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A Complete Guide to the Google Hummingbird Update

On September 27, Google celebrated it’s 15th birthday and, instead of receiving gifts, this time Google decided it was better to give than receive. What a better gift to the SEO community than a totally new search algorithm, and that new algorithm is aptly named ‘Hummingbird’, for being fast and accurate!

Is Hummingbird an update like Panda and Penguin?

The Google Panda updates that started in February 2011 were algorithm updates that were meant to lower the rank of low quality sites, and return higher quality sites closer to the top of the search results. There have been a couple of Panda refreshes since then, also targeting low quality sites.

SEE ALSO: 13 Tips to Recover from the Painful Penguin

The Google Penguin update of April 24, 2012 was also an algorithm update designed to decrease search engine rankings of websites that are in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using questionable SEO techniques involved in increasing artificially the ranking of a webpage by manipulating the number of links pointing to the page. Unlike Panda, Penguin was believed to target individual pages on a site, and not the entire site.

Unlike these previous updates, Hummingbird is a completely new algorithm, not a simple adjustment. Google’s core ranking team head Amit Singhal said that Hummingbird represents the first time since 2001 a Google algorithm has been so dramatically rewritten. Hummingbird has been designed to work very well with mobile devices and features conversational search. With Hummingbird, Google looks at all words in search, not just the keyword.

Is Search Engine Optimization dead?

No, absolutely not. SEO isn’t dead nor will it ever die. Search engine optimization has gotten a bad rap over the years, but it isn’t about ruining websites, spamming search engines, forums or blog comments. SEO, or good SEO anyway, is about building outstanding content, understanding how people might search for that content, and about preparing that content in such a way that is easy for both search engines and humans to understand.

Will my rankings in Google go down as a result of these changes?

Hummingbird was implemented back in late August, so if you haven’t noticed a drop in your traffic, then most likely you will be fine and your content and other ranking factors are of sufficient quality to not be affected by the changes. Congratulations!

However, if you have noticed some changes, especially negative changes, then maybe it’s time to take a look at your site and your SEO campaign. has publish and allowed us to share their “Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors” to give you an idea of what it takes to perform well in this post-modern search engine world. There are at least 200 factors weighed in the ranking of pages on Google.


Here are a few tips that should help you get your pages ranking well:

  • Make sure your content is informative, authoritative, well written and unique. If you think that you can still use someone else’s content and get away with it, you’re wrong. Google will quickly find it and throw it to the bottom of the search heap.
  • Get social. Actively pursue your social media campaigns. That means at a minimum, develop and maintain Twitter, Facebook and Google+ campaigns. If you do not have time for these, hire us to do Social Media Marketing for you. If you do not heed this advice, do not say I didn’t warn you. I REPEAT. GET SOCIAL.
  • Go through your backlinks and make sure they are not from dubious sources. You can carefully use Google’s disavow tool to clean up bad links you have. But, again, be very careful and only use this as a last resort. It’s always best to contact the link sources and ask them to remove their link to you.
  • Stay away from black hat SEO schemes. Now more than ever before, Black Hat SEO schemes are a surefire way to make sure you rank lower for your best search terms. What are some black hat SEO schemes? Duplicate content, doorway pages, erratic and unnatural link building, forum spam, blog comment spam, excessive link exchange, keyword stuffing, fake reviews and any similar types of behavior.

By adhering to these simple, fundamental concepts, you and your sites will do fine. However, if you or someone you have hired in the past has used dubious ‘tactics’ to help you rank well for a few keywords and now your pages are no where to be found, feel free to contact us for a free, no obligation consultation and we’ll see what we can do to turn your site back around again.

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