Inner Architect has been studying the effects of Google’s latest algorithm—‘Hummingbird’—on the organic search traffic of our clients over the past few months. Hummingbird was said to have rolled out on August 22, 2013. We have seen sites that were hit with a negative impact immediately and those whose organic search traffic has taken a slower, more gradual decline. We have also seen websites that have experienced rather significant increases in organic search traffic.

The main focus of Hummingbird is to respond to the way that user’s search habits have changed as a result of the evolution of mobile search, and in particular, Apple’s Siri. Rather than speaking keywords into our mobile devices, Siri has trained us to ask questions when we need assistance. This search behavior has since been embraced by users on all devices.

What does this mean for SEO?

We have evolved from being a generation of search engine users who pose questions in short keyword phrases that are not detailed enough to deliver what we really want. We have become users who search with questions–long-tailed keywords in order to drill down to the answer we seek quickly. Google’s goal now is to try to decipher the context of the question rather than focus solely on the specific keywords within the question. The goal is to provide results that actually answer the question.

What this means is that you need to think about SEO in a slightly different way. You need to focus on search queries rather than simply keywords. Your blog and web content need to deliver information that answers the questions that your prospects will be asking to find your website. This means you have to get into the head of your prospective client, think about their pain points, challenges and needs and speak directly to them.

Hummingbird Friendly Tips

  1. Develop a list of FAQs that prospective clients have when they are seeking to hire you. Then move forward with a content strategy that services these needs.
  2. Review your existing static web page content. Determine where adjustments may need to be made to answer your potential clients’ questions better.
  3. Make sure your website is mobile responsive and loads quickly on all devices. Google seeks to provide users with the best experience.
  4. Don’t ignore social media. Experts suggest that Google’s future algorithm updates are likely to increasingly rely on social signals as active human confirmation for good and authoritative content.

What trends have you experienced in the past year? How have you responded?