You may have noticed some changes recently when you search using Google and more importantly, you may have seen some changes in your website rankings in relevant searches. This is down to the release of Google’s newest and arguably most significant update in recent years, the Hummingbird algorithm.
Hummingbird was announced on 3rd October 2013 and is being slowly drip-fed to us. Google have been coy so far with giving much information, however some of the most major changes are expected this December. With a massive 90% of searches affected by this change, it’s important that those in the SEO field, and anyone with a vested interest in search engine results, are familiar with these changes in order to stay ahead of the competition.
So what is the Hummingbird algorithm and how will it affect you?
In a nutshell, Google are moving away from keyword-based searches (also known as scattered keyword centric queries) towards more ‘natural language’ queries and questions (also known as personalised long-tailed queries). Traditionally, people have searched from their desktop using keywords; if your online material matched the keyword search, you would rank in the search results. However this approach meant certain words were ignored and the relationship of the words to each other weren’t taken into account. The advent of voice control search from mobile devices has caused Google to re-evaluate this strategy. When people search using speech, they don’t tend to abbreviate to keywords, but instead form sentences and ask questions. Hummingbird aims to more fully understand the intent of the search by spoken ‘natural language’ queries and offer a more focused search result.
Online publishing strategies will inevitably have to change to continue to rank highly. The addition of content to answer specific question to websites such as FAQ pages, having mobile-friendly sites and the posting of unique and interesting information will all be important strategies to implement. High quality copy, as always, will be key. In short, it’s all about understanding your audience, a key requirement for any successful business, and translating this to your online content.
Here at K2L, we are endeavouring to keep up with the changes that Hummingbird brings and are working hard to keep our clients’ websites ranking highly in relevant searches. Keywords aren’t going to disappear overnight but we need to embrace these changes now.