A Review of Google’s Hummingbird Update for SEOs and Content Marketers

by Marcus Sheridan

hummingbird algorithm googleFirst it was Penguin.

Then it was Panda.

Now it’s Hummingbird.

All 3 were Google updates. All 3 scared most SEOs to death.

But for the best content marketers, Hummingbird didn’t—or shouldn’t— make them blink.

Before we go into that though, here are the main bullets you need to know about Google’s newest animal:

1. Unlike Penguin and Panda, it’s not just an update. It’s an overhaul of the algorithm— “New and improved” if you will.

2. It’s primary focus will be to better meet the demands of today’s internet searcher—folks like you and me who continue to become more and more refined, skilled, and specific in the way we all search online (be it verbally or textually).

The Marriage Between Hummingbird and Content Marketing

Over the past year or so one of the things weighing heaviest on my mind when it comes to this industry has to do with the way we use phrases (like content marketing) that can mislead the rest of the world (those that don’t use our jargon) into not fully understanding what it is we’re talking about.

If one breaks down content marketing to its core, the principles of success are utterly clear:

1. Listen to what your potential customers are thinking, feeling, and saying.

2. Produce content and useful tools to address and answer what these customers are thinking, feeling, and saying.

In other words—Listen, Teach, Listen, Teach, Listen, Teach…and be Useful.

This is what the best marketers understand better than anyone else in the digital age. They never ignore questions, they embrace them—good or bad—and they do it as specifically as possible.

This brings me back to Hummingbird, and Google’s enhanced goal to show search results that specifically answer specific questions.

The content marketers (bloggers, social media peeps, web copywriters, etc.) that have been doing this job well will likely dance in the streets when they see such updates like this one taking place.

On the other hand, many antiquated and clueless SEO companies still living in 2005 continue to freak out about the reality that search manipulation is getting more and more difficult as slapping targeted words on a page will no longer do.

5 Trends that will Occur as a Result of Hummingbird

That being said, I personally see 5 main trends occurring as a result of this new update:

1. Many traditional SEO companies will claim to offer “content marketing” as a service. (Note** If your SEO company isn’t offering content marketing in conjunction with their SEO efforts [ideally they’re hand-in-hand] then there is a good chance you should fire them.)

2. Many SEO companies will close their doors because they simply don’t know how to adjust.

3. 100% 0utsourcing of blog/web content will become more and more difficult due to the need for the content to be so specific, grounded, etc.

4. Insourcing (leveraging employees, especially those in sales) will keep becoming the golden standard of the best digital marketing companies.

5. Those that are quickest to do this—and do it well— will win the hill…as they always do.

I don’t think any of those predictions are revolutionary, nor are they mind-blowing.

Frankly, if we’re being honest with ourselves I think we all sense these things internally. We know what we like to find when we search online. We, ourselves, reward specificity. We reward those companies that know our thoughts and answer our questions.

This is the essence of content marketing, and Hummingbird is just another step in this evolution of making such content a constant reality for the online searcher.

Your Turn

So what are your thoughts on Google’s newest algorithm change? Where do you see this going as search continues to progress? And what do you expect businesses to do as a result?

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