What the Google Hummingbird Update Means for Press Releases

    By Mickie E Kennedy | Small Business

    When Google released its new “Hummingbird” algorithm, the SEO world was turned upside down. This wasn’t a simple algorithm update like we saw with Panda or Penguin. No, Hummingbird was a completely new search algorithm that drastically changed how Google handled its search queries.

    What the Google Hummingbird Update Means for Press Releases image HummingbirdWhat the Google Hummingbird Update Means for Press ReleasesIn the weeks following the implementation of the new Hummingbird algorithm, SEOs have been scrambling to pick up the pieces and formulate new strategies for moving forward and recovering their lost search rankings. We’ve learned a lot about Hummingbird recently, and the information we’ve acquired can help us adjust our approach to all assets of our search marketing, including press release distribution.

    A Quick Overview of Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm

    According to the experts at, “Hummingbird allows the Google search engine to better do its job through an improvement in semantic search. As conversational search becomes the norm, Hummingbird lends understanding to the intent and contextual meaning of terms used in a query.”

    In other words, instead of a search turning up results that specifically match the keywords in the query, results will now be determined based on the intent of the search. One example Google offered was that “A search for ‘acid reflux prescription’ used to list a lot of drugs, which might not be necessarily be the best way to treat the disease. Now, Google says results have information about treatment in general, including whether you even need drugs.”

    What Does Hummingbird Mean for Press Release Writing?

    One of the most attractive benefits of press release distribution in recent years has been its crucial role in helping improve search engine rankings. But after the Hummingbird algorithm implementation, many are wondering if press releases are still good for SEO. I believe they are, but I also believe that we have to consider taking a new approach to the SEO side of press release writing.

    Here’s how:

    • In the past, optimizing a press release consisted of placing targeted keywords in the title, subtitle, and throughout the release. After Hummingbird, going after specific keywords should no longer be the goal. Instead of stuffing keywords, focus on providing content that your audience wants. Consider the intent behind their searches, and create relevant content that meets their needs. Aim for a more conversational writing style.
    • In the past, press release links would contain keyword-optimized anchor text aimed back at your website. Now, using overly optimized anchor text could actually do more harm than good. Linking back to your website to provide more information is okay, but trying to match the anchor text in the link to the target page’s exact keyword is no longer an effective strategy. This change actually occurred prior to the hummingbird update, but the new algorithm just drives this home. Your best bet is to use branded anchor text (e.g. “Nike” would be the anchor text linking to or URL links (e.g. “Visit for more information).
    • Make your focus on creating unique, valuable content. This is more important than ever before. Your press releases need to be newsworthy. Your goal is to send out interesting stories that get picked up and that naturally get links.

    What role do you think press releases play in the new age of Hummingbird?

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