“Don’t ask Google a question. Instead, search for the phrase you think the answer will likely contain.” That was the advice I received back in 2005. If Google is right about its Hummingbird update, I should probably throw that advice out of the door for good.
Without providing too many details, Google has quietly rolled this new update over the month. Since we haven’t heard any complaints about it from the industry, we could safely assume it hasn’t altered much in terms of search results—but it might fundamentally change the keywords people use to find information in the near future.
If you’ve used Google Now on an Android device or Siri on an iPhone, the concept of ‘asking’ questions instead of searching with keywords won’t seem new. Hummingbird is just the next step—albeit a huge one—toward that transition. Google introduced its Knowledge Graph a while ago, which is the project where Google connects disparate sources around a given topic and brings it together.
For example, when you search for “Paris in Las Vegas”, you see a vertical box as shown below.
This box contains a lot of information about Paris Las Vegas and additional links to learn more about it, such as upcoming events, its reviews, similar searches, etc.
With Hummingbird, Google has expanded this technology so it works for the entire web instead of just the topics covered under the Knowledge Graph.
Will this change SEO tactics for your small business clients? Yes. This makes it even more imperative for them to get the basics right—have good content, be mobile-friendly, have accurate listings on relevant online directories, and provide good service to gain more positive reviews. The more sources a business has with accurate information about itself and the more positive reviews it has, the more appealing this information box will appear to people searching online.