Google Hummingbird Update Is As Simple As ‘Q&A’

New Hummingbird search algorithm from Google provides in-depth answers to user’s questions. Marketers, your task is simple… answer your consumers questions!

This is the second big announcement from the search engine this week. The latest update to Google’s SEO algorithm is called Hummingbird, named to reflect “precision and speed”, but since previous updates have been called Panda and Penguin – who knows. The new algorithm has actually been running for a little over a month.

SEO experts champion the update as the biggest change the algorithm has undergone since 2001, but in fact, it’s not an update – it’s an entirely new system.

Google Hummingbird is based on semantics.

If you’re familiar with alternative search engines or “deep” search engines as  they are sometimes called, such as Wolfram Alpha, the goal is for search engines to have a better grasp at what we are really asking when we search – beyond just matching common words with page results.

To get technical, the algorithm works in two ways. One, it takes a user query, runs it through a synonym and modification module, and then takes that modified output to conduct a search. Second, it sees documents with question-oriented titles and sub-headings as having more relevance and valuable content to the query. In short, it’s a question-based algorithm, providing answers to long-tail search queries.

Even in early testing, it is clear that the algorithm favors question-oriented content, such as:

• A website where many or all of the pages use a question as it’s title and in the subheadings of each page
• A document length of roughly 1300 words, and as many as 3800 words – which is somewhat lengthy but provides substantial, valuable content
• Newer domains, even only a few months old (and established post-Penguin 2.0)
• Minimal link building history, for example, a few comments on relevant blogs

How Marketers Can Use Hummingbird

To succeed with Google Hummingbird, site owners and marketers must write content that answers questions – it’s really as simple as that. Provide value to prospects by using questions as your titles and subheadings, and you’ll see that it makes a truly significant difference in how much traffic you can expect to pull in from Google since Hummingbird.

Also understand that Hummingbird is part of a bigger picture. Google Hummingbird is one more big step away from keyword-driven SEO, heading towards user-focused SEO – which is founded on having an engaging, responsive website and quality content. It doesn’t mean that everything you write needs to be a question (although we’re sure some “black-hat” SEO providers will try that tactic), but more attention must be paid to providing prospects with quality information that solves their search needs.

Google Hummingbird also addresses one of the biggest issues we see with businesses: an inability to clearly explain products or services to educate visitors. The focus is typically on keyword-conversion and how those efforts impact the bottom line. Consider Hummingbird as an opportunity to address these questions and get a boost in search engine results page (SERP) rank. Plus increased traffic, organic brand awareness, strategic partnership opportunities and more. The format could be as simply as an FAQ page, or addressing the Who, What, When, Where, Why of your business.

We’ve been embracing the principles of Google Hummingbird for some time by integrating valuable content into all aspects of our services: from the earliest stages of website development, ongoing search engine optimization, responsive email marketing, and social media marketing strategies. Google Hummingbird will quickly reshuffle the SERPs results – meaning that businesses that adhere to Google Hummingbird’s best-practices can gain a competitive edge, even against sites that are much older and those that use now out-of-date SEO tactics like keyword-stuffed content, low quality link building schemes, and other tactics that provide no value to prospects.

The first thing that we will be doing for our clients is readjusting their content strategies to leverage Google’s question/answer model. For prospective clients, we ask that you consider whether or not you have the in-house resources to produce quality content on a frequent and consistent schedule – including but not limited to your website, blog, social media channels and for press outlets.