Google Hummingbird Update – Quick Review

Last week, on the day before celebrating their 15th birthday, Google announced Hummingbird as the most dramatic update to their organic ranking algorithm since 2001. Unlike the targeted Panda and Penguin updates, Hummingbird is an update to the overall 200+ piece algorithm, not a small segment. The update has been live for about a month now and holds true to Google’s mantra for SEOs and publishers alike – “create original, high-quality content.”

The best analogy that I’ve heard to explain this update comes from Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land. He says to look at Google’s algorithm like an older car engine. Google has been continually updating parts of the engine (filters, pumps, valves), but the Hummingbird update is essentially replacing the entire engine with a 2014 model. Many of the parts of the engine are the same, but the entire engine is upgraded and able to perform more intelligently – it can handle unleaded fuel, has fuel injection, etc.

Okay, back to Google. The biggest change that you’ll notice in search results is that Google is now better able to quickly parse full questions (instead of reading things word-by-word) and able to rank web pages accordingly. You might ask Google, [where’s the nearest place to buy a BMW 328i?]. Instead of Google serving up results that relate to the specific words “buy” and “BMW,” Google will better understand what that sentence means (what your intent is), and serve up results based on that understanding.

Similarly, you might notice a similar SERP (search engine results page) for variations of the same query with the same meaning. For example, if you’re searching [where can I buy a BMW], you may see a very similar search result when you search [where to buy BMW] or [where can I find a BMW]. It’s another step for Google in the direction of serving up the highest quality, most relevant content to best answer the searcher’s intent.

While Google has employed some of these tactics for conversational search in the past, they’ve now applied the same type of logic across billions of searches. Upgraded engine, upgraded Google, more intelligent results.

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