Google celebrated its 15th birthday on the 27th September this year (Happy Birthday Google). To celebrate they decided to shake up the wonderful world of search engines. The new Google Hummingbird algorithm has been rolled out over the past few weeks but what is it and what does it mean for consumers and business owners?
As Google is the major global search engine, they are moving with the times. Taking the emphasis away from creating websites for the search engine spiders and making them more user-friendly. Although the search engines control the results for the user, ultimately the World Wide Web is there for the general public. They are now the focus of the search engine results since the ‘Caffeine’ overhaul at Google.
It has been 3 years (yes really!!) since Google began its ‘Caffeine’ reshuffle of its search engines and rolled out the Google Panda which caused a major reshuffle of search engine rankings. With the priority being given to consumer readability, many websites had to rethink their content to maintain their rank position. Content which was stuffed with keywords was no longer ranking unless it made sense and was easy to read (which was rare). There was also a social element to the Google Panda upgrade, with sites ranking higher on the back of their popularity. This means the more visitors and links a site had the higher it ranked. This makes sense to Google as the search engine decided that a popular site must mean that the content is relevant to that particular search term. This had a detrimental effect on the smaller sites which had been relying on using the relevant keywords, they suddenly dropped out of sight.
The new Google Hummingbird algorithm is also based around consumer use. Where Google searched for specific keywords in the past they are now shifting their focus slightly to account for the questions which Google face on a daily basis. People have taken the phrase ‘ask Google’ more and more literally in recent times and now, instead of typing in a keyword or two, most people are typing in a full question. The Google Hummingbird algorithm will now take those questions and look for the keywords in context rather than individually. This is obviously better for the person asking the question. How many times have you typed in a question and looked at the results thinking ‘That has nothing to do with what I want’? That should now stop happening and the results should be more specific to the question asked.
What does Google Hummingbird mean for webmasters? It could mean another overhaul of content in order to maintain ranking. It might mean that some websites lose their ranking and have to work hard to climb the pages again. Google estimates that up to 90% of websites will be affected by google Hummingbird and there will be some companies and businesses that won’t be happy but it also means that the ‘little guys’ have more of a chance in the race for page 1.
Love it or hate it, Google Hummingbird and Google Panda are all about the consumer as they are who really matter in the big scheme of things. If you want to maintain your ranking then now is the time to rethink your SEO strategy and think more about what your sites visitors actually want.