Hummingbird is the Word
No, this blog post isn’t about the hummingbird, nature’s tiniest avian rascal (a detail that wasn’t fully explained to me when I first received this blogging assignment. Did you know that a hummingbird’s average heart rate is over 1,200 beats per minute? I do now.). I’m actually here to tell you all about Google Hummingbird, the web search giant’s latest algorithm update. What does this mean for you, both as a die hard Googler and a savvy digital marketer? Flutter on to find out!
From the end user’s standpoint, the Hummingbird algorithm is expanding upon something that Google calls Conversational Search. Moving forward, this could potentially put an end to the standard “search engine speak” that we’ve been trained to use ever since our first Google search. This means, that instead of typing in short, keyword soaked bursts, you can type out full, natural sentences, just as if you were talking to a real human being. Google will take your entire search query into consideration and put it into context, instead of attempting to serve you a webpage that matches each individual word of your query. You no longer need to type out you type out requests like every day is Talk Like a Caveman Day. For example, rather than using searches like “best restaurant Davenport” or “iPhone case cheap”, you can structure them more conversationally like “what are some good restaurants near me?” or “show me some cheap iPhone cases”. Much better, right? This is also a huge bonus as Google continues to roll out voice search on mobile devices. The update allows you to speak your searches the way you, ya know, speak.
In fact, Google’s Chief of Search (yes, that’s a real job title), Amit Singhal, revealed that this update was created to address an emerging trend in users’ search queries. He explained, "The change needed to be done, because people have become so reliant on Google that they now routinely enter lengthy questions into the search box instead of just a few words related to specific topics.” See? Google knows what you want even before you do!
All of these updates are fantastic features for end users, but where does it leave us digital marketers? Has Google put keywords as we know them out to pasture? Are your current SEO efforts still going to bring relevant users to your digital doorstep? While it’ll be a chilly day in heck when Google lets anyone outside their inner circle take a peek at their heavily guarded algorithm, odds are, you should not be affected. As long as you were following good SEO tactics before, you’re still just fine in Google’s book. Why? Because the basics still hold true; quality content, healthy linking structure, and pagerank all still matter. If you have been using white hat techniques as discussed here, then you have nothing to worry about.
It all boils down to one point that we have been stressing to clients for ages; write web content for people, not search engines. Thanks to Hummingbird, your top-notch, user-focused web content is going to become even more lucrative as time rolls on. Now that Skynet, ahem I mean Google, is becoming smarter and more conversational, your smart and conversational web content will be an even bigger benefit to your SERP rankings in the future.
We raise a glass of florescent sugar water to you, Google Hummingbird!