Since Hummingbird was announced by Google last year, there has been a lot of speculation about the impact that it is going to have on the search itself, and consequently on SEO. While we only had a short time to get familiar with the new algorithm, some trends are already becoming apparent, and we have gained enough insight into the workings of Hummingbird to be able to make some educated guesses.
Hummingbird seems to be dictating a more concept oriented search in favor of the keyword based one. Along with ‘Not provided’, and Hummingbird’s approach to suggesting results, keywords are simply not as valuable a unit as they once were. This applies both to the research and reporting parts of SEO. Even though keyword research has to remain one of the essential parts of the process, you also have to consider a number of other search entities.
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One of the greatest advantages of Hummingbird is the fact that it has a more comprehensive and better organized understanding of different search entities. This includes everything from the entered query, time of the entry and neighboring queries to results returned for that query and the ads that accompany them. With such a scope it is easier for the algorithm to return results that are most relevant to the time and location on which the query is made.
While some of the information on context in which the search was made has been considered for a while, Hummingbird balanced out the importance of different factors which enables it to do a better job of providing currently relevant results.
This could imply the increase of importance of the timelessness of your content, or at least the increase of awareness of its temporal nature. When you are writing content you should consider whether it will only be relevant during certain parts of the year, or until a certain point in the future. In some instances Hummingbird will favor the freshest content, but it will be interesting to see how easy will it be for new content to outrank the old, already established sources on the subject.
Additionally, the fact that the algorithm relies heavily on co-occurrence, both in queries and in results, along with the devaluation of keywords means that focusing on the basic concept is more important than trying to suggest that you are doing so through the use of particular keywords. This is to say that you are not only advised to use different Google approved substitute terms in your content, but also to feel free and allow the algorithm to find you through question based queries. Finding the recognized substitute terms is as easy as typing in a query and checking which words does Google suggest as appropriate synonyms by displaying them in bold.
Based on the (perhaps temporary) increase in rankings of websites optimized for question based keywords, it seems that you can still do some keyword based magic with your SEO, but the influence is not as direct as it once was, and it remains questionable for how long will you be able to maintain the results.
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