Google’s Hummingbird Update and Its Effect on SEO

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As if Penguin and Panda weren’t enough, Google has introduced a new update to its algorithm, titled Hummingbird. It appears as though the search engine giant’s fascination with black & white animals is over as signified by the name. Hummingbird is the biggest update to Google’s search algorithm for over four years, which when Caffeine was launched. Through Hummingbird, Google aims to improve the search experience and provide better answers to search queries.

Like with all Google updates, speculation is rife regarding the potential effect of Hummingbird on search engine optimization (SEO). Here’s a look at the changes Google has made through Hummingbird and how they may affect SEO in the future.

‘Conversational’ Search Queries

With Hummingbird, Google has made it possible for people to use ‘conversational’ search queries rather than focusing on keywords. Before this, Google would have displayed search results that were related to one or two words from your search query. After Hummingbird, Google is going to take the entire phrase into consideration when delivering search results. In other words, Google will seek to understand the meaning and context behind search queries. So, your focus has to deviate somewhat from keywords and phrases for SEO success.

Reemphasizing the Importance of Content

Over the past couple of years, Google has termed a website’s content an important factor in determining its ranking. Previously, websites with substandard content could still get to the top of the search engine results through SEO and other techniques. That has changed; and if there were any doubts about the contrary, they will be dispelled after Hummingbird. If you have quality content on your website, which is in line with Google’s requirements, you shouldn’t have any trouble maintaining your current ranking. However, websites that haven’t improved their content will lose out.

Rewarding Webmasters Who Deliver Value

Most significantly, Google has rewarded webmasters who have been following the constant changes and updates made to their search algorithm. Google has itself stated that the search engine can no longer follow the rules that were relevant a decade ago due to the needs of today’s internet users. The webmasters who have kept up with the changes and tweaked their websites accordingly stand to gain from Hummingbird. Since the websites that don’t deliver value will lose their rankings, websites that offer quality content and have genuine backlinks will be rewarded.

Hummingbird will affect SEO in more ways than one, but that doesn’t mean that you will lose your ranking and have to revamp your strategy. The basic idea remains the same, i.e. you have to focus on providing valuable content, though you would still need to tweak your marketing efforts a little and reassess your priorities. However, it would be wrong to say that Hummingbird’s effect on SEO will be negative.