Google Hummingbird Update

Google Hummingbird Update

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In September 2013 Google shared its 15th birthday with the world and it also announced a major change to its search algorithm and search experience. The launch of a new algorithm – code named Hummingbird, was to affect over 90% of searches worldwide and was described by many insiders as the biggest change to the algorithm in over a decade. This announcement regarding Hummingbird made marketers very nervous as they wondered whether or not their clients’ websites would be penalised by the change to the algorithm.

However, and as Google’s Matt Cutts reminded everyone as marketers and website owners whipped themselves into a frenzy, Hummingbird had already been up and running for over a month before it was announced and nobody even noticed. So then, nothing to panic about? Well, no – not for smart content creators who have been staying on the leading edge of SEO. The main thrust of Hummingbird is that it allows Google to do a better job of handling “conversational search” queries.

Facilitating Conversational Search

As much as we have been trained to use keyboards, they are not natural human devices. Even for fast typists, they are generally considered to be awkward to use. As a result, abbreviating queries to speak to a search engine is generally an accepted practice. However, the rise of mobile devices brings with it new challenges. Typing on mobile phones and tablets is even more awkward and this will mean that users will gravitate increasingly towards voice search.

Unlike typed search queries, voice queries are a lot more likely to consist of natural language. Therefore, in order to dominate on mobile search, Google needed to build the best platform for processing conversational search queries, which Hummingbird has helped it to do. However, the job is far from complete and this is just the start for Hummingbird. Google will surely implement many more capabilities in the future, which could have huge implications for search.

Implications for Content Publishers

For content publishers, the implications of Hummingbird are a lot more straightforward. Essentially, as long as you are in the habit of publishing quality content that holds value for your readers, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Don’t expect keywords to go away entirely as the language you use will remain a key part of semantic analysis for your content. Hopefully you have already abandoned your quest to stuff as many keywords into your copy as possible.

What you really need to think about when planning and writing your content is what your target-reader wants. To work with Hummingbird you need to understand the human need and then provide that person with what they need. Get to know your audience and build your copy around their wants and needs. Hummingbird’s next step is hard to predict and where it goes from here will be driven to a large extent by technological developments. However, as a publisher, your path is clear and your best way forward is to keep on creating quality content that’s tailored to your audience. Become a recognised authority in your space and you won’t go far wrong.

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