Google announced their largest algorithm update since 2001, at a press conference last month, heralding the usual consternation among the SEO fraternity, in a year of much change and upheaval.
So what is the likely impact of the update known as Hummingbird (Pelican next maybe)? For once, it seems we in the SEO world can rest easy, assuming the path taken is one of general accordance with Google’s guidelines.
The key thrust of Hummingbird can be summarised quite easily:-
– Hummingbird reaffirms all the other recent Google algorithm changes – good quality, good usability, legitimate and natural links are all good
– One of the big outputs of Hummingbird is increased emphasis on ‘conversational search’- Google’s ability to make sense of the context of a conversation in addition to the actual words.
– Increased focus on the users’ location (assuming this information has been shared). This in turn helps Google distinguish if a search is for a physical store for instance, or an an online shopping query.
– In particular, Google stated that Hummingbird is paying increased attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query i.e. the whole sentence or conversation is taken into account, rather than standalone words.
A good example provided by Google, a search for “acid reflux prescription” would have previously returned prescribed drugs, post Hummingbird, this might return information about the treatment.
What does this mean for SEO? The answer to this, it would seem, is nothing new. The same activities will still help organic ranking – good quality content, healthy, natural linkages, and good usability.