Google has made several major changes to its search engine over the past several months. Search geeks have been debating (and complaining about) Enhanced Campaigns, the new look for mobile search results, Penguin 2.1, and several other technical updates — but the average Google user probably hasn’t noticed much of a difference. And that’s exactly what Google wants. The most recent update was announced just recently during Google’s 15th birthday celebration.
Nicknamed “Hummingbird,” it represents the biggest change to Google search since 2001.
So what is Google Hummingbird?
Hummingbird essentially means not just one change to our search results but two. Firstly, instead of traditional keyword searches, it uses conversational searches to deliver results that are more relevant to what people are looking for. Secondly, it also displays search content right on the search pages themselves, making it easier for users to find the information they need.
You might be asking why Google has gone to all this trouble. And it all comes down to one thing – keeping us all connected, and doing it the ‘Google way’. Google wants us to keep using them as the primary internet search engine, and they ensure we do this by giving us what we’re looking for. And by learning more about us through their connected systems of Gmail, Google+ and YouTube (yes, this belongs to Google too!), it then understands more about the underlying reasons behind our search query.
So instead of websites appearing on our search pages according to the keywords they rank for, this new algorithm looks to what we actually want to search for. What do we mean by this? Well, it’s looking at the whole phrase we type into Google, rather than just picking out individual keywords. Everything is considered and therefore the results returned are relevant just to you, the searcher.
To give you an example: say you were on your mobile and you typed in ‘best place to buy a 45 inch TV locally’. Before the Hummingbird update, Google would have taken ‘buy’ and ’45 inch TV’ separately and perhaps directed you to play.com or PCWorld’s site. With this new search functionality, the whole search query is taken into account, with Google recognising ‘place’ and ‘locally’ as you wanting a recommendation for a store nearby.
How can I keep my website ranking well?
If your website has focused on great content, which contains useful information for your target market and encourages natural links (sites which you trust and that have linked from their site to yours) – then you will benefit from the Hummingbird update.
So if you want to be a winner and make sure your business stays, if not ahead of Google’s game, then at least with them, what do you need to do?
Your website, first and foremost should be offering the visitor a great user experience. Make sure you have clearly defined your brand and that your web pages show this off. Clear and concise content on your products and services will be picked up by Hummingbird’s intelligent search, offering you quality traffic with a higher chance of conversion.
Ultimately, this is the driving force behind Hummingbird — making sure Google is prepared for a future where its users interact with it constantly, quickly, and verbally. By making its search engine better at understanding people, Google is paving the way for the future. Before too long the idea of typing a search on a keyboard will seem very quaint indeed.