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Ta Da…last week in SEO news, Google announced a major, major overhaul of the search engine algorithm that indexes and ranks content on the internet. It’s code-named “Hummingbird.” Search Engine Academy is going to incorporate this change into it’s SEO classes. But first, here’s what Hummingbird is all about.

Hummingbird was rolled out a few months ago, according to Google, and it affects approximately 90% of the searches done on the internet. Why is the algorithm update called Hummingbird? According to Google, it’s because the algorithm has been improved to be more “precise and fast.” Umkay! Thanks!

Basically, the algorithm has been updated to better process search queries. It’s been rebuilt to reflect the tremendous changes the internet has been through over the last several years.

So now, instead of concentrating on exactly matching the keywords typed into the query bar, Hummingbird focuses on what the meaning – the searcher’s intent is – behind the words being typed in. This update apparently will be very helpful to queries that are more like questions being asked – “what is search engine optimization,” for example. This is called “conversational search.” Conversational search incorporates more natural language processing and semantic search signals.

When you think about it, since mobile devices now let you speak your queries, this is the natural evolution of search formulas. If we use voice search, we use our conversational voice. Wow, this is going to get more fun and complex as time goes by – hold on and stay tuned!

Another way of phrasing what the Hummingbird algorithm update is doing is to try to better match the words in the search query with what’s on documents out on the internet. Let’s say you type in or ask “laser sailboats for sale in Maryland.” Now, you could not only get listings for boats that are for sale, but you could also get deeper, more informative pages about the specifications and characteristics of the Laser sailboat to help you make a more informed decision.

How does this affect your SEO strategy?

According to Google, their guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.

This does not change how you do your SEO. Everything you do that is “white hat” still applies. Creating interesting, unique, useful content is still Google’s primary goal for webmasters to share with their readers. Don’t neglect your meta data; continue to make it unique and optimized. You still need to abide by the guidelines for the Google Panda and Penguin updates as well.

You can take advantage of the Hummingbird algorithm update by using synonyms and variants on your main keyword phrase in your web page content. Look at different keyword tools that offer you a thesaurus function to find those variants.

Until next time…keep it between the ditches and look for opportunities to improve your content with supporting words that are similar to your keyword phrases you’re trying to rank for!

All the best to you,