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What is Google Hummingbird and what do you need to know?

Google's Hummingbird algorithm explained by All Things Code
Google’s Hummingbird algorithm explained by All Things Code

Hummingbird is so called because it is fast and precise, and it was a complete overhaul of Google’s algorithm, not an extra addition like Panda or Penguin. As a metaphor, getting a new car is what Hummingbird is – it’s an upgrade – and Panda & Penguin are just add ons (but they aren’t optional).

My metaphor is running away from me, but I’m guessing you get the idea.

Hummingbird is an evolution of an old algorithm Google used, called Caffeine. It is focused solely on the search experience, working to determine and understand a user’s search query.

With Hummingbird, the focus of a user’s search is not solely based upon keywords, in fact it goes more into the context of the search phrase and matches that with context within a website, and this is a huge thing – it takes what you say and finds what you want.

Part of the Conversation

What I mean by ‘part of the conversation’ is that Hummingbird is designed for the latest generation of search. The questions are now being asked in multiple ways, notably – for mobile users – they speak the question. Asking ‘Okay Google’ or ‘Hey Siri’ what they want.

In the days of old, you or I would sit at a PC and type out a search query and Google would go away and search for websites with those specific keywords and give you the results. That could be anything from a blog through to a website that has an over abundance of the keywords and backlinks, to a website that is the one you’re looking for.

What Google does now is similar, but vastly different at the same time; Google ranks your web page based on the content of the website, and the meaning behind the search words.

Conversational Search

What is conversational search?

Well, as I explained earlier, it involves the search as part of the conversation to determine the meaning behind the words. Which is a huge part of Hummingbird, and a revolution in search.

That means that Google can use not only synonyms, but also specialises search around the user by using search history and terms to decide what the most relevant part of the search could be for that particular user and creates a very tailored search towards what you want to find.

This Search Engine Land blog explains it very well:

“In particular, Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

Hummingbird works in tandem with the other algorithms – Panda and Penguin – and uses all the factors for all three together in a recipe for ranking success, or disaster. If you want to know more about Google Panda, or Google Penguin, and how you can get SEO success, take a look at our blogs:

All Things Code are a digital agency, web developer, and mobile app developer in Northamptonshire. Specialising in helping business succeed with digital solutions, if you need help with your website, or if you’d like to find out more about bespoke business apps, all you have to do is get in touch with us and find out more.

Steve Archer

Head of SEO & Content