How Does Google Hummingbird Relate To Content Marketing

Google HummingbirdGoogle Hummingbird was released in October. It may be the least understood change that Google has made to it’s algorithm. Caffine, Panda, and Penguin are the big ones and I think for the most part most of us understood what the changes meant.

(there are many more updates and changes to Google’s Algorithm than you may think.  Here is a comprehensive list of all Changes To Google’s Algorithm from the folks at Moz)

As expected there have been many status updates, posts and articles about this change.  But, how does Google HummingBird Relate to Content Marketing?

“So, what does this mean for your business and the future of Internet marketing? Not a lot if you have been paying attention. The Panda and Penguin updates of the past taught the online community one thing about Internet marketing — the sites producing the best quality content for the needs of their audience will have the easiest time garnering organic traffic. The Hummingbird update is the logical next step towards separating the best material from the riffraff of the Internet.” –, by Ken Wisnefski


What Is the HummingBird Change?

Before HummingBird, Google has only updated their current algorithm.  This is a complete change to the way they do search.

Think of a car built in the 1950s. It might have a great engine, but it might also be an engine that lacks things like fuel injection or be unable to use unleaded fuel. When Google switched to Hummingbird, it’s as if it dropped the old engine out of a car and put in a new one. It also did this so quickly that no one really noticed the switch. — Search Engine Land

Google will focus more on trying to understand the meanings of and relationships among things, as opposed to its original strategy of matching keywords.

The company made the changes, executives said, because Google users are asking increasingly long and complex questions and are searching Google more often on mobile phones with voice search.


How To Respond To Google Hummingbird

If you are considering how best to respond to Hummingbird , which appears to be yet another step in the direction of…

Semantic search –

seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results. Author Seth Grimes lists “11 approaches that join semantics to search”, and Hildebrand et al. provide an overview that lists semantic search systems and identifies other uses of semantics in the search process. Semantic search systems consider various points including context of search, location, intent, variation of words, synonyms, generalized and specialized queries, concept matching and natural language queries to provide relevant search results. Major web search engines like Google and Bing incorporate some elements of semantic search.  — Wikipedia

as it relates to content marketing you may be asking…

How do you do that? Well, to be frank, it’s back to the basics (and here’s that handy checklist I warned you about):

  • Create high-quality, useful content (including in-depth articles) to deliver meaningful value to your audience, which you can measure by how much time a visitor spends on your pages and site and what they share across the social web.
  • Create a website that provides top-notch online experience in terms of design, speed, and navigation.
  • Create a sterling, exciting reputation that people talk about in the press, on blogs, and on the social web.
  • Create thoughtful, original content that attracts and holds attention and encourages people to share across the social web.
  • Engage with your audience through comments, guest posting, and social web interaction.
  • Establish and protect a credible, transparent, and likeable identity that proves you are an authority.
  • Connect all of your online content through authorship markup.
  • Set and guide the online conversation with challenging, consistent content.

Here’s what Hummingbird boils down to: stop chasing algorithms.

Demian Farnworth


For you as a publisher, the implications are more straightforward. Here are a few things to think about:

1. Will keywords go away?Not entirely. The language you use is a key part of a semantic analysis of your content.Hopefully, you abandoned the idea of using the same phrases over and over again in your content a long time ago. It will remain wise to have a straightforward definition of what the page is about in the page title.I’ll elaborate a bit more on this in point 3 below.2. Will Google make the long tail of search go away?

Not really. Some of the aspects that trigger long tail type search results may actually be inferred by Google rather than contained in the query. Or they may be in the user’s query itself. Some long tail user queries may also get distilled down to a simpler head term.

There will definitely be shifts here, but the exact path this will take is hard to project. In the long term though, the long tail will be defined by long tail human desires and needs, not keyword strings.

The language you use still matters, because it helps you communicate to users and Google what needs and desires you answer.

3. You need to understand your prospect’s possible intents

That is what Google is trying to do. They are trying to understand the human need, and provide that person with what they need.

Over time, users will be retrained to avoid short simple keyword-ese type queries and just say what they want. Note that this evolution is not likely to be rapid, as Google still has a long way to go still!

As a publisher, you should focus more attention on building pages for each of the different basic needs and intentions of the potential customers for your products and services. Start mapping those needs and use cases and design your site’s architecture, content, and use of language to address those.

In other words, know your audience. Doing this really well takes work, but it starts with knowing your potential customers or clients and why they might buy what you have to sell, and identifying the information they need first.

4. Semantic relevance is the new king

We used to speak about content being king, and that in some sense is still true, but it is becoming more complex than that now.

You now need to think about content that truly addresses specific wants and needs. Does your content communicate relevance to a specific want or need?

In addition, you can’t overlook the need to communicate your overall authority in a specific topic area. Do you answer the need better than anyone else?

While much of being seen as an authority involves other signals such as links, and perhaps some weight related to social shares and interaction, it also involves creating in-depth content that does more than scratch the surface of a need.

Are you more in-depth than anyone else? If someone has some very specific scenarios for using your product or service, does your content communicate that you address it? Does your content really stand out in some way?

Eric Enge


Bottom line

Want to crack the Humming Bird code?  Good luck, there are over 200 major “ingredients”, or SEO Ranking Factors, that go into the Hummingbird recipe.

Such as:  Design, Page speed, layout,  local search, and mobile versatility that do not even relate to content marketing.

Keep creating great content for your audience, in your audience’s language, and you’ll find success with Google.


image:  A Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) hovering.

By |2015-11-03T21:39:17+00:00November 8th, 2013|

About the Author:

Jason Fox - Real Estate Marketing Business: We build WordPress Real Estate Websites with IDX Me: #GoHawks, #BringBackTheSonics, #MaybeNextYearMariners, #ILoveMyKids #SeattleSunLover #SeattleWaterLover #BFF Blog: Focuses on Wordpress Websites, Content Management, SEO Services, SEM Campaigns, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Beautiful Design, IDX, and more.


  1. Tony Lynch November 9, 2013 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Very helpful and insightful article. I very much appreciate you putting this out.
    Tony Lynch.

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