How Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Update Can Affect Business Rankings

How Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Update Can Affect Business Rankings

What is an Algorithm?


Everybody knows what a search engine is but few realize how accurate the term “engine” really is. Behind every search you type into Google, there is an algorithm or “process” that must be followed in order to bring you the search results. This algorithm is very similar to an engine in a car. If you buy a car with a small 4-cylinder engine for yourself, that car will be fast and do everything you need it to do.
Source - Comparing a Cars

Passing Time Requires Changes


In the search engine world, imagine that you are constantly adding new passengers to your car. When you have 8 people in your car, suddenly that 4-cylinder engine just isn’t enough and you’re putting around town at 10 mph under the speed limit. This is where updates come from; updates for search engines are similar to upgrades you may make on your car i.e. new tires, shocks, etc. This is what last year’s “Penguin” and “Panda” Updates were.

Source -

What Does This Have to Do With Hummingbird?


Unfortunately, just like in the case of a car, upgrades to the existing engine will not work forever. So what do you do when you have a car that you and all of your passengers are happy with, but the engine just doesn’t perform well enough? Well, you drop in a brand new engine that’s more powerful and contains features that your last engine didn’t have, i.e. fuel injection, power steering, automatic transmission. This is what “Hummingbird” is, a new Google algorithm that uses the same basic functionality that you’ve enjoyed using for so many years but includes new upgrades that make it faster, more powerful and user-friendlier.

Salt Lake City SEO

Source - Google Hummingbird Update

How Will This Affect my Google Rankings?


In the short term, Hummingbird will have no effect at all. However, it will require a transition in terms of SEO. One of the biggest changes in Hummingbird is the use of “Conversational Search”. In the previous incarnation of the Google algorithm, they would take what you typed in to the search bar and identify the keywords, then they would use those keywords to show you results that they thought matched your query. Hummingbird looks deeper and tries to use the text you typed in to convey context and give you results accordingly.

For example, let’s consider a search for “How to pay my rock mountain power bill online”. In the old algorithm, Google would have looked at this and picked out the keywords “rocky mountain power”, “bill”, and “online”. More than likely, this would have brought up results for Rocky Mountain Power’s homepage. Under the new algorithm, Google will look at all of your search terms, put it into context and bring up the result for Rocky Mountain Power’s online bill pay section.

What Does This Mean for SEO?


It means a focus on more “long-tail” keywords or search terms. It means directly targeting specific questions or searches that their clients’ potential customers are most likely to search for. It means a renewed focus on unique, high-quality content that targets but also answers the questions that consumers might ask. SEOs will have to adjust their approach away from standard keyword-targeted content and focus more on what questions/answers are more likely to drive traffic to their clients’ site.

Hummingbird is not a dramatic change, it is simply an upgrade to an already existing model that people have known and loved for years. Its effect on SEO will be rather minimal for any SEO. Most trustworthy and respectable SEOs will see no ill effects from Hummingbird because, more than likely, they were already well within the guidelines that Hummingbird laid out.

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Josh holds an Associate of Science (AS) in Business Administration from Utah Career College and is working towards a degree in software development. Josh performs on-page and off-page optimizations in order to drive high-quality traffic to websites. He also creates and runs scripts for testing on multiple websites, HTML Email Templates as well as HTML and CSS build-outs for multiple websites.

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