Latest Google Hummingbird Algorithm Updates and How You Can Tackle It?
You probably use Google almost every day to some degree. We now take being able to find what we want online, quickly and efficiently, for granted. So did you notice the major change the search giant went through towards the end of 2013? If not, then you’re not alone.
How Google’s Hummingbird Works and What it Wants?
The algorithm that any search engine uses to find the relevant websites based on search terms is a complex, mathematical and secretive process. In Google’s case it is their raison d’être. The curiously-named ‘Hummingbird’ update followed in the footsteps of ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’ as the latest improvement to the algorithm that powers the world’s most popular search engine. It was, in fact, the biggest change behind the site since the ‘Caffeine’ update in 2010. If you own a business with a website, then you should be aware of these changes, how it might affect your website and more importantly, how to survive it and make it work for you.
This current economic climate is difficult enough for any business, so it would be easy to think there are enough things to worry about and that this latest update don’t affect you. You’d be wrong. The holy grail for any web-savvy business is finding their site top, or at least very close to the top, of the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when users search for specific keywords. This will, hopefully, increase the number of visitors (hits) and, potentially, customers that visit the site.
Have you Been Affected By Google’s Latest Algorithm Update?
Since the Hummingbird update was released, you may have noticed that your companies ranking has changed, either for better or worse. In reality, because of Google’s obvious secrecy in how search terms are ranked for fear of manipulation, it’s difficult to know actually what gives you the ranking you have. Don’t worry, there are a number of things to do to help your business ensure you don’t move down the list too far to become irrelevant. Do you think users will trawl through to page 46 of Google’s search results to find content on a specific site? Probably not. Would you?
Google Hummingbird Update – How you Connect Matters!
Whilst previous updates focused on how Google indexes sites and delivers them to the user, Hummingbird focused more on Google’s Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph is Google’s huge encyclopaedic database of virtual relationships that allows search results to anticipate your requirements and be more naturalistic to what you actually want to know, rather than coldly scouring websites that contain the words you’ve typed in. Those days are over. Over recent years it was all about backlinks. Having, or in some less reputable cases ‘buying’, links to your website always used to help your SEO ranking but whilst it’s still helps a little, it is losing relevance to your ranking and certainly buying them will have the exact opposite effect you want. Having a greater presence on social media will be much more effective.
Why You Should Be on Google Plus?
Your business probably, at least hopefully, has a presence on the most popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook, but what about the growing players like Pinterest and even Google’s own social network, Google+? I dare say not. It wouldn’t be too surprising if you’d never heard of it, at least I’d bet you don’t have a company page on there. Having a Google+ account is becoming a requirement to interact with almost anything on Google’s ecosystem, so it would be remiss of them if not having an account for your business didn’t help. This is Google’s own algorithm after all. You don’t need to be a mathematics genius to realise all those ‘+1s’ must add up to something. As your customer, and potential customer, base continues to diversify, so your digital marketing needs to follow. It’s important to include, marketing experts claim, up to 7 social networks as a key part of your company strategy. Hummingbird increasingly uses these sites to assess its results, building up a picture to help it anticipate those all-important search terms.
Sites need to Go Mobile to Keep up with Google Algorithms
In 2014, how the world finds the information it wants online has changed and continues to evolve as new markets, and therefore users, emerge. The rapidly growing mobile application arena is taking customers from desktop search to specific apps, smartphones and tablets. Increasingly, for example, those who want flight information aren’t using the internet directly to find it. Chances are they are using a flight times app on their phone or tablet. While you may not yet need a business specific app, having a mobile-optimised website is vital, as it counts to your SEO ranking. With the Hummingbird update, Google has increased the importance of semantic search and the previously-mentioned Knowledge Graph. This is, in part, to prepare Google for the expected rise in voice search that the likes of Apple’s Siri offers us, but has greater implications with regard to content.
Content is Still the King
One thing to remember above all else is the mantra; content is king. Any self-respecting website needs great content that is regularly updated, helpful and relevant to its users. Hummingbird makes this more important than it has ever been. It now looks for the ‘meaning’ behind the words to raise your ranking, rather than just the words themselves. So how many words does your content need? It’s a difficult question, with an even more ambiguous answer. The fact is there is no one answer that will help everyone. The general rule-of-thumb used to be that text-rich content should be at least 500 words long to generate higher SEO rankings. As algorithms grow more sophisticated, so this limit is now generally accepted to be around 1500 – 2000 words. As previously discussed, mobile devices play a more important role in search, but would you be keen to read a 2000-word article on your iPhone? Maybe not. That is where having a mobile-optimised site, possibly even mobile-optimised content, could help. Google values the expertise that your content should fulfill.
Can I Still Trust SEO?
No-one said effective SEO was going to be an easy nut to crack, but there is a way through the minefield. Remember a few important lessons. Great content will always attract loyal, regular users.
Regulars users are more likely to become regular, engaged customers. Having a relationship with them is more important than ever. Those users will use increasingly use social networks to connect to their family and friends, but also companies they like to hear about offers, promotions, etc. They, in turn, are more likely to link to your site from their blog, Facebook profile, etc. Links like that will help to increase your ranking, keeping your site high on that Google list.
It’s not a one-off singular process. It needs be continually assessed, audited and improved as you would with any aspect of your business. After all, we need all the help we can search for.