Nov 25 2013

How to get good website rankings with Google Hummingbird

On 26th of September Google rocked the wonderful world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) by announcing their new Hummingbird Algorithm. Although people initially panicked about their rankings dropping, Google had already rolled the new Algorithm out nearly a month before so any residual damage would have already occurred.

 

So why did Google change its algorithm completely after all of the various Penguin and Panda updates? (Sorry, I don’t make these names). Well, Penguin and Panda were both huge steps towards the Hummingbird Algorithm, which is why they caused much more havoc in their wake.

 

What’s Google up to I hear you cry!? Well they want their customers (the people who search) to have the best possible user experience and to do this, people need to get search results that are relevant to what they are actually looking for. Google wants to become a ‘trust engine’ so they have been slowly evolving and moving closer to a true Semantic Search experience.

 

Now Semantic Search is a whole blog post on its own, but as a really basic explanation think of this. Remember Captain Kirk from the Starship Enterprise? Well, when he wanted to know something he just asked his computer: “tell me where the nearest dry cleaners is” and the computer knew the answer and just told him.

 

That my friends is Semantic Search and Google has been working on it for over 12 years now and to be honest are still only scratching the surface.

 

In order for Google to present you with Semantic Search results to the question ‘where the nearest dry cleaners is’ Google needs to know and understand many things.

 

1.Where you are
It can do this via your IP address, or GPS location if you are on a mobile. This also equates to where your business is too, so make sure that you update your Google Places account to have those details as well as having them on your website.

 

2.What a dry cleaners is
This comes down to the content on your website. It needs to be good quality web content that reads well to a human (not a search engine) and gives your customer all of the information they would require. You don’t want to overload the content with keywords, but you do still need keywords on your website that are relevant to your business.

 

3.Is the dry cleaners reputable?
Well you wouldn’t want to send your customer to a bad one now, would you? Google has over 200 algorithms that make up Hummingbird and one of them assesses how good you are at what you do. Make sure you get recommendations on your Google places from other Google+ users

 

4.Are they open right now
Whilst Google can’t do this yet, they will be able to soon so make sure your website and your Google Places have your opening hours and contact information

 

5.Are they still trading
Website content needs to be fresh and relevant. The days of having a website and not updating the content for years on end are over. Freshen up your content, start blogging and get active on social media. You want to put content out and more importantly you want people to engage with you online.

 

The best thing about Hummingbird and Semantic Search is that the old black-hatSEO techniques that some people used to use to cheat the system won’t work anymore. It would actually take longer to do this than it would to do things properly!

 

KEYWORDS

 

Keywords are still and will always be an important part of SEO, but even more so than they were in the past, they must be relevant to your business and what it does.

 

For example, in the bad old days, if you wanted to rank for the search term ‘the best dry cleaners in Hampshire’ you could have keyword stuffed that search term into your website and got ranked for that phrase.

 

With Semantic Search if you are a dry cleaners and trade in Hampshire and you get lots of good reviews, Google could decide to show you for the search term ‘best dry cleaners in Hampshire’ even if you hadn’t put those keywords into your website.

 

It can do this because it is starting to understand the words that it’s ranking. Using other metrics such as trust algorithm it is starting to put the pieces together and learn about the websites that it indexes. Spooky huh!?

 

Well, if you think that’s interesting they try this on for size. You know the sentence that appears under the blue link to your website on a search results page? Well, that has always been set with a meta tag in the code of your website.

 

With Hummingbird however, if Google feels that the page on your website is actually about something other than the meta description that you have set, it will create and display its own one for you and ignore the one you have set!

 

Google Hummingbird is a huge step forward towards true Semantic Search and it should be embraced, not feared. It favours the legitimate and makes it much harder for people to trick the system to get good results.

 

I hope that you have found this blog post insightful and it should provide you with the basic information you need to lay down some good foundations for your search engine marketing strategy.

 

There is a lot more to Google Hummingbird that I have not covered in this blog post, but I do plan to do some more. So check back regularly and if there are any topics that you would like me to cover in my future

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Dave H

As our MD, David finds inspiration from running a busy agency. His SEO and content marketing tips, business-savvy suggestions on keeping your company moving forward and industry expertise will give you that helping hand when it comes to making the most of your time.

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