Google released a Hummingbird update in September and nobody noticed until they announced it in October. Interestingly, this is also the first time since 2001 that the search algorithm has changed so dramatically. Hummingbird is an evolved form of the previous algorithm and the goal for Google is to return much better results to its users that are relevant and useful. The name Hummingbird was chosen because this update is supposed to be, ‘precise and fast.’

What’s So Special About the Hummingbird Update?

Similar to previous updates like Penguin and Panda, Hummingbird is meant to improve the overall experience that Google Users have returning high-quality content that is relevant to what they are searching for. However, the primary difference with this update is that it incorporates conversational search both with text and voice search. When people are looking for something, they typically ask a question rather than type in keywords and Google now understands the meanings behind words and relationships between concepts instead of just matching keyword queries. As a result, long-tailed keywords are favored for optimization and rankings.

Hummingbird Teams Up with (not provided)

You may have noticed the ‘(not provided)’ section of your Google Analytics organic keywords growing at an increasing rate and for some pages, disappearing altogether. Google expanded their breadth of protection over users for search privacy and also is preventing marketers from trying to just focus on ranking #1 in search engines through keywords. If you’re asking why, remember that Content is King.

On the other hand, search engines are returning biased results-if you’re logged into your Google account and do a search, you’ll see results that people you follow on Google+ above others if they’ve shared, reviewed, or +1′d things relevant to what you’re looking for. The reason for this is to increase the social connectivity of content and Google+. If your friend liked an article, chances are, you’ll also be interested in reading that article too.

What This Means for SEO

Basically, Hummingbird is Google encouraging businesses to provide high-quality content and answers to their customers as if it’s a question-answer manner. Google began as a search engine that provided answers to questions people inquired about and they want us to refocus on that. In addition, businesses that provide more interesting, high-quality content, will see more entrance paths to their site from returning, new, and unique visitors.

What this also means, is that focusing on creating a strong brand online will help drive traffic because of the trust people have in authoritative brands. Remember your Marketing and Branding 101 class? We’re going back to basics here but placing it online where our customers frequently are. A strong online brand means the ability to use more branded long-tail keywords for optimization and a better search and brand experience for users.

If you haven’t streamlined your branding from traditional to digital, it’s time to start aggressively readjusting your marketing plans since the first place that people go to research a new company, service, or product is online on your website and you’ll want to make sure people can actually find you on search engines.

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