Earlier this month, news reported at a Google media event that the most comprehensive update to its search algorithm in more than ten years, named Hummingbird, had already been released a month earlier. If this is news to you, yes, this is referring to the Google algorithm that determines where your site shows up in search results.

The Short on Hummingbird

The quick takeaway from Hummingbird is that, while major, it’s not nearly as devastating to many webmasters as some of the other updates (versions of Panda and Penguin) have been in the past 18 months.

How It Will Affect Your SEO Efforts

Most of your SEO work will probably continue to serve you, and you aren’t going to have to change much, if you’ve been focusing on white hat methods. The update has been documented in depth at many sites arounds the Internet, but if you want to get straight to the point to hear about how it applies to your website, here’s our take on how this affects SEO:

Do not fall for the doomsday cries that SEO is dead, it’s not. Actually, Google is standing by informing webmasters that their official guidelines for SEO is unchanged. Continue to publish high-quality content, make it easy to find and read, etc. The update has more to do with Google’s interpretation and processing of data. So if you’re following these best practices, you may even see a boost (as they’ve already been reported) in your search traffic and results.

How To Stay Ahead of Google’s Curve

The answer to making good choices in relation to search engine optimization is to be aware of where Google is heading. Google’s objective is to deliver the most relevant results in relation to each search query.

We’ve all experienced getting search results that were obviously not what we wanted. We don’t even have to visit the bad sites to figure that out, since what Google shows us suffices. When that occurs I wonder why Google would have thought that’s what I was looking for. Google is focused on getting to the point where this doesn’t happen anymore.

So What Is The Purpose of Hummingbird?

Hummingbird is designed to focus on semantic indexing to better understand and interpret language, so actual literal keywords are less focused than the sentiment or idea that is being searched. Good content does well for this type of update, since content with context is what Hummingbird is actually looking for to prove the case, rather than just spammy tactics to build links (providing little to no context for understanding a site’s relevance.)

Have you noticed any changes to your site’s rankings since Hummingbird was deployed? If so, let us know and we can continue the discussion on Hummingbird here.