Recently – and surreptitiously The Hummingbird Google update has changed its search algorithm. Unlike the Panda or Penguin updates to the original formula, this time Google replaced the whole darn thing. It’s the biggest change since, well… ever! They call it Hummingbird, and it’s an entirely new way of indexing websites and filtering results.
Introducing Semantic Search
Google’s goal has always been to deliver the best, most specific search results possible. With billions of pages and more added every day, it’s theoretically quite a big job to scour the web. Hummingbird was designed to do a deeper search, using what they called “conversational” or “semantic” search.
What this means is, Google is looking more at the user’s entire query and not just matching it to keywords on a page. Since a lot of people are using talk-to-text on their mobile phones, this makes sense. Also, it would make “keyword stuffing” more difficult, as those pages don’t usually come across as natural language.
Is this the End of Keywords?
By all means NO. Keywords are still certainly an indicator of what’s on a page or what a person is looking for. But Google is taking into account all the words on the page and matching it against the user query, in an attempt to deliver much more specific results. (An example Google gave was the results for “acid reflux prescription” used to return a list of drugs that may not be relevant. Now, they say it returns results much more specific to the treatment.)
How Does This Affect My Website’s SEO?
Google says Hummingbird was much less disruptive than Penguin or Panda, which de-listed spammy, scammy sites. If you played by white-hat SEO rules before, you are still probably going to be OK. But there’s a whole slew of NEW ways to optimize your site, including Structured Data Markup, to help you integrate with Hummingbird.
Want to find out more about Hummingbird and semantic search? Talk to us at SEO Experts. We’ve been helping businesses stay at the top of Google since 2002 and can help you navigate this latest change.