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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Google’s new Algorithm “Hummingbird” turns SEOs into Birdwatchers

    Posted by Katie Redmond

    Should You Fear the Bird?


    Google is at it again, making changes to their search algorithm, with the latest installment of Hummingbird.  (Another cute animal that SEO’s will probably come to hate.)  Although they officially announced it on Thursday 9/26/13, they rolled it out near the end of August and beginning of September.  

    It has gone relatively unnoticed in the search engine optimization community with the exception of a few webmaster threads spotting some of the changes.  Hummingbird is the first complete rewrite of the Google algorithm in about 12 years.  The Google Panda and Penguin algorithms had simply been changes and updates made to older algorithms.  (Which has been explained that they are still valid and working.)  

    The Hummingbird algorithm announcement took place on the eve of Googles 15th birthday.  Perhaps you remember the Google birthday game in place of the Google logo last week.  (My top score was 130.)  

    What exactly is Google Hummingbird?

    Well, Google tells us that the name Hummingbird comes from the algorithm being “precise and fast.”  Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land explains that “Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query – the whole sentence or conversation or meaning – is taken into account, rather than particular words.  The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

    In other words, Google is going to hold more value on the context of the words being searched.  One example I’ve seen so far is if you are searching for “Pizza Hut calories per slice” it will look through Pizza Hut’s website first to find the information. (And put the info at the top of the results.)  Before Hummingbird, it was simply the best optimized site (like a Calorie Counting site) that talked about Pizza Hut calories.  

    Hummingbird really shines when it comes to conversational search available on Google Chrome and Android phones.  It places more meaning on phrases like “places”, “purchase” or “near me” when you’ve elected to allow Google to know your GPS location.  Instead of finding any “place” that you can “purchase” something, Google looks for physical stores near your exact location.

    Search is definitely getting more complicated as you see more and more long tail keywords being used for search.  It seems as if most people are tired of not finding exactly what they are looking for, thus we see simple 2 word key phrases having less search volume.  

    What does Google Hummingbird mean for me?

    That’s a great question.  SEO’s from around the world are dissecting and testing the new search algorithm on test sites to check for anything that could concern clients.  But since being released over a month ago with little to no impact on the search engine optimization community, it is likely that there is nothing to worry about.

    One thing we’ve always recommended to our clients is to always be asking and answering your client’s questions within your site.  As search queries get more complicated and algorithms have the ability to find more complex results, answering the questions your clients are asking can only help you in the future.  Here’s what I’m talking about…

    • Create a list the top 10 questions your clients are asking you or about your industry

    • Create new pages on your site centered around those questions and great answers

    Answering your clients’ questions helps them solve a problem and can ultimately make you an authority on a topic or subject.  When they are ready to buy your product or service, they want to buy from a trusted authority.  It appears that Google’s Hummingbird algorithm may just give an advantage in search results to the people that answer the common questions for their clients.  As for now, Hummingbird appears to be as sweet as it sounds.  

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    image credit: michael elliot/freedigitalphotos.net

    Topics: SEO