Google has been releasing several updates and enhancements to its search algorithms over the last several years. Any Google new update creates lot of doubts in the minds of website owners and even among SEO experts as to how the new update will affect the rankings of the websites. The major updates in recent times have been Caffeine Update in 2010, Panda in 2011, Penguin in 2012, and Phantom in 2013. The announcement of Google about Hummingbird update in the last week of September 2013, just a few days before its fifteenth birthday, was really a surprise for everyone.
It should be noted that Hummingbird is not just an update or enhancement but a whole new algorithm for Google as a search engine. Google has introduced a new algorithm way back in 2001 and this new Google’s Hummingbird update is another fresh algorithm, which is a big change, since Hummingbird is a dramatic rewrite of Google algorithm, according to Amit Singhal of Google. Google has not provided too many details about Hummingbird but it appears that Hummingbird will focus on ranking information after considering a higher level of intelligent understanding of all search requests at Google. Due to the exponential increase in data volumes on the World Wide Web, the users have to type more words at Google Search to obtain high accuracy of results. On many occasions, the users need multiple searches to obtain the information they are looking for and this is not only frustrating but also time consuming.
The present search results that the users receive reflect matching combinations of keywords in a search phrase, instead of looking at the exact meaning of the typed phrases or sentences. It is believed that the Hummingbird update will take into consideration the full and exact semantic meaning of even long search phrases. In theory, this should produce much more accurate search results for users.
An example of the way of functioning of the Google new update is that Hummingbird will give greater attention to questioning words like ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘why’ in search phrases, along with the actual content keywords. This will help Hummingbird to shift the emphasis of search directly from ‘results’, which has been the present position, to ‘answers’, a new method of providing search engine result pages (SERPs) to the users of Google.
According to industry experts, the Google’s Hummingbird update will pay maximum attention to each word in queries and ensure that the whole query or the meaning of the whole sentence or conversation will be taken into account, instead of focusing on specific words. The entire purpose of this new update from Google is the match the SERPs to the meaning instead of matching them to a mere few words. Even though the official announcement came at the end of September 2013, reports reveal that it has been running at least for a month before its actual announcement. Hummingbird is a complete replacement and a significant expansion of the semantic capability of Google through the introduction of such a whole new algorithm. We have to wait for some time to see how Hummingbird will affect SERPs.