Hummingbird Whizzes On.
Google has a new search algorithm called Hummingbird, one that affects 90% of all search queries across the world. With a scope this large, chances are searches for your relevant keywords are affected too. And with many businesses still reeling from the effects of the latest Panda and Penguin updates, perhaps SEO resellers and would-be resellers can’t help but feel uneasy with this news.
Will the new ‘Hummingbird’ algorithm (announced very recently coinciding with Google’s 15th anniversary) change the search engine optimization game once more? Will it flush down the drain all post-Panda and Penguin optimization we recently conducted for your clients? Are the SEO methodologies we currently use here at Endlessrise still up to date with this latest development?
You have many questions, yes. But just take a deep breath for now and slow down. Because frankly, you have nothing to worry about if you’ve been paying attention to what we’ve been advocating these past few months. In fact, Hummingbird even works to your advantage.
Hummingbird’s Target: Context, Not Just Text
Hummingbird is the new search algorithm that’s meant to understand users’ long, conversational and complex queries. It is meant to understand not just text but context.
This moves Google search deeper into conversational queries and understanding its contexts, paying more attention to the relationships of words in a query in a way that the entire meaning of the query – the sentence, the question, and the conversation – is taken into account, rather than individual words.
Google SVP for search Amit Singhal says that the Hummingbird algorithm update is essentially to better answer the much more complex queries people are making. It impacts all kinds of queries, but far more effective on long, complex questions that we’re getting many more of now. That the algorithm can better understand concepts vs. words as well as relationships between concepts.
Hummingbird Had Been Hovering in the Horizon All Along
In an article published by Forbes magazine, Scott Huffman, a Google engineer working in natural language, said the growing popularity of complex voice search helped thrust this change toward Hummingbird. As more and more people are using mobile devices, they are conducting search in a more “natural” way, as if asking a person a question. This is considered “conversational,” as opposed to typing pure keywords when doing a conventional Google search. “We want to get to a natural conversation,” Huffman said.
The Caffeine, the Panda, the Penguin, and the Hummingbird
In 2010, the search engine announced an algorithm update called “Caffeine.” While it was a significant change, Caffeine was merely an indexing system that was meant to provide “50% fresher results for web searches than our last index.” It was not an algorithm rewrite like Hummingbird, which is considered the biggest change in Google’s search algorithm since Caffeine, according to Amit.
For this year, the buzzwords were Penguin and Panda, with Google launching new versions and updates of both. Remember, Panda – launched in 2011 – targets poor quality content. Penguin – launched in 2012 – targets link schemes and other black hat optimization techniques. While these two updates were launched under the old algorithm, they are still part of the new one. They are still valid.
Trends to Watch: Mobile & High Quality Content
For that reason, SEO resellers and online marketers still need to comply with these updates. And if you’ve been listening to us, you’ve already gained ground and are conducting correct, updated optimization techniques for your clients. By launching Hummingbird, Google simply made it easier for prospects to find your quality content – one that’s dependent on context, and not on texts, i.e. keywords.
As you remember, the key to complying with Panda and Penguin is to simply produce high quality content, the type that users want to bookmark and share with their friends. It’s focused, fresh, and relevantly rich in context, and is not overly keyword optimized. Also, you need to avoid link schemes such as abusing article and press release submissions and anchor texts.
The other trend you need to pay attention to is mobile. Obviously, the popularity of voice searches conducted via smartphones and tablets is one of the reasons why Google updated its algorithm. Users are shifting from keyword-based searches to semantic or conversational queries. As white label SEO resellers, this is an opportunity to help steer your clients to the right direction fast and with precision (just like a hummingbird) – by providing them with fresh, high quality content filled with rich context relevant to what your target audience are searching for, as well as employing a Responsive Website Design. When users use voice search via Google using a smartphone, and one of your web pages come up, they should be able to land and navigate across your website with no viewing problems. A responsive website provides for this.
Using our methodology will ensure that your clients’ websites are ready for the future of search.
PS: Happy 15th Birthday Google!
Google has come a long way from being a startup operated by founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin at a Menlo Park, CA garage over a decade ago. Today it has a commanding 67% share of worldwide search, raking in billions of dollars every year. Here’s a little history of Google search, courtesy of the company’s official search blog.