It’s Accurate – It’s Speedy – It’s Hummingbird!


Houston SEOGoogle recently changed its search algorithm again. This is probably no great news flash to many since changes seem to happen a few times a year anymore; however, this one is different. Panda, Penguin and others were updates to existing algorithms and came about rather rapidly; the last time the algorithm itself changed was over 10 years ago. Google’s unveiling of algorithm changes has been called Hummingbird because it is meant to make searches faster and more accurate than ever before.

Release of Hummingbird

Called Google’s biggest algorithm change in 12 years, Hummingbird was released publicly in September 2013, although it had already been in use a few months before it was announced. Not unsurprisingly, there are those unhappy about this algorithm change for fear that their website will be affected. Google has said that most website SEO should be unaffected by the changes so long as they already comply with what is considered to be a good website: quality content, frequent updates, valuable back links, etc… Hummingbird is actually more about improving Google searching to make it more accurate in finding the most relevant results.

Conversational Search

Until now, the ability to type in a question as a search term has always existed; however, past algorithms handled questions in a way that only accessed a specific knowledge bank of information that could be understood from the question. The change is that the search function will be able to interpret questions as questions, relate them to the most relevant pages indexed, and provide faster and more accurate search results.

An example of this prior to Hummingbird would be a question such as: “How much to feed a Labrador puppy?” would show a results listing of information mentioning dog food in general, Labrador Retrievers, gifts featuring Labs, etc. With Hummingbird, the searches will look for actual pages that talk about feeding Labrador puppies – perhaps even a specific page on a private breeder’s website – and list any other less relative answers much further down in the list. This allows for a more immediate, specialized response without continually having to get more and more specific in the question until the right results are found.

Will It Ruin SEO?

As for SEO and concerns that Hummingbird will change indexing and results, Google says it should not change SEO so long as the website where a response is found fits the description of being a Google-pleasing site. It should help specific pages get more direct attention and give users much better information that requires less time searching. As long as website quality and optimization is maintained, that web page will continue to appear in the results listings. The main recommendations right now are to: keep up with quality content; use authorship wherever possible to create valuable, natural links; and rework some content such as titles and headers to be more beneficial now in answering potential questions.

With every new algorithm update, it is important to research what has changed and be sure a website contains any new criteria for indexing and searching. With Hummingbird, necessary website changes should be minimal and ensure that web content helps the web spiders index and identify information directed as questions and lead users to the most relevant pages about specific keywords or questions. Hummingbird should be perceived as a good change that is responsive to the ways in which information is looked for by users – and users should be able to get much better search results from websites that have done things right all along! Yes, it is accurate, speedy – and it’s Google’s Hummingbird!

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Comments (2)

    • There is a whole class of commercial SMS “bots” or agents, that may really be mechanical turks on the back end, probably using crowd sourced replies, offering to provide quick answers to virtually any question for a price.

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