To celebrate their 15th anniversary on September 26, Google announced their latest and one of their biggest algorithm updates—the Google Hummingbird. The event was staged in a garage which Larry Page and Sergey Brin rented when the website was just starting. The company mentioned that the Hummingbird will be able to analyze longer, more difficult questions and rank websites according to their relevance to queries.

Why Hummingbird?

Like a hummingbird, the update is “precise and fast”: It gives an exact answer to your question with just one click instead of just giving results that contain the keywords you are looking for. The Hummingbird focuses not only on individual search words but also considers its context when put together to return accurate and relevant pages.

What exactly does Hummingbird do?

Hummingbird expands the Knowledge Graph-a database of over 570 million interconnected concepts. This catalogue, introduced last year, consists of known people, places, events, modern culture, history that enable users to get intelligent results. If “Venus” is entered, Google will supply a list of possible answers to the keyword since it’s a broad topic. It can be Venus the planet, the goddess of love, the tennis player, or a title of a film. The knowledge graph understands that keywords can have various meanings and it can differentiate it from one another.

Google Hummingbird

The Knowledge Graph can also summarize the information about a specific topic. If the user selects Venus as a planet, Google will supply the basic facts such as its distance from the sun, the planet’s size, if it has a natural satellite, and other data which it finds relevant to your search. The Knowledge Graph gets its facts and statistics from previous searches and aggregates them since Google has already figured out that these are what users usually look for.

The directory also provides users information that they probably haven’t read about before such as news on a recent exploration on Venus unannounced by media or other data you might find interesting.

The Hummingbird enables you to type in a question and Google can answer it for you by returning results containing information that can solve your question. If you enter “What is the tallest building in the world?”, Google will automatically supply information about Burj Khalifa which can be found in the rightmost part of the window.  What’s more fascinating is that when you type “How tall is it?”, it understands that it’s a follow-up question to your previous query without mentioning the name of the building and instantly give Burj Khalifa’s height. 

How does it differ from other updates?

Google’s updates such as Panda and Penguin had a huge impact on websites’ ranking and affected how SEOs structure websites and content. Google Panda hits poor content and ‘recycled’ articles, while Google Penguin penalizes spammy links or those placed in bad neighborhood sites.

These updates changed the way people do SEO, and any upgrade released by Google worries them. However, Hummingbird is different from previous updates as it doesn’t directly affect a website and won't interfere with other algorithms. It is also not a replacement of Panda, Penguin, and even PageRank will still work fine since Hummingbird targets the search results.

If there’s one reinvention closely-tied to Hummingbird, it’s Caffeine. Caffeine was the newest web indexing system created by Google in 2010 that enables users to get fresh, relevant content from the search keywords entered. Hummingbird and Caffeine are both massive updates that directly affect search results to give a better list of significant information to users. 

What should you expect?

  • Voice Search

With users becoming more technologically-advanced, search is not only confined in desktop or laptop computers. It can now also be accessed through mobile.  Just ask your question through the voice search feature of your mobile phone and get accurate results instantly.  Also, because of the availability of voice recognition, Google will have a simpler design on mobile devices.

  • Long-tail keywords will bring more traffic

Content that is not fit to Google’s standards as relevant to peoples’ search will not appear on the top search even if the website is of high authority. Only those websites that are appropriate to the query will be listed to give better results to users.

  • Rankings

As of the moment, there is no proven effect of Google Hummingbird to websites’ rankings contrary to what most SEO practitioners and content marketers are worrying about. However, it is best to still practice what you have been doing prior to this update.

Create content that adheres to the standards of past Google updates. Websites that focuses on providing fresh, meaty, and informative content has a high chance of ranking high on the search engine. Good website structure and design is vital so that it can be crawler-friendly which can bring the content to be more visible. 

What’s the impact of the Hummingbird to the SEO industry?

Since the main focus of Hummingbird is search, SEOs need not worry. As stated earlier, if SEOs are following Google’s “rules,” there’s no need to revamp websites and edit content. The Hummingbird update started its operation last month, but it was only announced recently so expect websites to function as usual. If everything went smoothly before the announcement, rankings might even improve now that everyone’s aware of Hummingbird’s existence and its possible, unforeseen effect. 

Have you observed any impact on your website? What can you say about Google’s latest update?