google hummingbird

What Hummingbird Means to Your Website Content

Back in August 2013, Google unleashed the most comprehensive change to its search algorithm to date. Google calls the update Hummingbird because it is said to be fast and precise, just like a real hummingbird. Now that websites have had some time to adjust to Hummingbird, it has become obvious that Google is changing the way websites are seen in search results. If you want to improve the search results for your website, then it is important to understand what Hummingbird is and how it changes everything.

What Is Hummingbird?

Prior to Hummingbird, Google’s search algorithms were based primarily on keywords and keyword phrases. For example, the search phrase “find me a sporting goods store” would trigger a search to find websites that have content that is based on those words and phrases. The problem was that the search results for a phrase like this could elicit hundreds of responses based on the term “find me” before it got to any sporting goods stores. Users were frustrated because they were not getting the results they wanted, so Google created Hummingbird.

Hummingbird reads the entire search phrase and determines the significance of each word in the entire scope of the search. With Hummingbird, the above-referenced search term would hopefully deliver information about local sporting goods stores long before it listed websites that help people to find themselves. Since a growing number of people are using voice-activated searches on their smartphones to find websites these days, the need to create a search algorithm based on more conversational search terms was essential.

Does That Mean Keywords Are Dead?

Keywords and the SEO process are absolutely not dead. The difference is that the shift has gone from small segments of the content to examining the entire piece of content to help fulfill searches. Whereas Google used to zero in on the placement and usage of certain words to help index websites based on their industry and target audience, now Google scans entire pages to determine if there are enough parts of the content that match the user’s search query to justify putting a website into the list of results.

How Does That Change The Way Website Content Is Viewed?

If you have owned your website for a while, then the chances are good that your current content is based on keyword and SEO tactics that worked before Hummingbird was implemented. While that content is not going to get you better search results anymore, it is also not going to help you to reach a broader audience through Google.

Any Internet marketing expert will tell you that removing old content, unless that content triggered a Google penalty, is a big mistake. Google has already indexed your website based on your old content and that content is not hurting your current search results. But if you want to improve your search results in the future, then your new content needs to focus more on delivering good information as opposed to worrying about the proper use of keywords.

Google is constantly changing its search algorithms based on feedback from real users. When users complained that their search results were unacceptable, Google released the Hummingbird algorithm change. It is always a good idea to consult a marketing professional before updating your website content because the experts are staying up to date with Google changes. But the fact remains that if you want your website to become prominent on Google, you need to be more concerned with quality content than using the perfect keywords.

Manar Sabet
About Manar Sabet
Manar is Senior Account Manager at Sandstorm Digital. Her experience is wide and varied across many clients and industries. She currently works on clients including HSBC (SABB), OSN and Abdul Latif Jamil.
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