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Google’s New Hummingbird Algorithm

14 October 2013


Image courtesy: Lindsay Martin

You might have seen the changes already, but Google recently declared that they’ve released a new search algorithm on the biggest searching engine of the world.

After the Caffeine update in 2010 and the ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’, Google has introduced a whole entirely new ranking algorithm named: Hummingbird. The replacement is the biggest change in Google since 2001. The name Hummingbird comes from the animal counterpart which it shares its speed and precision with. Who would have thought of that?

This new algorithm is a huge change for Google. The focus of Hummingbird is specifically for searches that aren’t word-by-word, but full sentences, and help to identify and rank answers to those questions from the content they’ve indexed. Historically, the search results we’ve always received have been the result of matching combination of key words that a search phrase contains, instead of the true meaning of the sentence itself. Hummingbird will reflect the full meaning of longer search phrases and should produce more accurate results.

So, for example, if someone enters: ‘How do I fix a flat tire of my Mercian cycle?’, Google now knows that you’re not searching for a ‘new bike’ or a ‘new tire’ but a solution on ‘how to fix’ a tire of a Mercian cycle. With this in mind, Google will come up with much more accurate search results by prioritising the context of the query as much as the content.

This huge change in searching is very interesting, particularly with the increase of smart phone usage. With this increase, voice searches will become more important. We’ve seen it already with the iPhone and Siri to some extent, where people can talk in their natural languages making simple requests such as ‘Any good sushi places around here?’ The next step is voice recognition that is more complex and recognises long-tail searches. With this change by Google, the increase of mobile use will become bigger and bigger as it’ll make it easier and quicker to find what you’re looking for with your mobile.

So if you want to capitalise on this traffic, you need to have a website that is ready for a mobile audience. If not, then you’re actually providing searchers with a negative experience when they find your site. We all know those sites where you want to read something where you have to zoom in and scroll around for ages to find that one thing that you’re looking for. NOT the way we want it.

Your product pages and blog design needs to be optimised for Social Media. It’s the only way to compete with the future and get the best out of the Google Hummingbird Algorithm.

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