We’re not talking about the actual bird, although they are rather pretty things….
Google has announced a new algorithm has been/is being rolled out across the interwebs. This is the first major change for the search engine behemoth in an estimated thirteen years. While Google is known for installing numerous changes throughout the year, this is a very notable overhaul. You may be familiar with different updates such as Penguin (quality link focus) and Panda (quality content focus ), which could sink your site down on pages, but if Hummingbird doesn’t agree with you, it could kill your website.
Affecting an estimated 90% of websites, Hummingbird takes aim at rewarding sites with better Google placement because they meet higher standards in quality content among other benchmarks used in search engine optimization. Back in the day (in the days of SEO, that means 2006ish), there was a different focus with SEO, one that blended link building, directory listings, content, meta data, relevant URLs, and more. While it is safe to say SEO has evolved, all these elements still had a part to play in the overall formula for SEO success. Hummingbird took these pieces, mixed them up and ultimately, placed content on a pedestal. The other pieces are still there, but much further down the list in terms of importance.
Why the major change, Google?
A major contributing factor to the Google created the Hummingbird algorithm is largely tied to the increase in smartphone usage and the technology advancement with the phones. There is still a huge use of regular desktops, laptops and tablets. With the significant increase in smartphone usage over the last few years- estimated at 61% of mobile phone users, according to a Neilsen study- Google noticed the importance of locality. Instead of making plans beforehand, we make them on the go, we make them in the car, we make them when we’re out already with friends. And we rely on our smartphones to find our prospective plans, typically within our current location or plotted destination. Because of this change, we inherently change the way we search. Instead of generically searching, we are capable of using geo-targeting for our searches, using queries such as “Chinese restaurant near me”. We are also capable of speaking our searches into our phones, making our dictation being more conversational, using queries like “Where can I find a Chinese restaurant in Grand Rapids?”
Instead of just targeting certain keywords in a query, Google has adjusted its algorithm to be more comfortable with these type of searches, narrowing in on what type of result the user wants to see in the end. When more than a few words are used, it’s referred to as “long-tail keywords”. The importance of Hummingbird using long-tail keywords is that unlike before when a keyword here ,keyword there sprinkled throughout a website’s content would suffice, your overall content now has to flow and support Google crawls with these longer phrases or sentences. Having solid, relevant content throughout your entire site is more important now than ever when it comes to search engine optimization because of this algorithm update.
Google’s ultimate goal is to know what you, the user, wants to find. When we search for more precise places, things, information, photos…in our queries, Google wants to give us more precise results. Hummingbird allows Google to make sure the results it shows match to the best of the its ability. It will be crucial to your website and every other site out there to be precise in content. If the content is not up to Hummingbird’s standards, you can definitely expect a drop in traffic and a drop from showing up on prime SERPs.
Here are a few pointers to make sure your site isn’t going to drop off the face of Google:
- Read over your content and ask yourself if it’s relevant to potential viewers?
- Are all pages associated with your site filled out with copy?
- Will the landing page a visitor finds be not only what they want, but where you would like them to be?
- Does each page have a clearly defined message?
- If you have a physical location, are you correctly identifiable on Google Maps, Google Places, Google Local?
If you have any questions about SEO, content development or anything else web related, please don’t hesitate to contact Bevelwise for help.