Help! What is Google Hummingbird?

Another algorithm from Google

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Google Hummingbird is the new algorithm on the block, announced by Google just a few weeks ago. Unlike other updates such as Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird is a whole other beast.

Need to know:

  • Hummingbird is an entirely new algorithm, not a “part” change like Panda or Penguin
  • Hummingbird takes over 200 signals in to account when ranking a web page
  • It focuses on conversational search, interpreting all of the words in a search query

What is Google Hummingbird?

Google Hummingbird is the latest algorithm update from Google which will improve search results. It is named Hummingbird because it is “precise and fast.” It is one of the biggest algorithm updates since 2010.

When did it start?

Around the end of August, but Google didn’t announce it until the 27th September which was the eve of their 15th birthday.

What aspects of ‘modern’ searches does Hummingbird address?

Mainly conversational searches, says Google. Hummingbird will help with identifying the meaning behind words, focusing on user intent. It will factor in every word in a search query as if it were a question, rather than just selecting some of the words, so that results returned are more relevant and users are satisfied with the result/answer they receive. A lot of this they have covered before but now all these elements have been combined – read more about how this evolution in search has become revolutionary.

So, what does this mean now that Hummingbird is live?

As we mentioned the change was made in August but hardly anyone noticed, so the impact was actually very small. Much like an old engine that needed changing, Google dropped the old one and popped in the new one very quickly.  However, now it has been running for over a month website owners are looking at their analytics and identifying changes in organic traffic.

But, I thought this was a ‘big’ update for Google?

It is a big update. In fact the last big update before this one was Caffeine way back in 2010. Hummingbird is likely to affect 90% of searches globally. The algorithm hasn’t been dramatically rewritten for years. Although the Hummingbird algorithm could be drastically different to the previous one, its likely many parts of the engine will stay the same.

Wait, but what about Penguin and Panda?

Penguin and Panda were minor updates to the algorithm in comparison to Hummingbird. Panda and Penguin were small changes to part of the algorithm, whereas Hummingbird is a totally new engine using some of the old parts such as Panda & Penguin.

So, Hummingbird uses both old and new parts of the search engine?

Yes. Hummingbird is made up of parts from the old engine that are still relevant and worthwhile. Added to this are new parts to meet the demands of today’s searchers, which have evolved rapidly over the past years. There are over 200 signals the algorithm takes in to account when indexing and ranking a web page, including Page Rank.

What should I do if I’m losing organic traffic?

Don’t panic, whilst Hummingbird has been launched it will continue to be tweaked and changed. Your drop in traffic could be from Hummingbird or from a small part of the engine that is being continually adjusted.

Okay, you’ve made me feel a bit more equipped for Hummingbird but I’m shaking in my boots a little…

If you have any questions relating to Hummingbird or are concerned your site has been impacted get in touch with us here at Upperdog and one of our SEO experts will be on hand to help and offer advice. So get in touch!