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Google launches the ‘Hummingbird’ algorithm

Last month Google launched its new major algorithm upgrade – codenamed ‘Hummingbird’. It has actually already been in use for about a month and it will effect 90% of search requests.

Google’s primary concern is, of course, presenting their users with the best selection of webpages for the minimum of user effort. To do this Google’s algorithms need to be the best at determining the following:

1) What is a person asking when they make a search query

2) What information can be presented to best fulfil these requirements

The Hummingbird algorithm is concerned with improving the way Google interprets language so they can understand search queries on a more human level, as users expect more natural and conversational interaction with search engines.

The example given at the launch presentation was using voice to speak a search request into a mobile phone, in this case for ‘pictures of the Eiffel Tower’. After pictures were presented in the search results the user then asked how tall the Tower was and Google responded by voice with the correct information.

Ultimately Google wants to present their users with the correct information to a search question, rather than just a list of relevant websites. For example, if I ask Google what the weather forecast is for today in New York I get the following results:

 

Today’s weather is clearly displayed and I have found what I wanted with one interaction and will not have to click through to any other website.

But If I ask for train times between London and Glasgow I get the following search results:

The search engine results pages have been selected by matching the keywords ‘train’, ‘time’, ‘London, and ‘Glasgow’ and have produced a list of train operators’ time table pages, which is what I asked for, but I have more work to do to find the information I want, so clearly Google still has some way to go.

So the algorithm is there to benefit those using more modern forms of search such as conversational or voice search, where the user asks Google a question rather than just types keywords into the search box. The goal is to rank pages higher that match the meaning of the search rather than pages that match by keywords, and ultimately Google is looking to provide the information in such a way that no further user action is necessary.

Currently SEO revolves around targeting pages to keywords or search terms but this will constantly evolve as the search engines look for new ways to present information and fulfil user requests, so creating quality and useful content for your potential clients is now more important than ever – rather than just trying to hit everyone with your key sales message.  Google is trying to help web users so if you still want to be a brand online you must do this as well. If you need any advice on SEO for your website then please contact us.