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Will Hummingbird Affect Your SEO Efforts?

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Hummingbird is the latest Google algorithm update that is rumored will affect 90 percent of searches worldwide. Some say it’s the biggest algorithm update since Caffeine in 2010. Others say it’s as big as the complete rewrite of 2001. Regardless of which expert you choose to believe, it still remains true that SEO is changing at a rapid pace. Those who continue to do SEO based on what has worked in the past will be quickly left behind.

What is Hummingbird?

On September 29th, Google announced the release of their new search algorithm. In fact, Google had released the changes to the algorithm a few weeks earlier, little by little. Hummingbird aims to challenge websites to produce better, more relevant content.

According to Google, Hummingbird is a new search engine built on both new and existing elements of how Google used to create search engine result pages, as well as new elements organized in a way to better serve the search demands of today.

The new focus is aimed directly at what Google is calling a “conversational search.” Instead of focusing specifically on keywords, keyword phrases or even keyword density, it will now focus on contextual relevancy. Syntactical properties of a query or meaning behind the search phrase are going to be Google’s main focus.

Google is now going beyond just finding websites with matching keywords. They are focusing on answering more complex questions. Google is paying much more attention to the sentence structure and taking into account the meaning of the entire sentence versus a page
matching a few keywords.

Who Does It Affect?

This update will affect approximately 90 percent of all searches. The Hummingbird update forces sites to have better relevance by tapping further into Google’s Knowledge Graph, an encyclopedia of more than 500 million concepts and, more importantly, the relationships
between them.

For example, there is an information box on the Empire State building. It knows that it’s a tall building, a tourist attraction, located in New York City, etc., so Google may anticipate you may want to know more facts about it or possible restaurants or offices that are inside of it.

The fact that the Hummingbird update will affect a vast number of search queries does not necessarily mean that you are going to lose traffic. If you haven’t seen a dip in traffic over the last couple months, then chances are you haven’t taken a major hit from the algorithm update. There have been no major outcries among major bloggers or heavy content publishers across the web. This supports the notion that this is a query by query effect which seems to be improving particular complex searches, rather than matching on a head term with less relevance behind the content. The bottom line is that it’s time to stop focusing on keyword phrase optimization and focus more on quality content, the true meaning of the entire page and the actual question that the page might attempt to answer.

View the full Nov/Dec ASPE-ROI Newsletter to read this full article and much more.

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