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Working With Hummingbird

June 17, 2014
| Articles

Getting increased traffic to your website is not only a struggle against the short attention span of the fickle user and the countless other sites that clamor for attention, but also against Google itself, when you really pause and consider.

It seems that whenever there’s a cool new trick to get your website a higher search page rank, along comes Google like some deranged elementary school hall monitor, killing all of the fun with a continuous series of animal-named algorithm updates.

After all, Google has already launched Panda, Penguin, and now the latest, Hummingbird. What animal-named update is next? Wombat? Platypus? Mexican Whooping Llama?

Anyways, I digress. So yes, the latest update is called Hummingbird. But, update hysteria and polemics aside, Hummingbird should be looked at as less of an obstacle and more as an opportunity. How, you ask? Read on.

What The Heck Is Hummingbird, Anyway?

Good question; glad you asked. Google released the Hummingbird search algorithm early last fall, and the update is designed to take the context of the search into account by looking at every word of the query. If you add geographical information to your inquiry, that will be taken into account as well.

So, for instance, if you typed in “Where exactly is the tomb of Napoleon in Paris?”, you’ll get more sites that are relevant to the question, and fewer results that steer you towards baked goods, brandy, or psychological complexes.

It should also be pointed out that Google says that Hummingbird doesn’t affect SEO, so you still need to incorporate good original content, carefully used (not overused) keywords, and good back-links.

The Information Card

Go into Google and type the following: “How tall is the Empire State Building?” Do you see that box off to the right of the search results? That’s an information card, which gives you a nice overview of the subject in question. Unfortunately, it also means that the user doesn’t need to click on any of the website results on the search page! Your potential traffic has been hijacked by an information card. So how do you compete with this?

Working In A Post-Hummingbird World

We’ve already established that you should by all means keep following white hat SEO practices, but what else can or should be done?


    • Long Tail Keywords. Instead of having, say, “model trains” as a keyword, you use “HO scale electric model trains”. Put simply, a long tail keyword is a keyword that’s extremely specific to a particular type of search. While this may result in lower search volumes, they searches are more likely to result in someone who’s actually interested in what you’re offering. In addition, long tail keywords have less competition.


    • Know What You’re Talking About. The more pages your site has that provides useful information in response to search engine queries, the more likely you’ll experience increased traffic via Hummingbird’s influence. This means making sure your site has content that conveys not only knowledge in depth, but also a wider range of topics within your given area of knowledge. All of this comes back to the whole “content is king” axiom.For instance, say you have a site dedicated to fantasy novel series. Your content shows that you have an intimate knowledge of minutiae of Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia. But what about the Wheel of Time series? Or how about the extremely currently hot Song of Ice and Fire series, and for that matter, what about the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, which partially inspired George R.R. Martin to write Song of Ice and Fire in the first place?
      The more of an authority you establish yourself as, the greater the likelihood that you’ll be the one that has the answer that the searcher is looking for. And that means your site gets the visits.


  • You Need To Be A Mind Reader. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but when you’re dealing with Hummingbird’s way of doing things, you need to put yourself in the place of someone searching the web for answers. You need to figure out what the needs of your target users are, and make sure that your content fulfills them. Picture your site and those of your competitors as contestants on a game show, and the would-be visitor is the quiz master. Whoever comes up with the right answer first gets the point. Get the point?


So, To Sum It Up…

  • You have to continue practicing safe healthy white hat SEO habits.


  • You need to employ longer strings of keywords that have a narrower focus.


  • You need to become an expert in your area of specialty, with your knowledge being both broad and deep.


  • You need to take the human factor into consideration and look at things through the eyes of potential visitors.

While there will certainly be some growing pains and learning curves to deal with, Hummingbird actually gives website owners the chance to really up their game and improve themselves, which, ultimately, benefits everyone.

By John Terra
Categories: Articles
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