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.
- 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.
- Ensure that your content addresses specific wants and needs of your intended audience
- Adapt your keyword strategy for conversational queries
- 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.
- Try to get links from the same web sources as you competition does.
- Better optimize your anchor text. Over optimization is not tolerated by Google so make sure to scan your site and change that.
- 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.