Just as computer language translation programs have become more sophisticated and less literal over the decades, Google is attempting to make its search algorithms more ‘human-like’ in their understanding of how people think and communicate. An example of this is the development of its latest algorithm, known as Hummingbird – so-called because it is designed to be precise and fast like its avian namesake.
What is Hummingbird?
Hummingbird is a platform designed to help Google manage conversational and complex searches. While internet searches in the past involved matching up specific keywords inserted into website content with the individual search terms entered by a user, Hummingbird attempts to more accurately understand the meaning behind not only the search terms entered, but also that of the billions of site pages on the net.
In this way, it aims to be better able to match complex or ‘long-tail’ search terms with more accurate results, and deliver the information that users really want. This is good news when it comes to getting good results from conversational searches – those that involve sentences rather than just one or two words.
The fact is, while ‘googling’ is a popular way of looking for information, users don’t always know what question or words to enter when doing searches. Different individuals are likely to key in different words, making internet searching therefore unique to the person doing the search. What is relevant when it comes to keywords also depends on users’ browsing history and their current location, as well as the device they are using to access the internet at any given time.
As such, users may not always get the most relevant results for them. The Hummingbird algorithm is designed to overcome this type of obstacle and provide more targeted results through a better understanding of sentence meaning, website content and language context. All of which means changes to the way SEO will work for business owners.
Does this mean keyword ranking is no longer important?
Keyword ranking still remains relevant and useful. But rather than simply targeting specific and very competitive keywords, it’s more important than ever to include a wide range of phrases and even common customers questions that are relevant to your business’s products and services.
How can I make the changes work for my small business?
Getting your site noticed is a major factor in marketing it successfully, but it is just the first step. Naturally you want to attract more traffic to your site, engage with your audience, and gain new customers and improve your bottom line.
This means that if your focus has been on competitive keyword rankings up until this point, you may need to adjust the keywords you are using, and rethink your overall online marketing strategy to put greater emphasis on things like quality, engagement, content and how better to answer the questions your target market may have.
As well as writing fresh, relevant and original content that is useful to your customers and that addresses common issues or problems they may have, it’s important to continually update your website. Growing the number of good quality landing or entrance pages on your site will offer more relevant information for users, and answers to queries.
This can be done by writing a regular blog, adding videos and infographics, connecting your site to social media platforms, and providing expert information on key topics associated with your business.
Even though Hummingbird is very new, and still in its infancy, there is no doubt that this type of algorithm will pave the way for the future of web searching.