In the second half of last year, Google debuted its new algorithm called “Hummingbird.” Google seems partial to animals when it comes to naming its algorithms as it has used names such as “Panda” and “Penguin” in the past. Each time Google releases an algorithm update, the company tries to make the search process more organic and natural to users. The Hummingbird update is no different.
In the past, Google searches had taken bits and pieces of keyword phrases and then associated those pieces with specific search terms. The problem was that users had to wade through pages of unrelated content before getting to the information they were looking for. Hummingbird has taken the focus off the keyword segments, and put it on the entire context of the search phrase being used. Instead of looking for keywords, Hummingbird is looking for real answers to the user’s question.
Hummingbird incorporates all of the best features of Penguin, Panda, and all of the other previous Google algorithms. Back links are still valuable and keywords will still bring good search results. SEO marketing experts will still need to make sure that they do not load content with keywords just to improve search results. The biggest change is that now Google will search an entire document and, if necessary, an entire website to find the right results for the user. Website marketing experts will need to develop more comprehensive content strategies to get good results.
Before Hummingbird was introduced, most SEO agencies tried to keep their keyword phrases to three words or less. The way Google looked for content made longer keyword phrases impractical. Long tail keywords are keyword phrases that are longer than the standard three words and almost resemble complete sentences. With Hummingbird, the long tail keywords that were abandoned years ago are going to make a comeback and become important parts of SEO strategies all over the Internet.
Before Hummingbird, a user looking for places to buy a red shirt using Google would get results that ranged from information on the Red Cross to retailers that sold red shoes. Eventually, the user would find his red shirt, but the adventure seemed unnecessary. Hummingbird takes a look at the entire search query and tries to act in a more intuitive manner to bring back useful results. The hope is that the user would get his red shirt information long before seeing any information on the Red Cross.
The Hummingbird algorithm searches a website’s content to find out exactly what the website has to offer users. Instead of being able to get Google’s attention with a few cleverly placed keywords, the SEO marketing expert will have to develop a comprehensive content strategy that tells Google what the website offers and why it has value to users. The SEO marketing expert will still use keywords and other popular SEO tactics to drive traffic, but the traffic should consist of people who actually want what the website has to offer.
Google is constantly looking for new ways to improve the experience that its users have online. People who have experience with Google’s Conversational Search project know that Google values context over keywords. Hummingbird is Google’s latest attempt to create a search engine that finds answers based on what users really need, as opposed to rewarding websites for being able to strategically place keywords throughout their content. In the end, it means that SEO marketing experts will have to get to know their customers better in order to create detailed content plans that will improve search engine rankings.