Web design should be on top of technological advances to offer the best possible service to clients and keep up with a competitive marketplace that has no sympathy for those who can’t adapt to changes. For this purpose is vital to truly understand how Hummingbird works, what new features is putting on the table and how they will affect your web design positioning strategy.
Last fall Google presented an entirely new search algorithm – Hummingbird – which became one of its largest changes of the past decade regarding web design positioning and search queries. Previous updates like Panda and Penguin were just changes to the old algorithm and affected roughly 2 to 5 percent of search queries but Hummingbird is a totally new one and is believed to have affected nearly 90 percent of all queries, so we are talking about a major change in the way Google indexes and offers information.
According to Google, this search algorithm is much smarter. With mobile phones being more popular than ever and voice recognition capabilities leading the way, people don’t type keywords to find what they need anymore, they ask questions. Hummingbird is Google’s response to this technological shift, so the new algorithm can better understand concepts vs words as well as relationships between concepts. In short, Hummingbird wants to answer questions not like a computer but like a human operator.
Searches will become more social, intuitive and provide “context”. Let’s say you ask Google where you can find an ice cream parlor within 2 miles from your house. The old algorithm would focus on searching matches for keywords. First find a page that contains “ice cream”, the one that contains “parlor” and then determine where you live. But now mobile users would enter a more complete query: What is the best ice cream parlor in the area?
Hummingbird would focus on the meaning behind the words and would create semantic relationships between the concepts so it can understand the context and give you a more complete answer. Did you mean the best in terms of price? location? variety?
Hummingbird is not expected to drastically change keyword rankings, but seeing how the new algorithm will rank pages based on context and searcher’s intent, your focus might need to change. For example, if you want to increase the exposure of your website, a conversational tone might be required to address your products and services. For this purpose, you might want to consider frequently asked question your customers or visitors have and create a communication link by trying to answer them.
Adjustments will also need to be made to title tags, headings and content to target long-tail keywords. Use short-tail terms for content that provides value to users, and use long-tail terms on product or service-oriented pages. If your site’s bounce rate decreases, you’re on the right track.