In August 2013, Google released Hummingbird, the latest algorithm system to send shock-waves rippling through businesses, web developers and SEO experts alike.
Even as we approach the summer months of 2014, almost a year after the original release, the effects of Hummingbird can still be felt, with many companies struggling to get their heads around the new algorithms, which require a substantially different SEO strategy than before.
Keeping up with the Beating Wings of Hummingbird…
In short, the main developments have been:
- High quality, relevant content. As before, duplicate content is an absolute no-no. (Thank goodness!) However, Google has tightened things still further, in an attempt to ensure that online searches are rewarded with relevant, engaging sites, rather than sites that happen to be adept at manipulating Google algorithms. In short, the message is a simple one. Keep it high quality, keep it original and make sure that it provides something of value to your target audience.
- Increased importance of easy navigation. It’s now vitally important to ensure that your website provides a slick, user-friendly experience for visitors. Ease of navigation within the site itself is key, as is link structure, and its also important to fine tune your site map, make sure all images are suitably optimised and that page load times are speedy, not sluggish.
- Videos, images and fresh content. It’s clear that Google are placing high value on all of these elements at present. Blogging remains an excellent way to update content regularly, and put a smile on the search engines’ faces.
- Tags still matter. For a while, there was speculation that Google was moving significantly away from on site elements such as title tags and page URLs. However, it would seem that the rumours were unfounded, and that well optimised ALT image tags, title tags, H1 tags and URLs still hold relevance, when it comes to shimmying up the rankings on the search engines.
Ensuring your site makes the grade
In our opinion, Hummingbird isn’t too difficult to stay on top of, providing you have the time and skills required to maintain a highly user-friendly and engaging site. As a basic guideline, ensure that content is regularly updated; with relevant, easy to understand content, and concentrate on reducing bounce-back, with content that matches your URL as closely as possible.
It’s largely about thinking about your site from your user’s perspective. What are they going to expect to see? Will they like it? Where will they progress to, once they’ve landed on that initial page? These are all really important questions to ask yourself, when developing your site. User experience, in the era of the Hummingbird, is everything.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on the developments, and it would also seem that mobile usage is a key factor to consider too. After all, so many people now search via devices such as iPads and smartphones; it makes sense to ensure that you’re highly visible on all of them.