Unraveling Google’s Hummingbird Update


Google announced their recent update to their search algorithm a couple of weeks ago, on the company’s 15th anniversary. The update is said to be the biggest development to Google’s search functionality in 10 years, which has many SEO marketers sweating the results. Unlike previous Google updates, namely the Panda and Penguin updates, businesses have not lost any significant traffic due to Hummingbird. The Hummingbird update seems to be honing in on internet browsing on mobile devices and refining searches to follow the semantics of users’ queries, since people are changing the way they would like to search for information. Now that we’ve had time to evaluate Hummingbird, people are wondering what the future holds for SEO tactics, internet surfing, and users in general.

The future is mobile.

As Google implies, the future is in mobile. As more and more people rely on their smartphones to look up information on the internet, Google must adapt to how people are using their search engine. This shift towards mobile comes with some new expectations and trending behaviors that Google must try to reflect within their searches.

Primarily, mobile users not only need to receive search results fast, but mobile users want their results to be directly relevant to their question. People are generally less tolerant of bad or “spammy” search results from mobile devices, as noted by Venture Beat. In addition, as people have become privy to voice-command programs on their iPhones or Android smartphones, Google has placed a greater importance on implementing conversational search queries to yield results more in tune with the intent of the user. Thus, the Hummingbird update will focus on faster processing and comprehending what the user is trying to search for, rather than matching up keywords.

What does this mean for businesses?

As many internet marketers learned from the Panda and Penguin updates of the past, these changes to search engines may have a great toll on SEO strategies and site rankings. In the 2011 Panda update, Google intended to have better site rankings, moving low-quality sites to the bottom. Consequently, some companies saw their traffic go down by as much as 50%. Yet, with the 7-9 weeks that Hummingbird has been in place, there has not been any damage to site rankings or any significant loss in traffic for businesses.

Google has responded saying that companies should not be affected by the Hummingbird update if they’re doing what they should be doing. That being businesses are supplying their users with engaging and relevant content. The Hummingbird update could even the playing field of the SEO game in this way. Gone are the days when flooding your web pages with keywords would ensure top rankings for your site! To avoid any disruption to online traffic, businesses should present a clear message within their marketing campaigns, prioritize the needs of their customers, and deliver useful, descriptive content that suit their customers’ needs.

It’s only natural…

Mobile search seems to be the natural progression for the Internet. As mobile usage increases around the world, mobile search issues become more prevalent. Google’s Hummingbird works to reflect the pressing needs of mobile users and, working in conjunction with the development of the Android platform, Google seeks competitive edge in terms of intelligent search and voice-commanded search. Nonetheless, these advancements provide great opportunity for general users. With faster search time, conversational queries, and better organic search results from your mobile device, the way we use search engines is likely to change to suit the way people naturally use their technology.

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