With Google’s latest algorithm update "Hummingbird" making news around the web, our company has received a few good questions from our clients about the update's effect on their website, website content and specifically their Google search engine rankings.
Considering the effects of Google’s previous algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin, a fair question on everyone’s mind is "What type of change will this update bring to my website rankings? And considering the algorithm changes from this update, what should be done differently with the website and SEO efforts going forward?
Thankfully, despite the media attention of the update and Google themselves calling it one of their biggest algorithm changes, the update itself doesn’t bring significant change to SEO efforts when compared to Panda and Penguin.
Unlike previous updates that focused on reducing ranking of websites that included Web spam, the Hummingbird update focuses on improving the semantics for the algorithm itself through better content awareness and the visual help of Google’s Knowledge graph.
What is Knowledge Graph?
Upon a user's search for specific topic or category, Google search results may now (and have been for couple of months) include the knowledge graph (see header picture above). A visual carousel of items and/or businesses related to the user's search now appears above the paid and organic searches on the first results page and will allow users to further engage and explore their topical search results with in-depth category classifications, better results and visual interpretations.
In Google’s video example explaining the graph, individuals searching for museums in a specific city will be able to browse the knowledge graph consisting of the specified area's museums and in-depth categories related to the "museum" search term such as artists or works of art associated with a particular museum or museum topic.
From a more business-related standpoint, the Knowledge Graph will effect the display of popular “location” searches for commercial businesses. Of particular note are Restaurants, Bars, Art Galleries and other Local Attractions and Venues that in the past might have been categorized in the map display of Google’s “Places” feature that was discontinued some time back with one of their earlier updates.
With the Hummingbird update being in full effect for several months now, businesses who are seeking to maintain and improve their existing search engine presence and rankings should once more ensure their business's proper registration with the Google+ service, proper set up of their business page, and location extensions on the site. Regardless of the importance of other SEO efforts, the latest update further instills the importance having a proper presence and staying active on Google + with proper a business page set up, and Google's own SEO advice continues to be produce high quality content. With this in place, the Hummingbird update should not seriously effect any other business rankings for relevant keyword terms.
However, with all this being said, even though the Hummingbird update doesn’t throw many new unpredictable wrenches into the mix of SEO, Google still continues to make algorithm changes and new algorithm releases under their existing Penguin update, with ongoing effects to the keyword term rankings of everyday businesses, their SEO efforts and Google’s perceived Web spam efforts.