Posted by Erin Stubbs ● April 12, 2015

When Your Search Engine Love Changes: How To Cope With Hummingbird

As Valentine’s Day nears, I find myself reflecting on a life-long love: Google.

In September of 2013, the Google I knew and loved unexpectedly changed under the auspices of “Hummingbird.” You may have heard a bit or two about it, but most of us have not taken a moment to consider its full impact.

What happened?

Google’s search engine uses a proprietary algorithm or equation to find the most relevant content for an individual’s search. On September 26, Google announced the launch of a search engine game-changer, one that had actually been implemented a month before the official announcement. When Google rolled out it’s new search algorithm, codenamed Hummingbird, it was the most comprehensive search engine change since 2009 and affected over 90% of all searches.

The primary differences are a new focus on ‘long-tail keywords’ or ‘semantic search’ as well as higher standards for site credibility and authority, as measured by both social engagement (like Facebook shares) and credible referring links (like local newspaper interviews).

One can only speculate the reasons for such a drastic change, but many online and SEO pundits suspect that the shift is a result of increasing mobile accessibility due to advances in mobile device technology.

How does this impact my online strategy?

  • Sites with breadth of content will bring more relevant visitors than keyword dense content
  • Short keyword rankings are no longer the strongest indicator of a strong online presence
  • Measuring success on different ‘entrance pages’ can help define new objectives for content relevancy moving forward

How do I grow exposure to my site?

  • Publish content frequently; at minimum, update your site weekly
  • Create content that answers questions, this targets Hummingbird’s longer keyword rankings
  • Content that inspires sharing will increase your site’s authority online and raise your rankings
  • Publish recent and relevant content that adds to the conversation on a trending issue
  • Create infographics, frequently asked questions and conversational web pages
  • Utilize internal staff to promote social media regularly
  • Complement content efforts with a targeted paid placement search campaign

Google Hummingbird is just one big change happening in the online world. In 2013, the online space saw changes with the rollout of Graph Search on Facebook and Bing/Yahoo also implemented a Hummingbird-like update. Throughout 2013, Google implemented other quiet changes, like limiting how much keyword information is available in Google Analytics.

Since search algorithms are proprietary, the measures of page rankings have changed significantly, and there’s no way to tell for certain what strategies will positively impact their results although there are guidelines.

It’s a new Search Engine world, and while SEO is not dead, it has changed and we shall see in the coming months what it means for thousands of websites.

This change reminds us that the Internet is an organic, ever-changing world. We can’t ever get too comfortable or we will be left behind.

Stay ahead of the updates and changes in the online space by following idgroup’s blog and following us on Facebook!

Topics: Marketing