Google Hummingbird: Finding the Search Results Users Really Want
Google has launched several major changes to its search engine over the last several months. The most recent modification, called “Hummingbird,” is the most significant update to Google search since 2001. However, Hummingbird is not just an update, it’s an entirely new search algorithm that influences “around 90% of searches”, says Google. It is interesting to note that Google released Hummingbird a month before the official announcement and no one seemed to notice.
Over the past few years, Google has made changes to the algorithm but the goal of these updates was to make Google better at collecting information. Google indexed websites more often and became more efficient at spotting spammy website content. Instead of simply gathering data, Google Hummingbird focuses on understanding what users really want and providing better search results.
The most significant difference in Hummingbird is in-depth search queries. Instead of calculating individual words in a search, Google now processes the meaning behind a search query as a whole. Google has evolved to better understand language and how people communicate.
Most users won’t notice any changes, but for more complex search queries, Google now returns more focused results. For example, if a user searches for “auto mechanics near the capitol”, Google formerly showed results after it analyzed each word individually. So, this search query might return results that listed an article about auto mechanic jobs, a map based on a user’s current location, or attractions near the capitol. With Hummingbird, Google better understands what a user is asking and displays a list of mechanics near the capitol of the user’s state—if the user is logged into Google and has given Google Maps their home address.
Mobile searches are a major motivation for making these changes. When searchers use their smartphones, queries tend to be short—users don’t use as many terms as when they’re typing on a conventional keyboard. However, the opposite is true when voice search is used: Voice search queries are usually longer and more complex.
Tips for Content Creators
Business owners can benefit from the changes introduced by Hummingbird by continuing to publish “evergreen” content—articles that are instructional, descriptive, and authoritative. Here are a couple title ideas to use in your blog posts and social media content that will help drive more traffic to your website.
- “How to…” Articles: People regularly type “how to…” in their search queries. Use this term in your titles, and within the content when it is appropriate.
- “What is…” Posts: This is another common phrase that people use while searching. Establish your business as an authority in your industry and, with time, you will improve your search engine ranking for particular queries.
- “The History of…” or “The Story of…” Publications: Histories and stories that are important to your industry tend to past the evergreen test of relevancy and are regularly search by the public.
Google’s goal is to make sure that it is prepared for a future where its users are looking for more focused search results, whether with text or by voice.
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