Image Credit to warriorwoman531
Happy Birthday Google!
Last week, on Google’s 15th Birthday, they revealed a new update for their search algorithm. The Google Hummingbird update is unlike any other algorithm they have released in the past 10 years. It is designed to be more accurate and provide quicker results. This algorithm is founded on semantic search, and focuses on the intentions of users rather than just individual keywords in search terms.
According to Shaneali Mawji from ONE4SEO “Hummingbird is now looking at your entire search query and providing results that are far more accurate than ever before. Google isn’t just looking at the main keywords anymore. This means content has now become even more powerful as keyword stuffing will not yield great results as compared to high quality content. The whole point of this is to present users with pages that match their search queries more accurately.”
There have been many reports that show the Hummingbird update being integrated around 4 weeks ago. This is a complete replacement for Google’s algorithm in the sense that it has been rewritten to such a degree that it cannot be considered as an update to the existing algorithm. Panda and Penguin on the other hand, were just updates to the algorithms that Google already had in place. This is the first time in over 10 years that Google has upgraded an algorithm to such an extent.
Remember the Importance of Content?
David Amerland mentioned, in an interview with SearchEngineLand, the importance of content not being isolated on the web, but shared and distributed across the social network by what Google coins “Identified Influencers.” This could mean one of two things, either a person who has a large social following, or someone who is actively engaging their following in a specific field of interest. For instance, if an English Premier League Footballer was to post a link to this article, sure it would get huge traffic, but nothing would happen in terms of the page rank in Google because they are not natural influencers in the SEO industry. However, if this article was discussing a topic such as the newest pair of Football boots, then their interaction of sharing this article would have a huge boost for the page as they are massive influencers in the Footballing industry.
What does this mean for the industry then? Well, content has been extremely important since the Google Panda update was released in 2012, now with the Hummingbird update, it is essential to not only write great content, but also to share it across the social networking world. Without this, your content would remain isolated on just your website and thus would no longer be considered relevant to searches as there is no interaction with the content or website.
Google is placing a huge amount of focus on mobile searches; this is seen through their release of the Hummingbird algorithm update in which they illustrated the new search results with images of their mobile app rather than their desktop site. People tend to be more conversational when using their mobile devices to search. For instance, instead of searching for “New dress shirts” a mobile user would be more inclined to search for “Where can I buy new dress shirts.” I think this has to do with the psychological factor that when using a mobile device, users are typically texting one another or using social media apps to have conversations. When they access Google to search, this habit makes them type in actual sentences rather than searching for specific keywords. The Google Hummingbird update is aiming to help create a better search experience for these users by looking at the entire search query and relaying the most accurate results it possibly can.
It’s all about meaning, not keywords
Google is using Hummingbird to shift its focus away from Keywords and key search terms toward semantics and the intent behind a phrase. This is far more relevant to users than receiving results based on a few terms in their search phrase. 10 years ago, Google was focused on delivering search results on the basis of search queries only. Today, their algorithm draws information from many inputs such as geographical location, previous searches, social network connections and many more.
Filling your websites with keywords, also known as “Keyword stuffing” is not going to be able to have the effect it did 10 years ago. Google is working hard to enhance the search experience for users and the only way to do this, is to know how the user is thinking in order to accurately portray the information the user is looking for. Just 3 years ago, if you typed in “What is the most important part of SEO” you would have seen a small notification from Google that said “The following words: is, the, of, are common terms and were not included in your search query.” This meant that Google was only searching for “What Important Part SEO” which is nothing similar to the search term initially entered. Fast-forward to 3 years, and Google is now saying every single part of that term will be looked at, comprehended, and then searched for by the Hummingbird algorithm. This will yield some of the most accurate results that Google has ever fed to its users.
Who’s the biggest loser?
As of right now? No one. Unlike during the release of Penguin and Panda, which saw thousands of websites lose traffic and page rank, no one appears to have been affected by the Hummingbird algorithm just yet. I think this is partly to do with the fact that it is not about HOW Google is showing users information, but WHICH information they are showing users. If a user searched for “What is the best peanut butter brand?” They wouldn’t click on your website about how to make a peanut butter and jam sandwich. So instead of your page showing up for that search, you would see a list of results that discuss what peanut butter is and which brands are the best kinds. This means you wouldn’t actually lose any traffic but the user would receive better results for their searches.
How do you deal with the Google Hummingbird update?
You don’t really need to. Sure users are asking questions to Google so you may want to answer these through content, but you should already be doing that. If you aren’t that chances are, you’re not as high in Google rankings as you’d hope. Instead of trying to target questions, focus on having high quality, descriptive, important, and compelling content. If you do this, you’ll see that you naturally rise in Google due to interaction with users. If your content is helpful to them, then of course Google is going to want to show your content to more people.
Follow me on Twitter: @smawji13
Follow ONE4SEO on Twitter: @ONE_4_SEOby