September can be said as a big month for the world of search engine optimization as two big things happened over the past month. First off, Google just celebrated its fifteenth birthday that we can only imagine as nothing short of a grand quinceañera in the corporation’s offices worldwide. Second, to celebrate it, the search engine giant completed implementing a new update to its search algorithm: the Google Hummingbird.
Yet another update named after a bird, this is probably seen by many SEO marketers as a bad, game-breaking omen. Not strange, as a few years ago Google has released an update code named Penguin, which made the search engine a lot more discerning on the quality of backlinks that the site gets, thereby rendering links that are considered blackhat or spammy useless. So how worse – or better – can Hummingbird get?
This new update was christened Hummingbird as Google thought of it as “fast and precise”. In addition to this, the update is intended to overhaul the search engine in order to better cope with long, wordy search engine queries, or what we in the SEO industry call long tail keywords.
Long tail keywords used to be a hit years ago. However, as search engines got better at producing results for shorter, less precise, queries, many SEO marketers left long tail keywords to dust. Instead, people competed for the best and shortest keywords that the businesses that they are promoting can use best. Also, such keywords have far less search volume and have too little competition to rank for.
Of course, long tail keywords still work. In fact, long search queries – especially those enclosed in double quotes – help many easily get the results that they actually want. For example, you can use a quotation to find a person, a book, or any Web document that contains the said phrase.
Consider the difference between searching for “used cars” and “where to buy used cars in Delaware” when you are looking for used car dealers in Delaware. For the former, you are likely going to get a very broad set of results, like surveys about used cars, used car dealers, and probably some of what you are actually searching for now and then. If you go with the latter however, you’ll end up with very specific results that tend to point you where in Delaware can you buy used cars.
More and more people now see the value of long term keywords, and Google’s Hummingbird update is meant to help these people get better results with long search queries. As ominous as the name sounds, it’s not meant to break your SEO strategy after a couple of years of fine tuning it until you get the best possible ranking for the keyword that you are promoting.
Rather, the Hummingbird is a signal that the SEO industry should once again value long tail keywords as much as it does the shorter search queries. As of now, many long tail keywords still have little competition and continue to grow in search volume. It sure is about time to rerun your keyword research, and pick up those lengthy keywords you used to ignore.