Google Hummingbird Update and your Hotel website
News that Google has updated their search algorithm tends to cause confusion and fear. Confusion as nobody really understands how the updates work, and fear about what the impact on ranking might be. Recent updates such as Panda & Penguin were seen as punitive, with accounts of sites losing ranking and some even disappearing completely. The purpose of these updates was to clean up the results pages and get rid of sites that tried to game the system by using tactics such as buying links or generating multiple keyword stuffed pages.
How is Hummingbird different?
Hummingbird is not such an update - it is a whole new system that changes how Google parses search queries. Instead of looking just at certain keywords within a query, they are now attempting to understand the context of the query in a conversational sense. Providing solutions for semantic search and long tail queries have always been a goal of search engines as they attempt to answer questions posed by searchers with the best possible results, and it seems the Hummingbird is a successful first step in achieving this goal.
Part of the incentive for pushing through this update was the increase in conversational queries coming through from users on smartphones which can accept spoken queries as well as written. This means that many people are creating more intricate search queries than in the past, so Google needed to find an intelligent way to respond to these spoken queries.
What should I do next?
The Hummingbird update prioritises sites that provide answers to queries posed by users, instead of simply matching keywords from the search phrase with the content of the site. This provides a good opportunity for site owners to update their content to take advantage of this change.
We have long promoted good, relevant & fresh content as the cornerstone of a successful SEO strategy, and so far it looks as if this update will reward sites that provide such content. The key step to be taken next is to analyse your content and see does it answer conversational queries. So instead of trying to just add keywords to your content, try to put them in context. If for example you are near a convention centre such as the ExCel in London, think about the queries that might be searched such as ‘what hotels are the nearest to ExCel London’ or ‘where can I stay near the ExCel London’. Try to cover as many contextual options as possible in your content, and as always, keep creating blog entries, which give a great opportunity for your site to be found for very specific long tail queries. Look around to see what users might be searching for and try to answer those queries in your content.
Ciaran Rowe is Senior Search Strategist at Bookassist (bookassist.org), the award-winning technology and online strategy partner for hotels worldwide.