Hummingbird optimization is no laughing matter, although many SEO experts have not realized its significance yet. When Moz recently polled 300 marketers about Google changes that affected their traffic, almost all of them cited Penguin and Panda but not Hummingbird. However, while Penguin and Panda specifically targeted webspam, Hummingbird may have even broader implications for SEO work.
What Does Hummingbird Do?
Hummingbird represents a step up in better understanding of overall content rather than specific SEO markers such as keywords and links. It also optimizes the search process. While structured data and schema are important, they also have limitations. Hummingbird is designed to address those limitations and optimize search to more targeted content for better user experiences.
One reason Hummingbird was inevitable is because of those very limitations to schema. While structured data works well for people, places, events and products, it does not do so well for processes or complex ideas that embody more than one general aspect. Markup is difficult, and less than one quarter of all websites have adopted structured markup as a useful piece in their marketing strategy.
How Can Hummingbird Help?
When we organize content into frameworks, it offers search engines a way to grasp what the intent of the content is. For example, in English, we tend to structure our sentences with a subject, then a predicate, then an object: Harold bought a car. Structured content does this for content: it puts it into a structured format that search engines can easily read.
Because so many searchers need answers to questions such as “How many items are in a baker’s dozen?” or “Who invented the light bulb?” it is important for search engines to be able to construct answers from data whether it is structured or not. Google uses more than 500 algorithms to layer and filter results. Hummingbird is simply the latest evolution of this attempt to structure even unstructured content for better search results.
How can you structure your content so that you get good search results?
1) Keywords. Yes, they are still important. How you structure your keyword phrases can make it easy or difficult for search engines to find your content. The clearer and better organized your keywords are, the higher you will rank.
2) Tables and HTML elements. HTML provides structure for webpages so that search engines can extract information. Using lists, tables and good headings helps you organize your content to make it easy for search engines to find it.
3) Entities and synonyms. Because so many things have synonyms, it is important to account for these. You must be able to search for “Katie Sackhoff” as well as “the girl from Battlestar Galactica,” “Vic on Longmire,” etc. Account for synonyms in your keywords.
4) Anchor text and links. Be sure to use anchor text that may help answer common questions. For example, instead of “click here,” why not use, “For more information on Palomino horses” as your anchor text?
5) Use Google Local. Local search is here; you may complain but you will not change it. Utilize it instead.
6) Use Google Structured Data Highlighter. This nifty tool helps you to structure your data simply.
7) Plugins. For pure schema markup, use plugins. If you use a ready-made program like WordPress, this is already done for you.
Understanding semantic search parameters is key to succeeding with SEO and having searchers find your websites!