Well, they are most probably thinking about Google’s Hummingbird update. Google has the tradition of making cute things like Panda and Penguin sound terrifying, Lol! =)
What is Google Hummingbird?
Google Hummingbird is the newest update to Google’s search engine algorithm. As always, the goal of this update is to provide internet searchers with better results.
Why Google named the update Hummingbird? The name Hummingbird was used because it signifies speed and precision. The Hummingbird update was launched on August 30, 2013. But Google announced its existence during the companies 15th birthday, September 27, 2013.
To be honest, the Hummingbird is not just an ordinary update. To be precise, it is not an update, but a replacement instead. According to some of Google’s executives, Hummingbird is more like an overhaul. Instead of changing some parts of Google’s search algorithm, the update replaced the old search algorithm. It is ironic that the Hummingbird is relatively smaller than Penguins or Panda, but in Google’s eyes, Hummingbird beats Panda and Penguin in terms of vastness.
What does it do in the Philippines?
With this ‘update’, Google’s search engine is now capable of analyzing search phrases that people type in the search box. The algorithm does not go ahead and look for matches for the keywords that were used only. Now, it will try to understand what the user is trying to say.
For example, if a user tries to search for “how far is Manila from Cebu”, the first thing that will be provided to the user is a Google card that answers his question. Technically, the algorithm was able to identify the question, and instantly provided the user with an answer.
But of course, it cannot identify vague questions like, “What is my pet goldfish’s name?”
Did it launch an offensive strike?
In terms of penalization, minimal issues were reported. Many Filipinos have no idea that Google’s search algorithm changed. Unlike when the Google Penguin update was launched, many people complained immediately about the changes and penalization.
However, this time, no uproar was heard – no raging nerds were spotted during its first month of existence. Fascinatingly, Google and SEO experts reported that almost 90% of search results changed when the update was implemented, but nobody had an idea about the change. Only some localization issues were spotted such as UK internet users tend to see top results from sites that cater to Australian audiences. Instead of getting results for James Bond, they are getting results for Steve Irwin – not!
To get this clear, Google Hummingbird can be considered as optimization update for Google with some revamped and new features. It did not aim to clear any spam sites, or penalize anybody. It was like Google cleaned or replaced its anti-spam rifle instead of using it to shoot websites down.
As of now, no statistics can be gathered from the web about sites or webmasters that were hit hard by the update. Some have reported their sites being penalized; however, they cannot provide any solid proof about their claims. Most of them were unable to present any email, message, or warning from Google. All they have are hunches, and some pages that dropped a bit from their original standings. And it seems like they are enjoying spreading bad humors.
Effect on Long Tail Keyword Resurgence
Nevertheless, the most probable victims of Hummingbird are the ones who abused the usage of long tail keywords. For the past few months, many SEOs (Search Engine Optimizers) have been focusing on the long tail keyword market. Instead of competing with short and medium tail keywords, they have tapped into the once less profitable area of search engine optimization.
Because of the widespread use of mobile devices to access the internet, the population of online people rose dramatically. Most of those people are complete newbs when it comes to the internet. And many experts foresaw that those same individuals have a tendency to use long tail keywords when searching.
Apparently, their prediction was right – those wizards can do everything you see? Those new internet users immediately became accustomed to using long tail keywords. One of the prime reasons they became like that is the prominence of speech recognition software in mobile devices. Since it is far more convenient to search using Android’s Google Now and iPhone’s Siri instead of typing, the long tail keyword market has become a nice place to propagate.
How to Recover from the Penalization of Hummingbird
Because Hummingbird focuses on understanding natural language or conversational search queries, long tail keyword search will become very refined. Any webmaster or optimizer who opted on using such keywords in a malicious or wrong way will surely be dropped from their current positions on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Also, another problem that Hummingbird may pose is the reduction of site exploration on the results list. Since Google can now provide an instant answer or the information the searcher needs after he clicks search, it is possible that he will not click on any search results link anymore. Because of that, the probability of internet searchers seeing a webmasters other content and advertising panels might be lowered. Well, it might be because they are too lazy to do so.
As of now, one can say that the previous issues can be considered as the ‘penalties’ that Hummingbird brought to the search engine optimization arena. Nevertheless, webmasters and SEO strategists in the Philippines are still studying any negative impact of Hummingbird, and the techniques to reverse them. The following is few of the things they have advised to webmasters and SEOs.
1. Prevent Making Any Harsh Changes
Most of them are firmly advising their clients and colleagues prevent doing any drastic action if their positions in the SERPs were unaffected.
2. Polish Old Articles
Moreover, they have stressed that content writers or creators should refurbish or recreate their low ranking articles. They should make those old write-ups more conversational and rich with useful information and answers. If you target Filipinos, try to add more geographical keywords in your content.
3. Evaluate the Value of Your Site
With Hummingbird, the battle for better content becomes more pronounced. If your site seems less informative than your competitor’s site, then it is necessary for you to increase the number of helpful articles and informative content on your site.
4. Focus on Author Reputation Building
On the other hand, author reputation building is also a must. Hummingbird has elevated the status of Author Rank. With Hummingbird, Google can now analyze and understand the relationships of almost all things on the web. Somehow, the new algorithm can understand the content of the articles, evaluate their relevance and usefulness, and attribute the articles to the author.
Also, its effectiveness is not yet proven. Before the Hummingbird was released, SEO experts have testified that it gives little contribution to the correlation of result relevancy. However, they did predicted that Author Rank will play a great role in the next update of Google, which is Hummingbird.
The Hummingbird algorithm can now judge which author is more reliable and trustworthy on a certain topic or niche. And if you have a Google+ account, Google will be able to easily attribute your online reputation to your name. Of course, the algorithm does not rely on this aspect solely since Page Rank and other SEO elements are still considered every time a search is performed.
6. Gain More +1’s
If more people give your site or account a +1, your account and site will look nicer to Google. Those +1’s can indicate that you are ‘somebody’ on the web, and Google should mention you more.
How to Make the Hummingbird Love Your PH Website
With this ‘update’, search engine optimizers must remind themselves that they need to provide content that matches on how Filipinos think. Truth be told, nothing has changed. It is all in your mind, people! If you did not perform black hat SEO techniques, provided good content, and was not left penalized, then just do what you regularly do.
But if something went wrong, and you have no idea what happened, then take a minute to read and remember these tips:
- Always put your customers and visitors first when optimizing your site. Filipinos are always wary of unrelated websites. Your content should be something that they will like – not something that Google will place first on SERPs.
- You must follow the following SEO best practices:
- Make sure that your website’s information structure is simple. From the homepage, your visitors must be able to access the page they want with only one or two clicks.
- You must prevent using too much canonicalization. You must only use one or two URLs for every page you have. If you cannot do that, you must at least indicate your preferred URLs on your Webmaster’s sitemap and submit it.
- Never allow your pages to be tagged as thin content. Even though Hummingbird is technically a new search engine, it still uses some parts from the previous updates like Panda and Penguin. Because of that, any duplicates that will be found on your site will heavily reduce your favor with Google. Also, do not forget to create a good semantic content model.
- On the other hand, take advantage of semantic mark ups from Schema.org. Aside from that, use Open Graph to make it easier for you to build up your niche based site. It will also help if you rewrite your content to become more natural and semantically rich. Together with that, you must produce unique rewrites of your content with different formatting.
- You must establish a clear link building goal or objective.
- You must aim to make your brand or site visible
- Focus on receiving more referral traffic.
- Improve your image and brand through your content.
- Being visible to news sites and other websites related to your niche.
- Never forget to take advantage of social media. As of now, it is a fact that Google have not fully harnessed the power of social media yet. However, before Google release an update that will heavily involve social media, it is best that you are ready for it.
- Promote your brand or company on social websites.
- Encourage digital word of mouth. Try gamification – Filipinos like contests.
- Let others mention or link your website on their social pages or websites.
- Create organic traffic from social media sites.
Paul’s Last Words:
There you have it. You should now be more informed about the Hummingbird. And your fear or grudge against the bird should have disappeared now. To cut it short, you do not need to worry about penalties.
Also, you must strive and focus now in rebuilding and polishing your content and reputation. If you do that, you will be okay with Google.