How Google Hummingbird Affected Our Local Search Results?

by Adi on October 25, 2013

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We saw a lot of fluctuations in local rankings in last one and a half month – towards the end of August and the whole of September. Though there was no official confirmation from Google about any updates back then, it is now more understandable why we noticed such changes. The reason – well, it is the new Google search engine algorithm update named Hummingbird. 

What bird? Did you say Hummingbird? What is that? 

Yes, you read it right the first time. The new algorithm update is called Hummingbird. Apparently, Google believes that this algorithm would process the SEO signals (like PR, domain age, content quality, backlinks, etc.) in a better fashion to deliver relevant and more accurate results; hence the name Hummingbird, which is synonymous for being ‘precise and fast’. 

Danny Sullivan of SEL published a detailed article answering some of the frequently asked questions about the new update. Visit the page to get an overview of the update. 

Impact Of Google’s Hummingbird On Local Queries And Search results

About 22% of our local keywords were negatively affected by the update and a major reason for this was the modification in the way those queries were handled. 

We noticed that a lot of local queries (especially plurals) were modified to drop Google Local slot from the search results. Further, we also saw that some of the local search queries have been modified to highlight a specific company while wiping out the rest of the local businesses off the search result page. Below are a few examples. 

Keywords That Dropped Local Slots

Phoenix DUI Attorney 

phoenix dui attorney SERPs modified due to hummingbird update

Landscaping Companies New York    

hummingbird affect local seo - landscaping companies new york

Implications:  

A lot of our clients used to rank on keywords like these in Google Local slot. With this slot disappearing, they have suffered great loss in terms of search engine visibility. 

We cannot regain the lost rankings since the Local slot itself has been removed. This means that we need to re-work and get the organic rankings for the keywords. 

Keywords That Are Now Highlighting One Single Company

This one has been very disturbing.  Some of the queries have dropped the Google Local slot and are now displaying one single company profile for such broad keywords. 

See the example below – 

hummingbird affect local seo result for 'new york movers'

This is how the two similar searches compare now – ‘phoenix movers’ as compared to ‘new york movers’. 

Implications:

The clients that previously used to rank here in local search results are really pissed because their competitors are highlighted in the search results while they have disappeared from the local search results. 

Though the clients have a simple organic ranking but that doesn’t stand out. This means they are getting lesser leads than before and their competitor is getting all the juice. 

We are not sure when this would revert back to its original form (if it would ever). Until then, we need to find other keywords and re-work to rank them and regain the lost traffic.

What to do when a search query has been modified to drop Google Local Listings? 

Though this is disappointing and frustrating in so many ways, but you/we got to put in some extra effort to regain the lost traffic. I would recommend focusing on new keywords, those keywords that have an active Google Local slot in the search results now.  Try finding out keywords that could bring about equivalent search traffic to the website and try and compensate for the loss. 

Was your website affected by Google’s new algorithm update? Contact us and discuss with us how we can help you re-work your SEO strategy and regain the lost traffic.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason October 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm

So this just has to do with local? What about organic listings?

Reply

Adi October 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Hi Jason,

Thanks for dropping by! :) 

There was an overall change in SERPs due to this update. But this post is only about a few of the changes we noticed in Google local results. It is interesting to point out again that the aim of the post to educate only about local queries that were modified. 

Please let me know should you have any questions.

Happy weekend!

Regards,

Adi 

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