In a surprise revelation from Google’s original headquarters, the garage of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, it was announced that the new Google Hummingbird update will affect 90% of search worldwide. Amit Singhal, the Senior Vice President of search at Google, told reporters yesterday that the company is trying to maintain pace with the continuous evolution of the internet era by implementing a system that will allow users who are searching on the internet to use longer and more complicated queries. He noted that Hummingbird was actually launched about a month ago and it is just now being announced to the public.
You may have noticed that Google is getting better at answering complex questions posed to it, such as, “What’s better-Android or Apple?” or “What places near here could I get my hair cut?” Singhal mentioned that Google is trying to move away from the old school “Boolean”, or keyword and keyword phrase based systems. It has become apparent that these old search methods are starting to give way to today’s much more complicated search queries, thus the release of Hummingbird. Hummingbird signifies Google’s efforts to better match the meaning of complex search queries with documents on the web.
“Remember what it was like to search in 1998?” wrote Singhal in a blog post. “You’d sit down and boot up your bulky computer, dial up on your squawky modem, type in some keywords, and get 10 blue links to websites that had those words.” He went on to mention that the world has changed so much since then, with billions of people moving into the internet space and growing it at exponential levels, that Google sees it as imperative that they make it possible to ask the little device in your pocket virtually anything.
Hummingbird is the biggest change to Google’s search engine since 2010 when they launched Caffeine. (Caffeine focused on speed and integrating social network results into search results.) So the Caffeine update focused on the speed of gathering information, while the Hummingbird update focuses on gathering information more efficiently. Of course, like with a lot of their search updates, Google has avoided getting too technical about the new algorithm. They simply said that Hummingbird will affect 90% of search and that it will focus on bringing more relevant results to more complex search queries. It was also noted that this should fit in much better with people who are starting to use the voice recognition capabilities of their smart devices. In other words, “conversational search” should become much more efficient under the new update.
Of course, if you’re an SEO specialist, you’re probably wondering if this is going to affect you or not. The answer as of right now is no. Google launched Hummingbird about a month ago, so if you haven’t yet experienced any dramatic changes in your site’s rankings, then you probably won’t anytime in the near future. This update seems to be purely an effort by Google to improve search results, not affect how you optimize a website. The fundamental concept of quality, engaging, and unique content continues to ring true if you are wanting to rank higher in Google’s search engine.
Along with the announcement of the new Hummingbird update, Google also made some tweaks to its Knowledge Graph so it can better process comparison questions such as, “What is better for me-milk or soy milk?” Google also has made push notifications for Google available on iOS. All of this comes in light of Google’s 15th birthday, which was celebrated among Google employees along with the new update announcements.
So, we know that the new Google Hummingbird update affects 90% of search, is designed to better parse complex queries, tweaks have been made to Google’s Knowledge Graph, and Google push notifications are now available on iOS. It is apparent that Google is not resting at all despite the fact that they are still the undisputed search engine king. They still feel they can better the search experience and make life easier for users. Appropriately enough, Singhal seemed to sum up the entire point of Hummingbird in one sentence, “You should not be spending your time searching, you should be spending your time living.”
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