Google Introduces ‘Hummingbird’ Algorithm Update

17 Rebecca D'Cunha


It’s been an extremely busy week for Google, as not only has it been announced that they are planning on making all searches secure in the near future but they have also introduced a new algorithm update and are celebrating their fifteenth anniversary. Today is Google’s official birthday, and last night senior vice president of search Amit Singhal announced the company’s plans for the future.

The new search algorithm is named ‘Hummingbird’ and was first put in place around a month ago. Google claims that it affects 90% of searches and focuses on long-tail search terms which have a more ‘conversational’ feel. Mr Singhal explained that Google implemented the algorithm update due to the fact that search terms have become more complex due to the fact that users are now utilising voice search on their mobile devices.

In a blog post discussing the changing use of search engines Mr Singhal 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. 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.”

Hummingbird will look to the meaning behind long-tail queries and search terms and match them with indexed websites and documents online. At the presentation Mr Singhal showed an example of a Google executive using voice search on her mobile asking for pictures of the Eiffel Tower. After this she stated “show me pictures of the construction” at which point a list of images appeared, showing the ability of the search engine to interpret the meaning behind the request.

This semantic understanding of long-tail search terms teamed with the fact that Google will no longer be providing search terms via Analytics means that digital marketers may soon have to adapt their SEO strategies in order to focus more on long-tail search queries and less on hero keywords. Ultimately, this new algorithm update is a way for Google to ensure that their search engine remains popular among users by providing intelligent, and ultimately useful, results.