What is Google Hummingbird? What Does this Mean for SEO?

Google Hummingbird was officially announced this week and has many people asking, what is “Google Hummingbird?” Google Hummingbird represents a complete overhaul of Google’s entire search engine. It is estimated that 90% of all Google’s searches will be impacted by this change? So what makes hummingbird different than the last search algorithm? Google Hummingbird seeks to understand the entirety of a search instead of just picking out keywords. Google announced:

Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query – the whole sentence or conversation or meaning – is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

Google has pointed to conversational questions as a good example as to the difference between Google’s old search algorithm and Hummingbird. For example, if you asked Google: ” Where can I buy a 51′ plasma TV”, previously Google might pick out keywords such as “buy” and “plasma tv”. Under Google Hummingbird, the entirety of the questions will be understood and theoretically Google will now understand that you are looking for TV stores close to your house. So what does “Google Hummingbird” mean for SEO?

At the moment people should not panic. In the past Penguin and Panda cause headaches for everyone and the gut reaction is to panic. Google said that Hummingbird was released almost a month ago. At the moment, we are not seeing large changes in placement or traffic. It is interesting that this change came out right inline with the addition of secure search to all Google queries. It seems that Google is sending a message that we should focus on the content as a whole rather than specific keywords. The move to Hummingbird is a move from specific keywords to answering the question as a whole.

This change will lead to the growth of Google Knowledge graph. Google Knowledge graph is a collection of data that Google uses to help fill in your search as you type it. I believe that with this growth we will see an increase in long tailed searches. As content writers and webmasters, we should focus our content away from singular keywords and towards a more knowledge based approach. Ask questions and provide answers in your blogs and encourage online users to participate both in social media and on your website. These tools will help keep your content fresh and generate the type of content that Google will be looking for with Hummingbird.

By Matthew Wilkos

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