The Real Reason Google’s Hummingbird Update is Hurting Some Sites

Lately, Google’s Hummingbird update has been a hot topic on the web for marketers and SEOs alike. But, we wonder whether this should actually be news at all – Google changes its algorithm all the time.

And these changes have been fairly predictable and consistent. Yet, shifts in search rankings continue to dominate blogs like this one. That’s not because the changes that Google has made are so interesting in and of themselves, but because they are affecting tens of thousands of businesses, just like yours.

So why is it that Google’s Hummingbird is making some website search traffic disappear?

The short answer is that many site owners (or their web/SEO partners) are still attached to old ways of doing things. As we have made a point of mentioning, findability is ‘in’ and traditional search engine optimization is ‘out’. Simply putting keywords and links together doesn’t work the way it used to. That’s partly because search engines are configuring their results differently, but it’s more because of the expectations that actual users have for their results.

While simple link-building and keyword-matching made sense for companies that wanted visitor traffic, it didn’t do a very good job of bringing searchers towards the information they were really looking for. And so, Google had to change the way it handles these queries.

The question then becomes how businesses break free of outdated SEO thinking and start giving Google and its users exactly what they want: quality results? In an attempt to answer that quesitons, I’ve put together a few easy tips to help you get started thinking the right way:

Pay attention to findability.

Emphasizing important keywords and building quality links will probably still matter for search engine optimization in the coming years, but they just aren’t all-important the way they used to be. Things like context, authorship, and social visibility matter just as much now. Each of these makes your site easier to find, not just scan, which is the real key to promoting it going forward.

Be credible and interesting.

In today’s world of search engine optimization, it’s as much about the content creator as it is the content itself. Blog posts, videos, infographics, and other forms of content that come from known companies or personalities with established track records and strong social profiles are more likely to be heavily weighted by Google than well-optimized posts from unknown parties.

Focus on what readers and viewers want, let them increase your reputation, and then watch Google follow. It’s much easier than trying to do things the other way around.

Stop putting your faith and money into quick fixes.

It goes without saying that working with vendors to keep emphasizing the same old tricks (you know, the ones that stopped working a year or two ago) is a waste. Not only are you throwing good money after bad, but you’re wasting your time and could even be hurting your online profile by letting them connect low-quality content to your name and company. Look for good advice, outstanding creative work, and long-term solutions instead of quick fixes that are going to leave you disappointed (or alarmed) again the next time Google makes a change.

The biggest thing to remember about Google’s Hummingbird update, and the subsequent algorithm changes that are likely to come, is that Google isn’t really changing at all – it’s just getting better at fulfilling its mission. That mission was always to provide great search results, and was never about keywords and links to start with. Keep that in mind, and you’ll have an easier time (and a significant competitive advantage) over many of your competitors who are still stuck in old ways of thinking about search optimization.

Interested in learning more? Get the book from Amazon – around 90 minutes is all it takes to learn how to build a better business website. Or, reach out to a member of the KAYAK team today.

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