If you’ve been dipping your toes in SEO for your website, you will probably have heard rumblings about Google’s latest update – Hummingbird. Usually when google releases an update, it’s enough to turn the SEO community to a mass frenzy. The last major update, Penguin, left many websites with penalties which have caused almost irreparable damage. However, this time there has been a lot less coverage and even less panic. And let’s face it; if you’re doing your job properly, it will probably help you.
Google has a vision of how it wants its search engines to index pages. Whilst this vision has evolved over the years, the fundamentals remain the same; to rank search results by combining relevance, quality and importance. Every now and then, Google will release an update that will improve how the search results compare to its vision. Hummingbird is another such update.
But this is not just another update to its algorithm, it is an entirely new algorithm in itself. This has enabled them to streamline how they find results. It is called Hummingbird because it is “precise” and “fast”. One of the main areas which it is focusing on is “conversational search”. This means that rather than focus on the keywords, it focuses on the overall meaning of words in a phrase. For example, if you search for “where can I buy roses in Wirral?” it would previously focus on the words “roses” and “Wirral”. The new algorithm would recognise “where” as requiring a location, “buy” as requiring a shop of some kind, “roses” as being a type of flower, and “Wirral” as the location. Therefore the result would be flower shops based in Wirral.
The update was announced on 26th September, but it was also announced that the update has been running since August. If you have not noticed any change yet, it is unlikely that you will. If you have been doing your SEO properly then there will be nothing to worry about. If you have been trying to cheat google or using keyword stuffing, then you might have noticed a negative effect.
The benefit of this search is that quality content is more important than ever. As well as focusing on the keywords that you are targeting, you should be writing content that is relevant and important to the whole industry. If you are a local business, then your location has to be clear.
The aim of Hummingbird is to make results more natural than ever before. If you are a good SEO then this will be music to your ears as good quality content will be rewarded. If you are a poor SEO then this is bad news (queue another “SEO is Dead” article) as your keyword stuffed, poor quality content will no longer be as effective. Google’s algorithm updates are not a bad thing, but an opportunity to march ahead of your competitors by putting the correct work in and reaping the rewards.