Marking Google’s 15th birthday, Hummingbird is the biggest change to the inner workings of the world’s most popular search engine since Google’s “Caffeine” update in 2010, which sped up Google’s indexing of sites and delivery of search results.
The Hummingbird update focuses more on Google’s Knowledge Graph – an encyclopaedia of about 570m concepts and relationships that allows Google to anticipate facts and figures you might want to know about your search term.
New engine with old parts
Hummingbird isn’t an overhaul that Google search users will instantly notice, however.
“In general, Hummingbird – Google says – is a new engine built on both existing and new parts, organised in a way to especially serve the search demands of today, rather than one created for the needs of 10 years ago, with the technologies back then,” said Danny Sullivan of the search blog Search Engine Land.
It will benefit those using more modern forms of search, such as conversational or voice search, where you ask Google a question rather than typing keywords into the search box.
“The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.
“Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query – the whole sentence or conversation or meaning – is taken into account, rather than particular words,” said Sullivan.
But will it really work?
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to do before and after comparisons, especially as Google has pushed out the Hummingbird update over the last month without any public announcements.
For the moment we only have Google’s word that Hummingbird will make a difference, although it gave a few examples of searches that could benefit from the new algorithm.
For instance, a search for “acid reflux prescription” pre-Hummingbird produced sites with lists of drugs, but now brings up search results with more information about acid reflux treatment in general.
Likewise, a search for “pizza hut calories per slice” now links the answer directly from Pizza Hut.
Read the full article about Google’s algorithm change at the Guardian