What Google Hummingbird Means For Your Website

Google Hummingbird is a significant improvement because it lends understanding to the contextual intent and meaning of terms used in a query.

Back in August of 2013, Google unveiled its new algorithm for search – Google Hummingbird. Hummingbird allows the Google search engine to better do its job through improvements in semantic search. Semantic search is conversational search – “What’s the best pizza place in dc?” – “How do I get to the Redskins’ stadium?” – “How old is RG3?”

Let’s take a closer look at my semantic search examples.

1) “What’s the best pizza place in dc?”

Hummingbird does a really good job with synonyms, so it takes my query and substitutes “place” with “restaurant”. It also knows that in this context “dc” refers to “Washington, DC”, “district of columbia”, and even the entire “DC metro area”.

2) “How do I get to the Redskins’ stadium?”

One of the cool new features of the Hummingbird algorithm is something called the Knowledge Graph.  The Knowledge Graph is a gigantic semantic database with more than 570 million objects and more than 18 billion facts about and relationships between different objects that are used to understand the meaning of the keywords entered for the search. So in my example “How do I get to Redskins’ stadium?”, Hummingbird first figures out where I am (it knows this because it queries my IP address) and then the Knowledge Graph shows me a Google map to Fedex field, it tells me how long it will take in my car, how many miles it is to the stadium, and there’s even a drop-down with turn-by-turn directions from my house to the stadium.


3) “How old is rg3?”

In this query, Google Hummingbird is starting to do something really interesting. It uses the contextual information from my previous search to help confirm that “rg3” in this context means “Robert Griffin Jr, the 3rd.” Then the Knowledge Graph tells me that he’s 23 years old, his birthday is February 12, 1990, and a whole host of other related information – his 40 yard dash time, where he was born, who he’s married to, how much he makes, his career stats as well as his stats for the past 3 games.

Keywords are still central to SEO

Google’s algorithm continues to be a complex mix of factors that weigh the relevancy of a page for a query. That hasn’t changed.

While some people may be panicking that their SEO strategy needs to be revamped, if you have been evolving on a natural SEO pace, there’s nothing to worry about. You’re on the right track.

Here is a sample of some of the things that continue to matter:

  • Mobile SEO: Conversational search is driven by the way people search using their mobile devices — so, mobile optimization is going to continue to be critical.
  • Structured Data Markup: Providing search engines with as much information as possible about your page content helps them do their job better. Structured data can also improve click-through rates in the search results when displayed in rich snippets.
  • Google+: Google’s social network is essential in helping to identify your online brand, connecting it with concepts and serving your content in the Google results.
  • Links: Google may not want SEOs obsessing over PageRank data, but that doesn’t mean links are irrelevant. Links help Google put concepts together on the Web; they also send strong signals to Google about page credibility.
  • Keyword Optimization & Content Creation: Nowadays, it seems there is a lot of debate over the usefulness of focusing on keywords. But keywords are not dead. Quality content is crucial, and that includes at least some level of keyword optimization.

Related Information

Google Analytics Features for Business Owners

I think it’s safe to say that small and mid-sized business owners have to have a website. It lends credibility, establishes trust and professionalism, and often is a much less expensive way to market your service or product than old fashioned paper advertising. Usually small business owners are running around trying to do their business and can’t get caught up marketing their business, and they therefore know very little about what’s going on behind the scenes on their website.

There are some basic Google Analytics features that all business owners should take a look at from time to time.

1. Business Conversions

The Conversion tab is one of the most important areas for business owners because it shows how many people are reaching your contact form or other specific page where an action is required, and the exact number of leads and conversions. If the site is an ecommerce site, the conversion tab also indicates the $ amount of sales generated in the current month and allows you to compare this month’s sales figures with previous months.

2. Traffic Sources

This is the second most important area for business owners because it shows where their website traffic is coming from and gives a strong indication of where to invest marketing dollars. This feature also tells exactly how the visitors arrived on the site – through search engines, other site links, etc.

3. Traffic Location

This is similar to Traffic Sources and tells about where the traffic is coming from and which area is bringing in some solid leads and sales. On the other end it indicates potential locations that you can invest in future.

4. Browsers and Mobile Technology

This tells you what browsers your visitors are using and what mobile phones they are using. It’s important to test your website on a variety of browsers and phones. If the site is optimized for Internet Explorer and iPhones and most of your visitors are on Chrome and a Windows Phone, you can make an adjustment to make sure that the site is optimized for the bulk of your traffic.

5. Top Exit Pages

This tells you which website pages visitors usually leave from. It would make sense that the home page and the contact page would be a top exit page. But if a product or service page is a top exit page, it might indicate that you should make some changes to the content to get people to either stay longer or move to another section of the site.


Search Engine Optimization Tips

Even though Google is constantly adapting its algorithm to deliver what it deems the truest answer to a particular query, there are basic search engine optimization guidelines that all sites – large and small – must follow to improve in search engine ranking. These are:

Code – Keep it simple

  • Follow standards and get as close to validated markup as possible
  • Make it easy for search engines to crawl your site
  • Make CSS class and ID names obvious, especially for section div tags
    • Name your header dive header
    • Name the CSS ID of your right sidebar div right-sidebar

Web Design – Less Navigation is More

  • Websites should have clean vertical internal linking
    • Every page links to the home page.
    • Every page links to every category level page. This is your main navigation.
    • Sub-category pages link to other sub-categories within the same category only.
    • Sub-category pages link to their own topic pages only.
    • Topic pages link to sub-category pages within the same category only.
    • Topic pages link to their own article pages only.
    • Article pages link to each sub-category page within the same category only.
    • Article pages link to each topic page within its own sub-category.
    • Article pages link to other article pages within the same topic.

Content – Engagement & Agility

  • Emphasize community and conversation
  • Create content that people will want to link to and talk about
  • Embrace agility – update content frequently
  • Update your old content – particularly advertorial content

The Truth About Search Engine Optimization – How To Rank Higher on Google

Let’s face it – everyone wants to rank #1 on Google.  After all, doesn’t ranking #1 on Google mean that you are the best in what you do? The truth about ranking #1 on Google requires a discussion about search engine optimization.

The idea behind search engine optimization (SEO) is to put great content on a web site that is designed in a manner that helps attract visitors and entertain them enough that they will return to your web site and tell other people about your web site.  Depending on how you go about doing this, there is a very wide range of possible outcomes. Be wary if anyone promises that you will rank #1 on Google.

The fact is that you give yourself the best opportunity for higher ranking if you provide quality content, use a search engine-friendly design, and encourage people to link to your site. Let’s take a look at these three critical ways to rank higher on Google.

Good Content

The single most-effective way to get good rankings is by providing good, fresh content. A search engine’s objective is to deliver answers that are most relevant to a particular search query. The only way to develop that relevance is by having keyword-rich content on your web site. Suppose you sell personal technology gadgets. It is imperative that you provide as much content and commentary regarding personal technology gadgets as possible.

Search engines place a lot of weight on the content of each web page. After all, it is this content that defines what a page is about, and the search engines do a detailed analysis of each web page they find. The detailed analysis is called a semantic map which seeks to define the relationship between the concepts on your page. The search engine uses this match to present the best web pages for a particular user’s search query.

Search Engine-Friendly Design

When two sites provide similar content – using our personal technology gadgets provider as an example – a search engine-friendly design can be the deciding factor between success and failure.

Search engines cannot see images, text in images, Flash files, pictures within Flash files, audio and video files, any content contained within a program (e.g. AJAX), embed tags (not visible to all search engines), frames and iframes.

Search engines rely on HTML (good content), the page title, Meta keyword and content descriptions, alt attributes for images, and content that is rich with keywords relevant to search terms.

Good Links

In the early days of the Internet, many web sites relied on the Field of Dreams logic – If You Build It They Will Come. Now, with millions of web sites competing for eyeballs, one of the most important and difficult things you can do to improve your search engine ranking, is to increase the number of links to and from your site.

Search engines like Google place a range of value on the links that point to your web site and the ones your site points to.

Bottom Line

Search engines are constantly evolving. Google now provides search results that are optimized for each unique searcher. This means that your personal technology site might rank #1 for the keyword “personal technology” for my search but not for yours. So what does this mean for search engine optimization and the auspice of ranking #1 on Google?

The Bottom Line is that your objective should be to increase web site traffic so that more people will enjoy the value you provide through your content and the products and services that you offer.  If you do this, you will improve your search engine ranking.