At the end of September, Google announced that the latest updates to its SEO algorithms – namely “Hummingbird” – had been live for a few weeks. While this algorithm impacted a whopping 90% of search queries, many marketers were surprised that the visible impact wasn’t as big as expected (it was much less significant than the Penguin update in 2012, for example). After a lot of heated debate, many digital experts and SEO fanatics have concluded that the full impact of Hummingbird will only be visible over the coming months and years.

What will Hummingbird do?

The goal of this update is to give Google more insight about the intent of the search engine user. Questions linked to keyword phrases (like “How” and “Why”), coupled with long tail keywords, gives Google greater insights about the type of content the search engine user is looking for. Not only does this help people to be more conversational in their search queries, but it’s also going to significantly help mobile users.

So, instead of focusing on pushing the same keyword phrase, we’re going to have to diversify our digital marketing strategies to include the following:

Natural language queries

An increasing number of search engine users are using longer tail keywords in order to narrow down their search results. We’re going to have to start creating niche content that speaks directly to specific questions and long tail search queries. Short tail keywords will soon be a thing of the past.

It’s not all about keywords

Content is still king, but keywords aren’t going to be the main focus forever. Google is actively pushing the SEO community away from keywords. We’re going to need to place a much larger emphasis on user intent and move away from trying to silo content before we even understand what kind of content the searcher is looking for.

You’re not only competing with other websites

In the past, you’d be competing with other web pages to get a spot on the first page of Google. Today, you’re competing with the SERP’s themselves. Google now displays larger amounts of visually appealing information, pictures and paragraphs so that users can explore search results without actually leaving the Google results page.

A more holistic approach in order to include social

Google will now answer questions you’ve asked on Facebook. Social content has become more important than ever, so digital marketers will need to diversify their clients’ portfolios to make sure they’re engaging on social networks (and not just focusing on publishing content).

Hummingbird is just another way to give search engine users more relevant results. As digital marketers, we’re excited about these changes. Stay tuned for more information about Google algorithm updates.