Written by Jessica Ann on November 12th, 2013
Google’s Hummingbird Update Explained
When we would think of a hummingbird in the past, a hovering, graceful, pixie-like creature came to mind. Now that Google has used it to represent its latest algorithm update, correction; algorithm overhaul, the small creature now strikes fear in the hearts of internet marketers and makes them quake in their booties!
What makes Hummingbird different from Panda or Penguin is that it is not a change to part of the existing algorithm, like those two cuddly animals, it is essentially a new algorithm. It is also the most dramatic change in 12 years and affects 90% of searches, according to Google.
What is an Algorithm?
A search algorithm is how Google and other search engines find, rank and place web sites on their results pages (also known as SERPs, Search Engine Results Pages). This mathematical formula that determines page rank for various keywords and keyword phrases is kept under lock and key and constantly updated. The latest update to Google’s algorithm is the much talked about Hummingbird.
Google’s knowledge graph, which was introduced in May 2012 and offers information about various topics in an “Ask Jeeves” format, has been updated with filters and comparison features. It is now possible to filter painters by genre or compare baseball player statistics or the height and features of two famous buildings without leaving the Google search results page. Many marketers are concerned about this feature because it gives those searching the information they need without having to click through and visit any websites.
Mobile and Voice Search
As mobile search is used more and more, searches are increasingly being done via voice using full sentences rather than specific keywords. Hummingbird is designed to understand the meaning behind the words rather than looking for a site where the key words are frequently mentioned. If you are searching for “The closest place to order sushi”, Google now understands to show results for restaurants with sushi on their menu, based on the GPS location of your phone or IP address, instead of the Wikipedia page for sushi, pictures of sushi or a sushi making class.
What Does this Mean for Your Website?
As always you should create quality content, try to answer users’ questions as part of your content and make sure your website is optimized for mobile. The update is good news for local businesses as your location has become more significant for search results. This is yet another push by Google to make websites rely less on keywords and more on informative well written content.
SEO is not Dead
Most marketers agree that this change is not the death of SEO but simply another evolution pushing us toward creating quality content. The speculation about SEO is largely due to all of the recent changes to core Google marketing services. It did not help that on Hummingbird’s heels are the recently implemented Adwords update as well as two updates to Google Analytics. That being said; it is important to remember that where there is change there is opportunity, when one door closes another one opens!
Article Courtesy of Sophia+
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