Google has updated its algorithm more than a couple of times in recent years and each time it does, SEO’s and website owners alike naturally become concerned. For the recent updates, a lot of websites that were ranking quite higher on search page results literally disappeared. For blog owners, this meant seeing their daily traffic goes down from thousands or even millions to hundreds or zero. This can be devastating as less traffic automatically translates to fewer sales.
Last year, Google rolled out another algorithm update called ‘Hummingbird’. According to the giant search engine, this latest update was designed to improve search results for users who are using computers, mobiles, and voice search. Experts consider Hummingbird as the biggest algorithmic change in 12 years and most agree that it is in fact an evolution. Taking Knowledge Graph, Google’s search result under Hummingbird proved to be more semantic, more conversational, and more sentient. Experts also agree that Hummingbird was designed to reward those people who are willing to put more effort in making sure that they’re giving users great experience.
Before the Hummingbird update, in general terms, search engines results would return list of websites that match the exact keyword searched. For example, if you search “commercial signs NY”, websites that contain the same exact keywords, regardless if they made sense or not, will be listed on the search page results.
With Hummingbird update, users saw Google combining search capabilities with invaluable and interesting information provided by the Knowledge Graph. This was designed to identify connections between things, places, and people and highlight these connections through the search page results. Essentially, it aims to offer more useful and more knowledgeable responses to users giving them better experience online.
So, instead of identifying websites based on individual keywords, Google with its new Hummingbird algorithm, now attempts to look at the search as a whole. It looks at the whole sentence and offers the most relevant results. Users are then given more rounded list of websites containing valuable and high quality information that matched the keywords that they’ve previously used.
Hummingbird loves long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords have always been considered as extremely important SEO elements even before the Hummingbird update. This is because they tend to have higher conversion rate from highly targeted visitors. With the newest Google update, webmasters and SEO specialists now have more reasons to use long-tail keywords instead of focusing on just one or two relevant terms when writing their website content and articles.
As Hummingbird looks at the search inquiry as a whole, web pages that are targeting long-tail keywords, or string of at least four words, are rewarded with more traffic.
Aside from long-tail keywords, another equally important factor that is being considered by Google is authority. When listing websites on relevant search page results, Google put more weight on websites that have been online for years and have a built reputation. It also considers the number of inbound links, which are seen as vote of confidence. Now more than ever, authority is more pertinent and more relevant.
Hummingbird, with its aim to deliver the most appropriate page to the user, also considers the website as a whole. This means that the query must be relevant to all pages of the website and not just a top-level page or home page. Through this, users are given access to websites that can offer them with the best available information and background information as well.
Mobile and Voice Search
Google clearly understands that more and more people are going mobile. Instead of looking up information using their desktop computers, more users are now accessing the internet and searching via handheld devices. For this reason, Google made Hummingbird more mobile and voice search-friendly. Just like typical search, voice search are more conversational and use a more natural language. Instead of using just one or two key phrase, users are more likely to use a whole question, long sentence, and even more complicated searches when they speak. Hummingbird now returns the most appropriate websites that match the search while considering the quality of the content and the authority of the website.
Keeping Hummingbird in Mind
So, what does Hummingbird means for SEO’s and websites owners? As you naturally want your website to rank well on Google, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind when doing on-page optimisation.
- Write great content. Google’s main objective in introducing algorithm update is to ensure that users get the best experience when they search for information online. Google would like to make sure that when users search for specific information, they will get exactly what they’re looking for. The latest update, just like any other updates is designed to weed out websites that do not offer anything useful and relevant.
What you can do is to continually write unique, interesting content that visitors will find useful and interesting. Google has managed to create a sophisticated algorithm to distinguish quality content from a bunch of keywords randomly strung together. So, exert conscious effort when writing content for your blog or website. Strive to offer useful, valuable, and exclusive information each time you hit the keyboard.
- Use long-tail keywords. As research and polls would confirm, more and more people are now searching for sentences and phrases instead of just one to two words. So, make it a habit to optimize your web content using long-tail keywords to ensure your website has the best chance to rank for related searches as often as possible. Although this will require more time and effort, you can be assured that you’ll have the best chances of ranking much higher on Google.
- Optimize for mobile and voice. More and more people are now using handheld devices and based on research, mobile search will exceed desktop searches in the next two years. When people search via mobile, they typically use something like Siri. For this reason, it is important that you take these changes into consideration when optimising your website and ensure that you incorporate this shift when you do on-page optimisation.
- Increase your level of authority. As discussed a while ago, authority is also being considered by Google when ranking web pages. So, work harder to be considered an authority in your niche. Although this will take a considerable amount of time and effort, it will be worth it. Start by building high quality inbound links. By this, I mean getting links ONLY from trusted websites and blogs that are relevant to your chosen niche. Links coming from spammy websites or link farms will not help you in anyway. In fact, these can harm your ranking.
What exactly does Hummingbird mean for the future of Search Engine Optimisation?
With all the changes brought by Hummingbird, the following can now be expected in the field of Search Engine Optimisation:
- More conversational search. Gone are the days when websites that are targeting one or two specific keywords are getting all the attention. With Hummingbird, conversational search that uses long-tail keywords, complete sentences, and questions will take the centre stage.
- Content vs. keywords. Google, more than ever, now puts more weight on the quality of the content rather than keyword usage. With its aim to provide users with great experience, content quality will win over keyword repetition every time. It will also take into consideration the level of authority of each website to ensure that users will get the most up-to-date, most useful exclusive information that match their search.
- Improved search functionality. Hummingbird was designed to make websites compete with the search engine result pages (SERPS) themselves. This means that with Google’s increased functionality, users will no longer automatically click through to third-party pages as they will be given more options. For example, instead of clicking through IMDB each time they’re looking for new movies, users will have a list of visually-appealing list which they can sort based on popularity, age, and reviews.
- Conversation based search. The generation of relevant conversation over the Internet will become even more important. The role that social content will continue to grow with brand’s networks, influencers, and audience playing a major factor in its website’s ranking. Because of this, it is critical to combine social efforts and SEO when planning and delivering online strategies.
Search Engine Optimisation is one of the most important elements of Internet marketing. It doesn’t matter if your website is well designed, if it is not appearing in search results, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of traffic, and a lot of revenue.
Here at Ignition Media, we offer not just compelling web design but full Search Engine Optimisation services as well. Being in the business for the past 15 years, it has been our main goal and focus to deliver clients with SEO-friendly website. For this reason, we developed our very own Search Engine Optimisation packages to give you the best chances of being found online.