Does Google Hummingbird Have your Website Humming?

How is your Website Handling Google Hummingbird – Google’s New Search Algorithm?

Oh come on, don’t look at me like that. There is no way I am the only one who is using that joke.

From the day I began writing content for other people’s websites, I have been telling them, don’t worry about  keywords and old fashioned SEO. Make the content good. Make it related to what people want to know. Provide value. People will come to your website.

Enter Google Hummingbird.

What Does Google Hummingbird Mean for your Website?

Google is constantly changing its search algorithm. A month ago, Google released its most serious change yet, it is called Hummingbird.  What does Google Hummingbird mean for your law firm’s SEO? It means if you are focusing on high quality content in which you are answering questions people are likely to ask, you are in great shape. If you are still focusing on just doing well for specific keywords, well, I bet you saw your rankings really drop last month. You will already know if you have been positively or negatively impacted by Hummingbird. If you don’t know, look at your analytics.

SEO Is Dead! Or Is it?

Good, talented SEO folks are very necessary. Lawyers are busy. Most lawyers write blog posts as if they are briefs. Attorneys don’t have time to find and link to appropriate external content. They don’t necessarily know how to translate the questions people ask into the articles potential clients want to read.  A Good SEO can do this.

Here’s the problem. Most SEOs focus on key words. For example, an SEO will call you and say, you don’t rank first for “Phoenix divorce attorney” Give us a month (or six) and we can get you on the front page of Google. But let me ask you a question. Are people computers? Of course they aren’t. People don’t think that way. And they don’t search that way either.

How Do People Search?

Google recognizes that people do not think in Boolean searches. A Boolean search is along the lines of Phoenix AND Divorce AND Attorney. (Google assumes the AND for you, that is why you don’t have to type it.) But someone is much more likely to search for “I need a divorce lawyer” or “how do I get a divorce” than she is to search for Phoenix Divorce Attorney.

Google wants to provide search results that fit how people really search. Hummingbird is Google’s effort to match the more complicated searches people type, such as “My ex won’t let me see my children” with content that directly relates to the search.

Let’s say you rank very well for “Phoenix divorce attorney” or “phoenix custody attorney”.  Do you see any of those words in the search above? Is there any guarantee that your website will actually answer the question the person is asking in his search?

So who will rank higher if someone runs my search while sitting on his couch, using his iPad in Phoenix?

The site that ranks for “Phoenix divorce attorney,” or the site that has the following:

  1. High local search value for Phoenix
  2. An article titled “What to do if your ex won’t let you see your children”
  3. High quality site over all

If Hummingbird works the way Google says it does, the second site will rank higher. It directly answers the question the person is asking.


For years, some SEOs have been convincing law firms that all that matters is whether they rank high for certain keywords. In the era of Google Hummingbird, this is simply not where you should focus. What you should do is make certain you have a Google+ page for your firm and that you have completed Google Places for your location(s) so you have a strong local presence. Then stop worrying so much about whether you rank for “Phoenix divorce attorney” and start worrying about whether you are actually providing answers to the questions people are asking.

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