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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.