What is Google Hummingbird?

Although it’s technically accurate to call Google Hummingbird an algorithm update, this is kind of a misnomer. This is because Hummingbird was essentially an entirely revamped version of Google’s search algorithm, not just a patch or minor update.

Google Hummingbird and Semantic Search

At the heart of the Hummingbird lies the all-important concept of semantics, or meaning. Even the fanciest computers are still pretty stupid. This is because although it’s easy for humans to distinguish between two different yet similar concepts (by virtue of context), computers can’t do this unless they’re explicitly told. Stupid computers.

Semantic search is the concept of improving search results by focusing on user intent and how the subject of a search relates to other information in a wider sense, or its contextual relevance. Essentially, semantic search focuses on determining what a user really means, rather than a string of keywords, and then serving relevant results.

Of course, Google’s algorithm cannot be absolutely sure of what I want, so just to be safe, it provides me with a range of results. Google serves up a local forecast (even though this search was performed in an Incognito window, it still tracks my location), a link to the Weather Channel, a Wikipedia page for the term “weather” and some other information. Still, the prominence of the local forecast data in the Knowledge Graph speaks volumes about Google’s confidence in its results.

Google Hummingbird and the Knowledge Graph

When researching this post, I wanted to know how many Google searches are performed every day. Prior to the rollout of Google Hummingbird, I would have been presented with a SERP containing links to numerous pages, through which I could have probably learned the answer.

Google realized that this was a slow and often irritating process, even for users who were presented with relevant results. Google Hummingbird makes search quicker, easier and more intuitive.

Google Hummingbird and SEO

Optimizing pages and sites for Google Hummingbird is really simple. Like, so simple that even a stupid computer could do it. Okay, maybe not that simple, but it really is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is create great content that your audience wants and finds useful, and enriches their overall experience. Easy, right?

Diversify the Length of Your Content

We know that long-form content can work exceptionally well as part of a wider content strategy, but if every single post you publish is a 3,000-word monster, you may not be meeting all of your readers’ needs. For this reason (and to get something done other than write mammoth blog posts), mix up the length of your content. Intersperse shorter articles among longer ones, and don’t be too pedantic when it comes to word count – remember, there’s no “perfect” post length, only the length an article needs to be.

Produce Visual Content

In-depth long-form articles are an excellent way to explore complex topics and a range of ideas in a single post, but sometimes, people don’t want to read the marketing. In fact, sometimes they don’t want to read an article, of any length, at all. This is when visual content shines.

Use Topic-Appropriate Language

Something that some sites fail to take advantage of is using industry-appropriate language in their content. This is sometimes done out of a fear of alienating potential readers who may not be familiar with a certain topic or area. However, writing content that includes appropriate terminology can demonstrate to Google that your site is authoritative and valuable.

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