Google’s Menagerie Grows Again with Hummingbird
On Thursday the 26th September, Google’s 15th birthday, Google officially announced they had rolled out a new search algorithm which they called ‘Hummingbird’. It is reputedly the biggest update they have made to how searches are returned for many years.
So what is this update and how will it affect search results?
Google for a long time now have realised that people do not type in a search around specific keywords but they are typing in a sentence. So for example if someone who lives in Manchester was looking to buy a Canon camera such as the EOS50D then it is likely that their search would look something like ‘where can I buy a canon eos50d camera in manchester’.
This is different from someone wanting some information on how to perhaps get a Canon EOS50D camera repaired. So Google are now looking at the complete sentence to understand what the searcher requires to return the best match for that search.
Hummingbird is about recognising ‘meaning’ and ‘intent’ in a search by looking at the full search rather than just the ‘keyword’.
So what does this mean for search engine optimisation and getting those rankings in Google which are so vital to driving traffic to a web site?
This is all about content and site structure. It comes back to defining what he business is really about and its ‘USP’ (Unique Selling Proposition). Once these are defined and written down then a web site can start to be constructed around these definitions. Importantly the whole site needs to reflect this theme not just the home page.
Therefore if you a business selling Canon cameras in Manchester then the site needs to reflect this by talking about –
- Selling of Canon cameras
- Canon camera accessories
- Selling Canon cameras in Manchester
Additionally content could be built around Repairs, Competitions, Picture Galleries and many other ‘related’ areas. However the key here is that the overall message the site must give off is selling Canon cameras in Manchester.
The site needs to be structured logically around of each of these areas and built in ‘sections’ each navigable form the others. Giving Google a confusing message by putting different topics on a page is going to make it much harder for Google to decide what the page and eventually the site is about.
Place yourself in the position of a customer and write down as many different variations of words you can think of they might type into Google to try to find what you are offering. Look at your site. Does it reflect what you have written down?Now is the time to take a long impartial look at your site. Forget about fancy graphics and focus on the content of each page and get a content structure that reflects your business or service.
It is also a good time to take a really close look at both your external links and the social signals for your site. Google is now not interested in links from sites and pages that do not reflect your own sites message. So getting a link from a site on Boats is going to have little benefit to a site on Canon Cameras unless there is a really strong connection such as a photographs section. The Social signals also need to reflect the market so try to build connections in the Camera / Photography areas initially and actively engage others in conversations. All of these will help let Google know what your site is about and rank it accordingly.