Pandas and penguins are out. Birds are in—hummingbirds, that is. Hummingbird is the name of Google’s latest algorithm, and it’s going to change the very nature of SEO. This is not an overstatement. Even though Google is, as always, guarded about revealing details, news around the virtual water cooler is that Hummingbird is no mere tweak to standard procedure—it’s a brand new approach to SEO that all agencies, professionals, and business owners should be aware of.
All of us at Advice Interactive always have our eyes and ears open for news about the latest Google updates, and this is especially true for news about Hummingbird. So far, we’ve identified three big facts that you will want to keep in mind when developing SEO strategies that maximize the features of Hummingbird.
Rather than relying on a single keyword or two, the Knowledge Graph considers a query in context. This capitalizes on the fact that users increasingly enter full sentences—most often questions—into a search box, rather than simple keywords. Although Google introduced the Knowledge Graph in 2012, it is far more important in Hummingbird than it was in past algorithms. Going forward, SEO strategists must anticipate the intentions of users as well as the keywords they are likely to use.
If you want your organization or business to place high in Google search results, you had better be sure that it appears influential in social media networks. Your numbers of followers and likes connote social proof—evidence that people think what you say matters. Fan engagement indicates that you are able to interest users in your content. All of this adds up to evidence of your reputation. (Yep. It’s just as your mom said. There’s nothing more valuable than a sterling reputation.)
It’s not surprising that Google would design its new algorithm to privilege its own social media platform. Whether we like it or not, though, the smart move is to put some energy into your profile(s) on Google+ because Hummingbird is going to place you higher in its search results if you demonstrate influence in the Google network.
There’s an old saying, often attributed to Mark Twain, that goes, “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” Whoever said it was referring to newspapers, the dominant media of the day, which had plenty of resources and could win most disputes. Google is in a similar position today. (Just think of the ink as link juice.)
Notice how these three influence factors fit neatly together. Information from Google+ communicates social signals to Hummingbird, which uses that information to identify the context in which you or your organization operates. That, in turn, is used in the Knowledge Graph to better understand the relevance of your work to the question asked by the user. If the fit seems right, you will be included in the search results. The better the fit, the higher your ranking.
If you want to do more Hummingbird watching, Danny Sullivan gives us a great FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm.
All in all, I think that Joshua Steimle said it best in this Forbes article. Nothing has changed. If you have original, high-quality content, and you have high-quality and relevant websites linking to your own website, then your website is still going to rank well. If anything, your website’s rankings will improve just as they should have after the Penguin and Panda updates rolled out.