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Hummingbird Feeder: 5 Semantic Markup Use Cases

Posted on 10.14.2013

As someone responsible for your enterprise’s visibility on the search engines, you are likely intrigued, concerned or even frantic over Google’s algorithm updates. So when you hear the buzz around the new Hummingbird Search algorithm, you likely have more questions than answers. 

Debate around the subject certainly doesn't help. With Hummingbird, in particular, the arguments start to get heated when SEOs begin talking about the short and long tail of search. Some believe Hummingbird has its nest in the long tail of search, while others believe it’s about processing these verbose searches and making them clear short phrases. In other words, taking a user’s long tail search and reducing it as if they used short, precise keywords. 

If Hummingbird is designed to provide faster, more precise results, semantic markup likely has a role - regardless of this debate. Although nobody can say for sure how to appear in Hummingbird listings, it's a pretty good guess (that's all we have here people) that Google is going to rely on you to provide them with rich data they can use. Google, even with all of its market share and advancements in the space, doesn't know what you don't tell them. 

By using markups, you could make it easier for Google to access your site’s info and answer user queries better. Here are five (probably) pretty good examples of how to structure data on your site so that Google can get to it. 


Query: Of Mice and Men book 

Takeaway: Barnes & Noble’s rich search engine result is the result of using’s AggregateRating markup, which displays the overall rating, based on a collection of reviews or ratings, of the item. In this content-rich world we're searching in, user-generated content like ratings and reviews will probably be pretty important. 


Query: Naproxen

Takeaway: Authorship markup is little work but has big benefits, as it’s easy to implement and offers author credibility and better visibility in the SERPs. That markup combined with's medical guidelines markup is likely a win-win for this company. 

Local Business

Query: Housecleaning 92115

Takeaway: In this example, the housecleaning company marked up its page code to include phone and address tags, likely making it easier for local searchers to find them. The page is also organized by hierarchies: thing (San Diego House Cleaning), organization (Exec Cleaning and Maid Service), local business (San Diego), etc. This hierarchy could help when someone types in "who can clean my house in San Diego?", for example.


Query: Tom Brady interview 

Takeaway: The use of’s alternative headline is a secondary title of the creative work that can give the search engines extra data to improve the search experience. The alternative headline could be used as a more conversational turn of phrase to help Hummingbird answer conversational searches. For example, if a searcher looked for, "what's tom brady really like?" or "tom brady in real life", with the alternative headline, Google could figure out what a searcher "really" means. 


Example: When is George Strait Playing?

Takeaway: Events Schema markup can be used to set properties for the event, like start date highlighted above. markup also includes location, comments and more to fuel very specific or unspecific queries. 

Using Google’s Data Highlighter webmaster tool, companies can also teach Google about the pattern of structured data on their websites. An Internet professional can use Data Highlighter to tag the data fields on his or her site with their mouse. Then Google can present the data in a richer, more attractive format. For example, Ticketmaster’s site contains event listings, so it likely tagged data (name, location, date, etc.) for the events on its site – making the rich snippets shown in the photo above, available on search results pages. 



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