What is Google Hummingbird, and How Will it Affect SEO Companies?

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Austin SEO customers may be concerned about the Google Hummingbird update; here is some information that may be helpful. First, what is Google Hummingbird? It is the new search algorithm introduced by Google in late September 2013. Unlike other changes to the algorithm, such as Panda and Penguin, Google Hummingbird is a change to the entire algorithm rather than mere parts of it. Another difference between Hummingbird and Panda/Penguin is that the change was officially announced after it had already occurred, rather than before.

What has Google Hummingbird Changed, Exactly?

One of the most important ways that Google Hummingbird differs from the old algorithm is that it focuses heavily on “conversational search.” In other words, it will take into account the semantics of the searcher. If the searcher asks a question, for example, he will get the answer to the question in his search.

Before Google Hummingbird, it was more common to get a search result that was an exact match for the words in the question. Let’s say a user searches, “Where do locals go to eat in Austin?” Before Hummingbird, Google would look for pages where the words “locals,” “eat” and “Austin” were all together in a sentence. Now, Hummingbird will ensure that the user gets search results that actually answer his question. This is the meaning of conversational search; Hummingbird was designed to create an environment where users are effectively “conversing” with Google.

Is Hummingbird More Intelligent?

It is. While the old algorithm model was all about pattern matches, Hummingbird focuses on the intent of the user and the context in which the user is speaking. It attempts to understand why you asked a question, and it does this based on its knowledge of the following:

  • Search: What you have searched on in the past
  • Social: What you have liked on your social media pages
  • Location: Where you are located at the time of the search
  • History: What pages you have viewed in your past browsing history

Using this information, Hummingbird will gain insight into the meaning behind the user’s search query.

How are Marketers and SEO Companies Affected?

Because Google Hummingbird takes a more nuanced approach to analyzing search queries, those who create content for marketing purposes will now have to do the same. Rather than placing all the emphasis on generating content that ranks for specific keywords, marketers will now have to determine what questions their audiences are asking – then, create content that answers those questions. If there is optimized content on the website that doesn’t answer the questions of users, it may drop in rankings because it is no longer deemed relevant by Google.

The reason for the Hummingbird name is that the new algorithm is “precise” and “fast.” Content must meet that criteria in order to rank well after Google Hummingbird. It must be precise in its answering of questions, and it must answer them quickly. This is what marketers and SEO companies need to keep in mind while developing new content. To speak with an Austin SEO company that understands the intricacies of Google Hummingbird, contact Crest Media, Inc.


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