Marketing Strategy

A simple explanation of how Google Hummingbird works

If you haven’t heard anything about Google Hummingbird, then you need to start tuning into the conversation. There is a great deal of talk about this new algorithm and how it completely changes SEO.

There’s no doubt that how Google Hummingbird works has caused some SEO agencies to scratch their heads, since it was announced on the 26th of September.  For me, as a marketer and a big advocate of content marketing with a customer focus, it is making me smile… more and more every day.

Let me try to explain to you in simple terms (not SEO jargon) why.

How is Google Hummingbird different?

This new algorithm begins to enable Google to better handle “conversational” and long tail search queries. We’ve all become more conversational with our searches, and Google knows this. Hummingbird is all about trying to understand what our searches mean, rather than just looking at keywords. For example, just yesterday I needed to find a birthday gift for a friend’s daughter. I was told she wanted a Gola bag.  So I did a search…

A year ago, I probably would have just typed ‘Gola bag Colchester’. But using Siri on my iPhone has influenced how I phrase my searches. I just ask Siri. Over time, more and more people will use voice searches. This behaviour is something Google Hummingbird tries to understand – the intent of the search, which will result in more precise results being returned.

Hummingbird is also a move towards a semantic web. This means that a website will rank for a phrase, without even using those words. This is because Google will understand the semantics of the topic. For example, if I would have typed in “trendy bags in Colchester”, a Gola bag could appear in the search listings – because Google knows that a Gola bag is trendy. This is what is coming. Scary.

Kevin Woodberry, a great Search Engine Marketer that I work with, shared a great article about Google Hummingbird from Copyblogger. The article, which has been tweeted almost 1500 times, offers a great explanation.

As a marketer, the importance of understanding what a customer wants and needs, smacks us in the face. I love it.

So how does this impact your SEO efforts?

The biggest impact that this will have on your SEO is the fact that you need to be generating content marketing that clearly demonstrates you understand your customers’ needs.  It’s not good enough to simply measure your keyword density on the page. Focus needs to be on developing QUALITY content of value, content that offers solutions to what your customers need.  In order to achieve this, you need to understand what those needs are all about.

And this is why I love Hummingbird.

It is less important to talk about keywords. It makes marketing efforts focus on what marketing is all about – understanding customer needs and delivering solutions to satisfy those needs. If you can do this well, and demonstrate this ability through your content, Google will reward you well.

Recent Posts



Leverage our strategic marketing resources whenever you need marketing support. Whether it’s every month or just for a special project, we can help make marketing deliver greater results.

More articles