Google recently started using an updated form of its search algorithm, called Hummingbird. The new update is the biggest change the company has made to the way it sorts through and displays web pages since 2001.
Google updates its algorithm frequently and search engine optimisation experts have had to change their approach due to pervious updates like Penguin and Panda. However, this latest update dramatically changes how the company deems content worthy of the top search results.
How Hummingbird is Different
What is so different about this update? It takes the focus off of keywords and puts an emphasis on context or more conversational search terms. Instead of relying heavily on how often a keyword appears in your content, the algorithm will take a user’s intentions into consideration and evaluate your content based on how well it provides relevant information.
For example, before Hummingbird was launched, the search phrase “How to install Photoshop on a Macbook” would bring results based on keywords like “Photoshop” and “Macbook.” Now, Google will pay more attention to all the words in the search query and try to understand what the user means by it. So, it may serve more refined results including pages that contain information on downloading and installing software onto a Macbook.
But, that’s not all. Users who are signed into their Google account when searching will benefit from even more refined searches. Search results for these people could be based on location, previous searches, Google Plus contacts, and other information attached to user accounts.
In essence, the new search will work to make search results even better by bringing a more human element to the algorithm and by displaying content that is more likely to be relevant to the entire search query, not just specific keywords.
What Should You do Differently?
Google made a statement to Forbes telling marketers and site owners that not much has changed as far as their advice for SEO campaigns goes: “Our guidance to web masters is the same as always — we encourage original, high-quality content, since that’s what’s best for web users.”
As you develop your SEO campaigns, you should do so with your customers in mind. Think about what they would search for and how your website can provide the best information and most relevant content. Then, develop content around those factors and continue to use keywords and key phrases where appropriate. You may also want to broaden your list of target keywords and phrases to include as many variations as possible.
Some believe that this new update could help small businesses more easily rank for generic terms. The results of Hummingbird and how it will affect businesses has yet to be seen, but this could be the case for your business.
The nature of SEO and search algorithms is always changing, and this latest update is a natural shift to more intelligent search. Google will now be able to better understand what users are looking for and deliver even better results.
Your business can benefit from the new algorithm by creating SEO campaigns based on what your market searches for and by continuing to create original, relevant and helpful content.