RUN FOR THE HILLS PEOPLE! Google has changed its algorithm in what’s been called the biggest update to its search procedures in more than a decade.
While you’ll no doubt be able to find commentary pieces explaining how you’ll have to overhaul your SEO efforts or that it’s the death of keywords (the equivalent of the Daily Mail’s nonsense sensationalist headlines), in reality it’s just the next step in Google’s plan to return the most relevant results by properly understanding what you want to find out.
To summarise, the Hummingbird algorithm update:
Came in about a month ago
If you weren’t worried a month ago when it actually changed then don’t be worried now!
Wants to understand what you’re trying to find out
It’s been said that search engines want to become ‘answer engines’, either showing you the answer to your query within the search or the best resource to find it out straight away. To do this it needs to understand your actual meaning, so this update improves Google’s ‘semantic search’ understanding. It can predict what you’re trying to find out and provide related information alongside results, and link queries in a row so that if you ask “How big is it” it knows you’re talking about the Eiffel Tower search you did before and not something rude.
Aims to keep you on Google
If Google can find you the answer to your search without leaving Google, that’s all the better for them. They want you staying on Google, using their services, clicking their ads…
Gets listening and mobile
All this is designed to work better with mobile and voice search, so that Google is your choice for information on the move.
Still means SEO = providing value
In essence the aim of really good SEO work doesn’t change – you need to identify and understand your target audience and efficiently provide exceptionally valuable online content that is connected to your service (some of the basics of entrepreneurial marketing). From that comes links and traffic and rankings. The bits and bobs might alter a little, but if you’re not doing this main bit then the bits and bobs don’t matter so much anyway.
Google is pushing out update after update to its algorithms at the moment, and in my opinion it’s been the most volatile year or so in the history of Google for ranking fluctuations. My advice is to not get hung up on ‘algorithm chasing’ and instead concentrate on the bigger picture – making your site relevant and interesting to the needs of your audience, and then promoting the heck out of it!
Hey, it works for our clients…
If you want to know the full ins-and-outs of Hummingbird feel free to read SearchEngineLand’s Hummingbird FAQ.