Over the past few years we have seen several changes to the world of search engines and result pages, however none have been as big as the introduction of Google’s Hummingbird. The term Hummingbird refers to the current search algorithm used by Google. You can consider a search algorithm to be a formula the major search engine utilises in order to sift through the billions and billions of pages and information on the web today. Thus, the Hummingbird was introduced to make this search more effective and bring Google users better results. Google announced this change on 26th September, however it had already been using the search algorithm for approximately a month before the official announcement.
It is easy to get a bit confused because we are constantly hearing about updates, such as ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’. However, these are changes to parts of the algorithm, whereas Google’s Hummingbird Update represents a complete overhaul. The last time Google updated their algorithm in this way was in 2010. This was labelled the ‘Caffeine Update’ and was a massive change at the time. Nonetheless, this modification centred more on changing how Google gathered their information i.e. it enhanced their indexing. Thus, you may have to look back even further to 2001 to see the last time Google changed the way it sorted through information this dramatically.
So, why was Google’s Hummingbird Update needed? Well, it focuses on semantic searching and this is especially relevant at present when you consider the fact that more users are searching via voice and mobile. The update has allowed the leading search engine to provide faster query results whilst also improving precision as well. The pages displayed once a user conducts a search will be better matched to their meaning because Google’s new search algorithm pays greater attention to every word in a query. This ensures, that instead of particular words dictating the information Google picks up, the search engine will now use the whole query i.e. the entire sentence and meaning is taken into consideration. As a result, Google is now better equipped to deal with any complicated search queries, and consequently it has enhanced their ability to index Web document entities.
It is early days for Google’s Hummingbird Update but we are already seeing the changes that have occurred. Google is trying to find the intent behind queries and this is something that will only benefit the user. It also further signifies how search engine optimisation is becoming less and less about the keyword in the current day and age.