How to Optimize for Google's Hummingbird Update

This fall, Google released a new search engine algorithm called the Hummingbird update, which promises to change the way companies do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) forever. The Hummingbird update has changed the common SEO practice of optimizing for 1 - 2 keyword searches and instead has refocused on more in-depth, query-based search results.

The Hummingbird Update Explained

In a nutshell, Google’s latest search engine algorithm will use parts of previous components that have worked successfully for Google, and add in new elements. Although there have been updates to the algorithm in the past, including Panda and Penguin, this is the first time in ten years that an entire replacement has been made. Hummingbird is meant to be lightning fast and sort through billions of web pages to return the most relevant results based on specific and non-specific search queries.

Longtail Keywords

Digital marketers are going to need to specify what longtail keywords are most associated with their products and services. With longtail keywords, the marketer is looking to target search queries that are looking for answers to a specific question. As an example, a marketer will want to drive the targeted customer to his or her website and use keywords like “Michael Kors leather jacket size large” instead of "fall coats." The goal of the Hummingbird update is to answer search queries regardless of the complexity. Keyword data from the Google AdWords API is no longer being released to marketers because the company wishes to make a shift from short keywords to a better emphasis on content.

In the past, when consumers typed in a search query, only one or two keywords were used to generate results. For instance, if consumers typed in "heartburn prescription options," they would’ve been brought to pages about specific drugs. With the latest update, consumers will also see results based on treatment options.

Asking Google

With the latest update, each word is analyzed when entered into the search engine. According to Search Engine Land, the focus is on conversational searches. For instance, if you asked Google what is the nearest retailer to buy the Samsung Galaxy, it may be able to decipher that you mean near your home if you have already set your location. The retailer can be distinguished as an actual store instead of an online storefront.

The new focus on longer and complex search queries has resulted from the popularity of using Google on mobile devices. The Hummingbird update is also intended to work well with Google’s latest rollout of products like the buzzworthy Google Glass.

The latest changes to Google may not mean you have to change your SEO strategy altogether. According to Forbes Magazine, if you were evolving over the past few years to keep your website relevant, you shouldn’t have a problem. The main objective of digital marketers should be to keep high-quality content on their websites and to have high ranking websites link to your website. This will help improve overall ranking.