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How a hummingbird can drive your digital presence

March 2, 2020
Google's Hummingbird algorithm gives dentists a chance to dramatically increase their digital presence.

Just a few years ago, Google launched its Hummingbird algorithm to little fanfare. An algorithm, simply put, is a software update whose features can be divided into two categories: improvements to the overall Google experience and changes that make it more difficult to beat the system.

The Hummingbird algorithm accomplished something truly remarkable—and distinctive from the competition. Previously, when a user asked Google a question, it only looked at the words in the question individually. But now, Hummingbird focused specifically on answering the question. 

For example, say you asked Google, “How do I fix the chain on my Trek mountain bike?” Previously, Google might have thought you were shopping for a bike or a chain. But with Hummingbird, Google understood that you wanted to fix a bike chain. It didn’t focus on “Trek” or “mountain bike,” but instead interpreted the question as a whole and searched for a satisfactory answer.

When I learned of Hummingbird, I saw implications for our dental community. We could now position ourselves to answer  the queries of would-be patients. I went to a handful of SEO experts and asked them if this could, indeed, have the impact I was hoping for. They said it absolutely could. 

I immediately added information about the power of Hummingbird to my presentations. I knew Hummingbird would have a very positive impact on dentists’ Google rankings. Thanks to this column, I can now go beyond my presentation and share the good news with Dental Economics readers. 

Now that you know what’s possible, here are the three steps I want you to take:

  1. Meet with your team. Ask them to provide you with what they consider to be your patients’ most frequently asked questions. Be sure to include all of your team members. That way, you’ll hear the questions fielded chairside by hygienists, during consultations with treatment coordinators, by the front desk staff, etc.
  2. Provide answers to those questions. Type them up. Be as comprehensive as possible.
  3. Add an FAQ page on your website. Feature the questions and answers.

Congratulations! Now when a prospective patient puts a question in Google’s little white search box—such as, “What’s the difference between a veneer and a crown?”—its spiders will scour the World Wide Web and find your website quickly. You have anticipated the question and provided an answer.

What’s the end result? You’ve increased your Google ranking as well as your position as a resource to patients. All thanks to a Hummingbird!

Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS, is the CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group, dentistry’s leading corporate incubator and accelerator. He is a venturer-in-residence at Harvard’s i-Lab, the chairman of the technology advisory board at WEO Media, a member of the editorial advisory board of Dental Economics, and founder of the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Awards.