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4 Best Practices for Adapting to Google Hummingbird

Back in September, Google announced the debut of Hummingbird, an algorithm update that was primarily focused on semantic search and understanding natural language. This update forced marketers and SEOs to begin reinventing their strategies in order to cope with a search engine that is less focused on keywords and more focused on phrases and concepts.

For the last several months, marketers have been working frantically to figure out how to approach the Hummingbird update because it was reported to affect 90% of searches worldwide. Now that the dust has settled, it’s time for marketers and SEOs to begin establishing best practices to address the concerns raised by Hummingbird.

Photo credit: Search Engine Land

Photo credit: Search Engine Land

Smart Hummingbird Optimization

The following strategies consider the effect of Hummingbird, but don’t go into the territory of over-optimizing and consequently risking penalties from a future update. Since Hummingbird is primarily concerned with natural language, all of these best practices are related to content development. Incorporate these approaches to begin making your sites more Hummingbird-friendly.

  • Add more questions to your content. Since Hummingbird is designed to allow searchers to ask longer, more complex questions and still get relevant, succinct answers from Google, sites that include questions and answers may find greater success with Hummingbird. However, that doesn’t mean you should change all your content to a Q&A format. Rather, selectively insert specific questions and answers that showcase the strong points of your brand.
  • Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.” Hummingbird is all about the meanings behind search queries, so it is concerned with understanding why searchers are entering a certain query instead of simply looking at the keywords. That means marketers should emphasize topics rather than keywords to provide Google with insight into relevant topics.
  • Make relevance the priority. This point shouldn’t come as a surprise – relevance is one of the biggest goals behind almost every Google update. Emphasize content that is relevant to your brand, as well as to the conversation going on within your industry.
  • Emphasize evergreen content. Evergreen content seems to perform well in the wake of the Hummingbird update because it can address questions that might regularly appear as search queries. Even better, evergreen content is often a safe place to insert more direct questions and answers that cater more precisely to Hummingbird.

Although Hummingbird impacts a large number of search queries, it’s essential to remember that following best practices, such as the ones discussed above, allows you to continually produce excellent content for your marketing strategy – without worrying about the impact of future Google updates.