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Hummingbird – Google Expands “Conversational” Search

On Thursday September 26, Google announced the launch of its new ‘Hummingbird’ search algorithm.  This launch marks a significant evolution in Google search, with Hummingbird strengthening the search engine’s focus on pages with relevant, high-quality content.

In an interview with Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan, Google search chief Amit Singhal noted that Hummingbird is the most dramatic rewriting of Google’s algorithm since at least 2001.

Without getting bogged down in details, Hummingbird’s most significant change is its focus on ‘conversational’ search.  Essentially, Hummingbird will contextualize long-tail search terms to better address the user’s search query.  Sullivan broke down what this means with the following query example:

“What’s the closest place to buy the iPhone 5s to my home?” A traditional search engine might focus on finding matches for words — finding a page that says “buy” and “iPhone 5s,” for example.

Hummingbird should better focus on the meaning behind the words. It may better understand the actual location of your home, if you’ve shared that with Google. It might understand that “place” means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might get that “iPhone 5s” is a particular type of electronic device carried by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings may help Google go beyond just finding pages with matching words.

While conversational search already existed, it will now apply to billions of new web pages.

So, what does this mean for your business?  First off, don’t worry, this is not the death of SEO.  You will still be able to target keywords to raise page rank.  However, simply targeting key words will likely not be enough to rank you at the top of the search list.  It will become increasingly important to provide quality, relevant content for your search queries.  We at RankHigher have always advocated the need for quality content, and Hummingbird is only further justifying our view.

We believe that Google’s Hummingbird will rank pages based on both the quality and the quantity of the content you provide.  The more related key words and relevant content on your page, the more Google will trust you as an authority on search terms.  The days of 150 word landing pages are over.  If you want customer to find you, you’ll need to say something of substance and of value.  We can help.

Search Engine Land, Sept. 26, 2013