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What the Google Hummingbird Update Means for your Brand

What is Google Hummingbird and how can you make it work for your brand?

Before you dive into analyzing the Google Hummingbird algorithm update (instituted late 2013) you have to look at human behaviour, and how humans interact with and use technology to receive information. Human communication has evolved and it continues to evolve. Today, the way people communicate with one another through the Internet is one of the most examined methods of human communication in a variety of professional fields, ranging from sociology to psychology to philosophy.

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google hummingbird updateHowever, from a marketing perspective, one of the most interesting forms of communication is not the way humans connect with one another over the Internet, but how they communicate with the Internet itself.

Recently, Google launched their new algorithm, nicknamed Hummingbird. Google Hummingbird was developed out of necessity. People are simply not communicating with search engines like they used to – and this is for two main reasons:

1) An exponential increase in web data volumes has forced users to in turn increase their search phrases in order to find answers. This means search engines need to be more accurate in terms of their indexing. Google has not only identified this need, but created Hummingbird to address it. Google Hummingbird focuses on the full meaning of a phrase instead of just matching one or two words in a search.

2) Voice recognition software, like Apple’s Siri, has changed the way people engage with the Internet. Google’s Android serves as their competing voice recognition system, and Hummingbird will help to build on its success. The conversational nature of voice recognition devices like Android and Siri means that instead of searching the Internet like a catalogue at a library, people are ‘talking’ to the Internet, like a well-informed friend. They are asking questions in full sentences, and expecting quick and relevant answers – a desire that is not being met by many other search engines.

What does this mean for your brand?

This shift in perspective means that understanding Google Hummingbird is essential if you want your brand to succeed on the Internet. Unfortunately, understanding the process isn’t all that easy, or all that predictable. This isn’t because the algorithm is flawed – far from it – it is because the new search methods are more sophisticated, rendering the old individual keyword based searches less relevant. This means the way many people still think about marketing their brand on Google simply won’t yield results.

So how do you make Hummingbird work for your brand?

You’ll need to start optimizing for semantic searches, and this means focusing on human language, and by extension the way we converse. Single keywords aren’t going to cut it anymore. Google Hummingbird has turned their monster engine from a results-based engine into an answers-based engine. The aim is to provide people with quality and relevant information rather than results that simply contain the queried words.

google algorithmref: calculatemarketing.com

If you want your business to rank high on the Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs) you will need to put emphasis on page content. Hummingbird aims to deliver people to the most fitting page of a website, not just the homepage or a top level page. Translation: EVERY single one of your pages must be impeccably targeted to potential visitors.

Google has always penalized poor quality or low relevancy websites – and now they’ve become even stricter. Spammy or trivial content will knock you down a few notches on the  SERPs. You need to get rid of old and/or irrelevant content and replace it with content that is not only relevant, but engaging; yielding questions, interaction and providing quality answers to searched questions.

Make Meaningful Connections

You want people to share your content and talk about your content. If you want your business to rank higher, you want to earn organic backlinks (inbound links to your site) to your site. It used to be that the objective was to get as many backlinks as possible to get improved page authority, but now you’ll need to focus on the quality of links. Yes, it is still great to get the quantity as well, but you if those links don’t have relevancy and authority, you won’t get any further ahead.

backlinkref: rebel-performance.com

In order to receive quality, authoritative backlinks you’ll need to provide meaningful content through avenues like blogs, infographics, video, e-books, user generated content, reviews, as well as allowing for wider posting in forums and on images. This tactic enhances content and increases your current catalogue, keeping it fresh and relevant. It is also more likely to be shared, and again, this will earn you organic links.

Content is still very important, but now the content cannot exist as an end in itself – it has to address specific needs and wants. To see your brand succeed, you’re going to have to gain authority under the new Google Hummingbird algorithm, and this means you have to prove you can answer your audiences questions better than anyone else.


In an already competitive marketplace, the introduction of Hummingbird can either make or break your business. iSTORM has already taken proactive steps and evolved our strategic planning to make sure we continue to succeed as an industry leader in our field. Let us know if you want us to do the same for you, contact us today!

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