Google celebrated its 15th birthday in the same garage where Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded what’s now the world’s largest search-engine. It was only fitting that, from there, they announced the website’s latest update, a search algorithm called Hummingbird.
What is Hummingbird?
Perhaps Google chose the name because the hummingbird is able to flap its wings 80 times per second—their new search engine is just as efficient. The site’s developers know that people no longer search for words like “football” or “movies.”
Instead, they ask their search engine questions as they’d say them out loud: “Who should I bench in week four of Fantasy Football?” or “What movie would my 10-year-old daughter like?” While its predecessor focused on keywords in a search, Hummingbird is better prepared to find sites that match the complete idea behind these types of queries.
Alongside Hummingbird, Google will also incorporate the use of voice commands, a particularly relevant development for the countless number of users who pull up the search engine on their phones. The newest rollout of voice commands shows off the system’s smarts.
Let’s say you search for “Clarity Way Rehab.” Even if you change your stream of questions—what types of rehabilitation programs are available, for example—it remembers the subject or location of your initial search, and filters results based on their relevance to it. They also have an improved app for iOS users coming soon.
What Does the Hummingbird Update Really Mean?
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all revealed during this press conference was that Hummingbird has been in action for a little over a month. Considering it’s the site’s most extensive update to their algorithm in 12 years, many website owners and bloggers have worried that the changes may have unknowingly affected their site’s searchability.
The good news is that the effectiveness of a website’s SEO shouldn’t change much, so long as a site’s content was original, authentic, and high-quality to begin with. While older search engines would fall for computer-generated SEO copy—comprised almost entirely of keywords—Hummingbird flits in the other direction. In fact, these old tactics are set to be phased out by the new system.
It seems as though Google is saying louder than ever that rich content is number one; it won’t show its users anything less than the best. And it’s comforting to know that a company as large as Google isn’t resting on its status, either; their team continues to pool their vast amount of knowledge in order to find exactly what their users need, each and every time they search.
Along with the Hummingbird update came Google Now and Now Cards. In order to give the most relevant answers in the search engine, Google is focusing on providing current results.
This is great if your company is local but it doesn’t affect blogs unless you hold events. If you do hold events, I suggest making your “accept invite” emails compatible with Gmail’s calendar. Google will bring up relevant Now Cards in the search results page based on calendar events and Google+ events with relevant searches for that person.
Besides adjusting for Now Cards and keeping your quality high, in a few months you can do one more thing to make sure your rankings stay high. Simply type into Google, “site:www.yoursite.com keyword-here” to find out how you are ranking for your main keywords. Hummingbird will probably adjust your rankings a little due to how they feel your site matches certain keyword phrases.
How to Stay in Google’s Good Books:
1) Always use quality copy. This means you need to have a strategic keyword mapping report, 1-2% keyword density, and in an easy to read format.
2) Think of the searcher. When coming up with a topic, go to Ubersuggest.org, Ask.com, or Google Trends to find topics that people are wanting to know more about. With Google’s Hummingbird update, even a smaller site can rise in the ranks if the topic relevant and current to the user’s query.
3) Get social. While I don’t really expound on how social impacts your rankings above, being active on social media really does influence traffic to your site. Google particularly favors its own social platform Google+ when it comes to rankings in the SERPs.