What Google Hummingbird Means and How to Thrive Under It

hummingbirdLately, there’s been much heated discussion regarding the recent debut of the Hummingbird algorithm and its impact on SEO. Content marketers in particular are wondering how Google’s shift away from keywords and towards context will affect their broader efforts.

The good news is that Hummingbird doesn’t seem to have hurt the SERPs positions of most sites so far. However, if you’d like to parlay Google’s new search paradigm into better rankings, the following tips should help out.

Use Content to Answer Questions

At its core, Hummingbird is the culmination of Google’s efforts to transition from keyword-based content indexing to semantic search. Understanding what searchers really mean in natural language terms is the name of the game.

The rise of voice-enabled mobile search has been an important driver of this trend. When crafting content, research questions that people are asking and make your content revolve around answering them.

Include Location & Context Clues

A big part of answering questions accurately is ensuring that people get the content they’re expecting based on where they are. Local keywords allow Google to better serve searchers when delivering results based on queries.

People in India aren’t expecting the same results as people in the United States when they enter a question like “Where can I buy a laptop?” into Google’s search bar.

Broaden Your Content Horizons

A focus on answering specific questions means that you’ll need to broaden your content offerings and drill down into niches to satisfy a greater proportion of searchers. As long as you don’t resort to long-tail keyword shenanigans, a niche approach will net results.

Furthermore, it’s important to diversify content formats in a post-Hummingbird world. Try a healthy mix of articles, videos and infographics to begin with.

Focus On Attribution

One of Google’s goals with Hummingbird and to a lesser extent with the updates that preceded it is to use publisher reputation to assess probable content value. In particular, on-page tagging using Google Authorship markup as well as Publisher markup allows content creators to link their work with their identities.

It’s no coincidence that Google+ and YouTube have been aggressively promoting the usage of real names recently.

Make Social Mentions a Priority

Besides author attribution, Google uses various methods to rank brands based on their relevance and authority. Social mentions of your brand and its content on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ help to cement your image as an authority worthy of recognition.

One can easily boost said mentions by fostering communities of like-minded people on social media networks and targeting content at those communities that you’ve built.

A Few Conclusions

If you’ve been going out of your way to give your current and potential future customers what they’re looking for in the way of information online, Hummingbird is actually quite beneficial. Google tries to reward solid content even if it’s not perfectly optimized. Having said that, the preceding rough guidelines will assist you in hitting the top of the SERPs if you keep them in mind when publishing content.


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Earl is a writer at Crowd Content and creates content for a mix of technology and mobile marketing websites. To work with Earl and other great freelance writers, create a free client account at Crowd Content today!

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