device. Voice recognition services such as Siri are driving the need for search engines to better understand the very human way of communicating - 'what is...? why is....? how do....?'.

In short, as technology continues to develop, the more important it will be to go back to the basics - content and great storytelling!