So how has Google’s Hummingbird update affected SEO?

8th November 2013 in SEO

If you weren’t already aware, Google recently introduced Hummingbird. “Yet another update,” I hear you say. Well yes, but this is the first time a completely new algorithm has been implemented since 2011, and has, reputedly, impacted 90% of search queries.

But how exactly?Although a completely new algorithm, the visible impact has actually been less significant than the Penguin update in 2012.

In contrast to previous updates, Hummingbird is a more fundamental upgrade of Google’s capabilities and, as such, the impact will be more gradual.

One of the most important changes is that Hummingbird allows Google to understand the searcher’s requirements better, with the ability to have a better understanding of human language and words such as ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ and the intent behind these searches. This enables Google to deal with more complex, long-tail queries more effectively.

As consumers, our expectations of the internet and Google are ever-more demanding. We want things quicker and more accurate. If we search for ‘What was No.1 on 1 January 1973?’ (my birthday if you’re curious) then we don’t want to have to trawl through reams of irrelevant search results.

If you’re interested I’ve done the search and top of the list was: and I quickly found that Little Jimmy Osmond’s Long Haired Lover from Liverpool was No.1 when I was born.

Equally Google uses its knowledge graph to answer questions such as a query like ‘How tall is Mount Everest’ returns the search result: 29,029 (8,848 m) Mount Everest, Elevation.

It stands to reason, therefore, that this will affect SEO in ways including:

  • Better results for conversational searches
  • Decline of short-tail
  • Emphasis on content rather than keywords
  • Improved search functionality.

As we continue to stress to our clients, ‘content is king’. It may be an over-used phrase but it is valid and never more so. The delivery of excellent content, optimised for long-tail semantically-related keywords, accessible across multiple devices is key to future online success.

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