Last year, Google’s 15th birthday bash came with the latest update to their search algorithm. Nicknamed Hummingbird, this is one of the biggest update to Google search since 2001. You might not know but Google actually launched it a month before they announced. They say it affected more than 90 percent of all searches.
What is Hummingbird Update and how does it work?
Hummingbird Update’s main focus is not the user but understanding what the user really wants while searching so that Google can show better results. Rather than just concentrating on one or two searches, Hummingbird looks closely into long tail searches. Google calls them “Conversational Search” which looks into the meaning of the searched words rather than individual keywords. It understands the actual location of your home if you have shared it with Google while logged in to your Google account. Google gives you results of pages that match more accurately with the meaning of your search rather than individual keywords. Google has been doing conversational search since quite some time but Hummingbird is designed to apply the meaning of technology to billions of pages from across the web, in addition to Knowledge Graph facts, which may bring back better results. So now you search for “coffee shops near my home”, Google shows you results of different coffee shop outlets near your location and also reviews of different coffee shops instead of showing results like Wikipedia, posts on coffee, etc. Its more like you are having a conversation with a friend. Google wants to become that friend.
“You should not be spending your time searching, you should be spending your time living” said Amit Singhal, senior VP at Google.
What you need to remember about Hummingbird Update?
- Biggest update since 2001
- Semantic search rather than keyword search
- Very helpful, very quick informative SERPs
- Advanced “Knowledge Graph”
- Caters to mobile users
- Relatively harmless to low ranking websites
Take a look at this Infographics by Jim Dougherty: What Google “Hummingbird” Does and Which Sites It Affects [INFOGRAPHIC]
How does it affect SEO?
No, SEO is not yet dead. In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.
Does this mean you are going to lose traffic from Google?
If you were going to have problems with it, you would have known by now. By and large, there’s been no major outcry among publishers that they’ve lost rankings. This seems to support Google saying this is very much a query-by-query effect, one that may improve particular searches — particularly complex ones — rather than something that hits “head” terms that can, in turn, cause major traffic shifts.
There have been a lot of blog posts published on Hummingbird Update in the past month that attempts to explain it better. Have a look:
Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Ten Years Ago, by Bill Slawski
FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm, by Danny Sullivan