Google’s Hummingbird a web designer’s perspective
January 2016

Google New Year’s Resolutions – As a web designer, they’re one of my favourite things because they’re a chance to reboot thinking and remember I could be doing better.

Personally I want to follow the Google recommendation about providing value to our web design clients, so I’m going to commit to blogging more often.

Since a lot of the work we do over here at Vimi is geared around optimizing our clients’ return on investment from their websites and applications, I thought it made sense to dedicate this first post of 2014 to the wide end of the conversion funnel. For the most business that would be Search Engines (read “Google”), and more exactly how their websites rank on them. This is the realm of endeavour SEO is concerned with.


What is SEO?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”.

It’s the art and science of making your website more attractive to search engines with the hope of scoring a higher ranking on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).


Why Google matters for a web designer

In a world where Google has become our de facto gateway to the web, and where we rarely bother clicking through beyond the 2nd page of results, a good ranking for a keyword relating to your industry is like that killer location right near the busiest intersection in town, and a poor ranking is a virtual twin of being situated out near the city dump…


What are we SEO-ing for?

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Very much along the lines of the Cheshire’s Cat’s advice to Alice, the first step for determining the success of any meaningful SEO project is selecting which key phrases we hope to rank for as we proceed.

We need to analyze which particular keyword combinations a high value lead in our industry is likely to key in when seeking our products or services.

These are not to be confused with the professional lingo used within our profession or industry.

“– so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Our Alice in Wonderland allegory holds strong even if for those cases when we create content without any conscious thought as to where it ends up. Google’s spiders will eventually pick up anything, …as long as they have access and it’s been on the web long enough.

How does it all work?

Run the following search right now: learn Hebrew online

At the time I’m writing this offers over 24,400,000 results for that phrase.

Click the top 3-5 links.

Do you like what you see? Do any of these sites look like they warrant some further investigation? Maybe filling in a contact form for details? No? How about the next 5-10 links? Anything catches your fancy there?

The point I’m making is that the vast majority of times you’ll eventually be choosing your preferred provider from within the top 20 results. Insofar as Online Hebrew Schools are concerned the remaining 24,399,980 pages might just as well have never existed…

How Google is evolving for web designers

Google’s latest major update to its search algorithm, AKA Hummingbird, was released to coincide with the search pioneer’s 15th birthday and marks a massive expansion on the primary method described above.

The primary goal for this update, which affected 90% of all search queries, and is therefore of obvious importance to web designers, and everyone else, was to improve Google’s ability to match queries with relevant results by focusing on understanding intent rather than making do with merely matching key phrases.

The technology behind this update is based on Google’s massive Knowledge Graph, which traces the relationships between objects Google identifies explicitly. You can get more of a sense for how this differs from simply matching keywords here.

Why Hummingbird is good news

This more conversational search, wherein the context of the search queries is given greater weight, can be a boon to marketers who are able to develop valid insights regarding the preferences of their target market. Hummingbird allows marketers to focus on creating truly rich and engaging topical content that relates to their industry, rather than having to generate senseless keyword motivated materials created with the sole purpose of attracting search traffic.

You can read more about the impact this evolution is having on the way Search Engine Optimization professionals are thinking in this excellent post from one of the biggest and best in the industry, Mr Rand Fishkin, founder and CEO of Moz.

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