On September 26th, 2013 Google "announced" the new HummingBird algorithm. According to Google’s “search chief” Amit Singhal, this change is the most significant change to Google search engine algorithm since 2001. Considering all the change in the world since then, that’s a powerful statement. Therefore, what basics should business owners know about the Google HummingBird search engine update?
Before giving some strategy tips about taming this bird, lets identify 3 basic questions about this significant update.
1) What is Google HummingBird?
2) Why did Google name the search engine update HummingBird?
3) Where will Google HummingBird impact searches?
And finally, what are the basics a business owner should know about taming the Google HummingBird?
(1) What is Google HummingBird?
Google Hummingbird is the new Google algorithm by Google. September 27, 2013 is Google's official birthday, making Google 15 years old. To celebrate their 15th birthday, Google launched  a new "Hummingbird" algorithm, claiming that Google search can be a more human way to interact with users and provide a more direct answer. - Wikipedia
Since 2009, online activity alone has increased more than 300%. Today, there are more Internet-able devices than people per household. Society lives online now, so naturally there will be an evolution in how we search as well. Google search is now breaking into Artificial Intelligence
Google HummingBird puts an emphasis on human based search rather than keyword. Google HummingBird search engine uses a very high level of “Natural Language Programming”. This human based approach includes both conversational search and voice search.
(2) Why did Google name the search engine update "HummingBird"?
To put it simply, the humming bird has the largest brain to body ratio of any in the bird kingdom. Also, the humming bird is fast and precise. Let’s examine these correlations to better understand why Google named its update after the HummingBird.
- Largest brain to body ratio in the bird kingdom
A humming bird’s brain is approximately 4.2% of its body weight, the largest of any proportion of any other bird...including the all mighty bald eagle. Humming birds are extremely smart. They literally can remember every flower they have been to, and how long it will take a flower to refill.
The correlation here is the Google HummingBird is the smartest search engine update ever. The hummingbird can remember your history, save all your passwords (when using Google Chrome browser), and understand patterns the searchers have interest in, but more importantly, the search engine update locates the most relevant information for the search engine user.
- Fast and precise
“Google hummingbird is precise and fast in that it gives an exact answer to the searcher in one click instead of just giving results that contain the keywords you are looking for.” – Kyle Kam of Social Media Today
To demonstrate how fast and precise a real humming bird is, a video example is warranted. Watch this one minute video below. Pay attention to the humming bird when the video is replayed in slow motion. The speed is still off the chart. Google had conviction and reasoning when naming the search engine update HummingBird.
3) Where will Google Hummingbird impact searches?
According to more than one source, Google HummingBird will potentially affect 90% of all searches. Consider how many searches there are per day on Google? 1,000,000,000: that’s 900,000,000 impacted searches per day.
The new Google HummingBird update impacts the search engine’s effectiveness and practicality by making it smarter to find more relevant content for the user rather than simply serving up results based on a website's keyword strategy. This search engine update change will impact the user by providing searches with more relevent and solution-oriented content.
Also, website traffic may very well drop for many business owners. However, the website should have higher customer conversions. Meaning the search engine should be sending more relevant (smarter) traffic.
People tend to type what they would say, and the new search engine is smart enough to understand and put an emphasis on this; Google HummingBird tees up an infrastructure for the search of today and tomorrow.
What can business owners do to make sure their website can tame the hummingbird?
Google will never give out there algorithm publically, but individuals and agencies that study other thought leaders in SEO, make them very insightful as well. SEOland, SEOMoz, Hubspot, and many more. If a business owner does not have the time for this, hiring an agency with knowledge and team support is crucial. The owner should have an entire team work for your business vs. having one person. The industry is too broad and ever growing to only utilize one person.
Each member of this team should be a specialist in a certain area, in turn creating a streamline approach. Allowing for more quality work in less time, saving the business owner money and time. If a business owner wants to tackle this challenge him/herself, here are some basics to know about taming the HummingBird update from Google.
Don't try to cheat Google: You'll lose every time. Google HummingBird is smarter than ever before. The resources at Google are omnipresent and any person or business that tries to gain a competitive advantage by cheating the system will lose.
Create Engaging Blog Articles for the NEW SEO: While only Google knows the HummingBird inside and out. After studying thought leaders in SEO, there are some variables Google uses to determine quality of content. Some of these variables are listed below. Some of these measurements were valued and used before the update. Google kept what was working and threw out what wasn't. The basic variables Hummingbird embraces are below.
- Bounce Rates: Keep content engaging
It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and "bounce" (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.
- Topic Driven blog articles: not keyword based - build for the human first, then keyword
Create Content for the Buyer Persona: your typical customer.
- Publish Dates: keep content fresh, consistently
Google knows when your publishing and when your not. So posting consistently is certainly a variable taken into account.
- Time on Page: time spent on individual page
Naturally, how long the website visitor stays on a particular page of content certainly is a measurable for what is considered quality content.
- Page Ranking: link to high ranking sites
PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important and relevant the website is. The underlying assumption here is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites. So essentially, these sites serve as another door to your website and gives more credibility, in turn assisting in search engine. The example below showcases the front doors of "98togo" direct search. This search could vary slightly for your search engine as content changes weekly.
- Social Signals: Content distrbution and/or sharing
The hummingbird still values if your business is willing to distribute your content through other channels. And how often your content is shared or liked certainly is a variable in considering high quality content. LinkedIn, Youtube, Google+, FaceBook, Twitter, Slideshare, Stumble Upon, Digg, Pinterest, and many more social sites Google uses to gage signals of content quality.
- Mobile Friendly: Your site should be mobile friendly.
Currently, over 40% of all searches come from a mobile device: Tablets included and the growth isn’t stopping anytime soon. Google instantly knows if the search is coming from a mobile or PC: and search results will alter based on giving the search user the best user experience. Ex) if two businesses have similar products or services and one has a user-friendly mobile site and the other does not. You can bet on the mobile site, if searched from a mobile device, to have a higher ranking. Anything that makes the user experience better, without sacrifice of content quality, count on Google to reward that in the search algorithm.
- Build for Conversion: Your site should be able to convert relevant leads
Perhaps the most important element, your website should be "marketed" to convert leads.
- Give valuable offers that are relevant to your buyer persona(s)
- Automated Lead Nurturing: this strategy is showing wonderful results for business when done correctly. Once the lead comes in, that lead can be properly nutured down the sales funnel. With proper planning with business owner, these series of emails will answer common questions and typical pushbags to the relevant lead. As the lead is nurtured, your sales team can gage the interest based on actions taking from any given lead. In other words, the goal is to create the sales process vitrually 24/7 by giving information to common questions, pushbacks, and what your business can offer to over come these. For more information, see this blog post on Automated Lead Nurturing
- Complement your PPC campaign: once the visitor is on your website, he/she has the chance to become a lead. Are you optimized to get that lead once they are there?
Google has and always will be reinventing its search engine with end user in mind. For some years to come, Google HummingBird is sure to make minor tweaks, but this significant update change is here to stay.
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