Google Hummingbird is the newest update of the world’s most popular search engine to the algorithm. But Hummingbird was no mere algorithm change. It was an entirely new algorithm, a new way for Google to pull search results from its vast database of information on the web. While the previous updates to the algorithm affected only a small percentage of search results, it is estimated that Hummingbird has affected nearly 90% of results. That’s a big deal, especially if you consider when Google Panda (another algorithm update) was released in 2011, it “reportedly affected the rankings of almost 12 percent of all search results,” according to Wired magazine.
Despite this large effect, many people are puzzled by what the update actually did. Here is a look at some of the ways that Google Hummingbird affects search results.
Build Content for Personas, not Keywords
Many websites have been structured, built, and written around keywords (Many websites mean all websites :D). Title tags have been optimized for specific keywords, and content has been written around them (remember “keyword density”).
All that has not completely gone away, but to embrace Hummingbird, and what’s coming behind it, a content marketer should shift from keyword optimization to customer intent. Using personas is an excellent way to do that.
A growing percentage of search queries on Google are performed on mobile devices. Previously, the increased popularity of mobile searching meant that Google had to improve the way that it handled short phrases that aren’t concerned with grammar. The algorithm had to be designed that way because people do not want to type as much on a mobile keyboard. However, the last few generations of smartphones and tablet computers have made it common for people to input search queries by speaking rather than by typing. When speaking, people are much more likely to enter their queries the way that they would speak to another person. Hummingbird is designed to give much more relevant results for these kinds of queries.
What Semantic Search vs. Keyword Search Looks Like
There are some simple examples of this you’ll recognize immediately, and that will also show you how long the underpinnings of Hummingbird have been around.
If someone searches “pizza” (so keyword based search engine gets a query for “pizza”). It might give back pizza recipes, the history of pizza, or the best SEO-optimized pizza restaurant website. A semantic based search engine will do the following.
Analyze the words in the query to try to figure out what they user wants. For instance, any mention of ingredients is a strong clue that the searcher wants a recipe.
Know the user’s search history, and therefore know whether she is likely to click on recipe links or restaurant links.
Know the user’s location, and thus know the nearest, best-optimized pizza restaurant website.
Google is continually tweaking its search engine to deliver better results to its users. The Hummingbird update makes it easier for people to find the content that they want with less hassle and fewer misleading links. If your top priority is providing your audience with the best content possible, you will not have to tweak your strategy to find success with Google Hummingbird.
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