Hummingbird: Google's New Search Algorithm
Google celebrated its 15th anniversary on Friday, September 27th. The day before, it was announced that a new search algorithm, named ‘Hummingbird’ for being precise and fast, had been launched about a month prior. If you are wondering what this means and if it will affect your website, read on.
An algorithm change is different from an update. Algorithm updates are meant to target specific issues that may deceive searchers and Google. For instance, over the last few years we had a couple of updates that significantly changed website rankings in an effort to serve better quality results. In February 2011, the Panda update hit websites with poor content, granting better rankings to websites that provided unique and valuable content for searchers. In April 2012, the Penguin update translated into penalties for websites involved in “spammy” link networks. Even though these updates had a significant impact on rankings, they were changes to specific parts of the algorithm, not rewrites of the algorithm as a whole.
This new algorithm focuses on processing searches more efficiently. In the past, Google parsed each word within a query and then served results ranking websites based on how accurately their optimization matched all the words in that search phrase. With Hummingbird, Google is able to better understand the meaning of complete phrases and puts less emphasis on literal keyword matches to concentrate on the search intent. The new algorithm also takes into consideration physical proximity, once again reaffirming the importance of optimizing for local search results. Local search results will continue to gain prevalence, especially with the increased use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
As far as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) goes, there is no need to adjust strategies or techniques. While a new search algorithm is not something to be disregarded, the fact is that overall guidelines remain the same for SEO. Google did not change what they are looking for; they merely implemented a better way to look for valuable information. The focus of SEO strategies should still be having a website that offers an enjoyable experience and high quality content for visitors. In fact, Google has stated that if there hasn’t already been a visible impact on your website’s rankings, then you are unlikely to notice any drastic changes, at least not as a direct result of the new algorithm.
Google is constantly working to make the web more efficient and useful for searchers. Regardless of their ongoing algorithm updates, you can rest assured that if you are producing valuable content and following a strategically organized approach, there is no need to be worried about rankings.