Google Hummingbird was launched in early September 2013. It is a new algorithm being used by Google specifically geared to deal with handling more complex search queries.
People are depending more and more on Google to find what they want. They are becoming better at using long-tail keywords in their search queries and want more specific “answers” from Google rather than a set of specific pages which might contain the answer. The core search algorithm of Google has been updated to accommodate this demand from searchers.
Hummingbird is Google answer to provide more relevant and more specific results. As searchers we are not very concerned with quantity but rather quality.
With this algorithm enhancement, Google has placed more significance on the specific content of the webpage or blog post. It has made a major attempt to understand the true meaning of the content and not rely on the SEO Meta data (which can be manipulated by a cleaver SEO Specialist).
Some may refer to this as conversational search which means that instead of processing a search query simply by matching the presence of words on web pages stored in the index, Google, with Hummingbird, now understands the real context of the query and the real meaning of the web content and can now return exact “answers”.
As a result, there are some changes that you should implement on your website in order to make the most of this update.
These changes are listed below.
Consider a Question and Answer Pattern for your Content
People are using search engines to search for answers. Some of your content may lend itself perfectly to a question and answer format.
Some initial research indicates that after the hummingbird update FAQ pages and question and answer interviews and format have improved in the rankings. That does not mean you need to start rewriting all your existing content and add a QA pattern to it, but focusing on creating articles that contain a “How to” approach and that present definite answers to user queries will help. Please consider that not all sites or all content can match this pattern and an interesting point here is that not all search queries demand a QA like pattern to be presented by Google. Rather, if you can use this pattern and do provide specific solutions or answers then it will be wise for you to take advantage of this.
Increase the Domain Authority of Your Site – Get Links!
Domain authority has been rising in importance following each Google update. Google wants to present the most authoritative content to its users and one of the best ways for it to identify high-quality authoritative sites is by judging the quality of content and the links pointing to them.
Having links from high quality resources always helps to boost your site’s search engine presence. This isn’t new. Links held a similar importance in the past and will continue to be important in the future. I should point out here that Google has increased emphasis on counting natural backlinks versus unnatural backlinks. Following a properly planned link baiting strategy to acquire natural links is preferable to acquiring links using the old school methods of article syndication or placing links in Blog comments.
Use Schema Mark Up
Schema mark up is a revolutionary web-based vocabulary that can be implemented on any site using any languages like microformating and microdata.
Rich snippets details such as:
Content Type: Creative Work, Event, Person, Place, Embedded Non-Text (Audio, Video, Image), Local Business, Product or review
Item Properties: For example here are some item properties for a content type for person — Organization, Contact Info, Date of Birth, Date of Death, Nationality, Employer, Address, Awards, Educational Institution
Other items that can be associated with a schema mark-up could be
- Recipe preparation time
- Product pricing
The best way to enable Google to clearly understand the content displayed on your site is with the help of schema vocabulary. Many webmasters are unaware of this, but the point is, you can implement schema mark up on almost every type of content irrespective of your industry. This is a golden opportunity to increase the semantic value of your site and make it stand out in the search results.
Implement Mobile SEO Tactics
The number of mobile search users is constantly growing and having a mobile friendly site is your best bet to accommodate these users.
Hummingbird has especially adapted itself to serve the needs of mobile users. Cater to a mobile audience by creating a mobile version of your site with a faster loading time, fewer images and easy navigation. This is yet another way you can meet the expectations of the Hummingbird algorithm.
A critical factor is load time, Mobile device users hate sites that are slow and Google always panders to its users.
Use Google Authorship
If you haven’t implemented authorship on your site then make this a priority. The big brands always remain an exception but for the rest of us (which are the majority), the best way to let Google identify you and move from the anonymous web to the named web is by using Google authorship.
Traffic is the life-blood of your website or blog. You can’t leave any stone unturned to improve the traffic flow to your website. To help attain this goal, use authorship. People tend to click more often on search results displaying an author image as opposed to anonymous search results.
It is important to mention here that Google hasn’t disclosed the exact changes made to its algorithm, but a study of search patterns indicates that implementing the 5 strategies noted above is the best course of action in relation to the Google Hummingbird update which has affected around 90% of all search queries.