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The announcement of Google Hummingbird, the latest addition to the Google menagerie, caused panic for webmasters everywhere. However, when it was revealed that Google’s Hummingbird – the biggest change to Google’s core algorithm in twelve years - had been in operation for almost two months, this seemed to quash any SEO-related hysteria.


Though Hummingbird is predicted to affect around 90 per cent of sites online, its delivery went largely unnoticed. 

What’s different?

Hummingbird was formed to cater for ‘long tail’ search queries; the existence of which is set to escalate over the coming years. The changes to the way that Google is used has come about as a direct result of users becoming more and more comfortable using search engines, alongside the emergence of voice activated technology – particularly the imminent release of Google Glass. Users now use search terms which are longer, and more conversational, than before. Queries tend to be more question-like, rather than solely keyword focused. Google Hummingbird seeks to understand the intent of their search engine users, which will result in more precise results being returned. By grasping the objective of searches which contain words such as, ‘who, what, where, how, why, when’ Google aims to answer the questions posed by their users more efficiently. 

Hummingbird also aims to return search results which have a geographical context to the user’s location, particularly queries done via a mobile device. Searching for terms such as ‘five star hotel’ will now return results which are based on their relevance to your location, whereas before these results would have been returned based on their dominance towards keywords. By having a greater understanding on who its users are and the variety of ways that Google is used on different devices, Google aims to provide a more effective ‘answer engine’ for its users. This falls in line with Google’s continual endeavor to return search results which are right for each user, first time around. 

How to stay on the right side of Hummingbird

It’s certain that this latest update offers big benefits for local businesses in particular. Yet, each time an algorithm is tweaked, changed or updated, businesses everywhere worry that this will mean an automatic drop in site visitors. To stay on Hummingbird’s good side, businesses should be mindful of Google’s longstanding advice: “we encourage original, high-quality content, since that’s what’s best for web users.” 

Taking Google’s advice on board and putting these guidelines into action within your site will ensure that your SERP (search engine results page) rank remains staunch. A technically reliable, well optimised site has always resulted in SEO/SERP success.
Here are some key points to remember when considering how ‘SEO friendly’ your site is: 

1) Content

The case for on-site, quality content has never been more important. Fresh, regularly updated content always does well with Google. Plus, adding content provides you with the best opportunity to answer the questions posed by search engine users that may relate to your products of services. 

2) Technology

To push your search engine ranking higher, a technically robust site is a necessity. A number of technical factors are taken into consideration – including site speed – which any expert developer will be well aware of. 

3) Social signals

A strong social media presence is synonymous with a strong search engine ranking position – including likes, followers, shares and retweets with content that is shared on Google+ having the most positive impact. Don’t forget, social media activity is important, but content that is shared by other social media users will offer the most SEO benefit. 

4) Backlinks 

Backlinks to your site from other appropriate, credible websites are vital for high ranking positions within Google. It’s also equally important that the words used to link to your site are relevant. Emphasis should be placed on linking deeper into your site – rather than always to your hompage. 

By focusing on improving these factors, businesses will enjoy an improved SERP within Google. 

Expelling the myths of SEO

The most important part of grasping SEO is to understand that SEO is not a skill that can only be mastered by a chosen few experts. An algorithm is a programme, defunct of any opinion, bias or partiality. For real SEO success, site optimization should be done in a considered and structured manner to have the greatest effect, while taking into consideration any advice offered by Google. 

New updates auctioned by Google are nothing to fear, if anything, by keeping up to speed with the latest advancements you have the benefit of outsmarting competition and increasing your search engine position. 

Mercurytide are experts in providing a range of valuable online business solutions, including SEO advice, web development and social media, to find out more about us or to chat to one of our friendly experts visit www.mercurytide.co.uk or call us on 0845 652 6506.

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