Google’s Update and What It Means for Keywords

Google’s search engine algorithms control a considerable amount of the world’s Web traffic. They help determine where a web site appears in search results, which holds a great deal of magnitude in determining a web site’s success. The actual algorithm is impossible to crack, especially since Google routinely changes it hundreds of times per year. The public usually isn’t notified when a change occurs, unless it’s a significant overhaul, like Google’s recent “Hummingbird” update.

“Hummingbird” was not the first major algorithmic update in Google history. “Caffeine,” released in 2010, re-wrote the indexing system for faster search results, while 2011′s “Panda” reduced the amount of low-quality content in search results. “Hummingbird” had a similar intent: to make search results as fast and relevant as possible.

The unique feature of this update is its level of intelligence. Instead of honing in on specific cut-and-dry keywords, “Hummingbird” improves search results to focus more on user intent. Entire sentences and conversations are accounted for, rather than just specific keywords. For Google, this will dramatically increase the likelihood that users will find the most relevant search result on the first page.The Effects of “Hummingbird”

While “Hummingbird” echoes previous updates in its striving to make search results quicker and more accurate, it represents a significant systematic overhaul, which – according to Google search chief Amit Singhal – is the first time a Google algorithm has been completely rewritten since 2001. “Hummingbird” was actually implemented in August, one month before it was announced in September. Many webmasters didn’t even notice the transition. Still, for web sites, there are several factors to take into consideration regarding the relationship between the new “Hummingbird” and their keywords and SEO strategies. Below are some of the most notable:

Contrary to some beliefs, PageRank is still very much a factor in determining a web site’s placement in search results. It’s one of many ingredients in determining search results, as are the newly added aspects of “Hummingbird.” As Google puts it, “Hummingbird” is built from both new and existing parts, with effective and integrative results.

“Hummingbird” takes advantage of the recent voice function of smart phones, such as iPhone’s “Siri”, that encourages users to issue commands in full sentences. For example, if one were to say, “Siri, can you find me a list of the most highly rated contractor estimating software?” then “Hummingbird” would take into account the entire sentence, not just keywords like “highly rated” or “contractor estimating software.”

From a SEO perspective, Google claims that webmasters should not bother making any changes. Their guidelines have not changed, still valuing original and high-quality content above all other factors.

If you haven’t noticed any changes in your web site’s analytics by now, then don’t expect anything major to change. “Hummingbird” was rolled out in August, so by now web sites would be seeing any changes it may have had.

Despite Google remaining confident about the “Hummingbird” update, the algorithm continues to change on a frequent basis. It’s still impossible to figure out precisely all the factors that go into deciding search results.

So, what does “Hummingbird” mean for keywords? As of right now, not much has changed. Although “Hummingbird” represents a major overhaul to Google’s inner-workings and how search results are determined, the emphasis on successful keywords and high-quality original content remains the same. “Hummingbird” may affect some sites significantly, but most sites won’t be affected at all. For now, webmasters should stick with SEO strategies that have worked for them in the past.