Hummingbird, launched in September 2013, is a fascinating new search algorithm developed by Google (who else?). What makes it so cool is that instead of taking a search query and analyzing it word-by-word—often coming up with results that are irrelevant to the original search—it takes the entire query and analyzes it for meaning. That is really neat. Think of search engines as little bodiless robot pals. Would you rather have a robot pal who responded better to a question such as “old video dog escape 1900s” or a more complete question like “could you find me the old video about the dog who escaped from his owners that takes place in the early twentieth century?” Of course, you probably wouldn’t want to be typing quite that much, but you might use Siri or another voice-enabled program to ask questions in full sentences.
Hummingbird takes your intentions, not your actual words, and comes up with what you actually want. For example, if you type “simple web design affordable quality” and your search engine comes up with results based on your words, not your meaning, that have to do with simple, quality web design, but not affordable web design, then that’s not very helpful.
So what will this algorithm do for SEO, and in turn, our Beaverton and Portland web clients? Turns out, quite a bit. Currently, SEO is quite keyword-focused, and while that’s proven to be a very effective strategy, the inclusion of semantics-focused SEO strategies will result in less page bounces and more viewer retention. Keywords are important, key phrases will perhaps become more important and key meaning most important. The disappointment of landing on a page and finding out it has nothing to do with what you searched for will hopefully decrease. Continuing to provide high-quality, interesting content written by an actual human on your optimized web page will bring in people who are looking for exactly what you have to offer and more.
Websites like ask.com (formerly askjeeves) and chacha.com have always embraced the concept of searching for, well, a whole concept. The effectiveness of these sites vary, but seeing Google revolutionize their search technology may influence other search engines as well. Web developers should work with their clients to modify web marketing material in the wake of Hummingbird’s changes. Things can only go up from here!