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Top 3 Things You Need to Know about Google Hummingbird

By Leah Sikora

This year marks the 12th year since Google last dramatically overhauled its search formula and a lot has changed in digital marketing since 2001. Over the years, updates have been made to Google’s formula–or algorithm as it’s known in the tech world–but Hummingbird is an entirely new search engine that better understands keywords, provides users with the right answers to their questions, and prioritizes useful, well-written content. Just in the past several years, content marketing has completely changed course. As recently as 2009 major brands struggled to understand social media marketing, and today, nearly half of mobile users are researching exclusively from their mobile devices. Google needed to adapt to the rapidly changing digital landscape by improving search results and optimizing for mobile searches.

1. Mobile optimization

Perhaps the biggest update to note is that Hummingbird optimizes for mobile. Because more and more people are searching from mobile devices, Google will list those results with responsive or mobile websites first. Essentially, if your website is not responsive, you will get left behind in the Google rankings. There will also be a difference in your search results depending on whether you are searching from a mobile device or from a desktop computer.

2. Great Content is Key

The transition from the old algorithm to Hummingbird was impeccably seamless. The rollout actually occurred one month prior to Google announcing the shift and nobody caught on. For Lunar Logic and our clients, this change was great news. Our search engine optimization (SEO) policy has always been based on providing great content. The cornerstones of a good SEO policy still include links to internal and external pages, a well-indexed site, and implementation of keywords; Google is just better at recognizing valuable use of these techniques and prioritizes for them.

3. A Leveled Playing Field

Because Hummingbird is an altogether smarter system, old tricks and “Black Hat” SEO tactics no longer work. With prior updates, Google has taken steps to prevent these questionable SEO tactics. Now with Hummingbird, they are focusing on aggressively encouraging meaningful content. Still, big companies will still likely have an advantage, but smaller, dedicated companies with great content will have the opportunity to rise in Google rankings as well. Media buzz surrounding the Hummingbird release has been somewhat alarmist, claiming that SEO is dead and that keyword optimization will no longer be useful. It is true that Google optimizes less for keywords and more for context, but this is good news for companies who are already invested in producing useful, informative content.

If you feel your content could use improvement, or if you are ready to take your website responsive, please get in touch.

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