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What the Google Hummingbird Update Means for You

In case you didn’t notice – and according to Google, you might not have – Google recently released a complete overhaul of their search algorithm. Referred to as Hummingbird, this differs from past updates because it is an entirely new search algorithm, not just a patch or a change. While it is similar to the previous algorithm, Hummingbird is intended to be both faster and more accurate for users.

While Google has essentially stated that as long as you are following SEO best practices, you should not be affected by Google Hummingbird, others have definitely noticed an impact. Read on to learn more about what the Hummingbird update entails and how you can optimize your website for Google’s new search algorithm.

shutterstock_164206256Conversational Search

The main feature of Google Hummingbird is Conversational Search. Hummingbird is a progression from Knowledge Graph, which is the knowledge base that Google uses to provide detailed, structured information about search queries in addition to regular search results. With Conversational Search in Hummingbird, Google accounts for the fact that more and more users, especially those on mobile devices, are framing their searches as questions, such as “Where is the closest pizza place.”

Hummingbird offers an improved user experience by better understanding the intent of conversational queries, therefore providing better search results. For example, the new algorithm knows when and what synonyms are most relevant – in the above example, it would understand that “place” could also mean “restaurant.” Google claims that 90% of all search queries are affected by the Hummingbird update.

Optimizing For Hummingbird

When it comes to the question of whether or not you should change your SEO strategy for Google Hummingbird, opinions are mixed. Google claims that websites will not be affected by Hummingbird as long as they are producing original, high-quality content, a.k.a. what you should be doing. However, with the new focus of Hummingbird on conversation queries, there are ways in which you can optimize your website. First, Hummingbird focuses on using long-tail keywords to better understand the full question being asked, which means such keywords are even more important to your SEO strategy.

Another way to target this new emphasis on conversational queries is to add FAQ content to your website. As always, you should also be posting fresh, original content that offers informational value to your visitors. In addition, the authority of pages is even more relevant with Google Hummingbird because of the focus on page content. Integrating Google+ Authorship can help add to your authority on the web and improve SEO for Hummingbird.