16th October 201316th Oct 13Jon Billingsley3 Minute Read

What is Google Hummingbird?

Earlier last month, search giant Google announced its latest algorithmic update, Hummingbird, leaving the digital marketing community on alert as to the consequences for their SEO and content strategies.

Hummingbird is said to affect as many as 90 per cent of all search queries on Google and unlike its algorithm update predecessors, Penguin and Panda, Hummingbird is not a penalty-based update and is more focused on the way Google adapts to the variety of search queries, allowing the engine to understand the meaning behind a query as opposed to the individual terms that make up a query.

But what does this mean for website owners like you? How must your seo efforts adapt to ensure your digital strategies work for your websites?

Tailoring to the conversation

One of the biggest challenges for Google to date is adapting the way its search engine responds to the growing number of conversational search phrases from its users. Questions such as “how to” and “where is” and “who is” are increasingly used and Google can no longer rely on keywords alone; it has to bring conversational requests to a generalised search term based on the requirements of the user.

In order to cover all conversational phrases that visitors may use to find your website be sure to cover informational queries with Wikipedia-style copy. Wherever possible, target conversational phrases word-for-word, but be sure to optimise for shorter, more general equivalents too.

Broaden your keyword research

Google Hummingbird has gone a step further to ensuring relevant search results for its search engine users. This update has helped determine what a page is about not only by its core keywords but by its synonyms. Pages designed for specific keywords are highly likely to be replaced in the upper echelons of the rankings with those from theme-relevant sites with numerous synonyms.

It’s more important than ever now to expand your website’s keyword research, focusing on ways to diversify new and existing content. Google Suggest is a useful tool to garner inspiration for keywords that could bring in additional traffic.

Brand exposure

It is increasingly important that your brand is mentioned alongside its competitors and other integral web resources. Co-citations are regularly used by Google to identify exactly what your website or company deals in. Every time your brand is mentioned alongside an established authority in your industry, Google will view it as a positive. It’s important to maximise your brand’s exposure online – get featured in as many ‘top 10’ lists as possible. If you’re really clever you could get to grips with competitor backlink profiles and ascertain the best referring domains and try your best to get noticed and mentioned by them.

Don’t forget anchor texts

It may seem ‘old school’ but it’s still very important to consider your site’s internal and external anchor texts. Although commercial anchor texts is now one of the biggest no-no’s as an SEO marketer, it’s essential that back links are optimised for semantically relevant search terms as opposed to ‘click here’ and ‘see more’.

Universal search

Yet another thing to pay attention following the arrival of Google Hummingbird is the age of Universal search results. As Google seeks to tweak its relevancy-focused algorithm, it’s trying hard to provide the most informative results dependent on the type of search query.

Certain searches will drive localised results and listings while others may drive videos and imagery. This particular update gives digital marketers the opportunity to outrank competitors and drive more traffic to your website using additional traffic channels. Always consider whether the medium of your content suits the likely search queries relating to the topic.

Structured data

In order to obtain a greater depth of information about you and your website, Google is tapping into structured data even further. Be sure to add as much information as possible to rich snippets, always make sure articles and blogs feature Google+ authorship to increase your chances of appearing on Google’s Knowledge graph.

The key takeaway from Google Hummingbird is relevancy; be sure your website meets the new standards and reap the rewards.

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