5 min read

Google Hummingbird and the rewards of quality content

Google Hummingbird and the rewards of quality content
Written by
axel antas-bergkvist
Published on
January 19, 2022

*To begin with, we’re going to assume that we all have knowledge  of basic SEO and how search algorithms work in general. It might be a  pretty big assumption but there are simple guides which explain the  basics* [*here]( and* [*here]( if you want to brush up.*

So, Google Hummingbird, what’s it all about? The short story is that  it’s a major overhaul of Google’s algorithm focus which, according to  Amit Singhal, Google’s head of search, is their biggest since 2011. It  refocused their efforts towards “semantic search”, a desire to improve  search query responses by “understanding” what the searcher is looking  for. For example, rather than hearing the words “bear, picnic, basket”  and shooting back results that match each keyword, the algorithm would  put 1 + 1 + 1 together and come up with Yogi Bear.

To get more philosophical about things, Hummingbird is a further step  on Google’s bold journey to deliver what people actually want. It turns  out you don’t have to disrupt people’s lives to monetize your service  (hello Microsoft!) and by making lives easier you actually endear  yourself to your customers.

As Google has always stated that it wants to continuously improve its  search algorithm, it’s no surprise that this change to its algorithm  aims to enter a actual conversation with the user. How, where, why, who  and when might all seem quite easy questions to comprehend, but machines  are actually very slow to pick up on these concepts. In creating a more  intelligent, “thinking”, algorithm Hummingbird searches for the context  and deeper meaning behind your query. Whether it’s long and complicated  like “who are the main dispersers of apple seeds?” or short and even  more nuanced like “burgers”.

But what does this all mean for us, the humble site owner or less  humble SEO guru? Well quite a lot actually. Not only is it a specific  guideline for how Google wants its content to be written now, it’s also a  glimpse through their magic kaleidoscope into where they want to go in  the future. Presumably, Google isn’t going to perform the biggest rejig  of its algorithm since its foundation on a whim.

So, what this boils down to is quality content that actually answers  the question someone is asking, thus making Google’s users happy. It’s  not a perfect system yet but that seems to be where the unstoppable  Google train is headed.

This might seem obvious, but then you look around and realize that,  since the dawn of search engines, marketers have attempted to do  anything but actually write proper content. Spammy backlinks, keyword  stuffing, spinning nonsense; they’ve all been very effective SEO  techniques over the past two decades but, now the snake oil salespeople  of the digital world are being bustled off their street corners and real  remedies are being offered.

Considering this, it’s pretty surprising that more digital marketers  aren’t pushing the mantra of “take time and effort in your work and  gradually you’ll see results”, I guess it doesn’t sell as well as “№1 on  Google in 10 days”.

So how about we look at what you SHOULD be doing to get your SEO on the right track both now and the very long-term future:

### 1. Give searchers what they’re looking for

This might have come across through the article but it is so  important and so obvious that we really can’t emphasize it enough. The  future search utopia that Google imagines is one where someone looking  for “the closest line dancing group to me” will get exactly that. Not an  explanation of line dancing. Not a YouTube clip of the World Line  Dancing Championships. Not a line dancing group that last posted in  2011. Never mind why on earth anyone would actually want to go line  dancing, they want to, that’s their choice and Google wants to give it  to them. If you want to be the one Google respects to provide that  answer then the general info won’t be enough. Aim to provide the  specifics of a request, like adding a line dancing location directory to  go with the range of rhinestone jackets you want to flog!

### 2. Make your content enjoyable

A more intuitive algorithm means that things like bounce rate and  user engagement feed the GoogleBot “brain”. While lengthy and  informative content is lovely, most people have convinced themselves  they don’t have time for it. So to sate searchers insatiable thirst to  cram as much knowledge into their head as they can in 10 seconds, like a  digital [Supermarket Sweep](,  it is advisable to include images, infographics and video. Though it  won’t be as valuable for keyword recognition, an engaged user is a happy  user in Google’s eyes. There’s also the very real possibility that your  awesome infographic will pique the visitor’s interest to such an extent  that they halt their information rampage and actually settle down to  read your well-researched and thoughtful content.

### 3. Long tail keywords

A long time ago, before the current era, people typed full and  grammatically correct sentences into their search engine. Imagine using a  crazy format like “How should I rewire a European plug?” or “When is  the best time to sow daffodils?”. We don’t notice it much but through  the massive incompetence of early search engines we were trained to be  idiots.

Finally, with Hummingbird they are catching up and want to reconnect  search to the real world, where language has structure and in the  process, re-educate us all to search the way we speak.

What this means from an SEO perspective is actually very encouraging.  Long-tail keywords are on the way back and with them a more targeted  audience. By allowing and encouraging more intelligent search terms,  Hummingbird delivers results for those who have spent their time and  effort producing relevant content and mining the long tail keywords that  will fit it.

So there you have it! Focus on quality and give people what you say  you will. No tricks, no shortcuts. Just care and attention, the way it  used to be. And the way it will be increasingly in the future.

That's a wrap.

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