The Lowdown on Google Hummingbird

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Google Hummingbird

We find it ironic that Google has decided to take beautiful, friendly animals names and turn them into scary (sometimes devastating) algorithm updates….

*sigh*

With names like Panda, Penguin, and now Hummingbird, Google’s clearly showing a pattern. But, the pattern you should be more concerned about is that with each Google update, Google’s is drastically changing the way they serve up web results.

What’s Changed With Hummingbird?

To put it in perspective, Hummingbird is said to be the largest Google algorithm update in a decade.  It affects more than 90% of searches worldwide (according to Search Engine Journal), whereas Penguin affected only around 3%.

Some ways it affects search include:

  • Knowledge Graph is Improved – Knowledge Graph is a database of 570 million objects and 18 billion facts about various people, places, things and how they are connected. This system was designed to increase search relevancy and to give direct answers to searches at the same time.

Now, Knowledge Graph has been extended so that if you search on a query like “Tell me about impressionist artists,” you get to see a complete list of who they are and their famous works.

  • Better Semantic Understanding – “Semantic search” refers to the idea that Google attempts to understand the main concept behind a search query, not just find the exact words or variations thereof that a searcher typed in. Hummingbird is a leap forward in Google’s ability to understand what a searcher is really looking for.

Practically speaking, if you do a search on “the nearest restaurant in Los Angeles,” the Google of old would have returned results matching “restaurant” and “Los Angeles.”  However, the new Google knows that what you’re really looking for is a restaurant close by. So, instead, it’s going to return a result for a restaurant in Los Angeles that actually is nearby. And, it’s going to let you know exactly how far away that restaurant is.

Hummingbird Is Really All About Mobile Searching

In large part, Hummingbird is all about one current drastic change in search: the increase in mobile searches.

The mobile search page is now much simpler, optimized for touch navigation and results are now clustered on cards which makes it easier for mobile searchers to focus and click on them. It’s also no coincidence that when announcing these new updates, Google did so using mobile technology to illustrate their point.

Finally, mobile searchers are more likely to use voice search to ask questions, so it’s timely that Hummingbird focuses on understanding those questions and providing all the information necessary to answer the question.

What Should Businesses And SEOs Focus On With Hummingbird?

Now, more than ever and especially as search continues to evolve, it’s critical for businesses to identify their USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and build content focused on long-tail keywords that answers their customer’s primary questions and concerns.

Oh, and don’t forget about variations…. “restaurant” might be interpreted as “diner”, “café”, or “food” even.

If historically you have done well with a specific keyword, consider expanding your targets into similar variations. Just because your website is optimized for “restaurant” and that is your top keyword phrase that doesn’t mean that in the future you might lose out to competitors who have done a better job including “restaurant” keyword variations.

Get creative. Know your audience and expand your content and offers.

The sites that can implement this strategy now will end up with the best organic traffic in the future.

Avatar for Jenny Stradling

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Avatar for Jenny Stradling

About Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

6 thoughts on “The Lowdown on Google Hummingbird

    1. Avatar for Jenny StradlingJenny Stradling Post author

      It is really interesting to see how much mobile has impacted user behavior in search. We are excited to continue watching how it will evolve with even more people using mobile devices and voice commands.

      Reply
    1. Avatar for Jenny StradlingJenny Stradling Post author

      Indeed – this is just our initial impression. There’s still a lot of speculation at this point and although this is said to impact 90%+ of search, we still haven’t heard or seen a huge impact… Stay tuned for more!

      Reply
  1. Avatar for Jenny Stradlingramohanseo

    Great blog post! You hit the nail on the head here. Attention to detail and being a person of your word can really set you apart in business. Basically, don’t talk about it, be about it!

    Reply
  2. Avatar for Jenny Stradlingkenn

    It took months before people got over them and the effects they experienced because of the updates. The purpose of the Hummingbird update is for Google to get a better understanding of search queries. It evaluates the context or meaning of a long-tail, complex or “verbose” search instead of focusing on each word in the query as though it were a separate keyword.

    Reply

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