In September of 2013, Google announced a complete overhaul on the search engine behemoth's algorithm. In fact, this change was implemented a month earlier the press conference held to announce it and explain some of its features. A change of this magnitude had not been made since the Caffeine update years ago.
Content strategists should understand that the Hummingbird algorithm still incorporates some of the changes we saw with Panda and Penguin. PageRank and other site quality determiners are still being used by this new algorithm to order search results.
One of the primary goals of Hummingbird is to address today's more complex and sometimes voice-based queries. When a potential reader of your content uses Google to ask, for example, "How can I find an amazing PR person for [type of business] in [local area] on a budget?" your content needs to discuss that question, and it needs to address it in a credible, findable, useful way.
Search Engine Journal has outlined some important ways that Hummingbird may impact content and content strategy. First, context counts. Google's aim is to use contextual cues to more accurately deliver search results that cater to the Google users intent. Per SEJ:
. . . "Context" has entered search strategy lexicon, which accounts for more personalized search tactics based on location, platform, device and/or hyper local factors.
Second, though keywords are clearly a part of good content strategy, their importance is diminishing as sole determiners of rank. Deep, rich content that actually answers searchers' queries is much more important that keyword-stuffed drivel. As Google's spiders and Google's users become savvier, content that clearly is designed to drive traffic rather than add value will be relegated to the proverbial dungeon of search results. Content that truly and accurately addresses specific queries, however, will receive top billing.
Finally, the importance of authorship for optimization should not be underestimated. Hummingbird makes authoritative content even more vital. Therefore, content strategists should be certain to keep the social profiles of their clients thorough and up-to-date – particularly Google+ profiles.
For more tips and advice on content strategy in the contemporary marketplace, contact us.