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Google Hummingbird: The Evolution of Search and Its Impact on SEO

Yvette Valencia
Published   September 30, 2013

Last week, I posted a beginner’s guide to Latent Semantic Indexing. If you missed it, now’s the time to delve in, especially with Google’s new emphasis on semantic search through its Hummingbird algorithm.

Google’s Hummingbird is More for Search Intent, Not Content

The web content industry has treated keywords as the cornerstone of optimization for nearly two decades. While keywords are still important in today’s search optimization, they’re no longer the priority when it comes to ranking on the search results.

Hummingbird confirms this new method of SEO by focusing on semantic search, which emphasizes understanding user intent instead of merely identifying keywords. As Google’s algorithms have gained more power, the search engine has been able to better understand exactly what a user is searching for rather than just looking to see how many times certain words in the query are used on a page of content.

With this deeper understanding of user intent, Google aims to provide users with more relevant content that directly answers their queries. While updates like Penguin and Panda targeted keyword stuffing and low-quality content, this new algorithm aims to refine Google’s performance by optimizing the methods by which it determines the relevancy of a page.

Hummingbird Changes How Search Queries Are Answered

Google has been slowly altering the way it looks at searches for a while, but never went public about it until the Hummingbird announcement. Over the past few years as Internet search has gained more and more ground as a preferred way to find information, search analysts have noticed that people are now searching more in phrases rather than just pure keywords.

A significant driver for the move to semantic search has been the rising use of voice search, integrated by Google into its mobile platforms and applications. Users with smartphones can go to the Google website or app and use their phone’s voice input feature to speak their query rather than type. This leads to more in-depth requests – “florist in Cleveland” may become, “Where can I find a florist near the Cleveland Clinic main campus?”

Undoubtedly, Hummingbird emphasizes content relevancy when determining which web pages to display in response to a query. Synonyms and use of the core keywords in the page title, meta description, and headers will continue to be an important part of law firm SEO. Of course, quality law firm web content will never be knocked from its position of being the number one goal of writing for the web!

Adapting to Hummingbird? We’re Here to Assist!

Our SEO team was ahead of the game in preparing content for the Hummingbird changes. Months ago we implemented less of a focus on specific, repetitive keywords and a stronger focus on synonyms. While we’ve always paid attention to our page titles, meta descriptions, and headers, we continue to ensure our content is fully compliant with the latest optimization practices.

Transform your law firm with our help. Explore our law firm marketing services and how they can benefit your practice.

Regardless of Google’s algorithmic challenges, we’re here to guide you through them. Give us a call at 888-521-3880 or fill out our contact form to find out more about how Hummingbird may impact your business’ search rankings and what We Do Web can do to help!

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