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Google announces Hummingbird search update: How will your SEO rank be impacted?

Friday, 27 September 2013 | By Patrick Stafford

Google has unleashed yet another of its algorithm updates on the world, but don’t stress out about preparing for the changes – they’ve already arrived.


Yesterday Google announced the latest algorithm update, Hummingbird, at a press conference located in the garage where founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page first started the search engine back in the 1990s.


The Hummingbird update will affect 90% of searches, and is designed to better answer specific questions. Google senior vice president Amit Singhal said the algorithm – which powers the entire system of how Google ranks and judges content – has undergone a “fundamental rethinking”.


Various reports from those at the event say Google described the update as helping quickly answer full questions, as opposed to the current system of searching for long phrases by individual words.


“We’ll keep improving Google Search so it does a little bit more of the hard work for you,” the company said in a blog post. “This means giving you the best possible answers, making it easy to have a conversation and helping out before you even have to ask.”


No further details have been given.


But Jim Stewart, head of StewArt Media, says the algorithm might go further than just helping answer questions. Lately, he’s noticed his clients have seen improvements in the way their content has been ranked – particularly if it’s of good quality.


“Our clients that have sites that were updating regularly with content like blogs and so on were getting rewarded across different keywords,” he says.


“We’re not monitoring long phrases or questions, but that content seems to have been rewarded if you have a good strategy.”


While Stewart says he can’t say for sure whether these improvements have come as part of the Hummingbird update, it’s not unusual for an upgrade to hit more than one specific feature of search at once.


For businesses, this means the solution is the same as it has been for years – create good, fresh and original content, updated on a daily basis. The more it’s shared among users, the more likely your results will appear on the first page.


“The top results aren’t as cluttered with backlinks now, so maybe this has something to do with that change.


“The algorithm update may have inadvertently been favouring these sorts of sites.”


This story first appeared on SmartCompany.