When Google announced on September 26 th that they had updated the core of their search engine with a new build called Hummingbird, most website owners took a deep breath. Search engines are the primary way that websites find new customers and changing the process for ranking their content can dramatically affect where they appear in search results. The good news is that the Hummingbird update won’t dramatically affect most sites as long as their content is relative to the search term and is updated regularly.
The major change with Hummingbird is that instead of simply counting words in the content on a page or tallying the number of links, it looks for a deeper relationship between the search terms. This means that a site that has a deeper level of valuable content will rank higher than sites with simpler content and are similar to others. Unique content is important as well since Hummingbird compares similar sites and will rank one higher than another if its content stands apart from the crowd on a particular subject. Understanding this can provide an advantage when tweaking a site to be more attractive to Hummingbird. Here are a few tips to help your site survive the transition to Google’s new search algorithm and thrive.
Make Sure Your Content is Unique
The key to ranking higher in search listings is having unique content. In the past, these search ranking were mostly based on the amount of content your site provided for a given search term. This meant that if you had more pages or articles than another site on a specific subject, you would typically rank higher. With hummingbird, all of this changes to reward the better content on the web. The new search algorithm now considers how unique your content is when compared to other sites. If you use content from an article service that has also been published to other sites, it may not help your ranking. Even though it may still be valuable to your visitors, Hummingbird may not rank your site higher simply because you have more of it. The key to improving this aspect of your site is to use unique content that can’t be found anywhere else on the web. Providing content that is different from anyone else will help you score higher in search results.
Valuable Content Wins
Another important aspect of Hummingbird is its ability to rank sites based on the depth of their content. Sites that have very basic content on a subject will not fare as well as other websites that provide more details on the same subject. This may seem obvious, but creating and publishing valuable content is not only great for the new Hummingbird results it will benefit your visitors as well. Finding the information they need on your site will have them coming back more often, which will result in even higher search engine rankings.
In addition to providing a deeper level of coverage for a topic, taking a unique position when creating this content can also be valuable. Being able to approach a subject from a new perspective will not only help you ensure your content is different; it will also help your visitors consider all sides of a topic.
One of the main reasons cited by Google for making the changes that Hummingbird provides is their desire to adapt the search engine to a more mobile public. Since the beginning of search, users have had to engage in a tug of war with most engines and creating their questions in a less than conversational way to find the best results. In essence these early search engines forced users to think like the search engine when entering a search term. Hummingbird tries to fix all of this by being more conversationally aware. This allows users to enter a question the way they would normally ask it and receive the results they need.
This conversation awareness also makes the move to a more mobile interaction with the web easier for Google. More people every day are now using their phones and tablets as their primary devices on the web and want to be able to simply ask as question instead of typing it into a search box. By better understanding the complexities of the language, Google Hummingbird can accommodate these types of searches and deliver better results. Most websites are already designing their content to be more compatible for mobile devices and with the release of this new algorithm these changes are more important than ever.
Keywords Are Still Important
Even with the changes that Hummingbird introduces to Google search, most of the other things that go into a site’s ranking still apply. Keywords are still used in this ranking and are a critical factor in determining a sites place in search results. As in the past, long-tail keywords are important as they help to refine the search and allow users to pinpoint a site that is closely aligned with their search terms. When creating your content, you should be careful to avoid the outdated practice of keyword stuffing where your content has a specific word repeated too many times. Previous versions of the search engine may have been fooled by this, but will now punish a site for this practice. You can easily check your content with one of the many keyword tools online to make sure you’re not tipping the scales against you with keywords.
What It All Means
While the Google Hummingbird update is a major change in the way the search engine evaluates a site, it shouldn’t have a major impact on sites that were following good SEO practices before the upgrade. In fact, the change was made well over a month before being announced by Google, and nobody even noticed. What Hummingbird really presents is a chance for your to improve its standing in search results by making small modifications to its content that align with the changes in the algorithm to help you slowly climb the rankings. Creating more relevant content that is unique and provides a deeper understanding of a topic is a recipe for success. Doing this quickly can help you slip past some of the established sites that are slow to respond to the new engine. Search rankings are a game of inches and understanding the changes that Hummingbird introduces will help you come out on top.
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Written by Federico Einhorn
By Federico Einhorn, Founder and CEO at FullTraffic. Passionate about Search Engine Marketing and Optimization, regular writer for the FullTraffic Blog. Since 2005, FullTraffic has evolved to become one of the most important Traffic providers worldwide for small to medium sized businesses.