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October 18, 2013

Google’s Hummingbird Update: 5 Changes You Need to Implement

Google seo search results
Photo Credit: MoneyBlogNewz

The Google Hummingbird update was launched without any formal notification by Google. Various sources indicated it may have been launched around the last week of August or the first week of September. It was an update specifically geared to deal with handling more complex search queries.

With increased dependency on Google, users had started to enter more conversational kinds of queries which demanded instant answers from Google rather than a set of specific pages which might contain the answer. The core search algorithm of Google was updated with Hummingbird.

With this algorithm enhancement, Google laid more importance on conversational search and semantic processing of queries. Instead of processing a query simply by matching the presence of words on web pages stored in the index, Google now understands the real context of the query and returns exact “answers”.

As a result, there are some changes that you must implement on your website in order to make the most of this update. These changes are outlined below:-

Add Question Answer Pattern Content

People are looking for answers and, if your site can be adapted towards a question answer pattern kind of content, then that would work best after the hummingbird update. It’s not strange to see QA sites rising up the rankings. That does not mean you need to start rewriting all your existing content and add a QA pattern to it, but focusing on creating articles that contain a “How to” approach and that present definite answers to user queries will help. Please remember that not all sites can match this pattern and an interesting point here is that not all queries demand a QA like pattern being returned by Google.

Increase the Domain Authority of Your Site

Domain authority has been rising in importance following each Google update. Google wants to present the most authoritative content to its users and one of the best ways for it to identify genuine sites is by judging the quality of content and the links pointing to them. So having links from high quality resources always helps to boost your site’s search engine presence. This isn’t new. Links held a similar importance in the past and will continue to be important in the future.

I should point out here that Google has increased emphasis on counting natural backlinks versus unnatural but relevant backlinks. Following a properly planned link baiting strategy to acquire natural links is preferable to acquiring links using the old school methods of article syndication and cheap content marketing. Earning links by serving your customers well and increasing your brand value is the strategy to follow for the long term.

Use Schema Mark Up

Schema mark up is a revolutionary vocabulary that can be implemented on any site using any languages like microformat, microdata and RDF. Rich snippets like ratings and reviews, recipe preparation time, data highlighter, product pricing, etc. are all forms of schema mark up. The best way to enable Google to clearly understand the content displayed on your site is with the help of schema vocabulary. Many webmasters are unaware of this, but the point is, you can implement schema mark up on almost every type of content irrespective of your industry. This is a golden opportunity to increase the semantic value of your site and make it stand out in the search results.

Implement Mobile SEO Tactics

The number of mobile search users is constantly growing and having a mobile friendly site is your best bet to accommodate these users. Hummingbird has especially adapted itself to serve the needs of mobile users. Catering to a mobile audience by creating a mobile version of your site with a faster loading time, fewer images, easy navigation, etc. is another way you can meet the expectations of the Hummingbird algorithm. Most importantly, your site should be easily crawlable and load quickly. Users hate sites that are slow and Google always panders to its users.

Use Google Authorship

If you haven’t implemented authorship on your site then make this a priority. The big brands always remain an exception but for the rest of us (which are the majority), the best way to let Google identify you and move from the anonymous web to the named web is by using Google authorship. With the diminishing value of search rankings and the increasing value of traffic, you can’t leave any stone unturned to improve the click-through rate of your site. To attain this goal, use authorship. People tend to click more often on search results displaying an author image as opposed to anonymous search results.

It is important to mention here that Google hasn’t disclosed the exact changes made to its algorithm, but a study of search patterns indicates that implementing the 5 strategies noted above is the best course of action in relation to the Hummingbird update which has affected around 90% of all search queries.


Joydeep Bhattacharya is an internet marketer and owner of the SEO blog, SEO Sandwitch. He has been associated with SEO, SMO, PPC, ORM and other activities related to online marketing for the past 5 years.

48 Responses to “Google’s Hummingbird Update: 5 Changes You Need to Implement

    avatar Dannette says:

    Nice article am glad to see that someone can keep up with some,or all that google is doing, Use Google Authorship is good for some, but there are some of us that don’t want our pictures plastered all over the web,its a privacy concern!

    avatar Vrinsoft says:

    Very well said Joydeep, I really liked your these post and already shared it with my community. Search engine queries could be 3 types:

    * Informational Quary
    * Navigational Quary
    * Transactional Quary

    Hummingbird is all about of transactional.

    avatar Mohit says:

    Creating How to content is a little hard for the blogs who are generating contents based on case studies or a research.
    Well, Mobile Responsiveness and Schema markup is must have things to list rank sites easily in search engines.
    Thanks for the nice article Joyedeep.


    Thanks for the input. I agree with 4 out of your 5 recommendations.
    Allow me to doubt about the writing content in a Q/A format. It sounds to me a very “expected” thinking through the old keyword-orientated fashion; so expected that Google must have already thought about going around that “trick.”
    Rating of and user behaviour to a specific cotent (obtained straight from Google Analytics) seems to me a more logical way for Google to judge if your content should reach higher rankings or not.
    Think the quality-score algo in adwords matching content of page AND website relevancy to a search term…

    It’s only my view and opinion though.

    With best regards

    avatar Runner says:

    If Q/A format doesn’t work for the main content on your site, consider adding an FAQ page instead.

    Bernard Cayeux: it very heplful for me You have Share Own Remark About Google Hummingbird update.

    avatar Ferry says:

    Possible with its latest Google algorithm, which is called The Hummingbird Google will give the best thing for consumers seach engine in determining the important things that needed to produce the discovery of what it sought from its users

    Shouldn’t the strategy be about doing what you know how to do best rather than doing what one search engine wants you to do?
    We focus on creating useful content rather than search engine demands.

    avatar Uganda Safaris says:

    Could you elaborate more on the shema mark up? I didn’t understand that and how I could use it to help me improve my African travel site.

    avatar max says:


    “Google wants to present the most authoritative content to its users” effectively they present the least authoritative. I really sometimes can only shake my head when I see what they are doing. They have simply wrong three parameter for this. One is how big is the company? The bigger, the more authoritative, which is exactly the opposite which is true. The second, Google goes more and more into redundancy, means they dont focus on the subject, for them the stuff around is the subject and third the usual over-priority of links. Now? All is wrong! We call that operational blindness. Yahoo / Bing gets definitely continuously better because they focus on the subject.

    avatar Chellet says:

    Joydeep, these are a wealth of information you just shared. For a blogger/writer like me, I see Schema mark up and Google authorship as the most applicable for my blogs right now. Will surely apply these on to my blogs.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas.

    avatar Daniel says:

    good point on authorship.
    from what i have seen lately is quality on site as a whole and individual pages, not a just which grade do i get to pass the test. but rather how well i do on the test.

    I think all Google algorithms don’t mean anything to the genuine webmasters. It is because they target spammers. And a genuine webmaster is never a fraud. So, the best strategy always is to stay loyal to your customers, good content, great services and Google is there to serve you even better with every coming update.
    Thank you!

    avatar Curt says:

    Google has gotten frustrating for many of us that have had websites for over a decade and have just focused on our passion for creating good content.

    I can understand that since Google is trying to keep up and focus forward on user voice queries, that would lead some to believe Q&A sites are the answer to really conquer the SERPs. But everything is cyclical and comes back around to people coming to your site if it’s got great content they want to read.

    Another thing people should also do is not rely so heavily on Google for traffic. It’s like if you’re a lawyer and only have one client, you’re pretty much at their mercy. If they leave you, you’re screwed. That’s what has happened to so many legitimate websites who wound up being collateral damage during one of the many zoo animal updates over the past few years.

    There’s such a plethora of traffic avenues now. It’s smart to also focus on those, plus you don’t have to always spend so much time worrying about SEO’ing your website and can get back to creating content you enjoy. With all the updates and everything, website ownership has started to become something not so much fun as it used to be when we just wrote what we enjoyed.

    Google authorship is a simple way for sites to get their G cred and the schema markup is easy and something many have been doing long before it became a Google trend.

    avatar shamsher khan seo says:

    i am totally agree with raheel farooq . it is all about spammer. it will not affect genuine webmaster and SEO

    avatar Mike says:

    Thanks Joydeep, This is a short and good insight into how to tackle Hummingbird .

    avatar Dotty says:

    Thank you for your insight on Google Hummingbird SEO. We will implement your suggestions and see if our rankings change.

    avatar Lucian says:

    This is a little piece of what we think Google made, but the real answear I think is to adapt the content of a website to be natural, to forget about old school SEO and create content that gives answers to our target visitors. Forget all you have learned about SEO.

    avatar Vivek Jain says:

    Quite interesting and Valuable Information.
    Totally Agree with all points.
    Basically, Question Answer Pattern Content and Schema Mark Up are two new main things here to do for working on content quality.

    I agree with Vrinsoft also. He said that
    “Search engine queries could be 3 types:

    * Informational Quary
    * Navigational Quary
    * Transactional Quary

    Hummingbird is all about of transactional.”
    Which is totally true.

    Thanks for sharing this important update. I am sharing this information on my facebook wall. 🙂

    avatar Robert says:

    Great article. What is your opinion on the best practice for companies to utilize blog authorship for a corporation? Our company, provides GPS fleet tracking to commercial companies. We have a strong blog presence and I believe we provide relevant and frequent content for our audience. We wanted the answers and expertise that our blog provides to position our company as the thought leader in the industry and were always wary about promoting a single author or individual, regardless of role. Any thoughts from the public?

    Thank you Joydeep, your holistic approach to web design, mobile optimization, Google authorship and the rest of your list gives us a continual reminder how to rise and stay on top. For any of you so inclined take a look at my SEO Resume. In under 6 months I was able to get on the first page of Google and Bing and stay there by doing the items listed there.
    Today is about sharing knowledge and collaborating. Thanks for being a team-player Joydeep. Blessings and Peace in your home, work and play.

    avatar Rob Reed says:

    Funny now… Google telling us that we have to write according to what Google “thinks” clients want. They use to say write FOR the client… NOT for Search Engines.
    I just hope they won’t limit the use of commas soon, because people (like bots) don’t need to breathe anymore…
    Also… in this acronym world, who in their right mind would actually write a full long sentence as a query. Even Twitter’s 140 characters is now seen by many as TOO LONG. Most “real” people (NOT BOTS) have been trained by Search Engines to think and query in SHORT TELEGRAPHIC terms, using “quotation” marks to focus on the subject… (Not to mention what GOOGLE SUGGEST delivers on top of that).

    Conversational Search is great for VOCAL APPLICATIONS… not so for the web. Affecting up to 90% of websites, as reported, is simply crazy.
    Since Google’s SERPs are already spamming us with too many secondary results (including their own properties being pushed on to us) their HYPER SUPER Conversational Query mode will push people away towards other Search Engines.

    And, in my view, that’s simply great.

    You are right Joydeep, we are seeing it every single day with all our websites

    avatar Saje Dennis says:

    Google Humminbird update was a much-needed one and it will give better results to conversational-based queries. The article outlines some important and relevant changes that everyone has to make to the website so that maximum results are achieved.

    avatar abc says:

    Joydeep Bhattacharya G isma naya kaya ha???????

    avatar Barry says:

    Great article guys, thank you for breaking it down for us. You made it much easier to understand for business owners trying to make money online from home.

    I can barely keep up with all these Google updates. Seems that they are changing things every month! I partially agree with Raheel though… If you create content that is unique or at least your own content, then these updates will affect you less. Google really is all about providing relevant content and so are the other search engines. As a search marketer, I try my best to keep up with these updates and to provide the best content that I can. I like the idea of Google authorship and as a small business owner I am not really worried about branding myself along with my businesses. After all, I am my business… Thanks for the great article. Thanks for keeping us informed and in the Google loop!

    avatar Norman Risner says:

    Great article!

    avatar DCL says:

    Google Hummingbird is ending the world of seo..

    avatar Khurram says:

    Very helpful article for me after a major decrease in traffic due to hummingbird. Now I have an idea on how to recover from it.

    avatar Raghav says:

    Why is Google telling us what to write and what should be stopped.

    But let’s see what exactly is going to change. Hummingbird is a huge change for search traffic.

    avatar Rakesh says:

    Really very informative for seo guys.. Thanks joydeep . Keep it up……

    avatar jithin says:

    really helpful Joydeep..most of the webmasters are worried after the hummingbird update and i hope your post will help them all including me.

    avatar Aventura Infotech says:

    Jaydeep nice research, but as we know that in Humming bird update, all query is checked word by word, so there is no result on the behalf of dominant word. So 1st tips is really appreciable to include question answer pattern, but I don’t think schema markup is necessary for Humming bird.

    Unfortunately, it isn’t always about quality of search with Google – revenue is king now. When they shook up the serps with the Penguin update, they added 2 billion a quarter to their profits because everyone who lost their rankings had to buy adwords to stay in business. Their creed of “do no evil” sadly does not apply to them… and should now be changed to “pay up or disappear!”. Sad really, because the webmasters who created the content that Google built their business on have been stabbed in the back. So saying “don’t worry – this only affects spammers” is naive.

    avatar Chakka Jam says:

    I think this change might be more beneficial for the website owners. If they make the necessary changes and follow the instructions as per the blog especially QA pattern.
    Thanks for this informative post.

    avatar Ismail N says:

    Thanks for the advise. At the moment I only implemented half of what you suggested. Will try to improve it in the near future.

    avatar MyTechBrief says:

    First thanks to lights on hummingbird. I think hummingbird is 10yrs old pattern. this updates work on Search queries improved based on query semantic information.

    avatar Rutchie says:

    I’ll take note of these Joydeep. I will change the style of my articles and will try o implement the changes. My book formatting site’s traffic dropped just in time when hummingbird was announced.

    avatar Bhavik Vyas says:

    Google’s move to encourage us to build authority to our own online assets rather than off site irrelevant links makes sense. In time that wealth will build and after years of gathering interest who would want to leave it? If I had 1M in assets in the Google bank I wouldn’t go to the Bing bank or Yahoo bank if I can’t transfer my assets across (Google Plus). In time Bing and Yahoo will lower the cost of transfer but for now they are locked out for a time.

    avatar servis says:

    The truth lies behind your wise words. I may suggest to everyone that this is the right way to go. I got hit by this new algo and for the recovery I`m using these strategies along with more Adwords investments sadly , but I`m hoping for the best now.

    avatar Harry Ko says:

    Wow. These are great information. I was really wondering what should I do with to improve my rankings for Hummingbird. I will implement this as soon as I can.

    But the thing is, I didn’t get what you mean with schema mark up. Maybe I will try to dig further about it.

    great article
    Google always act like a boss..nobody can do anything…

    avatar dau da day says:

    Your article is very meaningful to me it’s something I’m looking for thank you very much

    avatar Mike Watson says:

    Brilliant article. Google is really making some good changes that are helping me to raise my business online. Interior designing business is not easy online.

    avatar Haider Raza says:

    This article is very brilliant views of work. You give a very short and concise brief of google humming bird. This article is very helpful for me.It helps me understand the concept of seo in a better way.

    avatar Jack says:

    Wonderful article learn a lot of new things about humming bird update.

    The humming bird update affects the portfolio websites?

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