All summer I was hearing talk of some major update happening at Google. Some spoke of the update to end all updates, which gave me a nice chuckle. On September 30, 2013, Google announced that the Hummingbird update was live. Hummingbird really brings the idea of knowledge graph and mobile search to the forefront. The point of the Hummingbird update is to allow users who may be using a mobile device to ask questions rather than the traditional keyword style typed-in searches. The big difference is that Google will favor sites that don’t just target keywords but rather focus on answering a question. So your page on “Toronto real estate” would be better themed on the topic of “Where can I buy Toronto real estate?” or “What are the Toronto real estate market conditions?”.
Strangely I made this shift in the way I marketed my clients’ sites a couple years ago, so it is nice that Google is doing things I predicted it would. My goal was to help clients to keep their sites fresh by adding new blog content, but I didn’t like the traditional SEO blog where the keyword targeting seemed heavy handed. I took the approach of having the new content that I developed be useful to people for those who might have questions. As a result I noticed my blogs out performing many competitive highly SEO-ed pages. The goal should be to keep things natural and useful to the potential readers. Google is getting better at recognizing good content. Though sometimes it has a tendency of punishing good sites in its process of learning what is good or bad content.
The second point, I mentioned about the Hummingbird update, was the focus of Knowledge Graph. After Hummingbird was released, I begin to see a greater number of results showing the Knowledge Graph information. For those who are unfamiliar with Knowledge Graph, it basically shows summaries of a searched topic allowing the user to stay on Google and still have their question answered. For example searching “Mona Lisa” shows pictures of the painting on the right hand side of Google and a paragraph about the painting. It also shows links to the artist which doesn’t take people out of Google but instead does a search on “leonardo da vinci” with his knowledge graph information shown. The irony of this is amazing to me because several updates ago Google cracked down and basically killed sites that gathered other sites’ content in order to help people learn about a topic and this is really the exact same thing that Google is doing. I guess it is only bad if someone other than Google does it. Before I rant too much on the evils of Google, I should mention how this all plays into Hummingbird. I guess simply put Hummingbird changes Google from being a search engine to being a find engine. It attempts to answer people’s questions with as few steps as possible. Now the answer is given and there is no need for people to take that extra step and actually visit the site with the actual article.
So what does Hummingbird mean to you? In order to get the rankings you seek build more conversational style content that answers people’s questions. Realize though that if you build great content Google might very well steal it.
I love would to hear people’s feedback on the Google Hummingbird update. Please comment below.