Google’s New Algorithm – Your Quick Guide to Hummingbird

What is hummingbird?

It’s the name given to the new algorithm which Google has started using in the last few weeks.

Why is it called Hummingbird?

Google told us the name come from being “precise and fast.”

What’s an algorithm?

Think of it as the recipe with about 200 ingredients that Google uses to sift through the billions of web pages out there and return the most relevant result that you, the end user are searching for.

When did Hummingbird start?

Google started using Hummingbird about a month ago but only announced the change last week.

When did Google last replace it’s algorithm in this way?

Google search chief Amit Singhal informed searchengineland that 2001 was the last time the algorithm was so dramatically rewritten.

What about Penguin and Panda and updates?

Panda and Penguin updates were ultimately changes to the old algorithm, not an entire replacement. However while Hummingbird may be brand new, it continues to use some of the same parts of the old algorithm, including Penguin and Panda.

So What Has Changed?

Conversational search is one of the biggest examples Google give when speaking about this update.

For example, if you search “What’s the closest place to buy the new PS4 to my home?” – Google would have traditionally picked up on finding matches for words like “buy” and “PS4s”.

Hummingbird applies more focus on the meaning behind the words. So in this example it would account for your location (if you’ve shared it with Google), and pick up that “place” means you want an actual shop rather than to buy it online.

All of which helps the end user find what they want.

Are Google searches getting worse?

Ultimately users will be the judge.

Bear in mind that Google enjoys a 90% share of all searches in the UK and the change has been applied with no user backlash. People usually complain when something goes wrong, they generally don’t notice or choose not to take to the internet when things go right.

Is Google Trying to Kill SEO?

No – although it’s fair to say they are geared on growing paid search (PPC marketing) as it’s their main revenue stream, Google continue to see the value in investing heavily to improve the quality of their natural search results for the end user. Good agencies simply adapt to the ever changing set of rules.

What Does This Mean to Me?

If you were going to be affected by Hummingbird, you would have known by now.

However, if you have lost traffic in the last few days, it could also be down to the most recent Penguin 2.1 update. You can read more about this in our next blog.