In August, Google quietly launched its new “Hummingbird” search algorithm. This overhaul of the search system is the first dramatic change since 2001 as it completely replaces the existing algorithm. Hummingbird has increased accuracy and speed in search results. It is designed to concentrate on the searcher’s intent instead of the individual search terms. This new system affects 90 percent of searches.
With Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, searches are now able to work with complex search terms. This means that Google anticipates searches phrased as questions or other conversational phrases, allowing it to analyze the query as a whole rather than individual words. This capability also allows for Web documents to be indexed better. Moreover, Google has added answers on the results page instead of having users click on links to find an answer. Along with this feature, Knowledge Graphs have also been added. When comparing two items, a chart is shown comparing data between the two terms. Currently, Knowledge Graphs are used mostly for nutritional information.
The Knowledge Graph can be beneficial when comparing products and services. Specs for electronics are especially easy to compare and use for this purpose. For other products, data, reviews, and details can be used.
In the past, it was possible to simply optimize key words. With Hummingbird, the user’s search queries must be in mind. Now that the meaning behind the search terms are in the spotlight, key words are becoming less important. Engaging your audience with shareable, linkable, valuable content will make it easier to discover what your audience’s intentions are.
While not as important as content, using long-tail key words, or terms with less search volume, are gaining popularity as well. Using whole phrases that are conversational can be beneficial since this is what searchers are looking for. Along with using these key words, telling Google more about your site or company can be helpful, such as through Structured Data Mark-up.
Although major changes are not necessary, becoming more active and creating quality content that will provide the searcher with the answer or solution they have been looking for is more important than ever. It is important to ask yourself, “Am I answering the questions that my target audience is searching for on Google?” and “How can I answer them?”
Content is now being shared through various social networks and can change instantaneously. Google is bringing in awareness from social connections, location, and previous queries. This change is helping move towards an intelligent and natural search process that delivers all the information that a user needs. Hummingbird is a step towards transparent, speedy, immediate results.