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What is Google’s Hummingbird Update?

What is Google’s Hummingbird Update?

Google’s Hummingbird update was officially announced on September 26th, which sparked off a series of worried blog activity from search engine optimization strategists. “Oh no, not another algorithm change..” was being yelled across discussion boards. This time though, there’s nothing really to worry about. Unlike the ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ Google algorithm updates, Hummingbird is not a penalty based update (penalty based updates aim to clean up the search engine results for a query and deliver more accurate and reliable results) so you don’t have to start scrambling to revise your search engine optimization strategy. However, it does warrant a careful review of your current strategy, just to make sure your website will continue to rank well on Google.

google-hummingbirdThe main thing Google’s Hummingbird update looks at is your content. This means your text content. We all know that Google doesn’t consider the keyword meta tag anymore, and I always thought that it should have always worked that way. The keyword meta tag, if considered when ranking a website, can cause websites to rank highly when they in fact should not (if they don’t have the text content to back them up, that is). So Google’s Hummingbird update means that in order for your website to have a decent ranking, you actually have to write your content properly and not rely solely on meta tags. A quick rule to keep in mind when writing your content is your keyword density should be somewhere between 9% – 12% of your entire text. Some people say more, some people say less.. but I find this percentage works well. So besides content, what else should you consider for the Google Hummingbird update?

More people nowadays use conversational queries

This basically means people tend to search for things on Google exactly the same way they would ask a question. An example would be ‘How do I rank my website on Google?‘ (ok, I was sneaky there cause that’s an article on our blog). But the truth is more and more people search for things in a conversational way. This is directly related to ‘long tail keywords’ rather than ‘head terms’. What are these and what do they mean? Have a look here for a detailed explanation, but a quick explanation is a long tail keyword has 3 or more terms in it which makes it more specific, while a head term has under 3 terms in it and is more general. Make sure your content and keyword strategy uses a good balance between long tail keywords as well as head terms to get the most traffic possible.

Expand your ranking possibilities by using synonyms

Have you noticed that when you search for something on Google, you  get results which contain the terms you were looking for, as well as similar terms? Google’s smart like that, so it knows what you mean when you search for things. If possible, try and leverage synonyms in your content which can expand the terms your page could rank for.

Anchor texts and you : 101

Anchor text means the actual words you use as links in your content. Anchor texts are extremely important, cause it’s another way for you to use your primary keyword(s) again, while linking it to content, which is super important. For example, instead of saying ‘ to read more about seo, click here‘ you can re-word it to say ‘ blah blah blah.. and don’t forget to read our search engine optimization strategy tips‘ (the words in italics are the links, for example). See what I did there? I made the key phrase the anchor text. It’s that simple (if you’re smart enough to be able to spin your content in a useful way).

There are a bunch of other tips which could help, but I think these are a good starting point to tackle Google’s hummingbird update. So run along and check your website against these points, and make sure you’re up to date. If you need help or have a question, feel free to drop us a line using the comment form below. We actually check and respond to comments!

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