Google Hummingbird is an entirely new search algorithm launched by Google at the end of 2013 to celebrate their 15th birthday. Developed for speed and accuracy of searcher’s time and search results, the Hummingbird attempts to answer questions in a more meaningful way. That’s it. Leave it to Google and its tiny bird to do just that.

With Google Hummingbird we see the smartening of the search engines to read and understand the meaning and context behind a search. To do this, the Hummingbird looks at more of the full phrase, rather than just the words it contains. The more conversational the query, the better the information provided.

Why did Google create Hummingbird?

Google created Hummingbird for a few basic reasons:

  1. As users of the Internet, we’re in a me-mode. We search in terms of
    questions rather than in terms of what we think Google wants us to search with.
  2. Mobile searches needed to display results based on the proximity of the searcher to what they’re searching for.
  3. Google wants to provide answers. It’s as simple as that. Websites with content containing the best answers will be served.


Google’s Hummingbird operates by providing the answer to a question in the form of an information card pulled from its knowledge graph and displayed at the top of the results page. Yes, at the top of the page. Meaning there may not be a click into a website. Why? It’s simple: If Google already has the answer, their role is to provide it to the user as expediently as possible.

Does Hummingbird affect SEO?

Not really. The scenario is just changing. Why? Because now you’re competing with Google’s information cards. Do they have the answer to your question? Is your response more engaging, more thorough or more interactive? Essentially now – more than ever – is the time to continue with relevant and engaging content to create a better response.

Since the release of Google Hummingbird, it’s clear that one of the bird’s larger targets is to reframe search engine optimization from SEO to simply good marketing and from keyword optimization to good content.

What we’re seeing is more of an evolution in the way search engines respond to search for the benefit of the user.

That said, all these things are still perfectly alive and well:

  • Original and engaging content
  • True and natural backlinks
  • Relevant and balanced keyword usage
  • Longer tail keywords and phrases


It’s no surprise that Google rolled out Hummingbird after it released Conversational Search a few years ago. If you missed semantic search entirely, take a look. It was just a step closer to more user-friendly search –
and a hint to the rest of what was to come.

Long Tail: More Meaningful Keywords

Does your website have the ability to answer search queries through its content? Sure the Hummingbird will provide the answer first, and faster, but the more content you provide that can answer the question in a meaningful way, the better your website will perform. If you think about it, the search for “boots” will provide a smorgasbord of common results, which may not contain what the searcher is looking for. The search for “men’s oiled leather lace up boots” is entirely different. The content that has the answer to that will convert at a much higher rate than the content that answers for “boots” alone.

Originality is what makes content unique. Now with the Hummingbird we need to provide content that is not only original but also useful. If you’ve already been providing this type of content, great work and keep moving forward, but if you’ve been creeping by with minimal, static or unoriginal content, it might be time to consider a new SEO – err content – strategy to get you going in the right direction.

How the Hummingbird will love you

  1. The best thing to do is work on differentiating yourself as a business and brand through your website and content. Since the Hummingbird can determine what kind of query is being searched, you can create content that responds best to the query. Remember, Google wants to find a most accurate match between search and content.
  2. If you’re an agency, you can look at the content currently shown based on the search query to create a strategy with a closer focus. The end result will be valuable content, which in turn will help help drive traffic over time.
  3. Claim Google authorship if you haven’t already. If you need to ask why, call me, and we can talk further. Connecting your website to your Google+ account will help authenticate your content – and keep the Hummingbird coming back for more.
  4. Stay natural and organic, with good quality content. Just because Google rolls out its new algorithm, making it the largest single change in 13 years, don’t think you can outsmart it, black hat it, or do anything else tricky that may have gotten your website penalized in the past. The Hummingbird will beat you to the punch most every time.
  5. If you don’t already have a blog and a website that uses a content management system such as WordPress, now is the time. The ability to increase website, blog and entrance content in order to answer a user’s need is now vital.
  6. Take advantage of all of Google’s tools. This includes Adwords, Webmaster Tools and Google Places to name a few. Here are some more ideas that will help:


  • Have a FAQ page and include helpful content such as ‘Where can I’ and ‘How can I’ in the form of conservational questions.
  • Have a Question and Answer section on your blog, or maybe an Ask the Expert section if you’re an expert in your trade.
  • Make sure you write some How To’s.
  • Conduct interviews with experts in your industry.


The Take-home

Google is leading the change to a better, more intelligent search experience. If you’re a website owner, you’ll want to make changes accordingly and prepare yourself for what’s ahead as the Hummingbird wizzes around the search engines. Start – or continue – writing original and engaging content and focus on long tail keywords that provide a better match to user needs.

Have fun out there, Christina


Written by: Christina Brown

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