Google Hummingbird Update Topples Current SEO Strategies
For those of you busy with your online marketing campaigns, it’s likely you missed Google’s announcement of their latest update to their volatile search engine algorithm. And not surprisingly, the update has been with some backlash from SEOs to say the least.
A few hours before their 15th anniversary, the tech giant unveiled Hummingbird, arguably the company’s most sweeping search update in the last 13 years. Like its recent Panda updates, Hummingbird was apparently designed to weed out content created for the purpose of SEO, and not so much providing better and higher quality search results for humans and users.
How Does Hummingbird Work?
Hummingbird works by dispensing with traditional keyword searches and using searches of a more conversational nature to provide search results that are more “aligned” with what users are searching for.
Google says the update places stock in providing answers to users instead of just results. While this may not seem like a big deal, many experts now see phrases like “how to” and “how do I,” which used to have no real value, as now beingimportant.
We agree with many search experts in the industry who see this update as a sign of Google’s desire to keep results in tune with what users search more for on the Web. Conversational search has been a growing driver of a specific type of search users search for—Hummingbird is simply a shift to accommodate these searches.
What this means is that Hummingbird will accommodate longer searches, shifting from traditional single keyword searches like, “iPhone 5s” to longer phrases such as, “cheapest iPhone 5s in (insert area or city),” focusing more on intent instead of just keywords.
How Does Hummingbird Affect your Business?
Google’s algorithm updates usually have immediate results on the campaigns of marketers and webmasters, but Hummingbird seems to be different. According to Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, they’ve yet to hear of sweeping losses in traffic after the algorithm change. Google’s Panda update in 2011 for example, which focused on removing “low-quality sites,” decimated the traffic of several thousand sites on the Internet. In contrast, Hummingbird’s been pretty quiet.
Another update that’s likely to throw a spanner in the campaigns of many is Google’s move to encrypt keyword data and hiding it from site owners and marketers. Google has finally switched all searches to encrypted searches with the use of HTTPS, with no data passed on to site owners. This means no tracking and lumping of users together with their keyword searches. We’ve seen a rise in “(not provide)” in our analytics data since Panda rolled out, and now we can expect to see this figure grow.
Enform will be providing more guidance on this aspect in future updates.
The Bottom Line
Google’s Hummingbird algorithm is delivering dramatic changes in the SEO landscape but site owners and marketers should embrace the change as it is biased toward good quality marketing practice optimised for human search.
The key is, as always, to adapt to algorithm changes and understand what your users are searching for. Hummingbird simply cements the importance of providing genuine and high quality content that answers questions. Rethink how your customers use the Internet to search for your products and services, and make adjustments accordingly to your findings.
Enform has always stressed the importance of proper SEO research and audits to make sure that their customers are offering answers to their customers search questions. Hummingbird makes this even more critical.