Google’s Hummingbrid Update: What Every Business Should Know

Guest post by Kimberley Laws 

Noah's Ark imageGoogle recently introduced a brand spanking new search algorithm that has everybody talking. Officially called “Hummingbird,” it, like the bird, promises to be quick and precise. But don’t worry. The “Panda” and the “Penguin”– Google’s zoologically-named updates — have not been put out to pasture. They will work with the Hummingbird to get the job done.

What is Hummingbird?

Hummingbird is a brand new search algorithm, meaning that it is the process that Google uses to determine what you are looking for when you type in a search word or phrase. It then uses this algorithm to sift through its billions of web pages to provide you with the most relevant results — it hopes.

Why did Google change algorithms?

A lot has changed over Google’s fifteen year history, including the devices that we use with which to search Google. With a massive shift to mobile devices–particularly those equipped with the ability to accept voice commands–people are moving away from using keyword-specific searches like “French manicure instructions” and, instead, asking more natural questions like “How do I do a French Manicure?”

As a result, Google has introduced a more user-friendly search tool that strives to provide a more “human” approach that looks for the meaning behind searches, recognizes the “5 W’s and H” (who, what, when, where, why and how), and generates more relevant data. Using Google Search will become more conversational — with people engaging in natural questions instead of robotic phrases devoid of descriptors, conjunctions, and articles.

What should businesses do to maintain their ranking in Google’s Search Results?

As long as your business has maintained a focus on generating top quality and useful content, engaged in sound SEO practices, and always kept your customers’ needs in mind, you should not need to make any major changes to how you create an online presence. But here are a few helpful tips to consider.

  • Think in terms of questions. When generating content, try to anticipate the types of questions that your target audience will ask. With this in mind, strive to design your content in a question and answer style. One such format would be a “how-to” article.
  • Think in terms of semantics. If you do not have an abundant vocabulary, you may wish to invest in a good thesaurus, because Hummingbird uses related words to help identify relevant sites. Before, if it saw the word “season,” it would simply look for documents containing that exact word, regardless of whether the user was looking to add spice to their meat or searching for a particular time of year. Now, Hummingbird will find documents that match the user’s query.  For example “how do I season pork?” will yield documents that contain the term “season,” but also words like spice, rosemary, tarragon etc. If you are writing about seasoning, use other phrases related to seasoning to help Hummingbird recognize that your site is about cooking or spices and not the time of year.
  • Think in terms of “long tail” keywords. Hummingbird pays greater attention to long tail keywords than the previous algorithm did, so it is important to generate content with these in mind. What is a long tail keyword? Traditionally, people have input short keywords into Google Search, such as “Avon representative.” People are now making a shift towards using long tail keywords like “Avon representative in Sacramento area.” The short keyword search yields over 4.1 million results, while the long tailed one has results that are pared down to just over 300,000. Long tail keywords enable the searcher to find content that is more relevant to their needs.
  • Think Evergreen. Hummingbird also places great value on “Evergreen” content — content that never grows stale or “out of date.”

As always, the key to success on Google’s search results page is to generate high quality, useful, and entertaining content that is a pleasure to read. Thanks to the introduction of the Hummingbird, your audience will now be better equipped to find the answers to their needs. And, of course, that answer is you and your business.

What are your first impressions of Hummingbird?

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger. She has written on a plethora of topics including online reputation management, social media tools, and invoice software.

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