At the end of last week, just in time for its fifteenth birthday, Google announced an update to its algorithm, code-named Hummingbird. The update aims to improve the search engine’s response to more complex queries and is the most dramatic algorithm revision since 2001, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan reported.
Undoubtedly, news of Google’s new update prompted search marketers around the globe to spin into a panic. How will this impact page rank? Will I have to overhaul my SEO strategy? Will site traffic take a hit? Unless you’ve already noticed a change, there is no reason to worry. While they only just announced the change, Google rolled out Hummingbird over a month ago. So relax, online marketers. If you are being smart with your SEO strategy, Hummingbird will only help, not hurt, your company’s position in search.
Named Hummingbird to denote “precise and fast,” Google updated the new algorithm to better respond to conversational search. With the rising prevalence of mobile devices, more people are using voice search and asking longer, more complex questions in natural language. For example, “Where can I buy an iPhone close to my house?” Sullivan explained.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that sometimes when you talk to your phone, things get lost in translation. After all, it’s a machine, not a human being. Rarely does your device deliver the perfect solution to your immediate problem. Google created Hummingbird to break down this barrier between you and your computer. “We want to get a natural conversation” between people and Google search, Google engineering director Scott Huffman said to Forbes.
Enter Hummingbird. Google engineered Hummingbird to better understand the meaning and intention behind search. The previous algorithm, Caffeine, was created to improve crawling and the indexing of pages. As a result, it delivered results based on matching keywords. Hummingbird will register all the words in a query as a whole and respond to your question rather than particular words. That means more relevant, contextual search results and more problems solved courtesy of Google.
What does this mean for SEO? Only that the classic rules still apply. Unique, relevant, quality content and links from authoritative sources will boost your search rankings. Spammy content farms will lose and the sites that deliver legitimate value will win. If you make any changes to your website in light of the new update, simply strive to be as helpful as possible. Find out what people need and respond with relevant solutions. Give the people what they want, and Google Hummingbird will reward you.