Although Google’s new search algorithm was implemented last month, the company only officially announced it last week at a conference celebrating their 15th anniversary. The new algorithm, dubbed “Hummingbird”, affects around 90% of search results, and is designed to deal with longer and more complex search queries.
Hummingbird is also better suited to respond to voice search queries, and queries phrased in a conversational manner, e.g. “How do I boil an egg?”. As a result, Hummingbird is far more mobile-friendly that previous search algorithms, since it caters to voice searches using natural speech. This is a digitally-savvy move, since indications show that mobile search is gaining greater prominence over desktop search.
Goodbye Penguin and Panda
Hummingbird is perhaps the biggest change to Google’s search algorithm since 2001. Searchengineland explains that whilst Panda and Penguin were updates to the existing algorithm, Hummingbird is a completely new replacement. Many commentators have also pointed out the fact that the algorithm had already been implemented for a month without anybody noticing, which highlighted its seamless integration and minimal disruption of search traffic.
The aim of Hummingbird is to provide users with more relevant search results, through a more intelligent interpretation of the search query. Hummingbird focuses on each of the words in the query, rather than only paying attention to certain keywords and phrases, and thus boasts a greater understanding of concepts than its predecessor.
Never fear, however – Google’s PageRank algorithm isn’t dead. It’s just been incorporated into the shiny new Hummingbird model, along with a number of other important factors affecting search results.
Google and the Future of Search
In a blog post published last week, Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President of Search at Google wrote:
“Remember what it was like to search in 1998? You’d sit down and boot up your bulky computer, dial up on your squawky modem, type in some keywords, and get 10 blue links to websites that had those words. It seemed like magic… The world has changed so much since then: billions of people have come online, the web has grown exponentially, and now you can ask any question on the powerful little device in your pocket.”
Google’s Knowledge Graph, one of the more prominent features included in the Hummingbird update, displays at the top of the screen, and allows users to compare and filter search results. Results are compiled and shown on Google’s own page, however, meaning that users no longer need to click through to certain sites for information. This is, of course, one of the bigger drawbacks for sites who rely on this kind of search traffic.
It’s too soon to measure the impact of Google’s latest update, since it has only been in place for the past month. We can only sit back and wait with baited breath for their next animal-related update.