Rich Snippets and the Google Hummingbird Algorithm Update

Google has updated their main search engine, and this update is called ‘Hummingbird.’ The Google Hummingbird update focuses on the idea of “conversational search,” which allows users to speak to Google to find information. This change, which took place a month ago, moves the algorithm away from keyword matching and towards contextual matching. Now that Google is working to take the entire search query into consideration — looking beyond simple keywords and into the actual meaning of the search — what can SEO experts do to make the best of this update?

Of course, ensuring sites contain quality content and accurately depict the service or products being offered will always be the #1 SEO factor, but is there anything else that can be done to help search engines understand the content on your site? Why yes, yes there is.

There has been an ongoing dialogue regarding ‘machine learning’ of content, vs. ‘rich snippets.’ Machine learning trusts that algorithms are able to naturally understand content, while utilizing rich snippets is a more manual approach (entails adding code to identify different types of content). It is not clear which methodology this new Hummingbird update uses, but it’s a safe bet to optimize for both.

Schema.org provides a collection of rich snippet markup code, which webmasters use to markup sites in a way that helps search engines understand the content. The rich snippet markup includes tags for location, a business type, person, author, and much more.

How Schema Markup Works

Most websites offer an address on the contact page of a website.

Here is how the code would be written without the Schema data:

codewithoutschemadata
With Schema Markup:

codewithschemadata

As you can see, there are a number of tags that need to be added directly to the code to help search engines understand the content. For an overview on how to update rich snippets on your website, see our rich snippet integration post.

While search algorithms have become very sophisticated and are great at reading into context, adding in this extra bit of rich snippet code will help all search engines understand the context of the content, which will help set the stage for a more semantic understanding of content. This deeper understanding of context may result in an increase in organic search traffic and perhaps a boost in rankings.

Do you think that sites that implement Schema markup will see a boost over the coming months? Or is this just an update SEOs can’t do anything about?

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