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Hummingbird: Google's Organic Search Update

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By Macy Fackrell, Cross Channel Coordinator, Red Door Interactive

The Hummingbird Algorithm has changed the way that Google understands “conversational” queries and how they match those searches to relevant results. If you have original, high-quality content, and you have relevant websites linking to you, then your website is still going to rank well after this change.

What is Hummingbird?

Hummingbird is a completely new search algorithm that affects 90 percent of all searches on Google. The biggest impact will be seen on longer (four+ word) search queries. Rather than just examining each individual word in a search, Google is now examining the searcher’s query as a whole, and processing the meaning behind it. As a result, Google is rewarding sites that have better content that matches the intent of the query, over sites that have less useful content with text that matches the exact query. So, for instance, a user could type a query like, “which is better for cooking gas or electric stove.”   hummingbird2  
In the past, Google may have returned a low-quality result that had that exact phrase in the page text.  Now, with Hummingbird, Google could interpret that query as relevant to pages that contain a myriad of other related words like “difference, ”comparison,” “pros/cons,” “range,” “cooktop.” They are also narrowing the intent of this long question-based query down to “Gas vs. Electric Range.” Hummingbird is about taking long-tail, conversational searches and serving results as if they were clear short-phrase searches.- Ammon Johns Using keywords in your page text is still important. But rather than using the same keyword phrase repeatedly (particularly long-tail phrases), it is important to use semantically related keywords that will help Google understand the contextual relevance of your content.

How to adjust your SEO strategy for Google, Post-Hummingbird:

  • Identify intent, needs and problems via persona development and customer journey mapping.
  • Create a comprehensive library of evergreen content that is relevant to informational searches (not just transactional searches from people looking to immediately purchase).
    • For instance, if you want to rank for “What is the best cooktop for gourmets,” then you should provide content like buying guides, consumer reviews, expert opinion, reliability, design, and feature descriptions.
  • Use modifiers or semantically related terms/phrases, instead of just repeating the same phrase.
  • Utilize schema.org mark-up, where appropriate, to provide structured data to the search engines.
  • Create a Google+ page, develop a relevant following, and share high-quality content there.
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