THE GOOGLE HUMMINGBIRD ALGORITHM: Lessons Learned

Kelley Lott, DMS founder, has been providing Internet marketing services for 15 years to companies nationwide, with particular emphasis to organizations located in the mid-Atlantic region.  Feel free to contact him at seo@dynamicmediasolutions.us .  Here is a brief summary of his observations to date.

THE DUST HAS SETTLED
When Google announced on September 26, 2013 that, for the first time in 10 years, it had implemented a completely new algorithm for its search engine, it rocked the world of SEO.  While Hummingbird was technically “all new,” in reality it was more the formal implementation of a variety of spam checking and refinement techniques that have actually been in place for many months.  None the less, the bottom line is that the rules of the SEO game have definitely been altered.

IT NEEDS TO BE NATURAL
While it’s always been important to use keyword phrases in a natural context, that concern is paramount with Hummingbird. Strategic repetition of exact keyword phrases on web pages —  an SEO core strategy for years — is no longer rewarded.  Actually, it appears that any use of keyword phrases that Hummingbird deems to be unnatural can be penalized as spamming.  This was one of the more alarming discoveries that we have made thus far.  So, for example, you will want to avoid phrases like “roofers any city Indiana” or “any city Indiana roofers” as it appears that Hummingbird actually penalizes that kind of forced or unnatural keyword usage.

The answer to appeasing Hummingbird appears to be breaking up the keyword phrases and using them “semantically” in a more natural fashion.  So, if your client offers roof repair services in Any City, Indiana, the strategy would be to use a variety of roof repair related phrases on the page with “Any City, Indiana” separated from those keywords but used naturally.  For example, the copy might read like this:  ABC Roofers has over 20 years experience offering roof replacement services to homeowners in Any City, Indiana.  When selecting a roofing contractor, it’s important to determine the type of roofing material currently being used.  You will then want to identify the level of experience of the roofing companies working with the type of roof that you will be replacing before making a final selection.

Note the variety of “roof” related phrases used.  Hummingbird is smart enough to recognize different keywords that relate to one another, and the new algorithm appears to reward this type of variety in keyword usage.  A good way to evaluate your text is to imagine what your prospective customer might write if they were composing a paragraph describing what they are researching.  After all, the search engines are all about trying to give their visitors what they’re looking for.

BEHIND THE SCENES
As any experienced SEO strategist knows, the coding of content pages is critical to successful search engine ranking.  Relatively few SEO specialists know how to edit code, or what type of edits will impact rankings, but proper code editing is critical to 1st page ranking results.  For example, including keywords in headers and alt text is still rewarded BUT be careful of over-usage of these techniques, which appear to result in minor penalties (like page 2-3 instead of page 1 rankings.

LINK BUILDING
There have been quite a few “link building is dead” articles published since Hummingbird was launched.  Forget all those.  The search engines will always reward domain authority that has been achieved by cultivating as many quality backlinks as possible.  The sites linking back to your website should be credible and ideally related to your site’s subject matter.

IN CONCLUSION
Don’t let a hummingbird scare you.  If you provide quality content that is useful to someone who is interested in your product/service, and you build a strong website/domain presence for your site, Hummingbird will drink your nectar and spread the good word about your site to other prospective clients.

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