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Guest Post: How Google’s Hummingbird Update Affects HBADE Members

Members may be interested to read this blog as it looks to help shape their website. Note that HBADE has accepted this as a guest article from Chris Vella and makes no representation as to the content.

In late September, Google announced that it had replaced its existing search algorithm with a new algorithm named “Hummingbird.” Whether you heard news of its importance or not, it is vital that you understand how this affects your online presence and Internet marketing efforts as home builders, remodelers, and associates of the industry. A major change like this has not been made to Google’s algorithm since 2001 according to Google’s search chief Amit Singhal, and Hummingbird affects more than 90% of searches worldwide. HBADE would like to provide its members with a digestible understanding of the changes Hummingbird brings and how you can make this update work in your favor.

The sooner the members of the HBADE take the following information and apply it to their online marketing and site development, the better. This news is valuable and its implications are unknown to most outside of the tech industry. If you use Hummingbird to your advantage and implement a strategy that compliments Google’s new algorithm now, your competition will be far behind as you lead the pack.

What is Hummingbird?

We now understand that Hummingbird is the name of the new algorithm Google uses to serve better search results to its users, but how does Hummingbird work better? What changed?

Hummingbird is focused on understanding a searcher’s intent, rather than just keywords. With searches on mobile devices and voice searches becoming more common, queries are becoming more conversational. Hummingbird has responded to these shifts in the way a searcher forms queries by developing a better contextual understanding. This means that Google will no longer look at each individual keyword in a query and match the searcher with the most relevant page based on those keywords. Instead, Hummingbird will try to identify the intent of the search by using contextual clues and match the searcher with the most relevant page that will satisfy that intent.

Hummingbird looks to improve Google’s ability to interpret conversational search queries like, “How tall is the Empire State Building?” Notice that instead of searching for something more direct like “height of empire state building” we chose to phrase our query in question form. It’s as though we’re holding a conversation with Google, and Hummingbird aims to answer our question as directly as possible.

These are just two known features of Hummingbird, however Google has said that many of the preexisting components of the algorithm have changed or been updated as well. So, if you noticed any unusual differences occur in your site’s organic (search) traffic around August 26th, the cause could be Hummingbird or a variety of other changes the algorithm underwent. Although Google announced the change publicly in late September, the update had already been implemented for about a month at that point and had gone virtually unnoticed.

Why is this important?

Whether you have a team of SEO (search engine optimization) analysts or it’s just you working on your web presence, Hummingbird is a big deal. The strategy that you have been using to develop your site was put to the test when the new algorithm was put in place. If your strategy was to create meaningful, high quality content that benefits your customers, potential customers, and any individuals who interact with a potential customer then your site has become super charged with the release of Hummingbird. If writing fluff articles stuffed with keywords was your strategy, I’m sorry to say that Hummingbird has turned all of your hard work to waste. Your page now has to do more than match someone’s keywords in their query.

If you’re thinking, “I don’t have a strategy!” don’t panic. Hummingbird awards websites that help people. What can your website do to help people?

A good example of a home builder blog

This Pittsburgh builder uses its blog to help people in the community find everything from open houses to the right type of spackle for DIY projects. It’s a good example of how helping people can help a website.

The blog delivers posts on a variety of topics including home maintenance, the surrounding communities, and their available homes. So thinking back to what we learned about Hummingbird, if someone searches “decorated model home near me” (let’s assume you live in Pittsburgh) Hummingbird would make the post below more likely to show in the results, assuming you have provided Google with your home address or current location.

The overall goal is to satisfy a visitor’s intent when coming to your site as best you can. Identifying and developing the purpose of each page of your site is a great way to accomplish this goal. For example, the purpose of the blog post featured above is to provide visitors with information about a model home that can be toured during their grand opening event.

Someone searching for “decorated model home near me” likely has the intent of touring the decorated model home because they want one that is in proximity to them, so if this blog post was the page they chose to arrive at from their search results it is likely that the visitor will be satisfied. This means that Google was successful in providing the searcher with their desired information and you were successful in defining and delivering your purpose, increasing your site’s ranking.

Chris Vella is a search analyst at LunaMetrics, a digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh, PA. He follows Google’s updates closely & uses them to the advantage of his clients.

About HBA of Delaware

HBA/DE has been an integral part of the growth and economic development of the State of Delaware since 1947. HBA/DE was founded as a non-profit state affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) representing home builders and other businesses directly related to Delaware's Home Building Industry. Consisting of Builders, Remodelers and a group of diversified associate members, the Home Builders Association of Delaware strives to protect and preserve housing as a symbol of America.


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