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October 9, 2013

Will Google Hummingbird Affect Your SEO?

Photo credit: Robert Scoble via flickr

Lately it seems like Google has improved its ability to provide direct answers to your search questions. These improvements are part of Google’s new search algorithm called “Hummingbird,” which is the biggest update to their search engine since the “caffeine Update” in 2009. To sum it up, Hummingbird helps Google provide more relevant knowledge to searchers – meaning the update has enabled Google to better understand the content it indexes.

Google’s new algorithm has the power to quickly analyze long, in-depth search questions instead of examining them word by word. Then, Google will be able to find and rank answers to the searched question from their indexed content.

Aside from more precise search results, Google has also made updates to other features, such as Google Now, that impact mobile devices. Updates like this affect every part of your marketing equation, but in ways that can benefit your business.

Just because Google has changed its algorithm doesn’t mean SEO is dead or ruined. Let’s examine how some of the Hummingbird updates affect your SEO efforts.

Google Now Cards

Google specifically describes Google Now as “the right information at just the right time.” The feature aims to provide “cards” with valuable, current information throughout users’ days; Google is clearly trying to increase the productivity of users’ searches, specifically on mobile devices.

Google Now Cards are primarily directed at sporting events, weather, other entertainment events, restaurants, directions and more. With this feature, Google now has the ability to understand that when you’re searching for a specific restaurant, you’re not looking for a definition of a restaurant; instead, you want to know where the restaurant is, how long it’s open today, if there are any specials, what they are serving on their menu, etc.

By providing users with instant information and knowledge, Google is increasing the accuracy and efficiency of their searches – which seems to be the theme of the Hummingbird algorithm. You should consider Google Now Cards when it comes to your marketing strategies, because they may be a small part of how Google goes about ranking and indexing sites.

What Does This Mean for Your SEO?

One important way Google Now can impact marketers is through location. Since the feature is based on location, if you haven’t already, it’s important to set up a Google Plus Local account for your company – this is where Google pulls a lot of its data.

You should also consider configuring your email marketing campaigns to Gmail, so users can confirm and view events. This will allow Google Now cards to show up in their searches. When users want answers to a question, they are going to be looking for local results that directly influence their immediate quest for information.

Hummingbird Search Results Are More Specific

The Hummingbird update will make “conversational search” much easier for users. In other words, search results will be more tailored and specific to the content users are searching for.

Before Hummingbird, your results might have been generally related to your topic or question, and Google may have pulled pages that only had one or two words from your search question. But with the Hummingbird update, Google should be able to understand the entire meaning behind your searches; it will be paying attention to each word in the search, so the full extent of the conversation is considered when displaying your results.

Because it will be crawling and indexing sites differently, you should see results that more closely match your needs. Reportedly, Google searches will now be better at a variety of tasks:

* Understanding specific concepts
* Understanding the relationships between concepts
* Understanding more complicated and lengthy questions

Google Hummingbird mainly involves understanding the full meaning of a search query, which impacts SEO, but not as heavily as you might think.

What Does This Mean for Your SEO?

Don’t panic about Google Hummingbird ruining your SEO efforts. If you’ve been keeping up with SEO for all these years, Google says there is really nothing new you need to worry about. The main words of advice remain the same: produce original, relevant content.

As explained in Forbes, the main concept you should understand is where is Google going? When a user searches, Google’s new goal is displaying exactly what that individual needs. Since Hummingbird is focused on getting rid of irrelevant and unimportant results, this change should actually allow you to rise above your competition.

If you’ve already been busy creating content and building links from trustworthy websites, the Hummingbird update will allow you to continue ranking high since Google is looking for sites like yours – sites that provide valuable answers to their searchers’ queries.

If you’re still wary about the Hummingbird update, check out Danny Sullivan’s FAQs on the Hummingbird update. He explains it perfectly when he says that “Hummingbird… is a new engine built on both existing and new parts, organized in a way to especially serve the search demands of today, rather than one created for the needs of ten years ago, with the technologies back then.”

Google has simply replaced its engine and made searches more on target with what users want and need in today’s world.

So when it comes to Google Hummingbird, your SEO priorities should remain mostly the same. While there are always going to be small improvements you can make to your marketing efforts, such as configuring email marketing to Gmail, creating valuable content for users has never been more important.


Adrienne Erin is a social media marketing writer who loves helping businesses like Spodek Law Group succeed in their SEO efforts.

42 Responses to “Will Google Hummingbird Affect Your SEO?

    avatar SEO company in India says:

    Hummingbird update affected only long search queries. Now it will provide more accurate search for long query not only for dominant keywords in a query.

    avatar The Geek says:

    Hummingbird update is surely going to affect a lot of sites and it has affected the traffic to one of my sites.
    Its been hit badly.

    avatar Paweł says:

    “the main concept you should understand is where is Google going?”

    this is the best sentence in this article 😉
    the answer is very short: “to get MORE and MORE $$$ from AdWrods”! And this is the real reason for all those “updates”. They want chaos in organic results!

    Google needs to provide up to date relevant search results, and anticipate the searchers request. The restaurant definition is an excellent example – searchers don’t want definitions or to land on some spam page with loads of ads. They want the who, why, what, when, and they want it NOW ! without having to land on useless irrelevant sites.

    Hummingbird algorithm is started so mostly effect on high recommended keywords and that algorithm is provide a unique details and exact match details sharing.

    avatar Ferry says:

    Obviously with the google search engine algorithms were recently called “Hummingbird,” will be able to give the readers information about truly necessary and in accordance with what he was looking for.

    By providing users with instant information and knowledge, Google is increasing the accuracy and efficiency of their searches

    Obviously, we are very concerned about hummingbird algorithm.

    avatar Shenzhen Lead Opto-Technology Co. Ltd says:

    Hummingbird algorithm is actually how it is, I do not understand

    avatar Shenzhen Lead Opto-Technology Co. Ltd says:

    Adhere to good original high-quality, Google will like.

    avatar Ledstar Lighting Co., Ltd says:

    I am eager to know how to do Google included anti-chain will grow.

    avatar Ledstar Lighting Co., Ltd says:

    I am now eager to make anti-chain.

    avatar Carla says:

    Are you kidding? My site was ranking first and now it appears on page 14. With white hat seo

    We noticed several changes on our websites rankings. I have to say the UK one is the one that has been more affected. The Italian and the French ones have seen only minor changes.

    Maybe different “semantic power” with no english languages?

    avatar Weng of Big Outsource says:

    Very good point. I believe that having a planned content marketing strategy will eventually help out in this post panda, penguin, hummingbird world.

    avatar peekaboom says:

    As long as good content is there, google will index the site.

    This is a huge update from Google. With the Hummingbird update, Google has become a more powerful search engine now that the results of searchs get more specific.

    Really a very impressive article. Thanks a lot for sharing the latest changes in Google’s search engine.

    avatar dwivid says:

    A heartily thanks for this billboard hit post….
    and referral link regarding more information about Google update.

    avatar Lucian says:

    The Hummingbird Update does not really affect me, but there is an other update that really destroyed my business. I think it was related to “In-Depth Articles and Original Long Content”, rolled out on “08-06-2013”. My website dropped on almost all serp positions about 10-15 places.

    Does anyone have any idea why this update had such an effect on a small online store ?

    At first I thought I messed up by putting Author Rel, on market products, linked with my G+ account.

    All other stores in my area with worse content registered no loss, only me.

    Some of you seem to know what you are talking about, so can I please get a friendly helping hand ?

    Thank you, and Pardon my English.

    avatar Mark says:

    “If you’ve been keeping up with SEO for all these years, Google says there is really nothing new you need to worry about.”

    — Infamous last words of the non-Big-Brand webmaster.

    avatar Jewelry Singapore says:

    “Hummingbird,” I also such type of update is also affect on our website !! Due to which our keywords are failed to rank as we want !! Thanks for give great information !!!!

    About 90% of my clients were dropped from the first page for the competitive keywords. I have always suggested they write unique content for people, not for the search engines. A large number of people are reacting negatively to this hummingbird update and i recommend to stay positive and thank Google for keeping SEO professionals employed in this depressed economy 🙂

    avatar geoio says:

    As I understand Hummingbird algorithm, forget keywords and think about the context and how to structure the content…

    avatar Manidip says:

    Well, Google is always trying to improve the search result. They are throwing out crap sites from SERP on regular basis. Since this is an automated system several non-accused sites are too becoming victim. I have been victimized once. It’s really hard to digest from being the owner but from a general mans point of view kudos to Google. Yes, they are doing to everything for the sake of their business rather than for human welfare but we must have to admit that Google is now the other name of internet.

    I don’t think Hummingbird is will be bad but some sites will be pulled off once again. And may be the volume will be higher than ever before. 🙁 Tough time webmasters including me. 🙂

    avatar Denise W says:

    I believe if you have a high quality site, the new algorithm will not harm you. I was recently told article interlinking may also improve your ranking.

    avatar Jibran Qazi says:

    Panda, Penguin, Humming Bird ? When is Google opening it’s own zoo? BTW, Can’t wait for the albatross update 🙂

    avatar Eric LeClair says:

    Thinking the same thing bud lol

    I myself a victim.. I was at the first place and this hummingbird algo kicked me to 3rd page now and I’m now climbing the ladder. Need to change the way of working style…

    avatar Gbybr73 says:

    “You should also consider configuring your email marketing campaigns to Gmail…”

    Can anyone shed more light on this – or provide a link with more info? Thanks.

    There is always loser and winner for every algorithm update. My site also got hit by this update and i really need to pay full attention to the contents now.

    I love and hate this update. My main website ranking dropped but my newly created blog ranking is shooting high. I’m really puzzled. Should I be happy or sad?

    avatar Ashutosh says:

    Hi Adrienne,

    I don’t think that people who have been adding value to the knowledge base of their readers need to get scared of Hummingbird or any other update coming from Google.

    The problem is that many people run behind SEO while I believe in creating quality content and let SEO run behind us. Isn’t it a good idea ! Well, I think that is the right approach to get good SEO.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the topic.

    “Google Hummingbird” updated for clear user search result and help to conversation searches, so it’s not harmful like previous updates. We need to concentrate more on content and page optimization.
    The most important point is that the hummingbird update is 80% for humans and 20 % for search engines.

    avatar Jewelry Singapore says:

    Hummingbird is not be bad for all sites.
    The problem is that many people run behind SEO while I believe in creating quality content and let SEO run behind us. I love this update.

    avatar Jewelry Singapore says:

    It means now we can search quicker than before which must be necessary for us !! Actually now a days we don’t want to keep every where laptop or destop due to which such useful thing will help us or make our confusion too easy !! Thanks for give such useful information !!

    By providing users with instant information and knowledge, Google is increasing the accuracy and efficiency of their searches

    This blog is very helpful and very informative,thanks for sharing

    avatar SHAREit PC says:

    And The best thing which I know that the great thing which is also good to see this process is ice and great also.

    I am going to be the best thing in the coming days man, its going to be the best thing also.

    If they come out of with an “Hippopotamus” update. I’m quitting SEO . . .

    this post is very helpful thanks for sharing!

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