What Google ‘Hummingbird’ Means For Your SEO Strategy

The biggest Google update in the last 10 years has just taken place.  Say hello to Google “Hummingbird”. In this article we offer an insightful perspective of what has changed, why, and what to do about it.

The Background

The first thing to understand about Hummingbird is what type of update it is. Over the last decade, Google has released a series of algorithm modifications that aim at improving the search experience and overall accuracy of the results. Earlier in the decade, the focus was on serving geographically related results based on open queries. Once Google achieved a good grip on local relevant results, it shifted its attention to improving quality by identifying and removing poor or spamming websites that used questionable SEO techniques. This was the time when updates like Panda and Penguin were released. These updates, as any of the ones since 2001, were adjustments to the algorithm that complemented what was already in operation.  In September/October 2013 Google introduced Hummingbird, which is an entirely new, from-the-ground-up, version of the algorithm.

The Change

The main change with Hummingbird is the importance of semantics, which we can understand as “conversational search”. The search engine’s intention is to serve pages based on more human-like queries not just keywords. The focus now is on the meaning behind the words as opposed to simply matching keywords. Google says — “Hummingbird is organized in a way to especially serve the search demands of today, rather than one created for the needs of ten years ago, with the technologies back then. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

The Impact

What that means to website owners is that search engine optimization is now less about keyword data and more about customer engagement with your product/service information. The SEO strategy will revolve now on quality, engaging contextual content that people can relate to. The new aim is semantic relevance.

Tips & Advice

So, now that you know what Hummingbird is looking for, let’s see what can be done to make sure your website is not negatively affected by it, but, rather, be ready to use it towards your advantage:

  • Make sure content is updated regularly on your website (this is vital now that we are in a post-Hummingbird environment).
  • Add an FAQ area to your website or expand the one you currently have. Make sure this page/area is properly optimized for Google to index.
  • Implement a blog or news area on your website and post articles frequently.
  • Write content with using simple language, just as if you were speaking directly to a customer one on one.
  • For technical data or product specifications, use schema mark-up to increase contextual information in the eyes of Google.
  • Increase social media interaction and make sure to cross promote content from your website or blog in social medial channels.
  • Review and improve the mobile version of your website. Focus on user experience, performance and relevant content.
  • Increase inbound links to your website using legitimate sources.

 

Your Next Step

The SEO game has changed yet again.  We go to bat for our clients, ensuring their SEO strategies are in line with Google’s updates.  If you would like us to go to bat for you, get in touch for more information. We’d be happy to help!


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