As many have already heard, Google has announced a huge change in their search engine. They have replaced the search algorithm with an entirely new one (still based on the old one) and have named it “Hummingbird” The goal, according to Google, is to provide better results to users based on the way people are searching today.
While there are significant changes throughout the algorithm, some of the biggest are concerning ‘conversational search,’ which is how people search using their voice. Rather than strictly using the terms people say when using a voice search, the new update allows the search engine to dig into the meanings behind the words. The biggest example of this would be when someone speaks a search such as “what is the closest place I can buy a new bike.” Using the meaning of each of those words, Google can now know that the person is not looking for a bike on Amazon or another online store. They want a physical store which is located near them, which sells bikes.
Conversational search was really pushed into the spotlight with Apple’s Siri, but Google quickly put out their Google voice search, which works in a similar way. When people are typing in a search into a search engine, they write different things than when they speak. When people talk, they often do so in full sentences, whereas when they type, they may only put in the main words they are looking for.
Already a Month Old
While the confirmation from Google concerning the Hummingbird update only came recently, they said it had gone in place over a month ago now. This makes it very difficult to do any sort of comparison testing (which is undoubtedly intentional on Google’s part). Google has been releasing less and less information about their changes recently, so most people aren’t really surprised that they waited so long to confirm this change.
While this is a huge update for Google, most sites won’t notice a dramatic change in traffic patterns. The update wasn’t designed to punish certain SEO techniques like the Panda and Penguin updates were. Many places are comparing this change to replacing the engine of a car. It is not intended to change what the car does, but rather just improve the overall performance. Google said that they choose the name Hummingbird because the bird is “precise and fast” which is what this new search algorithm should be.
With any change this big there will be some sites which gain traffic, and others that lose it. Figuring out whether or not Hummingbird is the cause, however, will be nearly impossible. There are small updates made to the Google algorithm all the time, and search trends are constantly adjusting. Pinning the blame for any lost traffic on Hummingbird will be difficult and really useless anyway.
Have you noticed any changes in the last month? If so, what were they? Did they affect your traffic, or do you have any anecdotes of improved search results? If you have anything you’d like to share, please comment below.