Hummingbird Affecting Your SEO

Google has replaced the code for their search engine with a new one called Hummingbird. We’re going to discuss how it affects your SEO.


Hummingbird photo taken by Christine Quinn.

Last week Google revealed that they have replaced their old search algorithm for a new one named Hummingbird. Forget anything you may have heard about Panda and Penguin because they are gone. This change is significant. I’ve heard different numbers thrown out, but Google has run the same algorithm for at least 10 years. Google is only 15.

Google followed this announcement with a blog post discussing their increased Knowledge Graph and a more uniform design across devices. From this we learn two important things about the direction that Google is moving.

  1. Google sees mobile as the future. Look at their blog post. Every example of the increased knowledge graph shows the content on a mobile device.
  2. Google wants semantic information that helps it answer complex questions. Google is no longer reliant on simple keywords in your query. The entire query matters and affects the most returned search.

What we’ve seen with Hummingbird

We have seen a number of changes to the way Google operates. Take the queries get a mobile website in rochester ny vs mobile website rochester ny. The first query focused on answering a question while the second was a bunch of keywords. Under the old algorithm the queries would return the old result. At the time of this writing our Mobile Websites page ranks first for that query and second for the latter. Our page does not contain that exact phrase. We tell you what you should look for on that page.

We’ve also seen a great influx in how important it is to have sites linking to your domain. Of course this was always important, but it seems to have grown in importance. Local directory listings are very critical. I am not merely talking services like Yelp and Foursquare (though they are still important). Industry specific directory listings are even more important. Claim your listings and include as much content as possible.

We’ve actually also seen some black hat SEO techniques that should not work are working. Things like finding a random, un-moderated forum that let you link to your site aren’t hurting a site as much as they should. We don’t recommend this practice. This is just a little flakiness in a newly release algorithm. Google will make corrections and rankings will drop.

What you should do

Take this as an opportunity to check your content. Is it Hummingbird friendly? Are you using microdata schema to add semantic meaning to your content? Does it adequately answer a question someone may ask? Refresh your content.

Consider adding a blog to your site to build authority. Your blog posts can then easily be shared on social channels. If you can, recommend the authorities sharing your content use similar terms.

Get a mobile website. Google is spending a lot of resources to move in this direction. Move with them. Let your competitors be the ones to lose out on business when mobile users prefer your site.

Search out for local directories — both generic and those relevant to your industry. Claim your listings. If possible join their community to build your reputation as a leader. Make sure Google+ Local / Google Places is in the list to go with your mobile presence.

I know that all of this is a lot to take in. I know that these changes are very time consuming. Don’t forget that Brand Builder Websites is here to help with Natural Search Optimization and Local Optimization.

Was your site affected by Hummingbird? How do you plan to react? Let us know.



Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.
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