Photo credit: Robert Scoble via flickr

Lately it seems like Google has improved its ability to provide direct answers to your search questions. These improvements are part of Google’s new search algorithm called “Hummingbird,” which is the biggest update to their search engine since the “caffeine Update” in 2009. To sum it up, Hummingbird helps Google provide more relevant knowledge to searchers – meaning the update has enabled Google to better understand the content it indexes.

Google’s new algorithm has the power to quickly analyze long, in-depth search questions instead of examining them word by word. Then, Google will be able to find and rank answers to the searched question from their indexed content.

Aside from more precise search results, Google has also made updates to other features, such as Google Now, that impact mobile devices. Updates like this affect every part of your marketing equation, but in ways that can benefit your business.

Just because Google has changed its algorithm doesn’t mean SEO is dead or ruined. Let’s examine how some of the Hummingbird updates affect your SEO efforts.

Google Now Cards

Google specifically describes Google Now as “the right information at just the right time.” The feature aims to provide “cards” with valuable, current information throughout users’ days; Google is clearly trying to increase the productivity of users’ searches, specifically on mobile devices.

Google Now Cards are primarily directed at sporting events, weather, other entertainment events, restaurants, directions and more. With this feature, Google now has the ability to understand that when you’re searching for a specific restaurant, you’re not looking for a definition of a restaurant; instead, you want to know where the restaurant is, how long it’s open today, if there are any specials, what they are serving on their menu, etc.

By providing users with instant information and knowledge, Google is increasing the accuracy and efficiency of their searches – which seems to be the theme of the Hummingbird algorithm. You should consider Google Now Cards when it comes to your marketing strategies, because they may be a small part of how Google goes about ranking and indexing sites.

What Does This Mean for Your SEO?

One important way Google Now can impact marketers is through location. Since the feature is based on location, if you haven’t already, it’s important to set up a Google Plus Local account for your company – this is where Google pulls a lot of its data.

You should also consider configuring your email marketing campaigns to Gmail, so users can confirm and view events. This will allow Google Now cards to show up in their searches. When users want answers to a question, they are going to be looking for local results that directly influence their immediate quest for information.

Hummingbird Search Results Are More Specific

The Hummingbird update will make “conversational search” much easier for users. In other words, search results will be more tailored and specific to the content users are searching for.

Before Hummingbird, your results might have been generally related to your topic or question, and Google may have pulled pages that only had one or two words from your search question. But with the Hummingbird update, Google should be able to understand the entire meaning behind your searches; it will be paying attention to each word in the search, so the full extent of the conversation is considered when displaying your results.

Because it will be crawling and indexing sites differently, you should see results that more closely match your needs. Reportedly, Google searches will now be better at a variety of tasks:

* Understanding specific concepts
* Understanding the relationships between concepts
* Understanding more complicated and lengthy questions

Google Hummingbird mainly involves understanding the full meaning of a search query, which impacts SEO, but not as heavily as you might think.

What Does This Mean for Your SEO?

Don’t panic about Google Hummingbird ruining your SEO efforts. If you’ve been keeping up with SEO for all these years, Google says there is really nothing new you need to worry about. The main words of advice remain the same: produce original, relevant content.

As explained in Forbes, the main concept you should understand is where is Google going? When a user searches, Google’s new goal is displaying exactly what that individual needs. Since Hummingbird is focused on getting rid of irrelevant and unimportant results, this change should actually allow you to rise above your competition.

If you’ve already been busy creating content and building links from trustworthy websites, the Hummingbird update will allow you to continue ranking high since Google is looking for sites like yours – sites that provide valuable answers to their searchers’ queries.

If you’re still wary about the Hummingbird update, check out Danny Sullivan’s FAQs on the Hummingbird update. He explains it perfectly when he says that “Hummingbird… is a new engine built on both existing and new parts, organized in a way to especially serve the search demands of today, rather than one created for the needs of ten years ago, with the technologies back then.”

Google has simply replaced its engine and made searches more on target with what users want and need in today’s world.

So when it comes to Google Hummingbird, your SEO priorities should remain mostly the same. While there are always going to be small improvements you can make to your marketing efforts, such as configuring email marketing to Gmail, creating valuable content for users has never been more important.



Adrienne Erin is a social media marketing writer who loves helping businesses succeed in their SEO efforts.