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Google Hummingbird Algorithm Update: What Does it Mean For Your SEO Efforts?

by Durodola Ridwan | Saturday, October 05, 2013 | 23 Comments

Google announced a new search algorithm for it search engine last week (September 26th 2013) during a press event at Google senior VP Susan Wojcicki's old Menlo Park, Calif, where Larry page and Sergey brin started the search engine journey. The day also marks their 15th anniversary.
While the announcement was made last week, Amit Singhal, the senior vice president of search, told reporters on Thursday that the company launched its latest "Hummingbird" algorithm few months ago, which most webmasters believe it's the major cause of the 90% drop in worldwide searches, but only Google can confirm that.

What is Hummingbird all about?

Google doesn’t appear to have replaced previous signals such as PageRank or many of the other signals that they use to rank pages. But according to Google, Hummingbird happens to be a game changer.
Google says "Hummingbird is a new engine built on both existing and new parts, organized in a way to especially serve the search demands of today, rather than one created for the needs of 10 years ago, with the technologies back then."

"Remember what it was like to search in 1998? You'd sit down and boot up your bulky computer, dial up on your squawky modem, type in some keywords, and get 10 blue links to websites that had those words." Says Amit Singhal.

It's said that Humming bird will based on semantic search, relationship between two search terms or 2 to 3 sequence of our previous queries.
Search results we currently receive reflect the matching combination of keywords that a search phrase contains, rather than the true meaning of the search phrase. Search results produced by Hummingbird will reflect the full semantic meaning of longer search phrases, and should in theory produce more accurate results.

Google might look at a query like: What is the best place to find and eat Chicago deep dish style pizza?, and understand that a searcher looking for results for that query would likely be more satisfied with the use of “restaurant” instead of “place”.

Another great example is: Google knew that there is a building called "Empire State Building" and the information concerning its construction is available within the internet. Google can now provide answer, remembering the previous conversation just like humans do. Consider the following sequence of 3 queries:

"show me pictures of the empire state building"

Photo credit: Forbes

"How tall is it"

Photo credit: Forbes

"show me pictures of its construction"

Photo credit: Forbes

Comparison and filters

The world has changed so much. Billions of people have come online, the Web has grown exponentially, and now you can ask any question on the powerful little device in your
“You can pull up your phone and say to Google: “Tell me about Impressionist artists.” You’ll see who the artists are, and you can dive in to learn more about each of them and explore their most famous works.” says Amit Singhal in his blog post

The ability to filters and make comparison between a search phrase is done by Knowledge graph.
In short, knowledge graph is much smarter. It can answer questions, filter the answers, and give you comparison data, at a glance. You don’t have to click away from search results, hoping there is a web page within the result page which might have the answer, the data will be right there for you. For example, consider the result to the search query "Orange vs Mango"

"How far is Ibadan from here?"

Google understand the relationship between two things. Orange and Mango were fruits, so providing a comparison result for the query will be straightforward.

For Google to provide information for my query "how far is Ibadan from here" means Google is now moving from just keywords to true meaning. Using "far" in my query means Google understand that am talking about distance, "Ibadan" means am talking about a location and "here" means am talking about my present location which is lagos. So the information will be easy to compare, if Google can map my location and the other location, and i might ask such query if i want to get a driving directions.

So does it mean SEO is dead?

Absolutely not. SEO is still alive. It's just that Google keeps adding more tools to the existing one in order to provide accurate results for its users. In fact, Google say there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about the update. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.

Hummingbird is the largest upgrade Google has added to its search algorithm since 2001. Some other visible upgrade along the way include: spell-checking in search (2001), the concept of synonyms in a search (2003), autocompletion of queries (2005), universal search on all kinds of topics in one simple interface (2007), saving several seconds per search (2010), Knowledge Graph to understand concepts and not just keywords (2012), and most recently voice search and Google Now, the predictive search service.

Also, you should be aware that all those old dirty SEO tricks won't work this time around. Stuffing keyword within a page all in the name of ranking high in serp's is just a waste. Hummingbird focus away from keywords and move towards intent and semantics, which are infinitely more relevant to users. While the Google of a decade ago was focused on delivering search results based solely on queries, the Google of today is drawing insights from a variety of other signals: location, social connections, and your previous searches.

While most SEO experts are still trying to figure out whether the arrival of Hummingbird means they’ll have to change their strategies, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land says the general SEO advice remains the same: “Have good, descriptive content, and you should be doing all you can do to tap into long-tail searches."

All your focus now shouldn't be on how to tweak your blog pages hoping it will rank high. Instead, answer questions people are searching for on Google.

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Durodola Ridwan is a Professional blogger, SEO Consultant, Certified Web developer/designer and founder of www.realcombiz.com. He love writing about Blogging tips, SEO, and play around with codes. You can connect with him on facebook, twitter @realcombiz, and Google+.

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