How the New Google Algorithm “Hummingbird” is Fantastic for Your Blog
For the past decade, any and every change to the Google algorithm has been felt by web developers everywhere. With the release of Panda, Google started to penalize sites for poor user experiences, encouraging developers to design better content while simultaneously improving search result quality.
With Penguin, the world of SEO was permanently changed when many of the loopholes that allowed web developers manipulate their content to a higher page rank were finally closed. And this is where Hummingbird comes in.
It’s been for years that Google wants to try and offer the best user experience possible by providing the most satisfying high quality search results, and just like every prior release the Google Hummingbird algorithm does just that.
But unlike previous amendments to the algorithm, Hummingbird is less about penalizing bad experiences and more about rewarding good ones.
What is Google Hummingbird?
To understand how to use Hummingbird to your advantage, you need to understand what it is in more detail. While Penguin and Panda improved search results by punishing content that was focused more on SEO than on user positive experiences, the Google algorithm Hummingbird expands Google’s ability to facilitate less formal and more conversational search queries.
Traditionally speaking, conversational type queries like “show me some photos of kittens playing” have returned worse search results than keyword based queries like “adorable kittens.” Putting the quality of searching aside for a moment, keyword oriented searches also made more sense given that people were making them with full alphanumeric keyboards.
One side effect of the rapidly growing mobile market has been a drastic increase in the value of verbal searching. Because verbal searchers are more prone to saying “show me pictures of kittens” than a verbal keyword query, there’s a clear demand for a search engine that can accommodate high quality search results for these more verbose queries.
Paired with recognition technology that continues to improve with every generation, the Google algorithm Hummingbird seems like it was an all but inevitable development.
The Effect on Google
In a single sentence, what Hummingbird does is improve Google’s ability to determine an accurate meaning of a search query out of the many potential meanings for any given word or phrase.
This allows Google to achieve a better understand the underlying intentions behind a search, and that means across the board improvements in search results.
In sum, Hummingbird allows Google to offer a better end user experience by increasing the probability of providing precisely what the searcher wants to find. There’s on more benefit worth mentioning for anyone who does business with Google AdSense.
Prior to Hummingbird, the vast majority of more the more verbose search engine queries couldn’t present advertisements to users simply because Google couldn’t make enough sense of them. When a search engine approaches a query like “show me some photos of kittens playing” from a keyword oriented point of view, it’s difficult to determine which of those six keywords is subject, what’s being said, and what to present in ad space.
But as Google improves upon its ability to understand these intentions, AdSense too will improve in its ability to connect users to what they’re looking for.
The Effect on Your Blog
There are a few things for publishers to keep in mind in the era of Hummingbird. To begin with, keywords are not going anywhere. Neither are succinct keyword-based search queries as far as the immediate future is concerned.
But just like preparing your content mobile browsing with mobile-ready or mobile-optimized sites has become a near necessity for web developers, being optimized for verbal searching may soon be just as important.
When Penguin was released, web developers had to reorient themselves towards developing quality content rather than designing in the interests of appeasing algorithms with strict keyword quotas. With Hummingbird, that fact is only redoubled.
Getting Hummingbird to work for you requires content that isn’t just high quality, but also designed to meet a very specific user demand. Someone who does a verbal search for “what are some working home remedies for the common cold” has a specific intention in mind, and in the era of Hummingbird, content designed to address that highly specific intention is what Google wants to connect users to.
In the simplest terms this means that when people ask questions, your blog content needs to provide answers.
The Readiness Test
If your content is able to present itself as relevant to a specific desire, you’re half way to being optimized for the Google algorithm Hummingbird. The next piece of the puzzle is the rising importance of semantic relevance.
As Google incorporates the ability to understand conversational-type queries, conversational-type content becomes more valuable. Specifically this means that the tone of your articles should shift away from being sterile and matter-of-fact to a more conversational tone.
Although this doesn’t mean you have to go back and re-write your old blog content, it does mean that going forward you should begin to think about the type of conversational queries that a potential reader might use in order to find whatever it is that your content can offer them.
The Big Picture
Like every major change prior to this, the Google algorithm Hummingbird managed to catch web developers somewhat off-guard. By expanding Google’s ability to serve up high quality search results in a way that few sites have even begun to optimize for, web developers now have the rare opportunity to utilize that developmental gap to their advantage.
Google is all but certain to continue on the path of Hummingbird as part of its quest to continue to raise the quality of its search results, and it should be fairly self-evident what rewards await for those who manage to get ahead of the ball.
Moreover, it’s important to understand that the Google Hummingbird algorithm change is only the first step towards a longer journey. Because Google wants to maintain supremacy in the world of search engines, they’ll inevitably continue to improve on the ability to understand these conversational queries in a way that will continue to reward content that’s ready to handle them.
This means that those who spend the effort working towards developing content for the Google algorithm Hummingbird today are likely to only be rewarded more and more with the passage of time. The early bird truly does get the worm, so take a look at your content and start to think about how you can design for conversational queries today!
How do you think you can use Google Hummingbird in your favour? Share in the comments!