google hummingbird algorithm updateIn this second part of our three part series (read Part 1 here) we will discuss 4 ways Hummingbird will affect your SEO strategy.

We are hoping these concepts will change the way you approach SEO and  spark  ideas of how to improve your strategy moving forward so that your website can get the most benefit from Hummingbird.

1. Your customers’ search behavior and expectations are changing.

As people’s mobile and voice search queries get more complex and as Google is able to return more precise results we can expect to see a shift in how potential visitors search. They will begin to type in longer (what we call “long tail”) conversational search queries. For example, no longer will they search for “wedding venues Vancouver” but will search “wedding venues in Vancouver with 100+ capacity and onsite catering”.

As fewer searches type in short searches SEOs and website owners will need to focus more heavily on having the right type of meaningful content on their website. You can’t rely on high volume driving keywords alone.

2. Content is more important than keywords.

Hummingbird’s favoritism towards long tail queries is just one more step towards better content and less of a focus on keywords. Earlier this year we saw Google stop SEO tool providers from automatically tracking organic rankings and more recently redirecting all searchers to SSL encrypted pages which prevents Google Analytics from tracking any keyword data.

Google’s Hummingbird is also moving in the direction to be able to understand the context of pronouns such as “it”, “him” or “there”, as in:

How tall is it?                How old is he?             What’s time is it there?

Furthermore, when a customer does a long tail search they expect to see relevant pages with the answers they are looking for. In our wedding example above a searcher does not want to see a main landing page with the names wedding venues. They want to see capacity, catering details, pricing, availability and so on, all on the first page they land on.

If you are an SEO and do not have specific details on your website and instead just talk around the main keywords you could be in for some rough roads ahead.

3. Improved search functionality requires more value from your website. 

Improved search functionality is great for the end user. It means you can find the answer(s) you need in more detail in less time. Often this means that the answer or popular results are shown right on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).  As Google shows more answers on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) you can expect fewer visitors to click through to your website.

For SEO this means that you must create content that is hard for Google to replicate and create a need for searchers to click through to your website.

4. Even more fragmentation of searchers by device type (think mobile optimization).

As Hummingbird has a better understanding behind searcher intent and provides better results to mobile visitors SEO’s will need to differentiate between mobile and desktop searches.

For example a mobile visitor may just be looking for your phone number or address while a desktop visitor may be researching and comparing your products or services. This becomes more complicated as your visitor may look at your website from their office during the day, return to it from their tablet at home and then find your phone number and call you from their mobile device.

SEOs will need to pay more attention to differences in traffic levels, impressions, user engagement goal completions by device.

Mobile optimization is where it is at for succeeding in 2014 and beyond.

In our next article we will give specific actions you can take to make your website and SEO strategy “Hummingbird Friendly”.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with how rapidly Google is changing its search requirements and the amount of work that may be needed on your website to bring it up to par with what searchers are expecting? Get in touch with us – we can help!

More in our 5 Part Hummingbird Algorithm Update Series:

Part 1: Intro to Hummingbird Algorithm Update – The Biggest Google Update in 12 Years

Part 2: How Will Hummingbird Affect Your SEO Strategy?

Part 3: Your Action Plan for the Hummingbird Algorithm Update