The Hummingbird update is a new Google algorithm update that was announced September 26 and, surprise surprise, it has marketers talking. Whenever Google makes a change it’s important for small businesses to understand what it means and how it will affect rankings. Panda and Penguin algorithm updates are the most popular and the most frequent, but this Hummingbird update seems to be the first of its kind. There is no Moz weather report to tell us when its coming and there are not countless articles telling us how to recover. For all intensive purposes, this is a scramble.
How Hummingbird Update Works
The Hummingbird update was actually launched about one month ago and nobody noticed, so it’s safe to say that this isn’t as severe as the usual Panda and Penguin updates. Nevertheless, this update was designed to improve the search engine by revamping the entire engine to fit the needs of today’s results, which should be both precise and fast (get the name now?).
Search Engine Land described the update like an actual car engine. They explained that if you had an engine built in the 1950s it might still work, but it would be lacking things it needs for today (fuel injections, needs to use the right kind of fuel, etc.). The Hummingbird update is almost as if Google took this old engine out of the car and dropped a new one right back into place.
What Experts Are Saying About the Hummingbird Update on Social Media
Naturally experts in the SEO/SEM industry wrote up their own reports about the update and then shared all over social media. Consider some of the most popular quotes and opinions from some of the most authoritative bloggers of today:
- Alex Moss, Co-Founder of 3 Door Digital. This is going to be a bigger change than people may realize as, especially when it comes to mobile SEO, long tail keywords are becoming more commonplace and are also generally of higher quality than that of someone entering a short tail phrase.
- Kevin Gibbons, UK MD at Blue Glass Interactive. The biggest impact appears to be towards ‘conversational search.’ At such an early stage of an algorithm update you normally can’t go too far wrong with reading what Bill Slawski has to say.
- Bill Slawski, President of SEO by the Sea. My intuition tells me that they are significantly related to better understand the contexts and syntax of queries […]. Hummingbird will enable people to create longer, more complex, and more natural language type queries and receive higher quality results, even if all the words used in the query don’t appear upon the pages being returned.
- Jayson DeMers, Founder and CEO at AudienceBloom. Hummingbird is a clear step toward improving the intelligence of Google with regard to more complex, conversational search queries. With this change, Google is anticipating an accelerated rise of mobile device usage, and specifically more voice input search queries.
As you can see, there is a clear trend amongst many of these bloggers and industry leaders: It’s all about conversation and understanding more than just the words in a search query. Naturally, this has a lot to do with bloggers.
What The Hummingbird Update Means for Bloggers
Because being a blogger often means you’re the writer for a website (whether it’s your own blog or a company’s blog), you have to understand how Google is crawling content and how this change affected their old ways. In the past, search engines would look for keywords and so the blogger needed to focus on including keywords and conducting keyword research. With the hummingbird update, Google is going to be looking at more of the whole picture. In other words, they are working to understand the meaning behind words and phrases. Take the following example:
à If someone typed into the search box “Italian restaurants near my house” then Google will now prioritize “near my house” and bring location factors into search results. In the past, words like “Italian” and “restaurants” would have been the priority.
As a blogger, it’s important to realize this and start putting less of a focus on keywords and more of a focus on semantic SEO and semantic search, which you can learn more about here.
Do you think the Hummingbird update was needed a long time ago? Have you noticed anything different after this update? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: hummingbirdhelocopters.us
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO agency HigherVisibility.com that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.