Have you had anyone tell you that the “big bad Google” has changed it’s search algorithm and you need to review your website because you may be in trouble? Well for the majority of website owners this is just scaremongering from “web professionals” trying to squeeze a few more dollars.
Previous Google updates were aimed at web spam and wreaked havoc on websites that had been ranking because of dubious SEO (search engine optimisation) practices. The Google Hummingbird update, however, was more of an update focused on better understanding search intentions. As far as rankings go, Hummingbird actually went pretty much unnoticed for over a month until Google insider, Matt Cutts, tweeted about it on September 26th.
The aim of the Hummingbird update is to match the best content to search queries, even when a web page may not specifically have targeted that query as a search term. This means that where in the past you may have identified a keyword phrase variant that had good search volume as something that you should target with it’s own page, it may no longer be required if you already have a page covering similar content.
This concept needs to be explored a little more so here is a great video that covers the way Hummingbird is geared towards revealing good content around a search term where it has not been specifically targeted:
So in short, people like to complain about Google always changing things, but Google’s goal is clear….To give the most relevant results to searchers. As people get better at gaming the system, Google needs to keep changing to make sure people are not exploiting the search results.
As a website owner, there are still SEO practices that still work, but the secret will be to continue producing great content that people are inclined to share and link to from other websites.