Without any fanfare type announcement Google has let it be known that it has replaced its old algorithm with a new one. Note this is not an upgrade like Panda and Penguin, its a new algorithm dubbed ‘Hummingbird’.

Just as SEO companies are coming to terms with the implications of previous upgrades a total replacement hits the streets with many wondering what the implications are for SEO work and how rankings might be affected.

Actually Hummingbird has beed in place for a month or so now so if your rankings have changed it may well be because of this change.

What’s it all about?

Google’s declared mission has always been to return the most appropriate and accurate results to users as quickly as possible. This has never changed but it gravitates to Google being more intelligent as regards what the users’ actual intent is when they type in a search. Its what is often referred to as ‘semantic search’. Here’s an example…..

Lets take the following search – ‘How do I install a combi boiler in my house’.
Previously Google may have returned web pages that contain the words ‘install’, ‘combi boiler’ and ‘house’. Many of the pages returned may have just included these words on the page without having anything to do with the actual process of installing.

The new algo should latch on to the ‘how do I’ bit to understand that the user is really looking for help on the installation process and should return appropriate pages.

So it seems Hummingbird is focussed more on ‘long tail’ phrases where user intent is easier to understand and is a de-emphasis on straight keyword matching.

This has implications on how content should be presented on your pages. In the above example if you want to capture that type of search its pretty obvious that a structured ‘how to’ guide with appropriate images and video along with a suitable transcript would fit the bill perfectly.

If you want a refresh on Hummingbird implications for SEO, along with all the other changes which have taken place over the year, you may be interested in our next SEO training course which will be updated to reflect how best to benefit from these changes. SEO Training 2013.

Its a little early yet to know all the implications of this change but first impressions are that its positive for good quality, content rich and helpful websites and probably not so for sites which have been SEO’d too aggressively with an over emphasis on keyword repetitions.