Hummingbird Algorithm – What’s in Store?

Google seems to be aiming at making its users’ life easy by launching this all new algorithm called ‘Hummingbird’. Hummingbird comes from being “precise and fast”. Google announced the release of its biggest algorithm overhaul since 2001, on 27th Sept. 2013, which is also the day when Google was born. This update focuses on providing faster query results and improving semantic searches. Even though Google has over 500 updates to their algorithm each year, Hummingbird seems to be the biggest overhaul among them. While Hummingbird’s predecessors, Penguin and Panda, affected 3-5% of all searches, Hummingbird affects around 90% of all searches. While Penguin and Panda were just updates to the old algorithm, Hummingbird is an entirely new algorithm.  Though it will use some of the Penguin and Panda updates, still it will take algorithms to a new level.

Thus, Hummingbird is the largest Google algorithm update since the launch of Caffeine in 2010. As per Joe Friedlein, Browser Media, the Hummingbird is taking Caffeine a few steps further., which will now provide a faster and precise search results. The difference between the Caffeine algorithm and the new Hummingbird algorithm is that the former focuses more on indexing, as well as, crawling of sites while the latter, focuses on providing better search results by taking into consideration conversational searches.

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm takes into account two latest trends related to searches. First, lengthy searches made by users instead of few keywords and second, a large percentage of searches made from mobile devices.

With Hummingbird algorithm, Google has become more intelligent in its searches. Google’s observation is that the users now enter lengthy queries instead of few keywords. This has become most common because of the apps such as Google Voice. Hummingbird aims to address this new search trend.

Google has even made it clear that with the arrival of Hummingbird, it would be much easier to understand user’s intent and meaning. Where earlier it used to be a search based on few keywords entered by user, now the focus will shift to all the words in the search query. According to Google, around 70% of searches are ‘long-tailed. Rather than showing results that best matches the keywords, Google will take into account “How”, “why”, “when”, and “where” aspects of the queries. Hummingbird puts less emphasis on keywords and more emphasis on the context of search query.

Impact of Hummingbird on SEO
  • 90% of searches will be affected by Hummingbird.
  • PageRank remains an active ranking signal.
  • There is very less emphasis on the individual keywords and more emphasis on the collective meaning of the search.
  • Lengthy searches will be given more importance

Hummingbird Revives Search Engine

The way search queries are being made using Google has evolved over a period of time as people use semantic searches. Hummingbird is supposed to adapt to this growing trend and it aims to provide more specific results considering the whole phrase. It also takes into account the exact meaning of the sentence rather than a single word as the searchable keyword. But this does not mean the end of old algorithm systems which are still linked to the new Hummingbird algorithm.

What does this mean for your business?

Consumers and businesses use Google to make their searches online. Around two-thirds of global searches are done using Google. In order to optimize your website and be present on the search engine, you need to understand the changes:

1. Google’s focus is to provide results that best match the user’s exact query and not just few general keywords. To achieve this, Google is focusing primarily on reviews, comments, and sharing. Websites ought to include product reviews and lessons that can be used to produce voice search results.

2. Search queries from Google AdWords can make websites more prominent in voice search. Building upon keywords which show intent can have great impact website ranking.

3. Google will no longer provide any keyword data in Google Analytics because all of Google searches will be encrypted. Though some data is still available in Google AdWords and Google Webmaster Tools.

4. Usage of Open Graph Tags will be helpful in gaining entry into Google’s Knowledge Graph. Google Knowledge Graph is a system that Google launched in May 2012 that understands facts about people, places and things. The goal behind it was to provide users with smarter, more relational search results.

5. Google referenced mobile extensively when announcing Hummingbird. Focus has also been on improvements to their mobile search. Thus, businesses need to optimize websites for mobile.

Who will benefit from Hummingbird Algorithm?

Content marketing Professionals

Hummingbird can help content marketers generate more ideas for fresh content. Since the algorithm addresses specific questions, content marketers can develop content that the intended audience might be looking for queries.

Small businesses

Small and local businesses can now hope to see better results and rankings with the implementation of Hummingbird since it’s tough for them to compete for SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings. All they need to do is leverage their geographic location and latest news and events when updating websites and developing content.

Niche markets

Niche market businesses may also benefit from Hummingbird since users search using more specific terms and it will be easier to rank higher. Another positive side is that organic traffic will come from a highly targeted audience which will generate more leads.

How to make most of Hummingbird Update?

Domain Authority of Website

Every time there is Google update, there is increase in importance for Domain authority. Google presents the most authoritative content to its users and seeks to identify genuine sites by judging the quality of content and the links pointing to them. Thus, getting links from high quality resources improves websites’ presence.

Schema Mark Up

Google understands the content displayed on the site with the help of schema vocabulary. You can implement schema mark up on every type of content irrespective of your industry. This will help in increasing the semantic value of the site and make it stand out in the search results.

Content Startegy

Usually, users enter questions in the search engine than specific keywords. If the website can be adapted in question answer format content, then it will be very beneficial. Creating content which is centered around answering “How To” will help a great deal in improving rankings.

Mobile SEO Strategy

As mentioned above, Hummingbird has taken into account mobile searches entered by its users. Thus, it becomes imperative for the websites to become mobile friendly and create a mobile version with a faster loading time, fewer images, easy navigation, etc. which will help you to meet the expectations of the Hummingbird algorithm.

Google Authorship

Implementing authorship on the website is a must. It helps Google in identifying your website and move it to a named web.
Hummingbird is sure to have changed the rules of the game and the businesses have no option but to make most of this opportunity to improve search rankings. All you need to do is follow the right strategy and tricks to win the game.

About Author:

Vineet Verma

Director of Sales and Marketing | Media Mosaic
I bring over 12 years of enornormous experience in the areas of Brand Creation, Strategic Management, Marketing and Sales. I live in New Delhi with my family, admire reading and love to watch movies. If you are looking for a way to spice up your marketing campaign, boost your site traffic, comprehend how social media can actually benefit you brand, rule the search engines, or may be just to find out why people are not converting on your website – feel free to connect with me.


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