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Hummingbird - Mastering the art of Conversational Search

Google hummingbird algorithm explained

Google Hummingbird is the Biggest Change at Google Since 2001

Google has changed its search algorithm hundreds of times since 2001, but Google’s head of search, Amit Singhai, is on record saying this is the biggest shift in recent memory: Not merely an update, but a complete transformation of Google’s underlying math.

Google’s software has always been evolving, but the last few years brought tectonic change. It’s more important than ever that search results not only be relevant, but timely and helpful, too. But it’s not happening in a vacuum: Like you, Google is adapting to its marketplace.

Apple's Siri Gets Billions of Mobile Queries a Year—Hummingbird Makes Google Almost as Smart

Apple's ubiquitous personal assistant, Siri, is powered by Microsoft-owned search engine Bing. Microsoft search head Qi Lu says Bing fields billions of queries across iOS and Kindle mobile devices. Apple dropped Google in 2013, around the same time Hummingbird went live. Long story short, it's all about mobile.

Latent Semantic Indexing is crucial to Google's ability to handle voice search queries, people don't talk like they type...

The key to Hummingbird is latent semantic indexing: The ability to understand what users want when they don’t use the keywords Google expects... or don’t exactly know, themselves.

That means going beyond matching search keywords to pages and understanding user intent. It’s crucial to Google’s ability to handle voice searches: People don’t talk like they type.

Mobile Now Fields More Searches than Desktop—Hummingbird is Google’s Answer

So, what does it all mean for my website?

Past algorithm changes—like “Panda” and “Penguin”—have come with a slew of recommendations for businesses that use Google search to generate Web traffic.

Hummingbird is a little more complicated. Unlike the others, it’s not intended to change what online brands are doing: Instead, it makes current Web content more accessible to mobile users.

It also helps deliver related results based on similar words rather than exact matches.

But, aligning your website with Google’s changing expectations has always been about reading between the lines, and there are some lessons you can take from Hummingbird:

Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly

Google made mobile compatibility a search ranking factor in April, 2015. That update gave priority to sites that offer a mobile-friendly design and convenient user experience for phones and tablets. Hummingbird isn’t directly related, but it reaffirms Google’s commitment to mobile platforms. Make sure your site is responsive and has mobile users’ needs in mind.

Don’t Worry Too Much About Keywords

Hummingbird enhances Google’s ability to decipher the context of search queries. That means having the “perfect” keyword or phrase on a page loses a little of its punch—but keywords are still helpful to users. To earn good search placement, Web content should be less focused on keywords and more focused on answering specific questions.

Make Sure Official Sources Are Accurate

Hummingbird helps Google answer queries with the “Knowledge Graph,” an encyclopedia-style sidebar that provides photos and facts. The Graph often pops up on questions about notable people, locations, and objects. If your business is “notable,” make sure your official pages and publications are accurate: Knowledge Graph might just use them.

Focus on Your Expertise—Be Broad & Bold

If focusing on familiar industry terminology isn’t enough, what should you do? The broader your base of Web content, the more likely your site will appear for mobile and Knowledge Graph search queries. Consistently developing informative, quality content is more important than ever for differentiating your brand—to your customers and to Google itself.

For stronger Web ROI in the age of Hummingbird, contact AZoNetwork. We understand how to position B2B scientific and technological enterprises for enduring industry leadership.

If you enjoyed reading this post, take a look at our related posts about Google and its algorithm updates.

Posted by Frank Barker

Having spent his younger years playing Rugby in the sunny climes of Spain and Australia, Frank graduated from Loughborough University with a BSc in International Business before settling back in rainy Manchester. Frank has helped numerous Science, Engineering and Healthcare companies to create marketing strategies that engage with niche audiences. Having started his career in Sales, he now runs the Marketing department for AZoNetwork. He specialises in data management for sales teams, equipping them with the most actionable, real-time marketing insights from the first touch point through to revenue generating opportunity. A sportsman at heart, Frank still enjoys lacing up the boots for his beloved Macclesfield 1st XV Rugby or pulling on the whites to represent the more serious Macclesfield 3rd XI Cricket team.    

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