At the beginning of October, Google introduced a new update to their algorithm. While Google updates their search algorithm on a regular basis, there are certain changes that stand out from the rest. Over the past few years, the Panda and Penguin updates have been Google’s most significant shifts. And as most people involved in the search industry agree, Google’s latest update, which is being referred to as Hummingbird, will join the ranks of those truly significant algorithm rollouts. In fact, many individuals are saying that this is biggest change to the way Google works of the last decade!
So, What Exactly is Hummingbird?
Because Google’s algorithm is so complex, you could easily fill an entire book diving into it and exploring the technical details of this update. However, the basic gist of this change is that Hummingbird is Google’s big shift away from strictly keywords and towards having more focus on semantics and intent. Now, even if you only casually keep up with the search engine marketing and optimization world, this concept probably doesn’t sound revolutionary. The reason for that is it’s something that’s been talked about for several years now. What is a big deal is Google is finally rolling this concept into their actual search engine technology. One of the reasons Google is at a point where they’re able to make that jump is because they’ve collected a huge amount of data from both Google Voice and Android.
How Should You Deal with Hummingbird?
As Matt Cutts has explicitly stated, the biggest concept to remember is that Google’s future “is about things, not strings.” So if piling keywords into your content has been a major part of your SEO strategy, it’s time to seriously reconsider that approach. In fact, heavily relying on keywords may not even be much of an option too far in the future. The reason is the company’s other big change is that they’re going to start encrypting all organic keyword data. That means if you had hopes that the percentage of “not provided” searches in your Google Analytics data was going to decrease, it’s time to accept that. Google isn’t going to switch course on that issue.
Although changes like this one can be very frustrating to marketers, getting mad isn’t going to help you maintain or increase the amount of organic traffic your site receives. Instead, it’s simply another piece of evidence as to why SEO shortcuts just aren’t worth it. Because this change really boils down to delivering exactly the type of content that humans (and not search engine robots) want to read, that’s what you need to be publishing. And in order to spread the word about that content, the best approach is to utilize natural channels like social media in order to engage in organic outreach. If you emphasize ensuring that each piece of content that your business produces is the absolute best it can be, that content will be able to drive results regardless of Hummingbird or any other changes Google may make in the future.
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Originally posted at Web Strategy Plus.