Whenever Google announces a new algorithm change, the world sits up and takes notice. In fact, a lot of the world panics and starts decrying the end of SEO as we know it. While Hummingbird was billed as being the biggest change to Google’s algorithms in 12 years, it didn’t have that much of an effect on websites’ SEO efforts. Those sites that were writing high quality content, and performing ethical SEO still found themselves at the top of the search rankings, and they continue to do so today.
What Is Hummingbird?
Google uses a range of algorithms to help it determine which sites offer the best quality, and which pages are relevant to specific search terms. Sites that perform best in search engine pages, are those sites that have scored the highest in Google’s algorithm ranking.
Hummingbird was the latest, big change to the algorithms. It brought conversational search to mobile devices that use voice recognition. It brought social ranking factors even further to the fore, and it ensured that keyword stuffed content is definitely not a requirement to rank well.
Content Still Matters
Most marketers have reported that evergreen content is outperforming live content. Blog posts and social media updates can still perform well and they can still help improve search rankings, but they will perform best when they have been allowed to sit online and age.
While some doomsayers have predicted that content is dead, this is far from the truth. Google results now display a wider range of page types and content varieties when you conduct a search. There is, in fact, much greater scope for content to help a web page reach the very top of results.
Quality Still Counts
Above all else, Hummingbird has placed greater concentration on the provision of quality. Keyword stuffing had all but died out, anyway, as a means of ranking well, but the Hummingbird officially killed this technique off. Google is serious about quality.
Long tail keywords have gained greater prominence. The Hummingbird, at least according to Google, is very conversational and when we talk, we use longer sentences and more protracted statements. This now shows in search results, with naturally sites that contain more long tail keywords appearing higher in the results pages.
Conversational Search Queries
One of the reasons for the Hummingbird update was to enhance Google’s performance when it came to conversational search. More and more devices use voice recognition and voice queries. Apple’s Siri enables users to search the Internet by speaking their query, and Android followed up with a number of similar services, from Google themselves and from independent app developers.
It Is Harder To Determine Where The Top Is
One thing that has got more difficult for marketers is to determine exactly where the top of the search rankings are. There has always been a short list of sponsored results at the top of the search pages, but we are increasingly seeing thumbnails, video links, and now even galleries linking to related content all over the web. This means that providing a variety of content types on your website will give you a greater chance of appearing on the front page of Google searches.
Search Is More Sentient
Google in a post Hummingbird world is being described as more sentient. It listens to searches, as well as reading them, and then intelligently attempts to determine what you are looking for, and what else you might be looking for. It then provides results according to these predictions. It is difficult to argue with the point that search is, now, more intelligent than ever before. This means that your SEO efforts will have to be more intelligent too.