Google’s 15 years old, and like any teenager, it’s changing fast, and turning into an adult. A VERY smart (and somewhat scary) adult.
If you were online when Google was born (aka “the good old days”), you considered that search engines were indexing machines and relaxed. You simply went to town on keywords, and called it done. Your websites ranked, your content was found, and all was well with the world.
Happy days. Things were much simpler then.
What’s a Hummingbird?
A hummingbird is an itty bitty nectar-drinking bird with a super-fast metabolism.
Google told us the name come from being “precise and fast.”
With Hummingbird, Google brings together personalization (Google knows who you are and where you live), semantic search, and mobile search.
Tip: if your website’s not optimized for mobile devices, do that now.
Google’s building on its strengths
Google’s always been focused on delivering fast and relevant results. Now it’s going a step further. It wants to become your personal assistant:
Personal Assistant Vs. Information Retrieval
You can clearly see where search is acting less and less as information retrieval and more as a personal assistant. Apple’s SIRI leverages semantics as well, initially using it to enable interoperability and the scheduling of services when a natural-language query is initiated. Google Now has similar functionality.
Three things to do now
Lots to love, right? But how will Hummingbird affect your search engine traffic? No one knows, because Hummingbird isn’t just an algorithm update, it’s a completely new algorithm.
The good news is that Hummingbird was live for a month before Google announced it, so if you didn’t see a massive change in traffic, you probably won’t.
Let’s look at three things you can do to thrive with Hummingbird.
1. Give your audience what it wants: focus on intention
Mark Fagan, of iProspect, said:
(Hummingbird) may represent a step change in the way that SEO practitioners optimize content, since there will be less focus on the exact phrases used and more on the underlying meaning. It’s all about trying to deliver better search results for consumers, which is a good thing.
It’s vital to understand your target audience, and the intentions behind their search queries. Cut loose from keyword-focused content creation, and think of your audience’s interests and needs.
Check Google’s content guidelines too.
2. Say hello to Google+: it’s all about people and trust
Does Google trust you? Google wants to know you, and the people who know you, and the people you know, so start using Google+ if you aren’t already doing so.
Here’s an excellent article on why you should be doing that:
The addition of real people to the Google search algorithm and the ability of the algorithm to learn what people really like, and want, will result in the best companies, products and services rising to the top in both search rankings and business. Competitors with poor products and services will fade way regardless of size. This is not something that can be fixed by throwing money at it.
3. Run a great business, and create great content
Chris Kilbourn wrote about SEO in the age of Hummingbird:
So what does all this add up to?
If you don’t want to spend your time following Matt Cutts around like a lost puppy, then here’s what it boils down to: DO create great content for real people and DON’T try to trick them. OK?
Hummingbird frees you
In summary, if Hummingbird works as it should, you don’t need to worry about anything other than running a great business, and promoting it well, both online and offline.