Google has released Hummingbird as its new algorithm, making it not just another update like Panda or Penguin, but a completely new engine that will affect how your business achieves ranking in search results.
On the eve of Google’s 15th anniversary in September, Google announced their newest search engine algorithm in the form of Hummingbird. This new algorithm incorporates features that Wired has stated will affect 90 percent of all searches to make search more “human friendly” by “understand[ing] user’s intent to deliver more relevant results and better answers.” Through Hummingbird, your website content is more crucial to your SEO than ever as your search ranking depends on the manner in which you inform and provide your website visitors with answers to their search queries.
How is Hummingbird different from previous Google updates?
Unlike Google’s Panda Update of 2011 and Penguin Update of 2012, Hummingbird is a completely new engine. Both Panda and Penguin functioned as search filtering updates by punishing websites that ranked based on keyword stuffing and link spamming, which were problems associated with the Caffeine algorithm launched in 2010.
Since then, however, Google has made its mission, according to MOZ, to create “not a newer optimization of the indexation process” using search phrases and keywords, but rather an “evolution of natural language recognition,” as the means to deliver better search results. Through the Hummingbird algorithm, Google undergoes website crawling for quality content and usability – they now want to see that you are answering search queries by “topical optimization” not “keyword optimization.”
What exactly is being changed?
Specifically, Google’s Hummingbird boils down to one key feature change: conversational search. Hummingbird, in SearchEngineLand’s words, will “better focus on the meaning behind the words…ensuring that the whole query is taken into account, rather than particular words.” This will be accomplished by incorporating the tools of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which interprets natural language in order to make educated guesses to deliver answers, not just links, based on comparison graphs and factoid data.
Hummingbird also will be utilizing technology made Google’s mobile search tools exemplified by Voice Search. Copyblogger explained that “voice queries are far more likely to fall into the pattern of… natural language queries,” meaning that they prompt results based on conversational searches. If you are already creating website content that speaks the language of your prospective customers, then your website can and will be processed successfully by this new search algorithm.
What does this mean for the future of SEO?
In terms of your online marketing strategy for search engine optimization, this new algorithm indicates that you should be focused on content creation and website optimization more than ever to achieve search ranking. Subsequently, SEM (Search Engine Marketing) has expanded into becoming what Forbes calls “The New SEO” of targeted content marketing by which “your site and/or blog is constantly updated with fresh, relevant, credible and engaging content delivered on multiple media platforms.” This includes consistency across your digital advertising, email marketing, and social media marketing in addition to search engine marketing content.
All in all, Hummingbird will reward websites that not only include the key language used in search queries, but also presents answers to users’ questions across your online presence with accessible content that has semantic relevance. In order to achieve a positive search engine ranking and reach your business goals, prioritize your website content as a means to successfully market your website to your prospective customers and Google’s new algorithm.