An Introduction to Google Hummingbird (from a Content Perspective)


I could SWEAR I wrote a post in the not too distant past about the Panda/Penguin algorithm updates from Google. Now, here I am talking about a brand new update. Sorry folks, never a dull moment with our fave search engine.

The newest overhaul of search results, called the Hummingbird update, however, warms my content marketing heart.

Google’s been on a slow but steady march over the years to 1) “push down” (wayyyy down) user content that isn’t up to snuff, and 2) reward a content strategy that delivers what users want.

More than that, Google is on a mission to be your #1 trusted source for information, wanting to meet and exceed your expectations for how you consume online information. That means taking into consideration the mobile web, social media, video, usability and more.

As a content marketing strategist, I couldn’t be happier. My goal when writing content is always always ALWAYS is to ask how this content will help or benefit readers.  Google’s made it clear that’s the kind of content they want, and they’re even (a little) helpful in telling you how to do it.

Here are some critical points associated with Hummingbird from a content perspective:

  1. Keywords matter less. On the analytics side, Secure Search, which blocks keyword data from Google Analytics will reach 100% by the end of 2013. As marketers, that means we can’t see which keywords are driving traffic to sites. On-page, keywords matter less as well. There are plenty of sneaky ways marketers can include related keywords on a page of copy, not always to the benefit of the user. Google is interested in how keywords are used in the larger context of the page and intent of the reader, not so much a keyword exact-match.
  2. Content must deliver. Is your piece of content the BEST on a given topic? Is it helpful? Does it match the intent of the searcher? Does it go beyond just being a vehicle to optimize for keywords? What if the user is on a mobile device? Google wants you to aspire to content greatness if you’re going to be rewarded with a top spot in search engine rankings.
  3. Mobile is huge. For many of our clients at TKG, 50%+ of searches originate from a mobile device. On my own locally-focused website, my mobile referral traffic is 50%+ on a regular basis. Google knows this, and wants your content to be user-friendly and consumable for mobile audiences. With location services, they know where you are, that you’re on a mobile device, and factor that information into their search results. Along those lines, voice search queries, which are notoriously longer and more rambling than typed searches, are also being given greater consideration in the algorithm.
  4. Authorship is important. Google wants content from reputable sources that also links (and gets links) from reputable sources. Having a strong social media presence helps with this one, as does creating content that people actually WANT to link to.  There are many, many ways to establish yourself as a valued author, but the best place to start is by generating quality content and start building up that social media presence where it makes the most sense to do so.

Guaranteed, we’ll be looking at Hummingbird in greater detail in coming weeks and months. This is just a “first look” at it from a content marketer’s perspective. Stay tuned….
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