Six Months In: What Google's Hummingbird Update
What Google's Hummingbird Update Means for the Future of Search Engine Optimization
When it comes to Google's search algorithm, any news is big news in the world of Internet marketing. Still, the September 2013 algorithm update, dubbed "Hummingbird," is especially interesting to those who follow search engine optimization not only because of the technical differences it brings, but also the subtle shift in philosophy it seems to represent.
Now that Hummingbird has been in place for 6 months we want to take a look at what the new algorithm means for the future of search and how you can develop a strategy to maintain positive SEO results.
The Google Hummingbird update mainly targets two different things. First, it takes longer search queries into account, rather than simply looking for the most important parts of the string. And second, it uses different kinds of matching and deciphering to try to figure out the real question behind the search.
Armed with that information, we can figure out a few important details about Google's intent, and the future of search engine optimization in general:
Mobile web users are literally changing the face of the Internet. Many feel that the inclusion of longer search strings can be directly tied to the increasing use of Google's own voice-input-ready mobile app. Because of the app, and other tools like it, more and more searchers are speaking in natural sentences and questions, rather than keyword combinations. This gives Google more insight into the way its users think, and that insight is being used to build more result-focused algorithms.
Google is looking to searcher intent to discover relevance, not just keyword matches. Along the same lines, it seems clear that Google really wants to find the best results for searchers – in terms of the information they are actually looking for – rather than the page with the highest number of keyword or anchor text link matches. In fact, it isn't outside the realm of possibilities to think that we could soon start to see pages do well on search engine listings even though they don't have any matching keywords at all, if they have lots of great, relevant content throughout the site.
The most highly ranked sites in the future are going to be the ones with lots of unique content. The third conclusion flows naturally from the second: Marketers who place a priority on producing lots of timely, unique content are going to see their sites getting more traffic. That's been true for quite a while, of course, but with Google's new emphasis on relevance and real-world answers, expect that the push towards informative pages is going to become more pronounced.
While Hummingbird might be just another update to Google's algorithm in a technical sense, it's also another step in the direction they've been moving in for the last two years. The bottom line is that people want more natural search results, rather than search-optimized landing pages. Internet marketers are on notice that Google is aiming to give them exactly what they're looking for.
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