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Over the last few months Google has secretly rolled out an algorithmic update called "Hummingbird." Upon hearing of it, many in the SEO community panicked, fearing they were at the mercy of another animal that would wreak havoc on their search engine rankings and income.

Unlike Panda and Penguin, however, the Hummingbird updates were rolled out without an announcement to the webmaster community. That's because they were not targeted at Web spam. Nevertheless, search engine results pages (SERPs) have been chaotic lately.

This article will discuss the following:

  • What Hummingbird means for SEOs
  • The difference between Hummingbird and Panda/Penguin
  • What you need to do to maintain high rankings heading into 2014

Will Hummingbird Affect Most SEOs?

For the sake of brevity: No. Unlike Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird is not aimed at taking down sites that rank high because of Web spam. Instead, Hummingbird is a move toward a better understanding of semantics (and the use of Knowledge Graph, explained below).

In particular, Hummingbird attempts to understand conversational language better than it did in the past. Previously, a search for "pizza parlors close to my house" would attempt to match keywords "pizza parlors" and "my house." If there were a pizza restaurant called "My House," it would most likely choose that as the best listing regardless of the restaurant's being located thousands of miles away.

Hummingbird = Understanding Intentions

When humans speak, we understand the intentions behind the words people use. Hummingbird is Google's first attempt to understand semantics at that same level.

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image of Chris Laub

Chris Laub is the owner of Sling SEO, a results-oriented SEO services firm.

LinkedIn: Chris Laub