Google hummingbird algorithm

What Does Google Hummingbird Mean For Blogging

On October 3rd, 2013 Google unleashed the Hummingbird, a very significant revamp of its search algorithm. In essence, Google pretty well overhauled the ways online queries are answered. In this article we’ll look what does Google hummingbird mean for blogging.
Google Hummingbird algorithm is a vast improvement for the different searchers, but it requires that bloggers change their thinking when blogging and when they want to improve their rankings.

There have been a number of Google algorithm changes over the past few years. There was Penguin and Panda which created a havoc in the online community. These changes were aimed at cleaning up the garbage which has infested and overtaken the SERPs. These changes were penalty based and many online marketers justly or unjustly lost their livelihoods. Hummingbird is different.

What Is Google Hummingbird Algorithm

Google Hummingbird algorithm change is vastly different from the previous algorithm updates. As a matter of fact hummingbird is a completely different animal (no pun intended). Unlike the other two, Panda and Penguin, this one is not meant to be punitive. It affects about 90% of searches and because of that, most webmasters have not even realized that changes have taken place, at least not for now.

Simply put, Hummingbird algorithm represents a change of the way search engines respond to online queries. It came to life in an effort to allow the search engines “understand” the true meaning behind the search question. Understanding the true meaning of a question is very important.

Google Hummingbird algorithm allows the searcher use real words and phrases. Rather than search engine picking up bits and pieces, as is the case of keywords, the search engine analyzes the whole phrase and provides the SERPs in the context. Google wants to address what the searcher really wants, rather than spewing out results as if in a vacuum.

This is very important given that Google is so omnipresent. It knows what we are doing, where we are at, and now they will know what you mean when you type in the query.


As well, the number of mobile users is steadily rising and these users love conversational queries, or questions asked in the typical conversational mode. In addition, soon asking (voice recognition) rather than typing the queries will be commonplace and certainly then the user will ask the question in a conversational way. Google is getting ready.

Here is an example of before and now results, I borrowed from Danny Sullivan:

A search for “pay your bills through citizens bank and trust bank” used to bring up the home page for Citizens Bank but now should return the specific page about paying bills

The new version is much better because it is directly related to the question.

How Does Google Hummingbird Algorithm Affect Bloggers

Up until now many of us adhered to acceptable SEO practices that included keyword research and optimization of the site for those keywords. Suddenly, this is a whole new ballgame. One cannot optimize for keywords because that is not what the search engines are looking for. And you cannot optimize for contextual queries because as bloggers, we are in a vacuum since we don’t know the context yet.

So it is a difficult position because as a blogger I can no longer safely find a term which has a quantifiable search volume and has a quantifiable competition. A blogger does nor really know which keywords to go after if she wants to make some progress in SERPs.

Google analytics is of not much help either. Surely you have noticed in you GA reports that for some time now a number of the searches are not identifiable. The SEO experts suggest that they represent contextual searches.

What Can A Blogger Do To Make Sure She Does Not Become Extinct (With Respect To SERP’s)

I came across an article by SEO Power Suite that did a great job in explaining the strategies. Here I will just summarize the key points but I urge you to visit their site for more comprehensive information.

  1. Make sure to produce amazing content worthy of an authority. Your content should not just scratch the surface it needs to be more in-depth.
  2. Ensure that your content addresses specific wants and needs of your intended audience
  3. Adapt your keyword strategy for conversational queries
  4. Leverage synonyms and co-occurring terms. In this case, for example, do not just use exact phrases but use synonyms and related phrases as well.
  5. Try to get links from the same web sources as you competition does.
  6. Better optimize your anchor text. Over optimization is not tolerated by Google so make sure to scan your site and change that.
  7. Include structured data markup. What that means is that you should include rich snippets for your site, authorship, Google+ and so on.

With the direction Google is going, and I am sure that Hummingbird algorithm is only the beginning. Searches are, and will continue to be, completely overhauled to provide the user with the best and most accurate search results. If we, as bloggers want to be part of this change and part of the SERPs we need to rethink our blogging techniques to keep up with the times.

Let me know what do you think of the Google Hummingbird algorithm update and how do you think it will affect blogging.


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0 Responses to What Does Google Hummingbird Mean For Blogging

  1. David Hood November 6, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    SEO has conditioned the mind on how the search engine works and oftentimes, emphasis is given on keywords. The new algorithm is a reminder of what Google wants- quality content. We are too consumed write for the search engine that we forgot that we should write for the readers.
    David Hood recently posted…Don’t Throw Away Another Marketing Dollar! 7 Things You Must Know Before You Buy SEOMy Profile

    • Dita Irvine November 8, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      Hi David,
      I guess we will have to use “keywords” as topics. I always concern myself with keywords but I don’t worry about density, and all that outdated stuff. I always think about them as topics for my discussion. So they are only guidelines for me. Then I try to write as best as I can about the topic, which I always hope will help someone who is searching for this topic or someone who is reading my blog.
      Dita Irvine recently posted…Your Blog Content Is Still The King: Hummingbird Makes It Even More SoMy Profile

  2. Paul Henderson November 3, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    Hi Dita,

    it’s a very interesting post about a very interesting change to the search algorithm. My first thought is.. “why wasn’t it done like this in the first place”, as it would appear to be an obvious choice for Google, and would have encouraged people to write quality, well written stuff from the beginning as opposed to the keyword stuffed dribble that we all too often see.

    For most serious bloggers, I don’t see Hummingbird making too much difference. If they continue to write quality content, it MUST do well in the serps.

    But as GG above says, there isn’t exactly much else they can use right now as a guideline for content anyway as it’s all so up in the air.

    It’ll be interesting to see how people react to it once it’s had a chance to settle down.

    Cheers for now 🙂

    Paul Henderson recently posted…The Tortoise and The HareMy Profile

    • Dita Irvine November 4, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Hi Paul,

      I think that Google intended to do this for a long time. But, I am sure you can imagine that to design an algorithm like, Hummingbird, would take many man hours. It is the right thing to do. There was so much crap on the first pages of the search result and it was not right. A searcher is there to find quality answers and not a lot of worthless junk.

      So this long overdue change is a very good move for all, the reader and the serious blogger.

  3. Adrienne October 31, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Hi Dita,

    I know I sound like a broken record on all these posts that have shared the changes with Google’s Hummingbird update but it’s how I feel. I’m just so glad that they finally went this direction and it’s something I think they should have been doing all along.

    I still get search engine traffic to my blog and I don’t do any keyword research. Not anymore but I still get traffic because what I’m writing about people are searching for. They’re searching for answers so when they type in their questions they’re finally going to start getting some good results.

    I hope they continue down this road and improve it even more. I guess we’ll see with their next update right!

    Thanks for sharing and Happy Halloween.


    • Dita Irvine November 4, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      Hi Adrienne,

      I still do some keyword research before I start on any new series of article (or I should say, if I don’t do any keyword research is because I know what I want to cover when I write). But for me the keyword research helps me structure my post or give me a bit of a “guideline” so I don’t go off the topic and lose direction. I don’t really care about number of keyword in my post and other such outdated practices.

      With respect to the new algorithm change, I completely agree, it was long overdue. As I mentioned in my reply to Paul, it just took them a long time, because it was not an easy system to develop.
      Dita Irvine recently posted…Google’s Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda: What’s Next – A Little Humor [Infographic]My Profile

  4. Jude October 31, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    Hello Dita,

    Good timing for me to read your post. I am embarking on building a new website and the information you have provided will definitely help me rethink my SEO strategy.

    I prefer using natural phrasing as the search terms because I relate to that concept more readily, so I think what Google has done with this is a good thing for bloggers.

    Do you think this affects adding your keywords with premium CommentLuv. I just upgraded to Premium but don’t have the keywords set up yet on my site. I see you allow 3 keywords – is there a limitation of the length of each phrase – just wondering?

    Also how did you get the twitter field above the comment box. No matter what I’ve tried, I haven’t been able to install it anywhere but at the end, after a comment has been made, and I have tried all of Andy’s suggestions!


    Thanks for the great share,

    Jude recently posted…The Road to Financial Self-RelianceMy Profile

    • Dita Irvine November 4, 2013 at 11:09 am #

      Hey Jude (could not resist as I love that Beatles song),

      With respect to your new site, whenever I set up a new site I do take SEO into consideration in a sense that at I choose my niche and a few categories from that niche and I at first revolve my posts around those categories. This give the bots an idea and an overall feel for your site. Once that’s over, I do not overly optimize. I know what I want to write about, and I write from my heart (and research, of course).

      With respect to commentluv. I did not do much I just kind of went with the suggested setting and that is how it all came out. I was going to suggest that you contact Andy, but you did that already. I wonder if your theme may be interfering. The other person that may give you some clarification is Adrienne (check some of the comment to get to her site). Hope you will resolve that.

      Lastly with respect to the 3 keywords, there is some limitation to the length. It is limited to 3 words not 3 keyword phrases.

  5. The Great Gordino October 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    I think it’s more about different models. The SEO ‘game’ was more about people who wanted to set up small automated sites, and lots of them.
    If you write consistently about the same subjects, your keywords will be in the content, as will the latent semantic indexing, i.e using related words/phrases.

    I agree it always helps to define some keywords for Google and the others, but playing the seo game never appealed to me – with mass competition is can get almost impossible, and with low competition, your content will indeed be enough.

    it will be interesting to see just how many ‘hummingbird workaround’ products spring up, eh?
    The Great Gordino recently posted…Goal Achievement – The Right Place At The Wright Time!My Profile

    • Dita Irvine November 4, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Hi Gordon,

      I don’t see how people could come up with software that will come up with “hummingbird workaround”, as you put it. This is a different ball game. You can’t get into peoples mind unless you have the technology of a giant like Google. So it comes down to what publishing good and meaningful content, aimed at solving a problem in one way or other, for the reader. And, if we want to show up in SERPS, this is our obligation.

      But you, me, and many of the commenter on this series of post know that and have been doing it already.

      • The Great Gordino November 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

        Indeed. I’ve always cringed when I’ve seen so called ‘content’ which has clearly been published to try and play the search engines rather than offer anything to a reader!
        The Great Gordino recently posted…Goal Achievement – Hooray For Hedy!My Profile

  6. The Great Gordino October 30, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Interesting post Dita!
    I’ve always thought that blog content should be genuinely there to satisfy visitors, that if it does that, the SEO results come anyway.

    I think that anyone doing this before hummingbird will only see benefits, and they should have been doing it all along in the first place!
    The Great Gordino recently posted…Goal Achievement – The Right Place At The Wright Time!My Profile

    • Dita Irvine October 30, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      Hi Gordon,

      You are right, we always need to write for our readers and most of us do. But you also have to do a certain amount of SEO to be “found” by search engines. Imagine that you will just write something, even if relevant to your readers, how will the search engines find it if you don’t help them a little. If you have no links in the article, if you do not have any keywords in it at all how can the bots identify it? The bots check your site, check your internal links and all the other stuff so they can index you or “reference” you for later use. How can they do that if you don’t give them a starting point and show them the relationship that your post has within your blog (that is done by interlinking) and the overall theme. You don’t have to do anything if you are not at all relying on Google search now or in the future.

      I know that this explanation is very simplistic, but think about it. Millions of people may be writing on the same topic as you, so how are you going to be found. Content alone, no matter how good it is, is not going to do it alone.