What Google’s ‘Hummingbird’ update means for you

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With each new update to its search engine Google seeks to outsmart marketers who want to game the system and find an easy way to rise up in search results.

It seems Google’s latest update is returning the power to those who truly produce quality content with their latest update code-named “Hummingbird”.

If you’ve been looking into search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies for a while now, you might be familiar with how previous updates code-named “Panda” and “Penguin” took radical steps to cut down on web spam and deliver more quality content to those who use the search engine. With the “Hummingbird” update, Google has taken the best aspects of previous updates and combined them into a more powerful search engine that’s designed to return relevant answers to natural queries.

In the past, a natural query such as “where can I find a Travel Agent?” would pull up a mix of brick and mortar shops and online Travel suppliers, depending on how optimised their pages were for search engines. Now, with Hummingbird, users can enjoy an engine that reads into every word in the query to pull in results that are more relevant. So, when someone keys in a question like “where can I find a Travel Agent?” Google becomes alerted to the fact that the user probably wants a brick and mortar agency nearby rather than an online only supplier.

This change in the way Google processes search queries shouldn’t worry marketers who have focused on producing quality content following the Panda and Penguin updates. But there are still some things marketers can take note of to improve their SEO strategy and leverage the Hummingbird engine to their advantage.

With the changes Google continues to roll out, it’s better not to think of SEO as a game of drawing attention to particular keywords. Instead, it’s more about becoming and staying relevant to your audience. So, instead of emphasising on quantity and constantly rolling out content to maximise visibility for a particular set of keywords, it might be better to think about the real questions your audience may be asking and provide real answers to them in the form of content on your web site and across other places online that people might be looking.

So, if your business happens to be a brick and mortar shop travel agency, it would be beneficial to not just optimise content for people looking to book a holiday, but also provide information that’s relevant to those who are truly looking for a local travel agent to visit in person.

It may feel strange, especially if you’ve been practicing traditional SEO for years, but you’ll certainly find that by adapting to Google’s stronger focus on the quality of content and what questions it answers, you might just find it easier to draw in real clients.

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