What Does Google’s Hummingbird Mean For Business?

Google’s big news this Fall is that it has released a new search algorithm, Hummingbird. Hummingbird is Google’s largest search engine update since 2001, and the company says it’s designed to move faster and give more precise query results. Google has updated its algorithms before with Penguin and Panda, but Hummingbird is a complete overhaul of its search algorithm. Google gave the release a lot of fanfare, but what does it mean for businesses marketing their websites online?

First, a little bit of background about Hummingbird and how it works: Hummingbird accommodates “conversational searches,” which means it focuses on user intent and not individual search terms. This reflects the changing way people are using online search engines. Web searches are using keywords less frequently and are becoming longer and more specific — which means it was time for Google’s algorithm to start answering questions, not responding to keywords. Another feature of Hummingbird is that it displays content on the search pages. More on how that could impact businesses in a minute.

So what does this mean for businesses that want searchers to find them online? The good news is that you don’t need to worry about a complete search engine optimization (SEO) overhaul. Google’s official line is that SEO publishers don’t need to do anything differently, and most tech experts agree. If you’re already keeping on top of your content, updating it regularly and making sure it resonates with potential customers, Hummingbird won’t change a thing.

However, because Hummingbird focuses more on the meaning behind the words in a search query, businesses should think about how their content can reach a number of search criteria. For instance, if someone types in “best place to buy office furniture,” do they want reviews, or deals, or quality comparison? Content that applies to as many meanings as possible will do better under the new Hummingbird algorithm.

In a recent Business News Daily piece about Hummingbird’s impact on businesses, Sara Angeles points out that Google’s new ability to display search content on search pages is not a bonus for businesses.

“With this feature, Google not only scrapes content from other websites to display information on search pages, but the process also promotes a Google-only user experience,” Angeles writes.

There’s not much businesses can do about that, aside from finding a way to make it worthwhile for searchers to go to their site.

The bottom line is that Hummingbird will not tank your website’s ranking, but it may present a good opportunity to freshen up content.

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