When Google updates itself, it makes headlines. When it makes the biggest change to its search engine algorithm in over a decade, it makes the internet. This past week, Google revealed “Hummingbird”, an update to the search engine giant that will overhaul 90% of all search results, changing the way the search engine processes queries to return more precise recommendations. But there’s a lot more to it than that and how it affects your search engine optimization.
What is the Hummingbird Update?
Hummingbird update is the largest to the Google search algorithm in over a decade. Google has been releasing updates to their search engine, like “Caffeine” which sharpened the way sites and keywords were related, sweeping several sites that had nothing to do with the keywords they were associated with off the board to fine tune the search process. However, now, after 12 years of the internet adapting and growing, it’s time for another sweep. This time, “Hummingbird update” will make search results much more precise and return results that analyze concepts and not just keywords, meaning a smarter engine that uses your user data to fine-tune itself. This means that more complex search queries will yield much simpler and correct results.
What does it mean for users?
For users, it means convenience. It means less time spent searching for the right web page. This search algorithm will affect the way 90% of all websites are processed through Google, meaning that almost everyone will see an immediate improvement with their search results. If you search, say, “Where can I buy a Samsung Galaxy S4”, the new algorithm will use your location data to create search results that you would find immediately useful and not require you to go onto a company’s main page and use the store locator. Overall, “Hummingbird update” is something you’ll really like.
What does it mean for businesses?
For businesses that have created websites that are attached to keywords they actually have nothing to do with, it means going back to the drawing board. Hummingbird update is designed to help users get specific answers for wide ideas, so that means businesses will have to start thinking of more search queries that can apply to them, both locally and on a larger scale.
But there are some businesses that are not thrilled about this release. When “Caffeine” was released, for example, many sites dropped in rank due to the new algorithm disconnecting the site from its keywords. Since the release of the Hummingbird update, site rankings have already begun shifting and so businesses will have to learn how to adapt their SEO to survive this new arbiter of searching.
As a user you will feel the change, but as a business you’ll have to adapt to the change. Some of the changes that the Hummingbird update brings will force companies to completely overhaul their SEO practices, but that’s a push that needs to happen for progress. It’s only been out for a few days and it’s already shaken the website leader-boards, so only time will tell what another few weeks will bring.
Photo Wade Brooks
How is your website? Have you felt the effects of the Hummingbird update?