[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you have no idea what I mean by ‘Hummingbird’, then you’re probably not the kind of individual who spends hours each day trawling through Google updates.

You’re not supposed to know everything about Google; it won’t necessarily make you a better person if you do, and I can guarantee it will kill conversations in pubs.

“What you done at work today?”

“Well, I analysed the results of the latest Google algorithm change, there appears to be an average uptick of 5.4 points as an average across highly semantically similar documents with no more than three external links and….”


Anyway, I do this stuff for my day job, so I have an interest in what Google’s up to. And here’s what they did with Hummingbird.


All we talk about in this business is keywords.

“What keywords do you want to be found for?” etc. etc.

This leads people to the conclusion that you have to have a bunch of keywords on your page, and you need to repeat them in order for search engines to know what the page is about.

It also suggests that the content doesn’t necessarily need to make sense. This used to be true. In the bad old days of SEO, you could dump hundreds of really poor articles on a site, repeat a ton of keywords in them and boom – lots of lovely traffic.

That soon stopped, though; Google  wanted good articles, and it started to get clever.

Hummingbird was the culmination of many years of analysis and it made Google far cleverer than people expected it to be. It made Google understand conversational content and searches based on that content.

But why did we get here?[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Get a FREE Web Page Audit Now!” color=”inverse” size=”lg” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.callowaygreen.co.uk%2Fyou-free-site-audit%2F||target:%20_blank”][vc_column_text] 


If you have an Apple iPhone then you will be familiar with Siri. In order to make it as natural to use as possible, you ask it a question as if you’re asking a person a question.

For example, “How much is a cinema ticket?”

Up until that point, we’d been pretty much sold on keywords.

We’d go to Google and type in “Odeon Birmingham” and then we’d look at their list of tickets and find out how much it was, but suddenly we could get the price straight away.

Siri was superb, so Google had to up the game.

Now it’s possible to ask questions on Google, and this is, in part, due to the Hummingbird update.

Hummingbird doesn’t just look at keywords; it  looks at the words around it. It looks at the context, and this means it can work out more about why you’re asking the question.

Why, what, how, who; they all mean something now, they all have a bearing on the question and, therefore, the answers that are given.

So what does this mean for content?

If your content is good, you don’t need to worry about it. In reality, if you’ve been writing content that is focussed on people and helping them and catering to their needs, you’ll be okay.

And that’s the key.

You should never be writing content just for Google; you  should instead be catering to your customers’ needs.

Content shouldn’t be so stuffed full of keywords that they cease to make sense. You shouldn’t be focussed on keyword density (you should never have focussed on it, but that’s another story), and you shouldn’t be trying to shoe-horn your content in just to satisfy a search engine.

Instead, have the intent of aiming to satisfy the insatiable appetite of your potential customers.

The Long Tail Bonus

There’s a bonus to all this, too.

So many people want to rank for things like “Car lease” that they ignore the longer tail things such as “how much is it to lease a Land Rover?”

Or, “What are the differences between a lease, PCP and HP?”

All of these are the types of searches that people are now using. They’re asking Siri; they ‘re asking Google and they’re getting answers, but there’s room for improvement.

Even though Hummingbird has been around since 2013, website owners have been slow in adapting.

Hummingbird feeds on rich content. It devours it and uses it to build up data about sites which it can then use to understand and provide better answers for people who are asking specific questions.

How to use exploit Hummingbird

There are no tricks to this. You just have to write great content – or get someone to write it for you.

Find out what your customers are after, and answer those questions.

You can find out what they’re after by asking them. Send them an email and just ask them what’s frustrating them about the marketplace you’re an expert in.

And then, when you know what to write, write it. And write it big!

Write Long Content

The general consensus has always been that content should be at least 300 words. I know sites where every single blog post is just over 300 words. It’s because someone said that the absolutely minimum is 300 words.

Thing is, it’s tosh.

The absolute minimum is whatever it takes to get the point across. If it takes 300 words, then great, but if takes 1300, or 2300, then that’s how long it should be.

And how many concepts can be written about in 300 words?

Not many, that’s how many.

Most subjects need many more words than that. They need in-depth research, and they need you to absolutely pour your heart and soul into every word and give away lots and lots of information.

Think you’re giving away too much? I bet you’re not giving away enough.

So write, write as if your business depends on it.

Because it does.

You see, lots of studies have been done that analyse the length of content and its reach. They’ve checked which articles get the most shares and the most reads.

And guess what? Longer content gets more of everything!

And the upshot of this, is that longer content ranks better.


Get the Competitive Edge

Here’s a quick test.

Do a search for your product and take a look at your competitors’ ranking. Click on a few of the top results – how long is the content?

The content is short

Great! Get going, write some long content that explains all there is to know about your product or service. Get it posted, include an image and boom – you’ve done it.

Now write some more and schedule those posts.

Over time, you’ll find your articles are ranking better, simply because you’ve done something your competitors aren’t doing – you’re providing better value.

The content is long

Point proven! So, go check what they’re up to and write better content. This might be difficult, let’s not beat about the bush. If your competitors are writing great content then you need to write better stuff that people will like and share.

That’s OK though.

If you can see that better content is ranking better than you, don’t give up.

Simply make a resolution to do better. Get better content written for your site and beat them.

And if you can’t write better content, get someone to write it for you.

Don’t Do Nothing

Doing nothing won’t help you. Ignoring the problem won’t make that problem go away and your competitors will simply write more and more and they’ll get customers. Customers that you could be getting.

Go get them now, and beat them at their own game![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]