Impact of Google Hummingbird on Small Businesses

By John R. Aberle | Small Business Management

Oct 10

For years now, Jill has wanted to build traffic to her small business website, which she has as a blog. All she wanted to do was attract customers to her restaurant with tidbits of information about her different dishes and what made them special. She wanted to personalize her business so as to build a relationship with her customers. She felt in this way she could provide a service while developing more loyal customers.

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The problem was that getting those potential customers to her restaurant’s site was challenging. She found herself competing with thousands of other sites all using the same keywords. In addition, there were tons of companies touting tools and services for SEO (search engine optimization) telling she needed buy from them to improve her search engine ranking so she could get to the first page of Google.

Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Can Help Small Businesses Rank Better in Search

Well, on September 26, 2013, Google announced a new algorithm that is going to really benefit small businesses like Jill’s restaurant because it simplifies the task of getting placed high in search results for their local communities without becoming keyword experts.

The following article by Thomas Claburn in Information Week gives you the highlights of what this new algorithm will mean to search engine optimization efforts as well as to people doing searches.

Google Hummingbird Update, Explained

Thomas Claburn
Editor-at-Large
 
Google search algorithm improvements will help it understand complicated queries and provide better answers.
 
Google marked its fifteenth anniversary on Thursday with a revision its search engine algorithm called “Hummingbird.”
 
The company introduced Hummingbird at Google senior VP Susan Wojcicki’s old Menlo Park, Calif., house, where Google in its early years operated out of the garage.
 
Google updates its search algorithm frequently, on the order of several hundred times a year. The changes produced by most of these adjustments tend to be too subtle to notice.
 
But the company gives names to its major architectural updates, like Panda (February 2011), an effort to reduce the prominence of low-quality content in search results, and Caffeine (June 2010), a rewrite of the company’s Web indexing system so that Google could provide faster search results.
 
Google has also given names to content-oriented search changes, like Search Plus Your World and Universal Search.
 
The Hummingbird update expands Google’s use of its Knowledge Graph, introduced last year as a way to help its search engine understand the relationships between concepts rather than simply matching keywords in documents. The Knowledge Graph structures data, so that a search for, say, Marie Curie, returns facts about her contributions to science, her life, her family and other related information, not all of which are necessarily contained in the same document.
 
Hummingbird expands Google’s use of the Knowledge Graph so that its search engine can provide answers to queries that don’t necessarily have simple answers. In a blog post, Amit Singhal, senior VP of Google Search, points to a search like “Tell me about Impressionist artists,” which now returns a broad set of appropriate facts when submitted through a mobile device.
 
The Knowledge Graph also helps Google understand when a follow-up search makes reference to a previous search. For example, if you ask the Google Search app for “pictures of the Washington Monument” and then ask, “How tall is it?”, Google will understand that you’re referring to the Washington Monument instead of treating your query as a separate question.
 
The search update also adds a comparison tool. For example, the query “Compare butter with olive oil” returns an organized set of data covering nutritional information. This is the sort of query that specialized search service Wolfram Alpha handles well.
 
Google Search on mobile devices has been redesigned and in the coming weeks, updates to the iOS and iPad versions of the Google Search app will support Google Now notifications across multiple devices. Singhal said that if you tell your Nexus 7, “OK Google. Remind me to buy olive oil at Safeway,” and you visit Safeway with your iPhone, you will still receive the Google Now reminder you set.
 
Looking ahead, Google can be expected to continue pushing the development of predictive search (Google Now) and voice search, because typing on a mobile device is slow and often impractical.
 
This article comes from Thomas Claburn’s “Google Hummingbird Update, Explained” in InformationWeek on Friday, September 27, 2013. 
 

The most important points for Jill and other small business owners is that Google’s Hummingbird algorithm focuses more on the context of a search term to arrive at what the searcher really wants to find. One of the main elements of this is semantic search to understand in context what you mean when you ask about a keyword.

Semantic Search Means Keywords Taken in Context

As mentioned above, Google’s Knowledge Graph tracks the relationships between words and usage. It looks at the content of your article or page to determine what it is really all about. It no longer judges a site on keyword density. Thus you no longer have to strive to get the exact match of your keywords or worry about where and how often to place them in your posts.

Remember, search engines are all about satisfying the searchers to get them to come back. For this reason, Google looks at several other things to recognize what the searcher wants.

Because so many searches today are being done on mobile devices, especially using voice commands instead of typing, Google is striving to understand conversational (spoken) searches, which rely more on questions. Again, as a small business owner or executive, you want to write about your products and services in a way that people find helpful. Heavy handed sales spiels won’t get you the search engine ranking you want for your site.

Mobile Helps Local Businesses

The other aspect of mobile that really benefits small businesses is the Google app’s ability, using GPS, to truly give local results. So your Google Local Business Page will put your local site ahead of others using your city’s name as a keyword.

Build Authority through Social Engagement

In order to deliver the best articles (blog posts) and pages, Google determines how authoritative someone is. Do you show up in social media? Do you get people to engage with you with comments, tweets, and sharing your posts?

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm can really help small businesses because you can talk authoritatively about your products and services and how customers can get the greatest value from them. Like Jill in her restaurant, describing where the recipe came from or talking about the locally grown organic vegetables used, you can use your site to build relationships, not just one-time sales.

Here are two excellent tools for serving your audience better: First, MyInstantTheme for Business because of the home page’s magazine layout and the flexibility you have to customize the look and feel. The other one is Blogging Toolbox, which includes MyInstantGlossary. In this post you saw how smoothly the glossary plugin works. By choosing MyInstantBlog for your website hosting, you will have both of these tools included.

Finding Personal Fulfillment through Your Retiree Business,

               John

John R. Aberle

Your Retiree Business, a division of Aberle Enterprises

P.S. Google Hummingbird is all about serving the searcher and offering great content. For your web hosting, MyInstantBlog will help you do that because it includes both MyInstantTheme for Business and Blogging Toolbox, which are designed to help you serve your readers better and to make it easier for the search engines to recognize where you best fit for their searchers.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

I have a strong love for small businesses, especially brick and mortar companies. After an 18-year career in sales and marketing, I started my own service company, which I grew in both sales and profits for the first five years. In my sixth year, the bottom dropped out of the printer market such that it made more sense to sell my assets and return to Southern California. There I went to work for an international small business consulting company. I spent over three years on the road with them helping small businesses to become more profitable and better managed. I then started my own company specializing in sales and marketing consulting, coaching and training. My emphasis is on heart-centered, relationship selling that empowers prospects to make their own choices.