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Google’s Hummingbird: How it affects mobile SEO

Best Practices

Google’s Hummingbird: How it affects mobile SEO

annebot November 21, 2013

Google is always looking for new ways to improve its search capabilities and minimize poor search results. In order to do this, it had to make a few adjustments to the search algorithm it uses to fetch answers — Hummingbird. However, unlike the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, Hummingbird has attracted a lot of controversy. Some say Hummingbird will help consumers hunt down the items they need without pulling up irrelevant keyword stuffed pages, and others say that online businesses will suffer. In an attempt to clear up the confusion surrounding the Hummingbird algorithm, here’s everything you need to know.

Along Came Hummingbird

Bad practices from content mills caused Google to fill up with bad search results. When typing in a simple phrase such as “dental veneers,” the results would yield sites that had nothing to do with dentistry. In most cases, the content on these pages would be about something other than dental veneers and just have the keyword “dental veneers” strewn in there. Back in those days, the more clicks a page received, the more relevant the page was seen to be, so it would rank higher in a Google search. Consumers complained, Google realized it had to be fixed, so Hummingbird was created. Hummingbird replaced the old “keyword ranking system” and started ranking search results based on a number of factors that include:

  • quality content
  • relevant content
  • keyword optimized content

Google’s Hummingbird is the brain behind the search. It offers an “understanding” approach to finding relevant answers rather than an automated response. Before Hummingbird, Google’s search algorithms wouldn’t look for an entire search phrase, it would extract the top searched words and piece them together. For example, the search query ” what is vanilla bean ice cream?” would pull up a variation of answers related to vanilla beans and vanilla ice cream, but not necessarily vanilla bean ice cream. Hummingbird works harder to decipher every word in a search to pull up more relevant results.

The Controversy Behind Hummingbird

Since Hummingbird takes a more intuitive approach to fetching results, it changed the way content gets optimized. This didn’t necessarily knock websites to the back of the search engine, but some sites may be under threat for poor SEO practices. Some businesses complain that the new search algorithm will make it harder for their pages to rank up. However Google stands behind the defense that it will actually make things easier for both businesses and consumers.

What Hummingbird Means for Mobile Marketing and SEO

More and more people are using the mobile web to search for products and services, so websites have had to adapt to these devices. Responsive web design allows businesses to arrange their content in a way that makes it easier for people to search on the go. However, business owners weren’t fully convinced to adapt, but Mockingbird changed all of that. Mockingbird places a high importance on long-tailed keywords and spoken word searches. This means that content will inevitably have to reflect these changes to rank better in a search.

As you can see, Google Hummingbird was created to enhance the search experience and not necessarily to punish e-commerce businesses. Some sites might have gotten knocked due to the update, but the result is more relevant search results.  If your site survived the Hummingbird update, then you’re on the right path, but be safe and incorporate some of the new changes that Hummingbird looks for in order to continue ranking up in the SERPs.


Anne Ahola Ward
Editor in Chief
Annebot, aka Anne A. Ward is Editor-in-Chief for MobileFOMO. She is a futurist, growth hacker and co-founder of CircleClick, LLC. As an early entrant into the field of search engine optimization, Anne has helped many of her clients monetize their SEO programs. She has helped clients to exceed their previous lead generation goals.
Follow me on twitter @annebot

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