Just when people were getting used to the Panda and Penguin updates, Google came out and announced yet another one – Hummingbird. Although many jokes have been made about Google’s habit of frequently coming out with new updates based on animal names, the subject is a serious one for anyone who cares about search engine rankings.
What exactly is different now that Hummingbird has been implemented?
An Emphasis on Conversational Search
Conversational search is not new, but it’s a phrase that’s being heard more and more in SEO circles. Google has admitted that one of its goals is to shift search results more in the direction of conversational search rather than keyword searches.
Essentially, this is an attempt to make search engines more natural. In real life, after all, people don’t talk using keywords. They ask questions and speak in complete sentences. To use a simple example, suppose you are driving on Main Street and decide you want some Italian food. Using a typical keyword search, you might type in “My city, Italian restaurants, Main Street.” Using a more conversational type search, however, you would be more likely to type in “Where is the nearest Italian restaurant?”
This brings up a few different points. In line with the idea of conversational search, Google is also catering more to people using smart phones along with voice based apps. One of the reasons why keywords were so popular is that it’s faster to type words rather than whole sentences. When you’re speaking into your phone, however, it’s not so hard to ask a question in a complete sentence. There’s also the integration of search with other technologies, such as GPS. In the above example, it is assumed that your phone already “knows” where you are. Thus, you can ask a general question like “Where is the nearest…” without specifying your location.
The Knowledge Graph
Another related development that Google introduced last year is the Knowledge Graph. This is what they refer to as a shifting from information to knowledge when it comes to delivering search results. The Knowledge Graph produces not only answers to specific queries, but also related and connected results. When you do a search now, in addition to conventional search results you are also likely to see a knowledge graph at the top right of the results that displays relevant information, not only about what you searched for but also regarding topics that are related in some way. In other words, Google is trying to anticipate your needs and possibly even provide you with helpful information that you didn’t know you wanted.
Watch this video to learn more about Google’s Knowledge Graph –
Hummingbird: A New Search Engine Aglorithm
Google has announced that, unlike Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird is a completely new algorithm overhaul. While elements such as conversational search and the Knowledge Graph were both in existence pre-Hummingbird, this update is going to see a major shift in this new way of delivering search results.
What Does Hummingbird Mean For SEO?
Even though Hummingbird is a whole new algorithm, it doesn’t undo the most serious consequences of other recent updates. The same type of practices that would have gotten your site penalized under Panda or Penguin will do the same now. On the positive side, you can help to optimize your site by using social media strategically and by claiming Google authorship for all of your content. One thing you can count on is that Google is going to focus more and more on making their search engine as natural and valuable to users as possible.
About the Author
James Patterson is the lead online marketing consultant at jdpseo. A full service New Zealand based Online Marketing Agency that offers everything you need to succeed online. From web design and development to a complete bespoke online marketing package. Come and check us out on Facebook.