Updated January 13, 2023Reading Time: 2 minutes
Brace yourself. There’s a new Google algorithm change. It’s the first major overhaul in 3 years. Just when you thought you knew all about Panda (targets spammy content) and Penguin (targets spammy links) … now we have a new animal in the mix. Google rolled out “Hummingbird” about a month ago. In this post I’ll explain how this algorithm change affects 90% of searches, why its big news, and what it means to SEO.
Hummingbird Represents Intelligent Understanding
According to Amit Singhal, Senior VP of Google Search, he described this algorithm change as:
“We changed Google’s engines mid-flight — again.” Previous algorithm changes targeted better indexing of websites. Hummingbird however, is focused on ranking information based upon a more intelligent understanding of search requests.
Basically it means that search is getting better at connecting concepts rather than a specific word/phrase match. Here’s an example. You’re interested in buying a kitchen gadget that grates cheese. With the Hummingbird algorithm change, Google is now smarter so it shows you appropriate matches — even ones that you didn’t specify. In your search results you’ll now see cheese shredders and food processors because they are related.
Has Google succeeded in creating artificial intelligence akin to Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey? No, but the search algorithm is getting pretty darn smart. And it will just get smarter over time.
Mobile Search Implications
Hummingbird is technology around predictive search. Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land downplayed its début. He commented on a BBC News Technology article that “if you’ve been watching this space, you’d already seen how they’ve integrated it into the [predictive search app] Google Now and conversational search. To know that they’ve put this technology further into their index may have some big payoffs, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”
It’s a further death knell for Grey Hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing. If your SEO efforts are rooted in respect of your reader and you’re motivated to providing quality content that’s relevant to your business, this algorithm change may actually get you found more in search. If you (or your online marketing agency) are trying to game search, then your SEO rankings ride will be bumpy and hair-raising. We recommend joining us White Hatters and put these SEO foundations in place:
- A mobile responsive website (preferably on WordPress) to take advantage of this growing trend
- Regular publishing schedule of fresh, relevant and engaging content
- SEO infrastructure that follows Google’s quality guidelines
By the way, what’s with the Hummingbird name? Google chose it because it’s precise and fast. What name would you give it?
Social media is becoming more integrated in Google’s algorithm. Google now owns Youtube, Blogger.com and of course Google+ and one should concentrate on these 3 areas to maintain a good ranking with Google. Good quality content with backlinks from your social media sites will surely help your site’s ranking.
Good point, Norman. Social mentions are definitely becoming more important to Google’s algorithm. We believe a website should the focal point of an online presence. Social media posts (quality content worth reading and sharing) should direct traffic back to the website for conversion.