Google’s Hummingbird Update – What is It?

Recently, Google announced a major change in its search algorithm after many years. The new search algorithm update, Hummingbird, gives Google a conversational search effect that answers to the entire context of questions and queries quickly. With this new algorithm in place, several changes now need to be made by webmasters to their content marketing strategies. So, to help you understand what this new algorithm means, here is a brief overview of it:

What Has Changed

In the past, keyword based queries were read by the search engine even if they weren’t typed out in complete sentences. The new search algorithm takes into account the entire query, providing precise and fast results. Now, Google won’t just be paying attention to only the keyword in a sentence but would consider the intent of the sentence when providing search results.

With this algorithm, Google is trying to process more real speech patterns in searches, which when combined with the Google Voice feature can provide convenience to people, allowing them to search using speech rather than typing (most likely would become common place in the feature using speech to-text). This increases the importance of long-tail keywords that answer specific queries in content development to make your content more SEO-friendly. As an example, this title is Hummingbird “approved”.

How Does Hummingbird Work

This new algorithm uses the Knowledge Graph introduced by Google last year to provide more precise search queries. This graph helps Google to understand the relationship between the concepts that are presented in queries rather than focusing on keywords.

Under this algorithm, web pages that match the meaning of queries better, would rank higher instead of those that match the keywords in those queries. For example, people would usually type “Eiffel Tower height” as a keyword to get answers but under this new algorithm, a query typed as “what’s the height of the Eiffel Tower” will give more precise results than the first one.

90% Searches are Affected by this Change

According to Amit Singhal of Google, 90% of searches have been affected by this algorithm. Surprisingly though, this change went completely unnoticed within the industry before the official announcement was made. With this new algorithm in place, businesses would need to make some changes to their content in order to secure high search engine rankings.

For companies that already focus on quality content, this change wouldn’t mean much; the proof is the fact that Google implemented this new algorithm a month before announcing it without anyone noticing a change. So, while you might be wondering how this new system is going to trouble you, there is really nothing to worry about.

However, for companies that focus on keyword SEO without much emphasis on quality, this requires a shift in direction. Long-tail keywords should be incorporated more frequently in the content and that too in limited numbers ensuring that the keyword and the content answer a proper query.

High-quality content is the only way companies can improve their rankings on Google.


Matthew Goulart

|2 minutes read

Matthew Goulart is the founder of Ignite Digital, a Canadian digital marketing agency. Through Ignite Digital, Goulart works with Fortune 500 companies and advertising agencies from around the world and has helped launch profitable and highly successful digital marketing initiatives for his clients.