How does Hummingbird affect my local SEO?
by Alex Bungener
Google Hummingbird is the new search engine algorithm used by Google. What is a search algorithm anyway? In simple terms, a search algorithm is a formula used by search engines to sort through the gazillion of sites in cyberspace in such a way that when an internet user searches for something, he gets the best results. At least that is what Google always keeps saying—that it exists to enhance the online user’s browsing experience.
This Google search algorithm has been refined and updated through the years to weed out many issues that mar their goal of delivering precise search engine results. We have heard about Google Penguin and Panda updates, for example. This periodic updating is announced but not explained in detail—for a valid reason, of course. Google does not want content providers to write solely for the purpose of satisfying search engines. Google wants sites and blogs to post content that will satisfy readers and visitors.
So what is there to know about Google Hummingbird? More importantly, how will Google Hummingbird likely impact local SEO?
Google Hummingbird is not simply a tweaking of Panda and Penguin. While the latter two are simply changes made to a previous algorithm, Google Hummingbird is an all-new algorithm, though some of the good Panda and Penguin principles are still in place.
This brand-new search engine has been developed in order to keep up with the new technologies today that were non-existent in years past. For example, we now can speak to built-in microphones in the Google search bar ad in our tablets and smartphones instead of typing in a search term.
This new way of voice-based searching online for stuff is simplistically described as “conversational search.” Search terms are no longer abbreviated ones like “latest iPhone5.” Rather, the new search terms are more conversational such as “Give me the latest iPhone 5” or “Show me the latest iPhone 5.”
You can understand the amazing concept of conversational search more profoundly in this article by searchengineland.
Google Hummingbird is touted to look behind mere words. It goes deeper to understand the real meaning of the whole search phrase or query. To illustrate, when you search for “vertigo prescription” in the old algorithm, Google will return to you the pages which contain the words “vertigo prescription,” “vertigo” and “prescription.”
With the new Google Hummingbird, the search engine results pages will contain posts on vertigo treatments, including those which are better than drugs. The idea is that Google has become more intelligent and intuitive than ever and recognizes that the searcher is really looking for a treatment rather than a drug. In a nutshell, the new algorithm looks at user intent rather than actual words. Discerning meaning and intent over words—this is what Google Hummingbird does.
So how will Google Hummingbird impact local SEO?
This new algorithm has just launched and the actual consequences it brings to local SEO are yet to be observed. Local SEO professionals have varying opinions. Tom Anthony of Moz says Hummingbird will be good for local SEO. The fact that this new algorithm makes use of 57 signals to determine user intent and context will very likely reduce the importance of keywords—but not to the extent of obliterating it.
For as long as online searches—whether text or voice—is language-driven (as they are), keywords will still matter. Anthony says, however, that the challenge for local seo is how to target not only keywords but also context and user intent. He sums it up by saying, “I’m not saying keywords are dead—just that they no longer give the full picture.”
Search Engine Journal puts forth an interesting thought. Panda weeded out thin content, Penguin penalized unnatural or low-quality links, while Hummingbird will still have the Panda and Penguin filters while adding a social search component, with Google+ said to be that social element.
Google is quick to give the assurance that if your goal has always been to provide original, quality, in-depth, likeable, shareable and linkable content, you will fare even better in the reign of Google Hummingbird. But if you do keyword stuffing and churn out shallow content, the hummingbird will peck your site to pieces. The best local seo strategy still incorporates all of the things Digital+ & Alex Bungener has been posting in their Local SEO series. But the content of the local business’s website pages now needs to be more in depth about the services or products that business offers so that you position your business as the best answer to what users are asking or seeking.
Don’t hesitate to contact Digital+ with any questions about your local SEO program.