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How Google’s Hummingbird Helps Local Businesses

Dec 9 • Content Marketing, Technology, Water Cooler • 7308 Views • No Comments on How Google’s Hummingbird Helps Local Businesses • By Alexandra Myers

Hummingbird Matched With Unique Content Helps Boost Your Business


A few months back, The Service Coach gave a brief update about Google’s new search algorithm Hummingbird. Just to recap, Hummingbird is designed to provide better search results by focusing more on the meanings behind searched phrases, instead of just the individual words.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land explained this. He said that if you’re looking to purchase an iPhone and you type (or say) to Google: “What’s the closest place to buy the iPhone 5s to my home?” prior to this update you would have gotten pages that had the words “buy” and “iPhone 5s” in it, not giving you information about where you could actually buy one.

Now, Hummingbird allows Google to understand:

1. Where you are actually located (if you’ve shared that information on the search engine before)
2. That you actually want to find a store that you can buy a phone at
3. That you are referring to the iPhone 5s as a product that is carried by certain stores.

“Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query – the whole sentence or conversation or meaning,” Sullivan said,”is taken into account, rather than particular words.”

He continued: “The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

What was not known at the time of announcement – which came after a month of Hummingbird already being in use – was how beneficial this update would be to local businesses.

And a really good way to ensure that’s true for your business is to invest in great content. Andrew Shotland of Search Engine Land explained this well in an article published back in October.

He gives three types of content that would be beneficial for your business to focus on – FAQ content, content that provides unique information, and “fresh” content for your target service locations.

Importance of Content With Hummingbird Update

  1. FAQ content: This is a great go-to for companies that continuously answer the same questions over and over again. But, it’s also great because of how Google will put those questions together. Shotland gives an example: If a homeowner searches “How to get rid of mold spots on ceilings” there’s nothing particularly local about that phrase. And, chances are, the initial search will bring up a DIY or eHow step-by-step. But, you have to think about Hummingbird’s goal – focus on the meaning behind the words. Eventually, Google will put together the fact that the homeowner has mold spots on the ceiling, needs someone to help them remove the spots, and target local businesses that provide that service. How do you make sure your business gains more traction than a DIY website? With content that specifically focuses on getting rid of mold spots on the ceiling.
  2. Unique content: Because FAQ is the go-to strategy for content, many businesses will probably be doing the same thing. So, you should take it one step further. Look at your specific data or customer set and create content based around them. No other business will have the same data you have, so that makes you and your company stand out. Keeping with the mold example, you could have content specifically surrounding different methods that have worked for your customers, or causes of mold that you’ve found when treating it.
  3. “Fresh” content: This essentially means that it would be wise to regularly update your website with fresh, new content specific to target service locations. If you help a customer in ABC city with their ceiling mold, and they wrote you a review, it’s a good idea to post an update with that city and service. Shotland said about this, “I have seen no better tactic for improving local rankings (particularly for service areas where a business has no physical locations) than regularly updating a site with content relevant to those service areas.”


David Mihm, of, tested the Hummingbird algorithm by performing a small test. You can see his work here, but we are mainly focusing on his results.

First, beefing up your content for your local business may not instantly get Google to recognize you. These things take time. But, with Hummingbird, Mihm said, “thin-content websites of all sizes are having a harder time ranking relative to slightly thicker content directories.”

The other part of his results that’s important to note is the exaggeration that has been made over the demise of local directories. Mihm said that Google seems to be giving those directories “a new lease on life.” Packs – a group of words searched on Google – are often found in the fourth position (see photo below). He said, though, that they can now compete for visibility in the 1-3 spots. This is especially true, Mihm wrote, for those businesses in smaller and mid-sized metro areas.


If you are a small business owner, this gives you a lot to consider. While you may never have thought about Google’s algorithm updates before, trust us – this one’s worth thinking about.


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Alexandra Myers

SEO Content Writer at Service Inbound
Westfield State University graduate; passionate journalist, friend, daughter, and sister; SEO Content Writer; avid Red Sox fan. Continuously learning new things every day.

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