How to Master Google Algorithm Updates

May 19, 2014

Category: Marketing Tips

Author: MARIA DICESARE, Junior Marketing Coordinator

Google-HummingbirdPanda and Penguin and Hummingbird, oh my! Google recently introduced its new search algorithm, Hummingbird,
which has affected roughly 90% of all searches. To put that high percentage into perspective, past updates like Panda and Penguin only affected 5% of searches, at most. This was one of the biggest Google algorithm updates we’ve seen in over 10 years, and more big updates could soon be on the way. 

Why does Google keep changing?

Hummingbird may seem like an inconvenience right now, but Google is simply adapting to user demands. Times are changing and users are now more likely to ask their search engine a specific question, as opposed to entering in a simple word or phrase. 

For Example:

As mobile devices become more and more popular, users are looking to their phones to solve their dilemmas. Think about Siri, the iPhone’s intelligent personal assistant, and how many extensive questions she must be asked a day. If you wanted to know the score from your favorite team’s playoff game, you’d ask Siri specifically “What was the score of the Red Sox game?” You wouldn’t just say “Baseball scores.”

Hummingbird works with Siri, and other forms of searches, to answer your specific question in the most accurate and quickest way possible, hence the name “Hummingbird.”

Past searches looked through Google’s entire index for results that matched each separate word of the phrase being searched. With this new update, Hummingbird will aim to understand the entire context of your search, not just a few words. This will help Google to bring you the most accurate results in the shortest amount of time. As the search engine attempts to understand the actual semantics of a user’s query, it then matches the user with the websites containing the information that answers the initial question. This means that if your website can’t answer a prospective customer’s question, you won’t show up in the search results.

Any good webmaster knows that Google’s algorithms are ever-changing. If you can adapt to the following suggestions, your website will be sure to stand the test of time.

Answer the User’s Question

Think about what a future customer might ask Google in order for your website to show up on the results page. You will want your content to reflect these questions. Do you sell office supplies? Are they affordable? Would a customer that’s searching “Where can I find affordable office supplies?” find their way to your site? Including questions related to your business in your content will help your website stay afloat. Imagine this search process from your customer’s point of view and you’ll be able to come up with topical questions.

Create Smart Content

It used to be that compiling a lengthy list of specific tags and creating a detailed meta-description were the main tools needed for your SEO game, but this won’t be enough anymore. Hummingbird works to extract the semantics of content instead of just searching through the obvious keywords. So, if all of your tags are spot-on but your content is weak, Google will pass you over for a website with content that is more put together. It’s sad, but true. We warned you!

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still create a solid list of tags that accurately describe your website, but just that it should no longer be your safety net. The better overall content you create, the easier it will be for Hummingbird to help your website show up in the search results page.

Remember: Hummingbird is smart, and your content should be too.

Become a True Authority

Looking ahead, future algorithm updates will focus more on authority than popularity. This means that Google will look for sites with clear evidence within its content that qualifies them to be experts on the topics they are covering. This will affect your Google Page Rank.

For Example:

If your company sells office supplies but your site’s content mainly talks about football, then your site is obviously not coming across as an authority on office supplies.

This may not affect the overall popularity of your site right now, but when Google rolls out future algorithm updates it will show a preference to sites with a more obvious authority in their field.

Make sure all of your content is relevant to your business.

As long as technology advances, Google algorithm updates will continue to affect your SEO strategies. Creating smart content that is useful to current and future customers will help you stay ahead of the game. Your previous SEO strategies don’t need a complete makeover, but you do need to keep them fresh and up to Google’s standards.

Next month we’ll dive into how Hummingbird is affecting your social media presence and what you can do to optimize your campaigns.