Google’s come out with many technical changes to its search engine in the past several months. And while these updates aren’t very obvious to the average Google user, both business owners and webmasters are scrambling to figure out what these changes will bring to their marketing and online publishing strategies.

Released back in September, the biggest change to Google’s search algorithms is known as Hummingbird, which was created to handle the most complex search queries and questions by users. We came up with a quick guide to walk you through this milestone change and what adjustments to consider for your online marketing strategy.

What Changed?

Hummingbird is meant to rapidly improve the way a user searches. Since mobile usage is expected to overtake desktop usage in the next few years, Google is staying ahead of the game and embracing this trend.

In the past, a user could put in a search and Google would look at individual keywords, ignoring some words while focusing on others. Now, Google is considering every word in the query to better understand the intent of the user. Now that searches have become more conversational, Google feels this will help improve search results when users type in searches as questions or complex phrases rather than simple keywords. The effect? The importance of long-tail keywords has never been more significant. 

Effect on e-Commerce 

In addition, Google’s Hummingbird is set to displaying search results instantaneously on the the search results page, instead of having the user pick and choose links to find out an answer. Thus, Hummingbird will be working closely with Knowledge Graph – a feature that was introduced in 2012 that gathers semantic search information from a wide variety of sources.

How to Hit a Sweet Spot With Google Hummingbird | Small Screen Producer Digital and Inbound Marketing Agency Houston


It’s not farfetched to imagine Google offering Knowledge Graph for two similar consumer products such as a Playstation 5 vs XBOX 360 and displaying specs and options to purchase. For other products that are light on numbers and specs, gaps could be filled with online reviews and social data instead. Currently, Google already displays this type of information for some searches. Type in “Blink Malcom Gladwell” or “Jurassic Park” and you’ll see the Knowledge Graph in action with customer reviews and links to purchase the specific product.

How to Hit a Sweet Spot with Google Hummingbird | Small Screen Producer Digital and Inbound Marketing Agency HoustonG

Google’s been doing this for years with ad dollars, featuring information in attractive boxes to draw in users for movies, travel, apps, online video and more. Type in “fly to Portland” and Google will feature a table with current pricing at the very top, all listed under “Google Flights”. The search engine is making big changes to the way it displays data in almost every industry.

How to Hit a Sweet Spot With Google Hummingbird | Small Screen Producer Digital and Inbound Marketing Agency Houston

Effect on Online Reputation Management 

Since Hummingbird will open the door for understanding more complex queries and provide more relevant detailed information about a topic, company, or product, businesses should be aware of all information related to their company, services, or products on the web.

Google definitely has ORM on its radar by perfecting the way Googlebots crawl sites and catch SEO tricks such as fake links, keyword stuffing and invisible text, “black hat” SEO tactics that were recently addressed in a video post by the head of the Google Webspam team, Matt Cutts. If you’re wondering what you can do to manage the type of information that’s being shown about your company right now and in the future, just follow Google’s guidelines and practices and you should be fine. No matter what changes Google is set to bring to the online reputation realm, real quality content will always conquer.

And according to this article from Search Engine Journal, if you’re dealing with negative press, Google has made clear that artificial links pushing out positive press will not work.

Instead, companies should focus on creating fresh, fair, relevant content to find themselves at the top of search results. Google will be focused on providing searchers with the newest content possible, so negative news that’s left alone will be pushed down by newer content.

Another online reputation strategy that will also do some good is taking advantage of social and review sites that offer a natural boost, such as placing your company profile on LinkedIn, local business directories, and Wikipedia.

What Businesses Should Do Differently

Become Mobile-Friendly

This includes having a mobile-friendly website and making sure that large fonts, video, images, and charts are used and are the proper size for a mobile device. Consider responsive web design, since it automatically adjusts to any screen size and helps users navigate your site, read your information, and purchase your products. And since Google is aiming to making the search experience the best it can be for users on the go, responsive sites will be the sites that rank the highest for any type of mobile search.

Create Quality Content

The biggest change businesses and webmasters will have to consider is changing their content strategy. Content will have to be more detailed, frequent, and strategic to help answer the questions that users are typing into Google. Focus on specific topics that offer high-quality analysis, knowledge, and expertise on what you’re talking about. Include giveaways, trivia, contests to increase engagement, virality, and interest.

The SEO process is still the same as it’s always been. Writing good, helpful content, social sharing, avoiding keyword stuffing and backlinking is what works and what will still work as new changes come along the horizon. 

Hummingbird has been dubbed the biggest algorithm change since 2001, according to senior vice president of Google’s core ranking team, Amit Singhal, and currently affects about 90% of all searches. For businesses that are following Google’s guidelines and providing the fresh content, this “mind reading” algorithm should do more good than harm, helping you to become an recognized, authoritative source on the web.


About Small Screen Producer

Small Screen Producer is a full service, marketing firm located in Houston, Texas that specializes in online digital media marketing through a 4-step process. Step 1: WE PLAN a custom web presence strategy for your business through website design and development, mobile development, social media account creation and branding. STEP 2: We then POSITION your brand through Pay-Per-Click advertising and search engine optimize tactics that include on-page and off-page SEO that are Google and Bing approved. STEP 3: We then PROMOTE your brand using an Inbound marketing strategy or a content marketing strategy to help you accomplish your marketing goals. We do this through blogging, video production, infographics, call-to-actions, landing pages, and free educational offers. We help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. STEP 4: We then PROTECT your brand’s web presence with a reputation management program that monitors social media and on line reviews. Get started today with a free online marketing assessment of your company’s web presence. Your company deserves it.