Google turned 15 years on past september 27th and as a celebration, they launched something that is surely rocking the web, and at the same time is becoming an attempt to be tuned with today’s internet access trends.
We’re talking about Google Hummingbird, Google’s brand new search algorithm, already implemented about one month before the announcement indeed. This name could mean nothing, hell nothing to you, so let’s take a look to that: Think about a hummingbird. It is fast, has fluid motion and is incredibly accurate. Such characteristics define this bird, as well as they define this brand new redesign of the Internet’s king algorithm.
There’s a lot of obvious reasons; Internet has not only changed it’s appearance but also the way that users access it. The widespread use of smart devices has left behind two specific things: the access to the Internet through desktop devices and the physical keyboard as input interface. In addition, the creation of web contents has also changed, the strong use of HTML5 has re-invented the web (making it sexier as well); it’s semantical structure, aiming to get closer to user’s language, has forced web browsers and devices to act and interact as an average user could do. Such changes caused the obsolescence of classic search algorithm, hence a more semantical option became urgent.
This is how this new algorithm was born as a solution that carefully analyzes the use of external links pointing to a website, efficiently optimizes contents by using the old-school strategy of using keywords as well as accurately understands the semantic meaning of the search criteria. So, what it used to be a query in which articles, conjunctions and prepositions were irrelevant, replaced by boolean connectors, or simply omitted, now it is way different as it simply uses such semantic elements as important components of the query as they are adding it a more human meaning, and at the same time, moving towards AI development (and world domination… well, not too much, I hope).
And how is this birdie affecting SEO?
There is a gossip around, stating that there is no aftermath of this redesign on SEO, as Panda and Penguin updates were filters to modernize the algorithm and SEO rules rather than a full redesign like this one. Well, let’s agree and disagree at the same time. Yes, they are filters, but Penguin, the latest and current update to SEO rules, is still out there, implemented in the new algorithm and it’s been powered indeed by Hummingbird’s new features.
But, how? Well, let’s take it easy. As of Hummingbird’s implementation, Google became more similar as a human being (scary, ain’t it?), it is no longer a simple bunch of code reading into the use of keywords (I don’t think it had even been a simple bunch of code, ever, but let’s go on) meaning that the quality expected in websites will be severely tested as user experience will still be a rating determinant parameter and any relationship with other websites will be watched carefully.
Those experts (and either non-experts) of marketing who were already implementing SEO techniques according to Penguin parameters, have a lot on the pocket already and they’ll only need to keep the natural evolution and adaption way. So we’ll give a glance to some essentials of Penguin update and how it is affected by Hummingbird:
- Linking: It was already important that these links from other sites, pointing to your website, didn’t have they all the same text. This has still a plenty of sense because the links, placed in context, will be way more relevant. In other words, Google is capable to identify how naturally is a link placed in context, and that counts a lot in rankings.
- Content Quality: Having a head section infested of meta tags with keywords or hacks in a programming language or things like that are totally out of fashion. Content is everything in the web, and it’s been this way for a while. A long one. Users are surfing the web looking for stunning and quality contents and Google will be the most important and demanding of these users. Take into account that Google, as any other user, won’t care at all about hacks and meta tags; it’ll care about what is visible, what a web is made for and if its existence is worth.
- Keywords: They are evaluated similarly than links. Your keywords should be displayed naturally in context; it is not about forcing a sentence to fit to a keyword, because such fragment might lose the sequence of the main idea of the whole text and make it a nonsense. Please, think of Google as a human being that knows how to read and does it better than you.
- UX: This one compiles all of the above. If you have a high quality website, it means that it has been semantically built, has contextualized keywords and awakes other websites’ interest and therefore they have links pointing to your site. Period. This is how users experience is all about and as Google has improved its algorithm, making people’s life easier by enhancing queries from any device, we cannot expect less from the content displayed in the results list, namely, your website and competitors.
These proposed guidelines are not too hard to follow, however they require a great job thoroughly and think about all the details (all indeed!) , being very accurate in these. Accurate as a hummingbird.
To wrap all this up, Google has put everything on the field and pretends to make more human the way of searching the web. It does sound terrifying, since we have always thought that the humanization of technology will end up slaving humanity (Armageddon!!), however all these changes made, moving towards such humanization, are actually making our lives easier. Hugely easier.