What You Need to Know About Google’s New Hummingbird Update
- James Patterson
- October 23, 2013
Google Caffeine, Panda and Penguin all changed the ways that webmasters approached search engine optimization. Google has recently announced the Hummingbird update, another update aimed at making searches better and faster for users.
The difference is that this update has already been active for a month. It may be the reason as to why you’ve seen a decrease (or increase) in your traffic, but this is dependent upon what type of website you operate.
Without further ado, let’s try to answer the big questions you might have about this ground-shaking update.
See what SEOMoz’s Rand Fishkin has to say about the update in the video below:
What is the Hummingbird Update?
The Hummingbird update is meant to bring faster and more accurate searches to users. This is done by giving the search engine a better ability to interpret what a user means when they search for something.
This has led Google to create a component that is designed to be able to handle complex inquiries in the form of questions and longer statements. In these types of searches, the meaning of a word can be different depending on how it is used.
Hummingbird is also meant to give users a greater ability to find answers on the search engine itself rather than to be forced to sift through search results to get an answer to a simple inquiry. This is done by integrating Hummingbird’s conversational searches into the Knowledge Graph portion of the Google search engine.
How Does Hummingbird Work?
As mentioned before, there are two noticeable changes to how Hummingbird makes Google handle search queries: conversational searches and Knowledge Graph integration.
To better understand conversational searches, consider how search engines without Hummingbird work. You can enter a search query and then the search engine looks for those keywords in billions of web documents. This works well for most searches, but it falls short of what a user may expect if they search in certain ways.
For example, imagine if a user searches for “Places to buy car tires near me”. A search engine might return the same set of web pages for this query as it would “Places to buy car tires”. This can be inadequate if the searcher wants to confine the search results to businesses nearby.
That’s where Hummingbird comes in. It works to interpret words like “nearby” and better understand what the user is searching for.
That means that instead of searching for places to buy car tires everywhere in the world, the search query is confined to local businesses near to the user. This offers a higher rate of accuracy over older methods.
Knowledge Graph Integration
Knowledge Graph is a feature of Google that provides users with something that can be considered aggregate data before it provides them with actual search results.
The calculator function, product searches and even things like “x vs. y” searches are all examples where the Knowledge Graph may come into play. It is Google’s attempt to give users a faster general answer before letting the user decide if they want to look at webpages.
Hummingbird brings Knowledge Graph searches to a new level. Now users can constraint Knowledge Graph answers with certain criteria just like they can searches.
This change is most evident in Knowledge Graph answers concerning products, services and other eCommerce-related aspects.
It can force users to arrive at the website of your competitors even if you out rank them in organic searches.
Who Does Hummingbird Impact?
In its earliest stages, Hummingbird will affect eCommerce sites more than it will other industries due to how the Knowledge Graph has been integrated into it.
Websites that deal in local business will also be affected, which makes it more necessary for larger businesses to begin including data that Google can interpret for local searches.
As time goes on, it’s likely that other industries will also have to deal with the same issues posed by Hummingbird and Knowledge Graph. This will likely lead to less visitors from organic searches and a shift to more searchers finding your website by other means like Knowledge Graph answers.
How Should Your Strategy Change to Deal with Hummingbird’s Changes?
You should begin paying very careful attention to what your visitors from Google want and try to decide where they want it from. That means you should begin putting up pages for local search queries and pages that cater to conversational queries.
ECommerce sites should begin working on trying to target searches that are about more than just their products. This will work as a fail-safe in the event that Knowledge Graph doesn’t act as favourably to you as it does your competition.
James Patterson is the lead online marketing consultant at Simple iD Web Design. We are a full service Australian online marketing agency that offers clients everything that they need to succeed online, from web design and development to a complete tailor-made online marketing package. Come and check us out on Facebook.
Image Credit: Juan Elias
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