Marketing January 2, 2014 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,339 Reads share

4 Rules To Keep Hummingbird Happy

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In the past, when Google has tweaked its search algorithm a good number of website owners have gone into panic mode because they suddenly found themselves buried at the bottom of search results.

Fortunately, when the search engine giant installed a completely rebuilt engine recently, it wasn’t Armageddon, but it did mark a new era for web searches and as a smart business owner you’ll want to keep some rules in mind as you continue to shape your content marketing programs and strategies.

Let’s start by studying “The Tao of Joan Rivers.” Joan Rivers’ most famous catch phrase is “Can we talk?” although “Schedule my plastic surgery” is probably a close second. Keep her penchant for chitchat in mind as you develop content for your business’ website. This is our first rule:


#1. Be Conversational

There’s a very good reason behind this change. More users are searching on mobile devices and with the whole “hands free” thing, voice searches are making up an increasingly large chunk of the search volume. Designing and maintaining a website for real human beings is the way to go.

I don’t want to say that keywords are irrelevant, but our next rule is:

#2. Think Context More Than Keywords

Hummingbird is designed to “listen” to conversational queries and keep things in context. Have you done a voice search on Google? Try asking something like, “Are there good Italian restaurants in (a city near you)?” After Google gives you results, do another voice search and simply say, “How far away is it?” You should get the distance from your current location to the city in question. This sequence would not work with a typed query.

Instead of methodically designing odd looking and sounding long-tailed keywords and then painfully puzzling together sentences around them, develop useful and relevant content that communicates naturally.

To assure excellent search results rankings, you and your website must to be like a good farmer. How? Both should be outstanding in their fields. Many apologies, but this brings us to the next rule that will be critical for continued success on the Internet:

#3. Become an Authority

Hummingbird recognizes and values authority. This is not an overnight process, but it should be a part of your business plan and your content marketing plan.

An element of this must be consistent high-quality content on your site. Also, some SEO gurus believe that providing links to sites recognized for their authority helps your authority—like hanging out with the cool kids in high school. In the past you may have been reluctant to provide a link to a major website because you didn’t want to send people away. Don’t worry about that so much.

To pull together some ideas that we’ve been developing here: work hard to make your site authoritative, trustworthy, and relevant. That’s not asking a lot, right? To do that, you have to follow our final rule:

#4. Hang Up Your Black Hat Forever

Black hat SEO artists claim to know ways to “beat the system,” but like all scammers, they eventually get caught. That’s what happened with the Penguin update.

For the future of the Internet, it’s important that search engines recognize the tricks that have allowed bogus sites to earn high page rankings, and that battle will continue well into the future. It makes the process of earning search engine respect more difficult, but honest effort combined with major doses of intelligence and creativity will be rewarded.

We wouldn’t want it any other way, would we?

Photo credit: “Hummingbird,” © 2012 Klikk1, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license:


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Megan Wright

Megan Wright

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