If you’re a savvy internet user, chances are you’ve heard the buzz surrounding Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update. Hummingbird is designed to now handle more complex search queries, enhancing Google’s ability to understand the meaning between complete phrases and word combinations, rather than just specific keywords. The algorithm update focuses greatly on Google’s Knowledge Graph, which is an enormous encyclopedia that houses more than 570,000,000 concepts and relationships, allowing Google to associate with your search queries. This change in Google’s algorithm is the largest since 2001, and affects 90% of all searches. Hummingbird is Google’s answer to the changing way people are using search engines.
Are Keywords Dead?
Absolutely not, keywords are still a relevant and useful metric when creating content, but marketers should consider optimizing for audiences and user experience rather than just keywords. The main goal of the algorithm update is to deliver the most relevant results, faster.
Hummingbird relies on a more advanced knowledge graph, which allows Google to do comparisons and add filters, resulting in more accurate search results.
It is important to keep in mind that Hummingbird is putting more emphasis on context, rather than individual keywords. With the ability to now understand entire phrases and questions, it’s not a bad idea to keep this in mind when producing content.
What Is A Knowledge Graph?
The knowledge graph allows Google to search past simple keywords and links to determine what to show in search results. Instead, Knowledge graph allows Google to understand the relationships between many things, which allows Google to answer complex queries, like the example shown in the graphic above. Knowledge Graphs is hands-down one of the biggest components found in Hummingbird, and just the beginning of more advanced search.
Hummingbird is designed to understand conversational language better than it once previously did, and strive to understand the users’ intention and what exactly they are searching for. Hummingbird allows Google to understand full questions more quickly, in order to identify and rank answers to those questions from indexed content. These types of conversational searches have become a huge driver in the type of searches people are commonly making, and Hummingbird provides much better results to accommodate these requests. As users’ are searching for more specific phrases and conversational sentences, Hummingbird focuses on users’ intent by answering these questions. In the past, rankings were generally decided around generic keywords, such as “Smartphone “, whereas now more people are searching for, “Where can I find the best priced Smartphone?”
Will This Change SEO?
In a way yes, but for the most part, Hummingbird should help sites that have a content strategy and high quality content. However, it is likely that SEO will evolve just as the way people search has evolved. Hummingbird is not the end of SEO as we know it! Instead, it’s vital to continue producing original, high quality content, and pursuing high quality back links. Guidance still remains the same, and the same signals that have been important still remain important. Hummingbird is just merely a new way for Google to process everything to produce better quality search results for you, the user. If you have original, high quality content, and you’re still pursuing relevant, high quality websites to link back to you, then Hummingbird should not impact your rankings in any negative way. Hummingbird should improve your rankings, just as they should have after Penguin and Panda rolled out of the Google Zoo.
What Do Brands and Online Businesses Need to Do?
Websites need to keep providing their users with quality, engaging, and shareable content. As SEO seems to become less about keyword data and more about engagement, high quality content that is helpful, relevant and conversational should help sites be successful with Hummingbird. The three most important tips to keep your website Hummingbird friendly aren’t too much different from current SEO best practices:
- Create high quality, engaging, and 100% unique content.
- Focus less on keyword volume, and more on conversational tone.
- Have a well-rounded marketing strategy that delivers a clear message to your user.