Google’s Hummingbird Update

By Alli Summerford
October 9, 2013

hummingbird-transparent-350pxIn conjunction with Google’s 15th anniversary celebrations (September 27, 2013), the search giant announced an all new search algorithm, Hummingbird.  While Google has made major updates to its search algorithm in the recent past (Caffeine, Penguin, and Panda), Hummingbird represents a complete overhaul, not just an update to the existing algorithm.  The last time they made this kind of change was in 2001—12 years ago.  The goal of Hummingbird is to provide search results that focus on the searchers meaning or intent and not just on the search terms used in the query.

For example, a searcher might type in ‘indian restaurant near me.’  Pre-Hummingbird, the terms ‘near’ and ‘me’ would not have factored into the search results as much as ‘indian restaurant,’ even though they are important in understanding the intent of the searcher.  Now, assuming you are on a smart phone or logged into Google while searching, the results can more accurately match your meaning.

For business owners, Hummingbird underlines the continuing importance on providing high quality content to site users.  If you have an ongoing online marketing plan that focuses on fresh, new content and stays within the guidelines provided by Google, you can stay the course.  If anything, Hummingbird may yield even better results for you as it weeds out search results that are less related to the searcher’s intent.  In this new intent-driven environment, content that answers specific questions for users will be of particular value.  As you are planning new content for your site, try to think in terms of answering your customers’ questions.

To learn more about Hummingbird, check out Danny Sullivan’s FAQ.