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