How Hummingbird Impacted SEO

Google Hummingbird SEOWhat is Hummingbird?

Hummingbird is a new search platform that Google introduced in September 2013. This update revolutionized Google search because it helped to bring meaning to the words that people were typing in their queries. Instead of just matching vocabulary in the query to vocabulary in the search results, the new algorithm works to understand the meaning of the query and match it with relevant results.

With Hummingbird, Google took the meaning technology that helped to power earlier advancements, such as the Knowledge Graph, and applied it to the billions of pages available online.

Google gave a few examples of how Hummingbird impacted search. For example, if you searched for “pay your bills through citizens bank and trust bank” before the update, your search would bring up the homepage for the bank. After Hummingbird, you receive the link directly for the page about paying bills.

How did Hummingbird impact SEO?

Many people feared that SEO would die with Hummingbird, since matching keywords would disappear-- but that has not been true. Although Hummingbird helps Google better understand what the user is looking for, it still uses keywords to understand what your content is exploring and to whom it would be the most relevant.

SEO in the age of Hummingbird means focusing less on creating content for particular keywords and instead creating content for particular users. You want to have a keen understanding of who your customer is and what stage they are in the buyer’s journey. Your content should focus on answering specific questions that your customers want to know.

How do I do SEO with Hummingbird?

  1. Optimize for organic traffic at the page level for each page within your site
  2. Develop your buyer personas and map their buyer journeys
  3. Identify the types of content and the topics that will be most interesting to them at each stage of the journey. Tools like the BrightEdge Data Cube and our Page Manager can help you accomplish these goals.
  4. Create high-value content for each stage.
  5. Carefully monitor your results and look for changes in your traffic and conversions. Use this insight to guide future marketing efforts.

When Hummingbird launched, it caused considerable worry for many SEOs who feared that their efforts to optimize their content would be lost. Instead, it has encouraged all industry professionals to shift their focus firmly towards the customer experience. They must worry less about keywords and more about the information provided.

<< Back to the SEO Glossary main page