How Google Hummingbird Affects Your SEO

October 14th, 2013
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How Google Hummingbird's Semantic Search Affects Your SEO and Search Engine RankingOn Google’s 15th birthday, how should SEOs optimize for its new “semantic search” so they are not left out of the birthday party?

With 90 percent of searches worldwide affected and their search engine audience changed, marketing and public relations professionals are asking what the latest Google search engine semantic algorithm will mean for their online and mobile findability and  how to make their content and SEO strategies more Hummingbird-algorithm friendly.

At Hummingbird’s launch on September 26, Google explained drivers behind the “precise and fast” Hummingbird, saying search users increasingly expect the search engines to fulfill longer, more complex and conversational search queries.  Hummingbird, with its semantic approach, is an upgrade to the way search algorithms interpret these new types of queries, as it better understands the full question and the reasons for asking it, instead of just performing the old-school keyword-by-keyword matchmaking.

Amit Singhal, SVP at Google Search, said Hummingbird is an advancement in search technology’s capacity to understand language and that Hummingbird “makes search results even more useful, especially when you ask Google long and complex questions.”

Therefore, marketers and SEOs need to determine if their pages and content are optimized not only for the evolved nature of the search queries, but also for the new semantic Googling.  With Hummingbird’s release at the end of August, you should be able to compare your search rankings pre- and post-Hummingbird to determine any changes in traffic.

With this latest search engine evolution, Google is also looking ahead to the very near future of conversational mobile search overtaking desktop searches.  And Hummingbird makes Google more mobile-friendly. Considering Morgan Stanley’s analysis in The Mobile Internet Report that mobile web use will surpass desktop internet usage by 2015, Hummingbird’s launch seems extremely timely. With desktop searches also becoming more Siri-like, Google Chrome now includes the voice search option for its desktop queries.

Google searches make up 12.8 billion searches, or 66.7 percent of the 19.2 billion searches conducted monthly.  Distant competitors are Microsoft Bing with 3.4 billion or 17.9 percent, and Yahoo with 2.2 billion or 11.4 percent, according to June’s comScore qSearch analysis.  With Hummingbird, Google might keep on out-Googling its challengers and continue being the leading filter audience between SEOs, as well as the eyes and ears of their targeted consumers.

In fact, Hummingbird’s timeliness is all the more noteworthy considering the increasing Google-Bing competition.  In a recent blow to Google, Apple replaced Google with Bing as Siri’s search engine in the new iOS 7 rolled out on September 18. Although Siri will be Bing-ing rather than Googling, for the time being Google will still remain the default search engine in Safari.

For SEOs now re-optimizing content for Hummingbird’s web crawling, indexing and semantic search, Google says that its search quality rating guidelines regarding content creation have not changed since 2012. In these guides, Google says that creating new and useful content that no other site offers through blog posts, social media services, forums and other means, will “likely influence your website more than any other factors discussed.”

The mobile overtake of desktop demands content creation that is also mobile friendly; in the guidelines Google says that “While many mobile sites were designed with mobile viewing in mind, they weren’t designed to be search friendly.” And Google offers tips to help ensure that your mobile site is properly crawled and indexed.

For additional SEO tips, check out the BurrellesLuce newsletter, 5 Tips for Enhancing Your Link Building and SEO Strategy, and our SEO Tip Sheet.

Are you seeing a drop or an increase in your rankings due to Hummingbird? How are you re-optimizing for the evolved nature of search queries and the new semantic search engine approach? How much are you relying on Google guidelines to drive your SEO strategies? What questions do you have about the latest evolution in search engines?

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