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Writing for Trochilidae | What Google’s Hummingbird Means for Content

by | Oct 15, 2013 | Content Writing | 0 comments


Penguins and Pandas gave way to the delicate anatomy of the Hummingbird, Google’s most prolific query algorithm for more than a decade. Though Hummingbird has been in play for a few weeks already, it was announced during the search giant’s 15th birthday at the end of September. For those uninterested in tech-heavy jargon and search engine tactics, Hummingbird is simply an innovative way of dissecting semantic information from search queries.

When you type “Where can I buy shoes in Charlotte?” into Google, you’ll find local listings and a few major websites. Hitherto, Google would focus on “shoes” for a subject and “Charlotte” as the filter. Coupled in with the search engine’s existing Knowledge Graph, Hummingbird attempts to answer complicated requests by looking at entire sentences with advanced parameters.

It all comes down to phrasing and meaning rather than keywords. This stretch into human linguistics reflects the needs of smartphone users. When users talk to their Windows 8 Bing voice search, or even Siri for that matter, they don’t say, “Shoes. Charlotte. Cheap.” They use verbal statements, not caveman talk. Either query method works about the same, but Hummingbird is allowing searchers to find information that actually helps, not just a spammy results page full of ads and links to directories.

When you’re searching for something broad or out there, it’s often difficult to phrase a question in a way computers would understand it. With Hummingbird, searches hinging on phrases like How, Why, What, When, Comparison Between, This Phone vs. That Phone, and others will relay better results. This is great for searchers, though marketers, Web developers, and even bloggers are curious how this affects their online presence.

Bird Feeder Content

For businesses big and small, there is a raging concern over how popular they are on search results. There are a lot of myths and debates and fights over how to maximize Web presence, but if anything is prominent in Google’s recent updates it is this: Content matters. Web developers practicing blackhat keyword techniques are behind the times and their sites were likely punished and sentenced to the dim world beyond Page 1. Regardless of strategies and illicit practices, websites that don’t do anything wrong aren’t chastised.

But where does that leave us, everybody else, the world’s bloggers and writers and small business owners? It leaves us in a better place than ever. There’s no point in sweating over keywords, bounce rates, and analytics; instead, websites need to realize the power of content and how it is the saving grace of online distinction.

Businesses use content for upping their visibility and authority; people do it to draw attention to their websites; and others do it because they like doing it. Writing isn’t a sin and good content is enthusiastically rewarded by Google’s algorithms. (In time, will Google have an entire menagerie of cyber animals like antelopes and cheetahs? Or will they stick with cute ones?)

Regardless of your intent as an online presence, the basics of quality content creation are the same as they’ve always been. Here’s a basic playbook:

  • Are you local? Write about your city, area connections, and how you or your business influences your location.
  • Write longer, broader pieces. The days of “5 Tips for X” are coming to a close; these articles and blogs expire, and get left in the dust.
  • Think more like a journalist. Have sources, quotes, pictures, infographics, and other media that buffers your work.
  • Find out what your audience wants to read. Unsure? Ask them.
  • You have a voice — use it. People don’t talk in keywords, and Google’s semantic vocabulary is stepping it up.
  • Write, rewrite, edit, and revise. There’s no end to the revision process – like a good story written poorly, people will ignore sloppy work.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.