Another Bird Has Joined the Google Algorithm Family
By now, one should not be surprised that Google has launched another huge algorithm change. Google updates their algorithm several hundred times a year, launching large updates and then tweaking those updates — sometimes almost daily.
The two largest updates in the past that affected many websites were the Google Panda and Google Penguin update.
We now welcome another bird into the algorithm family. Meet the new Google Hummingbird search engine. This change is not just an update but a whole new algorithm, which was announced during Google’s 15th birthday party on Thursday, September 29th, 2013. However, this was not the launch date of the algorithm. Google announced that the change was already set in place, and has already been running for the past few months. It is essentially an update to its Knowledge Graph, much like the Facebook Graph Search announcement from January of this year.
Google Knowledge Graph
Knowledge Graph was added to Google’s search engine in May, 2012, starting in the United States. It is essentially an immense database enhanced with something called semantic search. Semantic search improved search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable database. For example, instead of only finding websites related to keywords, Google can now parse data from strings of keywords — essentially full-length questions — and provide it right in their Search Engine Results Page (SERP). An example of semantic search in the Knowledge Graph is the informative box that pops up on side of SERP. See the Tom Cruise example below.
As you can see below, when searching for “Tom Cruise,” the Knowledge Graph used semantic search and anticipated what I may search for. It has used the most popular searches about Tom Cruise and compiled them in one place, directly in the SERP so that one does not need to click into several websites to finish their search on Tom Cruise. The information below shows me his birthday, how tall he is (because he’s really short), what his upcoming movies are, recent news on him and his top movies.
As you can see, Google is now able to map relationships between many things and answer complex queries itself, all based on information compiled from many sources on the Internet.
Google can now understand more complex strings of searches, particularly questions such as this distance question below:
Just like the Facebook Graph Search, your more complex questions can now be answered without having to visit a website.
What Exactly Is Hummingbird?
The Hummingbird algorithm primarily improves the speed of these more complex searches. Hence being named after the quick and speedy hummingbird.
How Does the Hummingbird Algorithm Affect the Automotive Industry?
We have to remember that the Knowledge Graph and semantic search are still very new. Not everything is available in the database yet. Over the years, the Graph will become smarter and may soon answer extremely complicated queries in every industry.
For now, it doesn’t look like there is any automotive information available in the Graph. I performed several searches related to the automotive industry and no information was available; just your regular old URLs popped up.
How to Stay Ahead and Not Get Caught up in Algorithm Updates: What Does It Mean for SEO?
Nothing has changed. If you have original, high-quality content with highly relevant websites linking to your website, then your website still should rank well. The key to making proper decisions about SEO is to understand where Google is going. Google’s end goal is to provide their searchers exactly what they searched for. If your website doesn’t answer a question that a user is asking, then it won’t rank well. If your website provides information that users are searching for, it will remain in the top of the SERPs. If people are recommending your site because it has great information, then your site will rank, if no one is recommending the site online, then perhaps you need to re-think the content that you have on your website.
- Listen to your clients. Are there questions that are asked daily in the dealership? Consider creating landing pages and tracking their success to determine which content should be available on your website. Continue to provide your expertise on landing pages so that your website is ready to answer searchers’ questions in the automotive industry.
- Are there new vehicle models? Create landing pages explaining what is unique about a new model.
- Are you engaging with your clients online? 90% of car buyers use social media in their car buying process. Build relationships with your clients online and answer their questions for them. In turn, people will link to your content (more online recommendations) and begin to trust your knowledge of the automotive industry.
- Encourage reviews. Let your clients know that if they enjoyed their experience with you, that you are online on Yelp and Google+ and you would appreciate a review. The more online recommendations, the better the rankings!
- Are you staying up-to-date with new SEO features that are now available such as Rich Snippets?
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