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Google Hummingbird & Long-Tail Keywords


More and more, people are using conversational questions or "long-tail keywords" when performing searches online (ex: "what are the penalties for DUI in Arizona"); these types of search queries are lengthier than the basic two to four word search terms that SEO was originally built for (ex: "DUI defense in Phoenix"). With their most recent update, Hummingbird, Google has attempted to address this issue to provide better results for users who are searching with long-tail keywords.

What is Google Hummingbird?

Google Hummingbird is an infrastructural update that was created to decipher content, context, and textual processing mechanisms for the search engine. This allows Google to understand a larger spectrum of search terms and content to provide quality results. So, when you ask Google a question or have a very specific search, the search engine is better able to provide results that are more precise and geared to what you're actually looking for.

Quality Over Quantity

Hummingbird favors sites with quality content instead of rewarding websites with a lot of content that is "stuffed" incoherently with too many keywords. Therefore, the goal from a writing perspective is to produce quality content that actually answers questions rather than focusing on just being keyword specific. By creating content that is informative, you may be able to capture a more targeted audience that is actually looking for the information or services you have to offer.

The Pros and Cons of Long-Tail Keywords

This information may seem to contradict the keyword driven SEO standards we have grown accustomed to, but it sheds light on the opportunity of specifically catering to reach your desired audience. Before you completely rewrite your content, there are several things you should consider.

Long-tail keywords may result in searches that are:

  • More targeted
  • Less competitive
  • Less generalized

With long-tail keywords, you may get fewer searches overall, but the searches you get can be more targeted to your audience. This means it provides more opportunities for websites with great content that aren't necessarily perfect for general keyword targeting. At the same time, the update may negatively affect websites that have mediocre content that once ranked with keyword stuffing. Clear as mud, right?

The Takeaway

If you're not sure what this all means for your website, there is one key takeaway regarding Google Hummingbird and long-tail keywords: stop overstuffing your content with keywords and produce quality content that can reach your desired audience no matter how they search for you in Google!