How has Google hummingbird affected SEO?

3 min read by Andy Smith 2 Oct 2013

Google Hummingbird

In late September, Google announced that it had made a major change to its search infrastructure and introduced its latest algorithm update, Hummingbird. Google stated that the update had been rolled out at the end of August 2013 and that the changes coincide with the evolution of technology and the sophistication of search.

As more searches become mobile and Google invents technology to minimise search efforts, the infrastructure to provide the right information has had to evolve. Unlike ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ which are algorithm changes to the way Google processes searches, the update is a change to Google’s search engine build, which alters how it collects data to influence rankings.

The new “Hummingbird” search algorithm has been specially designed to handle complex queries or ‘conversational’ searches. For example, the new search algorithm aims to be able to provide the best results for a query such as ‘Where is the best place to eat at Heathrow Airport’ as well as the exact keyword target ‘restaurant Heathrow Airport’. This type of search coincides with recent changes to Google search technology, such as with speech search.

So what does this mean for SEO?

If you have been practicing SEO correctly and as Google has always best advised, then this update will only work in your website rankings favour. The search engine will use website content as its main source to provide results and its new intelligent algorithm will recognise associated words or ‘synonyms’ as well as the exact keywords that have been searched.

In terms of key word selection, brands will needs to be more sophisticated in how they decide what to target. It would be wise to stick to using the core exact key words but these need to be the base of a selection of synonyms and conversational terms that would be searched. However, these will only be successful in search rankings if they have dedicated landed pages with high quality content that users will want to revisit.

The best way to treat Google, it to imagine it as your core customer. Give them the best information that they require, presented in a way that would make them want to revisit, or/and share socially. Building a website and marketing search campaign for Google and the customer will future proof your search marketing efforts.

Google stated: We’ll keep improving Google Search so it does a little bit more of the hard work for you. This means giving you the best possible answers, making it easy to have a conversation and helping out before you even have to ask. Hopefully, we’ll save you a few minutes of hassle each day. So keep asking Google tougher questions—it keeps us on our toes!”

With this in mind, it is essential to always be providing what the customer wants, as this is what Google wants.
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