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How to make your websites Hummingbird friendly

May. 06, 2014

How to make your websites Hummingbird friendly

Hummingbird is not a “tweak” or modification of Google’s search engine methodology – it is a whole new algorithm in itself.
Google dismantled their previous search engine with all its Panda and Penguin modifications and then built a completely new model that, yes, incorporates some of the old search criteria, but also has new priorities and ultimately selects URLs using a totally reformatted algorithm.
This means that those who work in SEO need to rethink their tactics if they are to succeed in boosting the SERP ratings of the websites they are working on.
Google’s aim in creating Hummingbird – so named because it is “fast and precise” - was to try to return URL listings that are more closely correlated with what users want to know.
Consequently, Hummingbird is not interested in key words per se, but rather takes a more holistic view by interpreting the search terms collectively and trying to understand the overall concept of what the searcher is looking for.  
Previous versions of Google search engines concentrated on returning a large number of diverse URLs that had some kind of (sometimes vague) relevance to the keywords used in the search terms. It was then up to users to sift through all the different pages and find for themselves the one that bore most relevance to what they actually wanted to know.

This was an acceptable search methodoloy10 years ago when the number of web pages was exponentially less than the number available today.

Now, in order to narrow down the search process more accurately, Hummingbird uses the latest semantic technology to try to first make sense of what the searcher is actually looking for and then returns URLs of websites that fit more closely with the reason for the search.

Less is More

In practice, this means that two searches for similar objectives but using different words and sentence structures are more likely to return similar listings of suggested URLs instead of two completely different SERPs sets. According to the quoted statistics, the number of unique URLs returned in Hummingbird searches has gone down by 6.5% which implies that the pages listed are more relevant to the search criteria.
In real terms, using a Hummingbird search means that the user may be offered less URLs to browse but that each URL will be a better fit for the type of information the user wants to find. It is a case of quality rather than quantity.

What this means for SEOs

Hummingbird is clearly having a profound effect on how SEO companies like Wisdek approach the task in hand. The focus in improving SERP rankings has now to go beyond just removing duplications and loading the text, titles and meta descriptions with key words.

In order to fit with the Hummingbird algorithm the emphasis of SEO has to become more holistic – to ensure that the entire website works collectively to answer any relevant questions that a searcher may ask about the website topic. 

Every page has to work as a standalone element that provides detailed and relevant information about its title theme, and includes its own specific calls to action. But each page also has to refer back to, interlink with, and work as an integral part of the website as a whole. 

In essence, through Hummingbird, content as a whole is regaining its rightful role as the centerpiece of websites, rather than web pages being a thinly disguised list of keywords and hype.
What is good content?

“Content” here goes beyond just the text itself (which of course still has to be well written, meaningful, concise and engaging). It also includes:

  • Layout that is clear, simple and easy to use 
  • Design that is clean, attractive, simple and quick to load
  • Photos with explanatory captions
  • Illustrations with explanatory captions
  • Excellent internal interlinkage structure
  • Referrals to external links for relevant, good quality sites that will supplement the topic 
  • Third party, positive referrals citing your site as an authoritative source of information on the topic
  • Precise, descriptive, titles, meta-descriptions and headings. 
Wikipedia is perhaps Hummingbird’s “favourite” ideal site because it encapsulates all of the above and in addition the content is continually being updated so it is always fresh.
So next time you are called on to set up a new website, or re-write and redesign already existing pages, bear the Wikipidia model in mind and you’ll soon see results in terms of better Hummingbird SERPs.

And remember – in terms of Hummingbird, successful SEO now involves:

  • Focusing more on why a user would want to consult the page or site, not just on selling a product or service. 
  • Focusing on offering quality, informative material that adds to rather than copies already available information.
  • Offering informed, quality writing that incorporates all the relevant synonyms in a natural way, rather than key word stuffing text
  • Making sure that all your webpages interconnect easily and logically
  • Ensuring that titles, meta descriptions, captions and other headings are precise, relevant, unique and add to the website as a whole, rather than just being repeats of the URL itself.

If you concentrate on fulfilling the needs of the user, your website content will naturally include all the keywords and support synonyms that Hummingbird will be able to pick up on, and this should mean your client will see an improvement in terms of both SERPs rankings and customer conversions.


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