Google’s Hummingbird Takes Flight: SEOs Give Insight On Google’s New Algorithm

google-hummingbird2-featuredOn the eve of its 15th birthday last week, Google revealed a new search algorithm named Hummingbird. Designed to be more precise and provide faster query results, the algorithm is based on semantic search, focusing on user intent versus individual search terms.

As Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan explained in his FAQ: All About the New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm:

Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query – the whole sentence or conversation or meaning – is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

While the official Hummingbird announcement was made last week, most reports show it began rolling out a month ago. Unlike Google’s Penguin and Panda updates to its existing algorithm, Hummingbird is a complete replacement. Google’s search chief Amit Singhal told Danny Sullivan that Hummingbird represents the first time since 2001 a Google algorithm has been so dramatically rewritten.

With more than a month since the new algorithm’s initial release, I asked a collection of SEO practitioners their opinions on Hummingbird now that it has an official name.

“Hummingbird is a definite expansion of Google’s semantic capability evident at the search interface level that reveals, significantly, two things,” said David Amerland, search engine expert and author of Google Semantic Search, “First, Google has increased its ability to deal with complex search queries which means that it also has got better at indexing entities in Web documents. Second, it has got a lot better at relationally linking search queries and Web documents which means that its Knowledge Graph must be considerably enriched.”

Amerland goes on to explain how Google’s move toward semantic search will benefit SEO practices:

From a strategy point of view this opens the horizon for companies and webmasters considerably. From a practical perspective, the need to identify the USP of each business and become authoritative within it is now a key criteria for continued SEO success. The comparison element that has been integrated suggests that semantic mark-up may begin to confer an advantage now when it comes to helping index information in products and services.

He emphasizes the importance of content not being left in isolation, but instead shared across social networks via identified influencers. “This is not something that can or will happen at the drop of a hat,” said Amerland, “It requires time and commitment to building a relationship with influencers and sharing with them content that is of real value to their network.” Quick SEO, according to Amerland, “Is now firmly in the past.”

Christy Belden, vice president of marketing and media at LEAP, agrees that Hummingbird’s focus on semantic search will continue to drive SEO in the right direction. “Google has been talking about semantic language and understanding the meaning behind search for quite some time,” said Belden, “With more users searching via mobile and voice, the Hummingbird update makes a lot of sense.”

Belden confirmed her agency has not witnessed any changes to their client’s search results during the last month Hummingbird has been running. “We don’t anticipate making any dramatic changes in what we are doing,” said Belden, “What we are talking about is how we create quality, engaging, shareable, linkable content. It has become a core piece of our SEO strategy.”

SEO consultant and president of Archology Jenny Halasz commented on Google’s recent decision to make search term data ’100% not provided’ and how it relates to the new Hummingbird algorithm. “It’s becoming less and less about the keyword and more about the intention behind it. We see that with all the recent changes, but especially with Hummingbird,” said Halasz, “There’s no doubt that not having keywords provided will make it a little harder to discover customer intent, but there are a lot of other ways to get clues about that, including actively engaging with your customers on social media and such.”

Halasz believes SEOs have become so keyword focused that they’re putting emphasis on the wrong things, explaining that many are, “Trying to reverse engineer data that really isn’t actionable.” She thinks SEO should be less about keyword data and more about customer engagement.

“People who’ve been doing things like looking at their bounce rate on a page and trying to match the people who bounced to what they searched are missing the forest for the trees in my opinion,” said Halasz, “It’s not the specific keyword they used, it’s what they were looking for on that page. Did the page deliver? Clearly not since they bounced. So what could be better about the page? Or your information architecture overall?”

Trond Lyngbø, a senior SEO strategist and partner at Metronet in Norway,  is excited about Hummingbird and has been forecasting Google’s the algorithm updates since December 2012. “It’s a good thing. Google is trying to find the intent behind the queries, and offer a solution,” said Lyngbø, “I look forward to seeing how it evolves as Google’s Knowledge Graph expands, especially how successful Google will be when it comes to local searches via mobile devices.”

In a post by Lyngbø on SEOnomics.com last December, the SEO insider wrote, “Trust is now king,” explaining, “The primary goals of semantic search is weeding out irrelevant resources from SERPs.”

Even though the post was published ten months before the new search algorithm was announced, Lyngbø’s tips for SEOs are especially relevant in light of the Hummingbird release:

• Businesses must understand and adapt to semantic search and the knowledge graph.
Positioning yourself to be the provider of answers that people are seeking.
Identify intent, needs and problems. Provide solutions and answers. Look at queries and what they really need. Give them what the people behind the queries want.

More about Hummingbird will be discussed during this week’s SMX East Search Marketing show in New York City. The conference includes an entire track devoted to “Semantic Search” with The Coming “Entity Search” Revolution session scheduled on day two (October 2) of the conference.

Until then, check out the following Tweets in response to the Hummingbird update:

 

 

 

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Algorithm Updates | Google: Hummingbird | Google: Knowledge Graph | Google: SEO | Google: Web History & Search History | Google: Web Search | Search Marketing: General | SEO - Search Engine Optimization | Top News

Sponsored


About The Author: is Third Door Media's General Assignment Correspondent, and reports on the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



SearchCap:

Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  

Share

Other ways to share:
 

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • guesto

    Google sucks in all fairness. It’s time their domination was brought to an end. They ruin small business, they have destroyed any chance of finding interesting content, and they censor content on a daily basis. In short, google is fast destroying the internet.

  • merne

    Interesting stance. I think this puts “SEO pros” further out of the loop (where they belong). Its far more cost-effective to organize content properly (UX), and deliver it semantically (devs), than it is to spend a butt-load of money on snake oil tactics. No more shitty document outlines because “that is what the SEO company recommended.” The time for “tricking” the system is over. If you have boring content on a boring site, you wont rank well. If you have original content, you get the respect you deserve. SEO “experts” should just re-brand as “copywriters” if they want to keep up.

  • merne

    You are doing SEO wrong if you’re worried about “missing a moving target.” Write original content with semantic markup and you don’t have to worry about the date when your SEO “magic” fails.

  • merne

    lolol. you’re kidding, right? Google go out of business? You must be an SEO “expert”

  • merne

    false. If they ranked well before and poorly now, they were not doing it right. In other words, they were hurting the internet.

  • merne

    no. you couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • Todd

    You go with that meme.

  • Darren

    Great read! Now that Google has rolled out recent interface changes like (http://www.chatmeter.com/google-local-changes-requiring-greater-review-management/) and launched Hummingbird, it will be interesting to see how local search will be affected/evolve. One thing is for sure though, content is still king but it’s so crucial that businesses understand the need to adapt previous strategies.

  • Lindy Thur

    Hi, I have a shop on Etsy, what can I do to get my SEO correct and get my views back. Thank you for any help.

  • http://www.avainfotechseo.com/ Ashish Ahuja

    Without any details of the website I cannot look into the onsite or offsite factors and therefore cannot help you. You can post your website here or If you want to keep the website personal you can email me at avainfotechseo@gmail.com

  • mathewmakio

    I don’t do “SEO” other than creating good content. Thanks for assuming you know everything though.

    Did it occur to you that Google may be wrong in some areas such as sites that have a fair amount of help guides that are similar in nature.

    This is why I’m hit by panda.

    Google expects me to lie, talk crap and twist things upside down so that it is essentially terrible content in order to stop being hit by panda.

  • http://www.bestappspoint.com/ Julia Fernandes

    Agree with you. I also don’t know SEO more than writing a good unique content. Also good content should be like other websites of same category ranking high is search engine. 2 – 3 phrase long keywords in the end and that’s all I know about SEO but once I’ll be hit by Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird, I’ll be told the same story, that your content is not good, or you think your content is good otherwise you are not providing any good to readers and blah blah.

  • Jack

    In connection with that idea, mobile browsing has increased, which also may play into that phenomena. Fore example, if your site is mobile optimized, all the necessary information is right in front and easily accessible and only needs to be confirmed. If not optimized for mobile browsing, often the user will get frustrated and leave. Got to love marketing; it’s all about context.

  • Jack

    In connection with that idea, mobile browsing has increased, which also may play into that phenomena. Fore example, if your site is mobile optimized, all the necessary information is right in front and easily accessible and only needs to be confirmed. If not optimized for mobile browsing, often the user will get frustrated and leave. Got to love marketing; it’s all about context.

  • Jack

    Getting hit by Panda or Penguin might also have to do not just purely with your content but how you’re structured in the back end. Try using SEOquake to get some top-level diagnostics on your site. It also explains what each segment means, so you’re not left wondering what it all means. :)

  • Jack

    Getting hit by Panda or Penguin might also have to do not just purely with your content but how you’re structured in the back end. Try using SEOquake to get some top-level diagnostics on your site. It also explains what each segment means, so you’re not left wondering what it all means. :)

  • snehal shewalkar

    intention-based + local-searched based!!

  • snehal shewalkar

    intention-based + local-searched based!!

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest

 
 

Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States

Europe

Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech


Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!

 


 

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide