How Google Hummingbird Update Affects Website Ranking

In an ever changing digital world, old technologies quickly become obsolete. As the online marketing world becomes increasingly sophisticated and data packed, faster processing is needed to crunch through all that daily cyber information exchange.

So during August 2013, with the official announcement taking place on September 2013, Google rolled out the little hummingbird with amazing speed. The infamous algorithm update is like an improved system that enhances Google’s search functions to process billions of webpages.

What is a Google Hummingbird Update?

What Google Hummingbird does for Google is to better interpret user search queries entered and output more accurate search results. Imagine Google was a car running on a V6 engine and now swapping it out for a more powerful V12. That’s a big difference in efficiency.

Essentially, that is what the hummingbird algorithm is all about. It equips Google with a bigger and faster search engine to return more efficient search results for users.

Examples of Google Hummingbird

Google wants to better identify and understand “conversational search” in their search queries and return the most accurate information. This just means that Google is thinking and speaking better in more conversational or natural language.

Hummingbird focuses on returning the best conversational search results by looking deeper into the meaning behind each keyword searched.

For example:

  • Say you are looking for cookies around your office. You type into Google "best cookies in Los Angeles, CA". Google will interpret it as bakeries or restaurants in the location you specified instead of turning up information about different types of cookies.
  • Now let’s try again with "how to start a business". Google will display to you a module called "direct answers" at the top of the query page. It will give you an instant, brief answer to your question about how to start a business.

How Google Hummingbird Affects SEO

So how does the hummingbird algorithm affect website owners and their SEO campaigns? The short answer is it affects everything that has to do with your website’s content.

Hummingbird helps websites that produce authoritative, expert, and trustworthy content be found relatively quicker, even if the content is a few days old. Google values content that accurately answers user inquiries.

In general, thin content provides very little significance to visitors and to search engines. If you have content with little value or have been using keyword schemes to trick the system, then you are hanging on a thin thread.

5 Advantage of Google Hummingbird Update for Better SEO

Don’t think of algorithms as a penalty. Instead, make it work to improve your website ranking. Here are 5 tweaks you can make on your website right now to make Google Hummingbird work to your advantage.

1. Improve Website’s Linking Structure

How you structure your website’s internal links and architecture affect the end user experience. When you direct users to additional content through internal links, you potentially improve ROI (Return on Investment) by extending page views to other parts of the website.

Create easy-to-follow website architecture so your audience can also easily navigate and locate the content they are looking.

2. Optimize On-Page Elements

On-page elements are your title, H1 tags, ALT image tags, and page URL elements. Make a continuous effort to update these, because they still play an essential role in SEO ranking with or without algorithm update.

Add Schema markups to Meta tags, title, and body to tell Google what each element of your website is about. Schema.org helps you to identify the types of content that can be marked up. For example, reviews, articles, product pricing, and corporate information.

3. Find New Opportunities with Content

Google Hummingbird essentially opens more doors to websites that publish a lot of quality content. Content can be blogs, videos, infographics, white papers, statistical charts, or any types of visuals just to name a few.

The Hummingbird update actually helps businesses to step out of their keyword-stuffing mode and really focus on delivering quality content for a better user experience.

4. Include Long-tail Keywords

Although we are against overloading webpages with anchor text and keywords, it is still important to keyword-optimize content appropriately for SEO purposes. Include Long-tail keywords within content. They are phrases made up of three or more words. These are the keyword gems hummingbirds hunt for in search queries.

In other words, with keyword research done properly, Hummingbird can strengthen your organic ranking status.

5. Be on Google’s Direct Answers

Google provides answers to the questions that users enter into search. The best-matched answer is displayed on top of the search results page through the Direct Answer module. This answer is pulled from a website that Google thinks best answers the user inquiry.

google hummingbird update

Direct Answers are generally high level answers. Best types of questions for this module are questions with definite answers such as mathematical questions, weather, and history.

If your content contains this question and answer format, you have the opportunity to be listed in Google’s Direct Answer. Note it is in the first position on the very top of first-page search results. Take advantage of this prime location to win ranking.

Preparing Your Website for Hummingbird Optimization

As long as you keep up the good SEO work with insightful and honest content updates, you don’t need to worry about Google algorithm backfires. Focus on creating exceptional content and you will be rewarded with better SEO results.

Update: Google Released RankBrain Algorithm

On October 26, 2015, Google released RankBrain. It is the first machine learning, artificial intelligence system to be included as Google’s SEO algorithm. Sounds like something from the future right!

SearchEngineLand was able to get a few notes from Google discussing what RankBrain does.

RankBrain is considered part of the Hummingbird algorithm. It is mainly used as a way to better interpret user search queries beyond context. What does this mean? Basically, the algorithm reads beyond the words people use in search and pulls relevant results that may not have the exact word match used within the search queries. It makes search more intuitive and focusses more on user intent.

Stay tuned, we will keep you updated on this.

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