All about the Google Hummingbird Search Algorithm

All about the Google Hummingbird Search Algorithm

How do Search Algorithms work anyways?

You are searching for an answer, what better place to look than the internet? But, with over hundreds of billions of web pages on the internet, how do we make sense of all this information? More importantly, how do we even know where to look? Fortunately, there are numerous search engines that harness their own search algorithms to crawl and index all information online. Google is by far and away the most popular search engine on the planet. By conducting a Google search you can rest assured that you will receive the most accurate information available.  The most recent Google algorithm is known as the Google Hummingbird search algorithm. When you search for something online, Google rankings systems analyze your search. Next, it sorts through the search index to provide you with relevant information in a matter of milliseconds.

What do we know about the Google Algorithm?

At the most rudimentary level, the Google Algorithm internalizes your search term in their index of the internet. Next, it analyzes where and how frequently those keywords appear on a web page and then provide you with the highest rated results. There are many other variables at play within their algorithm, including the Google PageRank.  PageRank was named after Google Co-Founder, Larry Page. PageRank counts not only the number but the quality of the links on a web page to determine a rough estimate of the importance of that web page and coincidently gives it a ranking. The PageRank algorithm was the first used by Google and still is a piece of the overall equation in the Google Hummingbird search algorithm.

So what is the Google Hummingbird Search Algorithm?

The Hummingbird update is revolutionary for numerous reasons. First and foremost the Google Hummingbird search algorithm is completely new and unique algorithm. Unlike the previous Google algorithm updates like Google Panda and Google Penguin that partial tweaked previous versions of the Google algorithm. Hummingbird is also revolutionary because it was built to be more accurate than ever by employing semantic search. Techopedia defines semantic search as follows:   

“Semantic search is a data searching technique in which a search query aims to not only find keywords but to determine the intent and contextual meaning of the words a person is using for search.”

Put simply, Hummingbird like no other Google Algorithm update before attempts to determine both the intent and the context of the user. A great example of this is if we do a Google search for the term ‘Panda’. With only a one-word, incredibly broad, search we could be looking for information on an actual Panda Bear, Google Panda and or even Kung Fu Panda.

Through the Hummingbird algorithm, Google as a first option provides information on the Panda Bear the mammal since it existed prior to both Google Panda and Kung Fu Panda. But, harnessing semantic search, Hummingbird also provides the user with numerous other possibilities for the one-word search. Hummingbird also incorporates YouTube videos and Google Maps if applicable to provide the user with the most relevant information. By simply searching ‘Panda’ a YouTube link for a music video for the song Panda by the rapper Desiigner, as well as a map to the closest Panda Express restaurant show up in the search results.

With 77% of American adults owning a smartphone, Hummingbird was also created to provide these individuals with the most advanced and precise Google search experience yet. As mentioned above, a search for ‘Panda’ provided the user with a map to the closest Panda Express. This particular feature is obviously based off of your real-time location of your mobile device. It will even provide users with directions on how to get to that location by either car, public transportation or on foot. In addition to the location, the user is also provided with pictures, reviews, as well as location hours. Just in case you are searching for a restaurant to order takeout, the phone number is listed as well.

Converse with Hummingbird

The Google Hummingbird search algorithm provides users with another revolutionary way to conduct a Google search. By using their smartphone, tablet or computer which is called ‘search by voice’. Through your Google browser on your tablet or computer or through the Google Search app on your iPhone or Android, users can verbally ask Google a question. The ‘search by voice’ feature has been around for a few years prior to the Google Hummingbird search algorithm. But, there are many new features that are truly revolutionary with the Hummingbird update. The fact that Google will now speak the answer back to you. For example, using your Google Search app on your iPhone you could ask, “When did George Washington die?”

Google will verbally tell you “George Washington died on December 14, 1799”. This is an incredibly convenient feature, particularly while you are driving and can’t use your hands. The real magic with Hummingbird is that you can continue the conversation with Google about George Washington. After asking when he died, I then asked: “where was he born”? The Google app then answered me back with “Westmoreland County, Virginia, VA”. Via the Hummingbird update, the Google Search app is able to now intuitively understand. It knows that when I said the word “he” I actually meant “George Washington”. This is because I asked a follow-up question directly after my initial inquiry about George Washington.

Google Hummingbird is your new weatherman

Another groundbreaking feature of the conversational search is how convenient and valuable even mundane searches can be. For example, I asked Google “Will it rain tomorrow?”.  Google then provided me with the following information based off of my current location.

Along with a verbal reply of “No, rain is not expected tomorrow in Salt Lake City. The forecast is 92 degrees and sunny”. While I didn’t ask if it would rain in Salt Lake or for an 8-day forecast. The Google Hummingbird search algorithm provided me with all the useful information I needed but didn’t ask for. This is a game changer for when you travel. The weather forecast is automatically updated for the location of your phone. Gone are the days of getting off your plane and looking for a newspaper. Gone are the days of pulling up weather.com. Now, you can now simply just ask Google, “what’s the current weather?”.  Google Hummingbird is legitimately making life more convenient one search at a time.

Search Engine Optimization Planning And Ranking

SEO Basics & Planning

The internet and search engines are still relatively new areas of technology.  For small business owners the task of understanding how search engine optimization operates without any formal search engine training can be daunting.  Most of the small business owners I run into are experts in their own areas of business, but many need clarification and insight in basic SEO techniques and planning.

The way people search for information has changed dramatically over the last few decades.  Gone are the days of going to the library when you wanted to look something up or opening the old Yellow Pages books to find a plumber in your area.  Now anyone can type in whatever they want to know into any of the magic search engines, primarily Google, Bing and Yahoo and Ta-dah, by the time you blink you will have thousands if not millions of results with applicable data.  With so many choices and so much competition, as a business owner I would ask how do I get on the first page of Google?  What is SEO and how do I learn basic SEO?

Understanding Search Results:  An introduction to SEO is a search engine tutorial of sorts. In order to understand the basics of SEO you first have to understand the basics of a search engine and how results are ranked.  In its most basic definition a search engine has a search query box, some form of paid advertising and natural or organic results.  Look at the first page of any search engine as real estate.  There’s only so much real estate to go around so companies generally have two choices to try to show up on the first page; Pay per Click through Adwords or Microsoft Adcenter and or search engine optimization. SEO search results are pulled from indexes and ranked based on popularity, relevance and other algorithms not known to anyone but a select few.

What is SEO?:   SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the organic section of the various search engines underneath the paid ads and local map listings.  SEO is a process by which the goal is to improve the position of the website using ranking factors such as anchor text,  therefore moving it higher with more traffic and conversions as a result.  At its core the trick is to be relevant, credible and of high quality when anyone searches for your product or service.

search engine optimization planning and ranking

SEO Ranking:  The search engines send out crawlers discovering public information, going from website to website looking for relevant information which then much like a library gets indexed.  While there is no specific outline into search engine ranking, SEOmoz recently conducted a survey which ranked the top nine factors of SEO.  In no particular order they are;

  • Page level link metrics
  • Domain level link authority features
  • Page level keyword usage
  • Domain level keyword usage
  • Page level social metrics
  • Domain level brand metrics
  • Page level keyword agnostic features
  • Page level traffic/query data
  • Domain level keyword agnostic features

Conversely there are attributes of a website that can have a negative influence on ranking.  These include;

  • Malware hosting
  • Cloaking
  • Pages on a site that sell links
  • Content that advertises paid links
  • Page Speed

In addition to this, businesses cannot ignore the importance of local SEO.  Local SEO involves location searches for a particular product or service.   In order to maximize the effectiveness of your local SEO;

  • Verify your Google map listing

  • Embed a Google map in your website, especially if you have a contact us page.
  • Optimize Meta tags and pages content for local keywords
  • Use consistent contact information across all online profiles

SEO Planning: The structure of any website must be considered when implementing an SEO campaign including navigational and internal linking among other key factors as outlined below

Keyword Strategy:  Two basic ways of looking at SEO keyword strategy include branding keywords such as the name of your company and keyword groups.  The best way to create a keyword group involves asking the following questions;

  • What are people searching for during the time that they need my products or services?
  • What product or service do I provide to solve their problem?

For example, the purpose of this blog was to inform and educate on a basic level and planning level “SEO Basics & Planning”?.  Using the technique above I came up with the following keywords using Google’s keyword planner;

  • Search engine training
  • Basic SEO techniques
  • Learn Basic SEO
  • Introduction to SEO
  • SEO ranking
  • Search engine tutorial
  • SEO search results
  • Search engine optimization
  • Crawlers
  • Search engine ranking
  • SEO Plan
  • Google Map Listing
  • Local SEO
  • Search engine optimization ranking
  • Keyword strategy
  • SEO keyword strategy
  • Keyword planner
  • SEO strategy

Cross-link relevant content:  Linking between related articles is difficult, but can be rewarding if done correctly.  This is especially true with e-commerce sites where groups of products are crosslinked to relate to each other.  This has become a common practice among online retailers with links such as “customers who bought this also bought”,” also viewed”,” frequently bought together”.

Anchor Text:  An example would be text that can be clicked through such as this; Anchor Text.  This should be above all relevant and descriptive.  Avoid generic anchor text links such as “more” or “click here”.  For example if a car rental company sets up online reservation capability then underneath each respective vehicle such as a 2017 Nissan Murano” there should be a “reserve Nissan Murano” instead of “click here”.

Breadcrumb Navigation:  This is possibly the easiest way to show a customer the hierarchy and structure of a website.  Breadcrumb navigation should be key word rich and follow a predictable flow such as “Home > Appliances > Washers & Dryers > Washers”.

Link Depth: The most important content shouldn’t be 4 or 5 clicks away from the homepage.  Instead all valuable relevant content should be relatively close to the home page.  This allows search engines to identify which pages are the most valuable to the searcher.

Resources;  I suggest keeping apprised of all the latest SEO and search engine trends on https://searchenginewatch.com , http://searchengineland.com, https://www.searchenginejournal.com/  http://yoast.com

Google Ranking Factors

“Where do I rank on Google?” is a question as old as time. Or more accurately, a question as old as 1998, when Google was founded. People have been asking this question for almost 20 years now and we still don’t have a concrete answer. How can an organization improve their Google ranking location on a SERP (search engine results page)? This blog will hopefully shed as much light as possible and provide tips on the still elusive topic of the Google ranking factors.

What is Pagerank?

Google uses its pagerank to dictate the importance of a web page. It was first created by Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Larry Page actually named it after himself when he dubbed it Google pagerank. When first released, your website Google ranking was mainly determined by how many quality keywords were on your page. This led to a serious problem where people would try to game the system and the phrase “keyword stuffing” emerged. Content often did not make sense or provide much value, but there were so many keywords on a page that they ranked high. Luckily, for us, Google is nimble and customer-focused, meaning they adjusted their algorithm. It is now a much more complex beast to rank high on Google’s SERP. You are probably writing right now, on your to-do list for yourself “check Google ranking”. Well, below is an outline of factors that Google considers, today, according to Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer and Jessie C. Stricchiola in their book The Art of SEO, 3rd edition.

For more information on the definition and history of Google’s pagerank, check out Lifewire’s article.

Google ranking factors

Although the Google ranking factors change constantly, the infographic below shows the nine most prominent factors, currently.

Top Google Ranking Factors
Google Ranking Factors Infographic

Negative Ranking Factors

Use caution when manipulating your site to improve your ranking, as there are some negative factors that can punish your Google ranking.

Malware being hosted on your site

  • You will be punished if you have viruses of Trojans on your site

Cloaking

  • Do not show different information to Google than you do average viewers

Pages on your site with links for sale

  • Google has a policy against paid links

Content that advertisers paid links on the site

  • Promoting the sale of paid links is an easy way to get on Google’s bad side

Page speed

  • Your page should load quickly for both happy visitors and a happy Google crawler

How to get a top ranking on Google

Before we get begin on how to improve your Google ranking, you must first complete a pagerank check. This does not simply mean to search for your company’s name on Google. You must remember that your cookies have been tracked, you frequent your site, and you are probably searching from your office’s IP address. Of course, you will appear as the #1 result on a SERP. You can start this search by using a SERP checker. If you simply search in Google for “SERP tracker”, there are many options that can help shed more light on where you would organically appear on Google for any Joe-Schmo. Once you know how much work you should do, you can follow the Google ranking factors outlined above to begin improvements.

Remember, these changes will not take place overnight. Even though Google’s crawlers never take a night off or pause for a lunch break, there are millions, if not trillions of web pages Google must get through before returning to yours. It is likely you will not see a change in your position for three to six months. Continual focus on web improvements will always pay off in the long run. Just remember that you may not receive instant gratification for your work. Make sure to periodically check back on your rank checker to see where you end up. But do not stop there, continue to make improvements constantly.

Myths of Google rankings

Since Google has never published their algorithm, we are still guessing part of it. Even with thousands of SEO experts out there, we are still taking stabs in the dark at what impacts Google’s pagerank. Below is an outline of some of the myths of Google Rankings…at least for the time-being.

Keyword Density

Google’s original pagerank was determined mainly by keywords alone. However, once that system was gamed, Google changed how they did things. There is no magic number for keyword density. While you should ensure all your content is keyword-rich, make sure not to keyword stuff, making the content less beneficial to visitors.

Use of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

Although it is easy to see why Google would favor websites that use their own products, there is no evidence this takes place. It is always a wise idea to have both of these tools and keep a close eye on them. However, when considering the question how to get top ranking on Google, this does not contribute to a solution.

Facebook Interaction

Linking is a crucial technique to improve your Google ranking and social media is a big part of that. Even if you are not very active on one or more social media sites because of your industry, you should still have a profile set up. Make sure you link in the “about” sections back to your website or your effort is moot. Interactions that occur on social media platforms, like Facebook, however are not counted towards your Google pagerank. Google cannot see Facebook likes and shares, so, therefore, it cannot be a ranking factor.

Although these are myths now, we don’t know what the future holds. Google updates their algorithm so frequently, it gives everyone in the SEO world job security. For more information about the myths of Google rankings, check out this Moz article.

 

This article was just a brief introduction into the world of Google’s mysterious and elusive pagerank and the Google ranking factors. Remember that continual improvement is key and instantly gratification of your efforts will not occur. Do not be demoralized, all the work is worth it in today’s search-reliant world.

 

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