What Is Google Hummingbird and How Does It Affect My Website?

By now, every website owner knows the major changes that have gone on at Google over the last year or so. In one way or another, we have all been affected by their two big algorithm updates; Panda and Penguin.

The reason for these big algorithm changes is to make the world of search marketing more accurate and fair for both website owners, and the potential customers who carry out searches on the Google network. Although this is a good thing, most website owners cannot deny that it has made online marketing more challenging and stressful in the short-term.

So, when Google recently released its next big update, Hummingbird, it is not surprising that many online marketers have been putting their fingers in their ears, pretending to ignore the fact that it is here. Well, Hummingbird is certainly nothing to panic about and having a little knowledge of what this new algorithm means, will definitely help your website attract more high-quality visitors through natural search.

What is Google Hummingbird?

Google Hummingbird is the latest search algorithm update by Google to their natural search network. Its aim is to improve the quality of the search results by transforming the way that Google interprets what the searcher is trying to ask, so displayed results are more accurate than ever before.

This is what the BBC news had to say about the new update: Google unveils major upgrade to search algorithm.

How Does Google Hummingbird Work?

The idea behind this new update is to revolutionise the way a search engine understands what a searcher is trying to ask, meaning that Google can now understand more human, conversational and long search queries. This doesn’t just mean that the returned results from a search are more relevant and accurate, but it also means that you can no longer depend on just a few simple keywords to master the search results. Instead, a website owner must focus their efforts on better content throughout their website that provides answers to certain questions.

Pre-Hummingbird Search Example

“How can I improve my website in Google?”

In this example, Google would pick up the main keywords in the phrase and display results based just on these words. So, when searching for the above query, you are likely to get mixed results around three main topic areas; improving, websites and Google.

Hummingbird Search Example

How can I improve my website in Google?”

This example shows how the new Hummingbird algorithm would see this same phrase. As you can see, not only are more words in the query being looked at, but also these words focus on the question element of “How can I…” The expected results from this search query would be more relevant in an attempt to answer the actual question at hand.

How Should I Adjust My Website Content For Google?

To take advantage of this new algorithm, and to ensure your website keeps appearing in the search results as much as possible, your website copywriting should be able to answer questions according to the 5W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. It is no longer about stuffing as many keywords into your website text as possible – these days are now gone and the quicker we understand this, the better our websites will perform.

From this day forward, it is time to make sure that your website content is written around long-tail subjects and in a way that it would answer to human questions. A great way to do this is by implementing and maintaining a blog on your website that includes articles that are designed to help others answer simple questions – after all, that is exactly what you are reading right now!

For more advice on business blogging, see: Our Top Blogging Tips For Engaging Content.

What Is The Difference Between Penguin and Hummingbird?

This is one of the biggest questions floating around on the web at the moment and the answer is simple; Penguin is about how your website ranks, whereas Hummingbird is about how search will show up results in response to your query.

Both these algorithms are still in practice and support each other, so the same rules still apply; no black-hat SEO methods, ensure good quality content and get as much interaction with your content as possible.

Does Google Hummingbird Change SEO Practices?

Not at all! When the Penguin algorithm was released, many website owners and online marketing experts had to change the way they carried out SEO. This really highlighted the white-hat versus the black-hat people. As long as you are following the same white-hat practices that you should now already be doing, you do not need to change a single thing.

Here at Improve Position, we always advise our clients to focus on writing good quality content, sharing on social networks, no keyword stuffing and backlinking from high ranking and relevant websites. But, now it is also vital that your content starts to answer as many searchable questions as possible.

Give Us Your Feedback

We would love to hear your own comments and experiences with Google Hummingbird. Have you seen a difference in your website traffic? Have you had to change or planning to change your content to answer more questions? Or maybe you disagree with these changes that Google are making. Whatever your thoughts, please leave us a comment and share with your friends by clicking the buttons below.

Michael Hutton

Michael is the founder and managing director of Improve Position with a strong background in both web development and technical SEO. His enthusiasm shines through with his passion to help others understand and succeed in the world of online business marketing.

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