Thursday, October 31, 2013

Google's Hummingbird Update and the Future of Search

(Photo from Pixabay)

What is Hummingbird?

Hummingbird is the name of Google's new search algorithm (how Google searches the web), its largest update in a number of years. It was announced last month, but it has been running for a few months now.

It is a major step in Google's work toward making the Internet a more user-friendly experience. Hummingbird is part of the "semantic web" movement, which basically seeks to make the Internet more human by inferring meaning and purpose from information and searches on the web. So instead of looking at site or search query as a series of words and numbers, the semantic web focuses on 'what is the purpose of the site/page?' or 'what information is the user trying to find?' This is especially critical now that voice searches over mobile devices are becoming more and more popular.

How does Hummingbird work?

Since search is so critical to Google, their algorithms are secret, but they have discussed some of the factors that Hummingbird takes into account. The sentence structures of search queries are better evaluated to determine meaning, instead of focusing primarily on keywords. There is also greater emphasis on common programming syntax, like schemas, to describe the type of information on websites.

What does Hummingbird mean for Small Business and Local SEO?

There is no reason to panic if you have already been managing your SEO the right way, meaning focusing on providing unique and useful content for customers. Sure, editing schemas can help, but that isn't the only thing that Google looks at. Some of our previous SEO recommendations that still ring true are:
  • Having a clear and logical website design that is easier for users to read and navigate. This will also help search engines understand the purpose and information on your site.
  • Providing specific informative content for users, including detailed descriptions, articles/blog posts, FAQs (frequently asked questions), tips, etc. can help answers the questions searchers are looking for.
  • Having great content also encourages people to link to your site as a trusted and authoritative source.
  • Interacting with customers on social media, responding to reviews, and maintaining correct and uniform directory listings all still play major roles in building your web presence and business' brand.
We are focusing on what is new about Hummingbird, but Hummingbird did not erase the search algorithms that came before it. Rather, it built upon that foundation, striving to create an Internet and world that provides a better user-friendly, customer-oriented experience. This too should be the goal of our online and general business strategy.

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