When Google announced its newest search algorithm, Hummingbird, in September 2013, many SEO strategists began to panic. And—at least, initially—that sense of panic was perfectly valid. However, the more we learn more about how Google Hummingbird operates and the type of content it prefers, the less there is to fear.
What is Google Hummingbird?
Officially announced on Google’s 15th birthday, Hummingbird is designed to make Google’s search engine more human in its thought patterns and thereby more accurate for users. Hummingbird pays attention to each word in a search query, which helps it determine a better understanding of what the user is actually asking. It returns search results based on the meaning behind the total query rather than focusing on certain words, meaning some of the emphasis on keywords has shifted to optimizing content by answering search queries. But that doesn’t mean you should ditch your keyword efforts altogether! Here are some tips to help you create content that Google Hummingbird loves.
Tip #1: Answering questions trumps keywords
While it’s true that Hummingbird makes Google search less responsive to keyword optimization, you don’t need to revamp your entire web copy if you’ve relied on keywords in the past. With the changes brought on by Hummingbird, it’s more important to answer the questions asked in relevant Google search queries than to optimize every page of your site based on a set of keywords.
Redirect your keyword research efforts towards brainstorming the types of questions your target audience is asking Google about your industry. Once you know what kinds of questions users and consumers are typing into the Google search bar, you should integrate those questions right into your web content. Unlike optimization through keywords, which traditionally involves padding each page with a limited number of keywords, you don’t need to designate each page to a specific search query. This means you can answer multiple questions in a single article or post.
You can also strengthen your content by providing as much relevant information as possible. If your existing content is of good quality and does a good job of answering search queries, you may not have to change any of it, but keep Google Hummingbird in mind while creating any new pages or content.
Tip #2: Increase visibility with updates & more content
Another way to make your content more accessible to Google Hummingbird is by simply creating more of it. Write original content, publish frequent posts, and develop more entrance pages to earn a higher ranking based on Hummingbird’s algorithm. Don’t lose focus of your goal of answering search engine queries, but updating your content on a frequent basis creates more opportunities for Hummingbird to find you. It has long been considered good SEO practice to publish new content regularly and Hummingbird places even more emphasis on this tactic. The reason for this is simple: more content gives you more opportunities to answer relevant questions and also equates to more entrance pages for Google to reach you.
Consider publishing new pages that specifically answer the most common questions consumers are typing into Google’s search bar. If you don’t already have a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions page, create one. You can also integrate question and answer style content by including interviews with industry experts or writing tutorials that walk consumers through a certain process. Adding new content with quality information can help get you noticed by Hummingbird and also creates more opportunities for natural backlinks or long tail keywords.
Tip #3: Get more creative with your content
Hummingbird loves fresh and informative content, but creativity is another crucial ingredient that will help keep your audience and their favorite search engine interested. Publishing original content on a regular basis will not only give Hummingbird more entrance pages to your site, but it will continue to improve your ranking as long as it answers relevant questions and responds to hot topics in your industry. In addition to including more Q&A style posts on your site, consider a few of these creative formats for conveying relevant information and answering user search queries:
- Infographics: Use these clever content hybrids to display information in a fun and easily digestible manner.
- Videos: Film a series of short clips that answer popular questions your target audience has about your product or industry.
- Tutorials: Hummingbird adores web pages that feature a ‘how-to’ instructional format, either as text or video content.
A Few More Things To Consider
- The more high quality content you publish, the greater your potential for visibility becomes.
- Connecting your website and blog content to Google+ allows you to claim authorship and gain credibility.
- Q&A pages on your site or interviews on your blog ensure Hummingbird knows exactly which questions your website answers.
- More entrance pages make it easier for search engines to find you.
- Hummingbird is too clever for obvious search ranking manipulation tactics.
The best way to entice Google Hummingbird is to make it perfectly clear that your website answers the questions being asked in search queries. After all, Hummingbird is designed with the user in mind and aims to turn up more accurate results to their questions, so SEO strategists must make their content as informative and user-friendly as possible.
About the Author
Emily is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario who covers a range of topics from technology to travel. She holds a Bachelor in English Literature and Business from the University of Waterloo. No matter how many projects she is working on, Emily always finds time for baking, reading, and yoga.Follow on Twitter More Content by Emily Bauer