Google makes 500 to 600 changes (includes updates, data refreshes and changes) in algorithm every year in order to provide best search results to its users. While most of these changes are minor and go unnoticed, a few are major and causes significant effect on the searches. Hummingbird, the major change in Google’s search algorithm in the last week of August, 2013 (announced in September, 2013), affected 90% of searches. It is the biggest change and a complete replacement of search algorithm unlike updates or data refreshes.
Every major update or change in Google’s search algorithm creates lot of anxiety and confusion among business owners and corporate search marketers. Hummingbird, being a complete replacement of search algorithm left many people confused. It takes time to understand and analyze the algorithmic change of this magnitude. The following article highlights the things you should know about Hummingbird and how it can impact your business.
Things small business owners should know about Hummingbird
Firstly, it is important to know that mobile search, voice search and conversational search are the key driving forces behind the Hummingbird. It is more effective on long and complex queries. It got its name “Hummingbird” because it is “fast and precise” says Amit Singhal, SVP, Google Search.
Understanding knowledge graph
- Hummingbird is expanding the use of its knowledge graph. So, it is necessary for a small business owner to understand knowledge graph that Google launched in May,2012 and expanded it in July, 2013. Knowledge graph – Google summarizes all relevant facts and content related to users search and displays results with more insightful information, that user may like to see and learn. For example, if you search for “Thomas Edison”, you will get information like about him – when he was born, about his family, education, inventions, dead, etc., on the right side of the screen with images. It also suggests to know about other people, works, etc., related to him.
Need for high-quality content on the website
- Google still continues to give high priority to content. Earlier, Google used to consider only a few words called keywords and displayed result pages that were well matched with those keywords. But, Hummingbird is smarter, and considers all the words and the meaning behind them. It understands the concepts and relationships behind the concepts very well. So, the content on the website should be able to answer all asked and unasked questions of users or solve users’ problems.
- Hummingbird makes search on mobiles more easy and interactive. According to Yahoo.smallbusinesses, voice search is expected to become most important in near future. Mobile searchers need not type the query, instead they can speak to and ask search engine queries verbally by using voice intelligent assistance like Siri, etc. So, business websites have to be optimized with content that can understand and answer naturally spoken searches.
- Hummingbird makes search more conversational and natural. Hummingbird can understand the sequence of searches. This is useful for mobile searchers, who search using voice application on smartphones and tablets. For example, if you first search for “Where is Sacramento?”, it will give you relevant results. If your next search is “What is the population there?”, Hummingbird will show results by understanding “there” referring to “Sacramento” in the second query.
Optimize your website for mobiles
- As said above, mobile search is one of the key driving forces behind Hummingbird. Hummingbird is more helpful for mobile searches. According to Forbes, the mobile search volume will exceed the desktop search volume by 2015. Also, one in every three searches on mobile has local intent. This is a good news for small and local businesses. So, if your website is not optimized for mobiles, then, it is the time to do.
Hummingbird also contains comparison tool
- Apart from conversational and voice searches on mobile, Hummingbird has a comparison tool. It can compare two products or objects like dog breeds, celestial objects, etc. For example, try searching for “compare Earth and Mars”. More information to the comparison tool is getting added says Amit Singhal, SVP, Google Search.
Google confirmed that nothing has changed for SEOs. The guidelines for webmasters like high-quality content, gaining quality links, engaging users on social media, etc., remain unchanged.
Whatever the changes may be, Google always rewards sites that are helpful to users. So, optimize your website to satisfy users’ needs rather than optimizing for search engines.