In mid-September 2013, Google decided to shake-up the search engine world yet again with the release of yet another search algorithm, dubbed Hummingbird.
The last big shift the company put out was Panda, which turned the SEO world upside down, particularly content mills who were flooding the Internet with generic information to enjoy top ranking positions. Google decided with Panda that websites actually had to have meaningful content to enjoy a top ranking, as well as be socially popular. Translate – lots of links with social media.
Hummingbird is expected to provide a number of benefits, according to Google, which include:
- More precise and faster loading of search results.
- A computerized focus on a user’s intent for a search versus just the search terms inputted.
- A complete replacement of the search algorithm since 2001, versus just an update similar to what Penguin and Panda provided.
Despite the announcement in the middle of September, the new search rules have been in play for a month. Experts believe that Google’s databases are fairly rich with deeper, secondary details on existing websites and locations, thus making it possible now for the search engine to draw intent relationships between searches and results versus just triggering on SEO tags.
The new algorithm's rules of relationship open up a whole new door for companies and businesses. Gone are the old values of just tagging a page with terms and expecting it to rank well. Instead, the business needs to become the information value expert for a topic, in addition to having correct SEO tags. This means a company’s given website needs to carry a lot of deep information showing topic expertise. This also includes showing ongoing relevancy on repeat and regularly linking within the social media world. It’s going to take some getting used to.
For small businesses looking to enhance and boost their local presence on search engines like Google, the change is going to be a bit like going to school again and learning yet a another set of requirements to be successful online. Specifically, small businesses need to do the following:
- Understand and shift to what semantic search will be looking for versus just terms.
- Reposition the company website to be an answer to questions posed versus just a site that matches a term.
- Research questions and queries that people put into search engines and then provide those answers as much as possible on the company site.
In short, just when small businesses think they've gotten the Internet game figured out, Google just rewrote the rules. For some, this probably won't matter much. They are getting attention from social media that's working, and they're not too worried about search engine rankings at all. For others, ranking means everything, especially when local search is how they get their customers. They will feel the impact of Google Hummingbird the most.