Muhammad Ali once famously professed that he floated like a hummingbird, but stung like a bee. Thanks to Google’s new algorithm, known as ‘Hummingbird’, your website can have a serious marketing sting in its tail, too – but only if you know how to exploit its new method of ranking sites.
Of course, you don’t need to know. That’s what we’re here for. Google Hummingbird has been in use by the search engine since late August, although its launch was only announced on the internet giant’s fifteenth birth, on 27th September. Hummingbird is designed to render Google’s search process even more user-friendly, and ape the way in which humans think and find.
In order for computers to appear to think like humans, you need an awful lot of clever code and mathematics. Google is a past master at this sort thing. Their search engine has always been based on a particular algorithm – essentially a staged mathematical calculation – which helps it understand a search term and then deliver results which are relevant to the user.
In an interview with the Guardian at the start of the year, the company’s head of search said: “Ultimately I view Google as a way to augment your brain with the knowledge of the world.” As radical as that sounds, Hummingbird is part of Singhal’s journey to that goal.
Hummingbird is now a very significant part of the ‘recipe’ by which Google bakes the cake of your latest search: it focuses learning and understanding the particular meaning of words and how humans use them, in order to make search results more accurate. For instance, if you google for ‘iPad’, Hummingbird will not just match that particular word – it will know that an iPad is a type of tablet, and also deliver to you comparable products to you.
Likewise, Hummingbird is trying to be ahead of the curve on ‘voice search’. This is the relatively new means of using Google via mobile devices, simply by speaking your search. People talking are more like to say, “Where can I find an iPad for sale?” than they are to type “iPad for sale”. Hummingbird is about suiting Google to this future of search.
What does this mean for you? It means your website needs to understand your customers more than ever. In the past, web designers have sort to encode keywords into a website – ‘iPad’, for instance. Now, we’ll need to be smarter: your website will need to be clear that it is the right destination for users wanting to learn more about tablets, but also clear that people asking where they can buy iPads should also make a visit. That imposes a lot of demands on your designer, but it’s important that they meet them if you are now to retain or achieve a positive Google ranking.
There’s a lot of jargon about this: ‘semantic revelance’, ‘market segmentation’, ‘content marketing’. But what it amounts to is the idea that your website needs to be built and populated in such a way that it proves your authority in your area, and meets as clearly as possible the needs of your audience. To repeat ourselves, then: that’s what we’re here for.