What Is Google Hummingbird & How To Prepare For Big Google Change

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SEO is one of those industry, which is based on data, experience and assumption. For example, when Google launched Google Panda update, we made so many assumption and many people gave up on trying to recover site from Panda penalty, and many bloggers like me worked to fix the penalty damage and recovered completely. Similarly, later on Google launched Google Penguin algorithm which was targeted to demean useless back links and penalize websites using shady methods to build thousands of link. In no time, Google realised that they have given birth to negative SEO with Penguin and they launched Google Disavow link tool to give incoming link control to web masters.

Undoubtedly Google is making all these changes to improve Google search and give better results. Any big algorithm change is always painful for many web masters, and a wise suggestion would be: understand the system and give what Google is looking for.

Google Hummingbird

Google is not asking for money to make you rank higher or neither asking you to do anything out of the box, but all they ask from webmaster is to follow their webmaster guidelines, and create websites which adds value.

On September 17th 2013, Google announced the launch of a new system call “Hummingbird” and initially we had very limited data of information to tell what this new system meant to a person like you and me. In this article, I will cover everything I know about Google Hummingbird so far, and will share some insight and ideas to make your blog-website ready for future Google alto changes.

What is Google Hummingbird and why it matters for SEO?

First of all, don’t confuse Google Panda, Google Penguin with Hummingbird update, as they are entirely different. Let me explain this by explaining Panda and Penguin first.

Google Panda: It was an algorithm change which penalizes a website with low-quality content. Now from search point of view, it’s not only the quality of article, but the kind of pages you are letting search engine bots to crawl and index. I have covered about this in detail over here and shared how you can recover from Google Panda.

Google Penguin: For years Google used back links as one of the most trusted ranking factor, and they do it now. Once web masters knew that Links are the major ranking factor, they started gaming the system by buying thousands of back links. This created the problem is spam pages ranking higher in search, and that’s why Google rolled out another major algo update name “Penguin“, which devalues the links coming from spam pages.

One thing which is common between both the updates are: They are an algorithm tweak. Think of it as, they made some changes in existing algorithm and added factors like low-quality pages, low-quality links should not rank higher. Obviously, it’s more complicated than these simple words, but from layman perspective this is what we need to know.

Welcome to the world of Google Hummingbird Algorithm:

Google hummingbird came into existence for public on 17th September 2013, when Google announced about this new system on their 15th birthday. This new model is intend to make search engine more conversational search and not keyword based search. Also, it takes user intent into consideration while performing search.

That means, Google is changing the approach of Google search from Keyword oriented to intent oriented, and this will have big effect on the ranking of website. The good news here is, unlike Panda and Penguin which is more penalty based algorithm change, Hummingbird is reward based change.

That means, websites which fits the criteria of hummingbird will notice better search engine ranking, and other websites will stay unaffected. But do remember this quote in the field of search engine ranking “Somebody gain is somebody loss“. Here is an example from Wordtracker blog, which will give you the pictorial representation of hummingbird from a searcher perspective.

A Searcher searches for pictures of particular person:

Google Hummingbird search

And after that, he searches for something like “where does he live” or “How tall is he”, and Google understand the intent and gives the detail about the person based on previous search query:

hummingbird example

The above example is for Google Knowledge-graph, and according to Eric Enge from Stone temple consulting, with Hummingbird update, Google started putting knowledge graph update into non-knowledge graph queries to make Google search more intent based and based on natural conversational queries.

Optimize your website for Hummingbird and Future Google Search

First of all Google search will keep evolving and we will keep seeing changes in coming months/years. Sometime Google clears out the bubble with official announcement about these changes, and sometime we have to rely on case-studies and expert opinions for what works and what will not work.

There is no official guidelines on how you can optimise your website for hummingbird SEO, but all I can say is; there are few new things that Google will take in consideration for ranking a page in coming days, or probably they are doing it at small-level. Based on my experience and advises from other SEO experts, here are few things that I could suggest to you for making your website SEO future ready.

Content with more related keywords:

I have already talked about LSI Keywords and they are very helpful for Google bots to understand what a page is all about. With the changing landscape of Keyword optimisation, I highly recommend you to take advantage of LSI keywords. Along with your main target keyword, ensure you add all other related keyword to make your page more targeted and more keyword rich. Saying that, you should also think of a demographic (Target audience) while writing content. After all, one content can’t be for everyone. If you are on WordPress, you can use this awesome plugin call EasyWPSEO which shows the LSI Keywords for you target keyword, and also let you check readability score. If you never heard of it, here is an overview of what EasyWPSEO plugin is all about.

Social Signals:

Internet is full of spam and if I’m a Search engine, I would focus more on rewarding high-quality pages and at the same time penalising low-quality pages to show better results. In the past or even now, Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factor, and Google is changing this to rely more on Social signals. Now, many of you might be wondering “Wow! It’s so easy to game the social signals”, there are many website selling Google plus likes, Facebook likes and so on, and one can easily buy it to game the system. You are partially right, but in coming days I see Google will give more weight age to votes from credible profile, instead of likes coming from any Google plus profile. This is another reason I recommend you to minimise your Facebook usage, and work on building a better profile on Google plus. Google plus is the official social-network of Google, and they have access to their data, which makes it more important for you to be on the network. Now, if you wish to read more about Social-signals, I suggest you to read our earlier guide on How Social Media impacts SEO.

Author Rank:

Google Authorrank

You must have seen and heard about Google authorship, which creates a relation between your Google plus profile and your content using rel=author tag attribute. This simple feature has more to do than just showing author image in Google search. Welcome to the world of Author-rank. Author-rank may not be a big ranking factor as of now, but it will be in near-future.  If you want to dig-deep into Author rank, here is a detailed guide on Moz blog, which you should not miss. There are already tools like Authorrank, which will let you check your author-rank.

The SEO landscape is always changing and to stay ahead in the crowd, you need to be updated and ensure your website is using all known SEO techniques to make most out of it. It’s the time that will unfold the future of SEO, but for now you can atleast prepare yourself and your website to avoid staying behind the others. To sum it up, here are few things you should start focusing on:

  • Use LSI Keywords to make your content more user-intent. You can use EasyWPSEO Plugin for LSI Keywords.
  • Implement Google Authorship and guest post on high authority blogs to improve your Author-rank.
  • Focus on making your blog more social-media friendly, and get more social media sharing.
  • Build a credible & high value Google plus profile.
  • Focus on building your blog as an authority and branded blog.

I will keep sharing more data and details as I have access to it, for now you should also check out my case-study on removing dates from SERPS.

If you have additional details about Google hummingbird or want to add your opinion, feel free to share it with me via comments. If you enjoyed reading this article, do consider sharing it on Google plus and Facebook. You can also join me on Google plus over here.

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Blog post by Harsh Agrawal

Harsh has written 1050 articles.

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  1. says

    Very interesting and useful article. The good thing about hummingbird is it’s not that dangerous like Panda and Penguin. I also think the Author Rank will do a pivotal role in the near future.

  2. Ehab says

    Thanks For Sharing For us this great information about google updates .
    I think there is big changes coming Regarding NEW SEO TECH & it’s gonna HURT everyone :(

  3. Stephanie Riggs says

    Google is making its search system advanced than advanced with the passage of time and a little update in its system has big values from the SEO and internet marketer’s point of view. The Google Hummingbird algorithm filtered websites on the basis of contents that’s why now people are paying more attention towards quality contents. So many blackhat methods are now come to an end and its time to think natural ways of website optimization. I appreciate your struggle to convey the purpose of Google Hummingbird update.

  4. Rahul says

    I loved this article. This is the kind of information every person dealing with SEO needs to know. Thank you!

  5. Ashish(Webcipher) says

    Hey Thanks for sharing this useful post. I was wondering from last few days why my traffic is going down consistently. I wasn’t that actively sharing my posts on social sites. But, now i will surely do.


  6. Mukesh says

    Hummingbird Update is one of the best google update and basically far much better than the others like Penguin.I Have a question is it really the author rank plays a vital role as i don’t think author rank is important much when we comes to hummingbird.

  7. Anil Agarwal says

    According to me here are few things which we need to give special attention to get maximum out of Hummingbird:

    – Author Rank is going to be very important
    – User experience will be the first priority
    – Fast loading websites and mobile friendly websites will do well
    – Social Signals are going to be much more critical
    – Contents that are written in conversational sense will have advantage
    – Need to implement rich snippets

  8. says

    i was always confused in google algorithms that what does algo in google search means ? But here i come and found my answer and many more related to that. As i just heard about Hummingbird but now i understand that what is hummingbird.
    I found the information to be very beneficial for me.
    Really appreciable blog.
    Thanks a lot for sharing the information.

  9. Jessi says

    Thanks for comprehensive information about hummingbird and i was confused about panda and Penguin. now i am cleared. :)

  10. Gaurav says

    Before read this article really i don’t know about Google panda and Google Penguin and also don’t know hummingbird updates…But now i clearing all my doubt about this updates by Google…Thanks for sharing this awesome article harsh bro..Keep updating and sharing like this article..so me as a newbie blogger know about this type of facts.

  11. Lakhyajyoti says

    Long and detailed post about Google Hummingbird. Surely I’ll follow your tips to optimize my blog for Google Hummingbird. Thanks for the share, Harsh.

  12. krishnan says

    This Google update shows that, the blogger write content by using subject related words,LSI Keywords. i think time for change

  13. says

    Hi Harsh, I like how you really explained this one to us. I also have noticed the difference lately with Google+ – it really has started to make a difference. I also like how you have the author confirmed domains, something I must work on as well with my contributor posts. Thanks for sharing this informative one with us! Look forward to reading more in this series from you too Harsh.

  14. says

    What a perfectly written and detailed post it is!
    why Google is forcing us to use to Google+ all the time whether on YouTube and now this Author rank too. :\

  15. says

    I’ve just checked out the Author Rank checker that you pointed out and I can say a few more lines about it. First, I’ve tried to check my google pages. They where detected but O out of 10. I update then often but apparently it doesn’t matter, so, I tried my main google profile that I never use and then my rank is 5.88 out of 10. It can detect 3 of my sites (those where I put the meta author in fact), so I figure out, the rank is probably a mix of how many websites you’re contributing and if you’re google pages about those sites are updated often. Maybe my rank could be even higher if I actually use my main page ;)

  16. vikas yadav says

    Thanks for sharing the new Google algo. which is similar to panda and penguin but does not penalize any website. I have heard a lot , that Google Hummingbird can reduce the ranking of website which focus more Long tail keyword. Hope you will search on that further.

  17. says

    Hummingbird is easier and quicker for people to access answer to their questions and paying more attention to each word in a query and focuses on ranking information based on more intelligent and naturalistic search requests.

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