Google’s Hummingbird algorithm… it’s like that movie, The Birds, where people got maimed running to their cars. Okay, not really anything like that… although it is October now and close enough to Halloween that it should be like that… only it’s not.
The short version: If you really don’t feel like reading another blog today, then fine… It’s like this – Hummingbird is a brand new algorithm that Google adopted. It’s quick, it’s accurate and it focuses on conversational search and semantic search as opposed to breaking a search down into its keyword parts. This has a lot to do with the accelerated growth in mobile users and the way that search is evolving to be more personal and adaptive to voice. Right now you may be mumbling something that rhymes with “shmoley shmidt”. Well relax, because this new zoo animal was adopted over a month ago. If you haven’t witnessed any dramatic events on your website to date, then you’ve made it through without being lung-punctured by the apocalyptic, wide-eyed, undead bird… The rules of SEO have not changed, SEO is not dead and you need to focus even more on creating unique, authoritative and problem solving content… Boom, you’re done with the short version – NOW SHARE!
What’s the biggest change coming out of this update? Google explains that it’s all about conversational search. Here’s one fact that could make sense of the whole thing:
FACT: By 2014, Mobile Internet usage will overtake Desktop browsing.
Since more people are using mobile for internet, more people are searching using conversational voice commands. People don’t spout off keyword strings when they are searching by voice. They talk as if the search engine can understand their words. Well, Hummingbird’s is the answer to this, and the biggest change is to focus on the meaning behind the words. Google has said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to all words in a query, deciphering the whole meaning, rather than picking out particular keywords. Keywords still matter, but they are keywords with context now.
Again, SEO is NOT dead. In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different we need to be concerned about. The guidelines on what makes a great site great are still the same. I actually think that SEO matters even more than ever. Your content needs to use keywords naturally with search intent in mind. It has to be original… not just written in a different way, it has to draw original thoughts and conclusions to solve someone’s problem or fulfill a need. That’s what it means to be high-quality content. All of those 200+ ranking signals that have been important before are still taken in to account. Hummingbird just acts on those ranking signals in faster more meaningful ways.
Hummingbird first took flight around the end of August timeframe, and was announced weeks later at the end of September. In that time if your traffic didn’t change, then you came through the update okay. As with other animals in Google’s past, there will be additional updates to the algorithm coming forth, but so far no publishers have voiced much concern over traffic losses.
SEO Strategies That Are Even More Important After Hummingbird:
- When you think about keywords, think about how people would use those keywords in sentences.
- Think more about search intent? What problems do users have, what are their needs…
- Be the authority. Anticipate questions and give content with the answers.
- Use your stats. High bounce rates and low time-on-site can indicate that you are not connecting with the searchers intent.