Hummingbird was the Google algorithm change that came out in September of 2013. It was designed to focus on the meaning behind words being used in content on the website. Hummingbirds are fast, and they are precise, thus the name.
It pays more attention to the words in each query, taking the whole question into account. So, if you type a complete sentence into the search engine, it will consider the entire sentence rather than just some words. The intent is to produce more accurate search results for users.
It was designed to apply meaning to the endless pages on the web. Some people thought that with the entrance of Hummingbird, we would be saying goodbye to PageRank. In truth, PageRank was just one of the hundreds of ingredients in Hummingbird. Hummingbird uses PageRank as a tool to determine how important a link may be, in addition to other factors.
Google launched hummingbird an entire month before they announced it.
The most recent major algorithm change from this significant update was the Caffeine Update back in 2010. That tool simply made Google more efficient at indexing.
You may be wondering about Panda, Pigeon, and Penguin. Indeed these are all algorithm changes? However, they weren’t an entire replacement but instead changing parts of the older algorithms. So, consider Google as your car and the Hummingbird as your brand-new engine. The new engine uses some old features because Google is constantly tinkering and tweaking to search for perfection.
New Search Activity
So, the purpose of Hummingbird was to help search activity, but in what way? Perhaps the most significant example would be conversational speech. Once upon a time, the search engine would focus on the words separately, throwing different results at you that made no sense. For instance, you may want to ask Google where the nearest place to buy a kettle is.
Hummingbird, though, focuses on the whole search and the meaning of the words. It can also understand the location of your home if that’s previously been shared with google. Additionally, it understands that when you say place, what you mean is a physical store. So, by improving Google’s understanding of words, its results are much improved.
Didn’t This Already Exist?
Kind of. Google relied on Knowledge Graph answers to handle these queries. However, Hummingbird was explicitly designed to apply this level of technology and understanding.
It may have hit some hitches initially. However, it certainly works incredibly efficiently now. Just try it out for yourself.
Whenever any algorithm changes occur you should wait a month before you make any changes to your site. This is because you don’t really know what type of an impact an algorithm change will have on your web traffic. Don’t panic and jump into unnecessary changes until you can measure the changes.
The measure of its success was that complaints didn’t inundate Google, so it’s fair to say that Google got Hummingbird right.