Hummingbird – Google’s Way of Keeping SEO Marketers on Their Toes.

Google Hummingbird

Google’s very popular Hummingbird update is a hot topic in marketing circles right now. As a content manager, I find myself constantly trying to decipher the technical rules and algorithms that Google keeps changing; always looking for a steady, organised system of managing my clients’ content. After a couple of years of trying to understand the technicalities of the WWW, I’ve learned that marketing is no walk in the park.

In August 2013, Google launched a very complicated algorithm change that completely transformed the way websites are seen in Google search results. Most marketers fear the change as it is fast and precise, just like its namesake- and it changes regularly; thus forcing us to change all of our strategies of onsite and offsite content along with it.

As it is the biggest algorithm change in the history of Google, I have decided to look into the Hummingbird update. Firstly, I must state that Google’s updates are not all that bad… If we pay close attention to changing trends and act proactively to any updates and changes Google throws our way, Hummingbird can spin in our favour.

Now that you have a vague idea of why Starbright marketers have a complicated relationship with the Hummingbird updates, here’s everything you need to know:

What is Hummingbird?

Before Google released the Hummingbird update, search algorithms were based on two main factors:

  1. Keywords
  2. Keyword phrases

Back then, making sure content was SEO friendly might not have been too challenging for SEO content creators; however, people searching for information on Google were becoming frustrated because they were not finding the relevant information they were looking for. Google then stepped in and

…. Dun, dun, dun…

created Hummingbird!

The extremely smart Hummingbird update reads the entire phrase typed into Google and determines the relevance of the word in the sweep of the search. Now people can find the information they’re looking for easily, which is even more useful when it comes to searching the web from a mobile device.  People are now also able to use more conversational search terms to find the information they’re looking for.

How Smart is Google?

Have you ever played Jacaranda’s Googlebox? Well, basically, the radio DJ types a couple of words into the Google search box, and the other people in the studio have to guess which words follow the phrase that is typed in. So, how does Google read your mind?

This is where we actually see the almost omniscient powers of Google. Instead of just throwing out results based on the keywords typed into search, Google rather focuses on semantic search – determining the intent of the user and striving to present the most accurate and relevant content.

For example, Google predicts that most people searching for the term “restaurants” are not looking for a definition, but, more likely, places to eat. Obviously, if Google does not provide the information you need immediately, you can type in longer phrased keywords.


How do We Comply?

Website pages, especially ones developed back in the day, will probably be outdated and therefore not rank on Google as well as it should. For this reason, we believe in the importance of optimising pages for Google Hummingbird – and it’s so simple! The main elements that constitute a good website (in terms of content) are: useful, interesting content and a great overall website experience. To achieve a good website that Google approves of, do the following:

  • Mix up the length of your content – short and long articles are both useful
  • Use infographics, charts, graphs, videos and other visual elements to spice up your content
  • Use industry- appropriate language in the content
  • Add schema markup to your website pages to help Google better understand your content

Read more on WordStream

What Can We Expect in the Future?

Hummingbird, also known as the mind reading algorithm, will definitely keep on changing the future of search for, what I think, the better. We can expect a steer towards voice and mobile search as well as finding answers for very specific search querries, which will be an exciting change for the way digital marketers present content!

Contact Starbright’s SEO team to keep up with the latest SEO and content trends.

For more information, read:

How Google Hummingbird Really Works: What We Learned by Analyzing 9.93 Million Words of Content

Hummingbird Content Marketing

Should You Change Your SEO Strategy Because of Google Hummingbird?