What does Hummingbird mean for content marketers?

The relationship between Google and content marketers is one that has been in a constant state of flux over the last several years.

Mostly, this is due to the frequent updates that the search engine giant makes to its ranking algorithm – updates which can completely change how content marketers approach online marketing.

‘Hummingbird’ is no longer just an animal name in the online marketing world; instead, it refers to a specific update Google has made to its ranking algorithm – that is, the rules Google uses to determine which websites will rank higher in the search results.

Hummingbird was released as part of Google’s efforts to provide users with search results which match the meaning of their queries more efficiently, leveraging natural language and generally making search a more useful, user-friendly experience.

This is done by paying more attention to how each word within a query relates semantically to the others, to ensure that the entire query – the whole sentence and its meaning – is taken into account.


Hummingbird didn’t have a sudden, significant impact on search results. The update was intended to improve the quality of the search results presented to users by essentially making Google more intelligent.

So you likely only noticed a drop in rankings for your website as a result of Hummingbird if your content is boring, dull, low-quality, poorly-written, and generally not useful.

If you’ve always provided your audience with high quality content, Hummingbird shouldn’t affect your website in any kind of negative way.

Instead, the algorithm presents the opportunity for good content marketers to become more diverse with the keywords targeted, and offer more contextual, relevant information to an audience.

Content Solution

With Google focusing more on the entirety of a search query, it’s more than likely that content which directly answers a question, or provides a solution to a well-acknowledged need, will rank higher than pages which don’t make use of longer, more complex keywords or questions.

Hummingbird is an opportunity for web users to yield better quality results by being more specific and targeted with their search terms, so you need to be confident that your content is intelligent enough to accommodate this need.

You should also consider investing more of your content marketing efforts into the social side of things. Online marketers were uncertain for years whether or not social media activity played a part in where a website ranks in the search engine results pages.

With Hummingbird, Google is able to better process the influence that social media has on website rankings, as these provide more semantics for search.

Social networking shares, likes and links are considered a “vote” of approval from other web users, and many social votes together from authoritative sources (for example, someone on Twitter with a verified account) could impact the relevance of your content for certain searches.

Lesson Learned

They don’t say “context is everything,” for nothing. The release of Hummingbird aptly demonstrates Google’s strong, unwavering commitment to providing web users with purposeful, contextual content, and on a much deeper level than Panda or Penguin ever could.

The main take-home lesson is to make sure that you are thinking about your human readers’ and target market’s needs for each piece of content you create, so that you can provide web users with the answers they’re looking for.

So, What’s Next?

Growth and change are important in the online marketing field – that much is clear.

So, while Google’s algorithm developments may at first seem inconvenient due to the inherent changes they demand in the way SEO and content marketing is approached, just remember that it’s all part of the search engine’s long-term goal of making the search results as relevant as possible for web users.

Google is a somewhat untameable beast and its actions characteristically unpredictable. But, if we can expect anything, it’s safe to say that Google’s new algorithms and updates are likely to be focused on creating an uncompromised and quality-based search experience for users.