At the end of September, Google announced that they have switched to a brand-new search algorithm named Hummingbird. This is the biggest change that Google has made to the search algorithm in years. So, what is Hummingbird, why was the change made and what does Hummingbird mean to the world of SEO?
What is Google Hummingbird?
Unlike the previous system updates by Google, Hummingbird is a completely new system, not just a reformulation of the old one. It is a more intuitive algorithm that focuses on why people are searching, not just what they are searching for. This new system is less focused on keywords than any of the previous systems used by Google.
The way people search the internet is changing, and Google intends to keep up with the changes. It is now estimated that over 50% of internet searches are made on mobile devices. Many of those searches are made using voice search, which means they are asking questions instead of typing keywords into a search bar. Named for “speed” and “precision”, Hummingbird is the first search algorithm designed to quickly interpret the intentions of searchers and deliver only relevant results.
For instance, with the old algorithm, a voice search of, “Where can I buy paint supplies in Brisbane?” would most likely return results using “paint supplies” and “Brisbane” as the key terms. This might give you results including Australian painting history, a few paint stores, descriptions of paint, and any other combination of results. Hummingbird is designed to take words like “where” and “in” into account as well, and return results that are a closer fit to the whole question that was asked.
Why Did Google Switch to Hummingbird?
Google made the switch to Hummingbird because it was time. People don’t search online the same way they did ten years ago, and it’s time to have a search engine that reflects that change. Having an intuitive and relevant search engine makes the internet more accessible whilst providing the ease and convenience that people are coming to expect of every product they use.
How will Google Hummingbird Affect SEO Strategies?
The short answer to this question is: It won’t. Hummingbird is designed to improve search responsiveness. If anything, this should be viewed as good news for anyone who is already applying best SEO practices. Websites that feature high-quality, relevant content will increasingly rise to the top of the Google index since those sites already answer the questions that people are asking when they search.
Though announced at the end of September, Hummingbird has been operational since August. This means if you haven’t seen a drop in traffic and ranking yet, you probably never will, at least not because of Hummingbird. Regardless of your current rankings, the changes that are being made to the way searches are handled present the perfect opportunity to improve your site content and SEO strategies. It is a good idea to take a look at your website and make improvements where needed.
SEO Best Practices that will Improve Your Website’s Google Ranking
Hummingbird is focused on improving the search experience. You can follow Google’s example by applying these tips and improving your website so that it will be attractive to search engines and the people who are searching.
1. Make Sure Your Brand is Clearly Defined
Defining your brand is about more than using the same logo and colour scheme for all your content. You also need to use a consistent voice and express clear values. Every page of your website should reflect your brand in a way that is interesting and likeable to readers.
2. Remember that Every Word on Your Website Matters.
It is not enough any more to have a great blog on your website, especially if the content on the other pages is thin or lacking in some way. Every page of your website should have rich, relevant, interesting content that provides a solution of some kind. Read through every page on your site and rewrite the content so that it has a clear direction.
3. Incorporate Social Media
If you haven’t already, now is the time to incorporate social media into your website. People love to share content that they find useful and interesting. If you make it easy for people to share your content with the world, they will be more likely to do so.
4. Make Your Content Interesting and Direct it Towards Customer Needs
If you look back at tips one through three, you’ll notice that all of them refer to interesting content. This is probably the most important improvement to make on your site: Learn what your customer base wants and needs, and write interesting content that your customers will want to read and share. If every customer that finds your site enjoys what they read and finds it relevant to them, they will be more likely to read more, and share your content with their friends.
5. Leverage Analytics to Make Regular Website Improvements
The content on your website should never be left alone and thought of as “good enough”. By keeping up with the analytics that are available to you, you will be able to see how people are finding and interacting with your site. Use this information to further refine your target audience and make your content more relevant to what their needs are.
Google Hummingbird is a big change that is helping to further the cause of improving the internet for everyone. If leveraged correctly, this change can be very helpful to people who are willing to apply best SEO practices and improve the user experience on every page of the websites they are responsible for.