There has been quite a bit of interest about Google’s new algorithm for SEO, code-named Hummingbird, since its debut in September 2013. Google claims that searches will now return better and more intuitive results for its users. For the most part, people want to know what the main differences are between Hummingbird and previous updates to the Google search algorithm.
Before identifying some of these key differences, it is important to put this algorithm update into its proper historical context. In a recent interview with Google’s Search chief Amit Singhal, he noted that there has not been such a dramatic change in the Google search algorithm since 2001, when he first started working at the company. It is fair to say that this is a pretty big change with regards to its search engine’s capabilities.
Unlike previous updates to the existing algorithm, code-named Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird represents a complete replacement. Instead of rehashing what they already had, Google has reimagined their engine from the ground up. So what are the changes? One of the biggest improvements that Hummingbird delivers is the “Conversational Search” functionality. With this search feature, you can ask a question like, “Where is the closest place to buy bananas near me?”
The new engine will then return results based on a more sophisticated understanding of what the searched words mean. For example, the Hummingbird algorithm will be able to discover your geo-location based on the inclusion of the words ‘near me,’ and rank the results accordingly. It will also be able to understand that the word ‘place’ identifies a physical store and not an online store. The entire sentence will be interpreted by Hummingbird, whereas previous algorithms only focused on specific words.
Search results have also gotten smarter. Previously, when searching for ‘ADHD Prescriptions,’ a list of drugs would appear. Now, the search will include additional information, such as long-term prognosis and alternative treatment options. With such a major change in the SEO algorithm, it may leave people wondering if the conventional Google SEO to which they’d grown accustomed has been left out to pasture. The answer is that while the conventional SEO algorithm has changed, the core principals remain the same: high-quality and original content rule. Now however, Google claims that Hummingbird can process this content in more new and exciting ways, allowing for better results, especially with more complex search queries.