How Does Google Hummingbird Work?

Master the updates around the Google Hummingbird Algorithm update - BrightEdgeWhat is Google Hummingbird?

Google Hummingbird is a new search platform 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.

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How does the Hummingbird update impact SEO?

The clearest impact of the Google Hummingbird update on SEO was a decreased focus on keywords. It is no longer as important that the words you use in your content directly match the words used in the person’s query.

While some argued that this meant keywords were obsolete, really it just means that their importance has shifted. Now, instead of writing content for specific keywords, you need to create content that addresses particular topics. Keyword research, like the capabilities you have through the BrightEdge Data Cube, remains important because it sheds light on the topics that people search for the most. Performing this research will help you align your content creation process with what your targeted customers want to see.

How do I optimize content for Google Hummingbird?​

With the Hummingbird update, Google made it even more clear that their primary concern is the experience of the end user. To properly optimize your content, therefore, you need to follow these tips:

  • Outline your targeted buyer personas and the journey they take towards a purchase.
  • Use tools, like the Data Cube from BrightEdge, to research keywords and topics that people are regularly looking for online.
  • Create content that uses the keyword naturally throughout the piece, including in the H1 and H2 tags as well as the body. The keyword should also ideally be used in the alt tags for images and in the meta description to make it very obvious to both prospective visitors and to Google that your site is relevant for this particular topic.
  • Use semantically related keywords occasionally in your content as well to further demonstrate your relevance.
  • Track metrics for your piece, including traffic, engagement, and impact on conversions so you gain a more accurate look at how well your piece is reaching your targeted audience and accomplishing your goals. This will help you modify and adjust your strategies moving forward.

The Google Hummingbird algorithm was an important adjustment in the world of SEO because it greatly impacted how the search engine interpreted websites and found the optimal results for users. Brands that want to remain relevant should make sure that they understand how to optimize for semantic search while creating content that adds value for the user.

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