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Should You Be Worried About Google's Hummingbird Update?

by Chris Laub  |  
October 10, 2013

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

LinkedIn: Chris Laub

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  • by writerroxanne Thu Oct 10, 2013 via web

    Great insights! My Takeaway? "Hummingbird is Google's way of trying to control the way we use search" and if we, that is HUMANS & MARKETERS, don't comply with the Great Google, we'll get slammed by low SERPS and a dearth of analytic tracking data. The solution? Create content for humans first, and algorithms second. Write the way people speak and they way they use words. Be natural and the bots will find you worthy.

  • by Bodo Kachari Fri Oct 11, 2013 via web

    Awesome coverage! Thanks for summing up all the insights!

    In addition, I also advise to consider the practical tips described in this article:

  • by Chris Fri Oct 11, 2013 via web

    I heard that Hummingbird also increased the importance of social with search results, especially google+. Is this true or completely unrelated?

  • by Madeline Tue Oct 15, 2013 via web

    Awesome article. Very important for businesses to understand it's all about the person searching. Many people still do not realize it's about the content so they continue to talk about their product and success. Many people just want to get to their destination. It's all about GREAT CONTENT. I am glad they changed it. It's easier to communicate with your audience and be yourself.

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