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What is Google Hummingbird and will it affect my website?

Google HummingbirdTo mark 15th Birthday at the end of September, the world’s biggest search engine Google revealed ‘Hummingbird’ a new search algorithm.

For those of you with a foot in SEO this differs from the Panda (Feb 2011, bad content) and Penguin (April 2012, bad linking) updates from the past couple of years in that it is not an update, but a completely new algorithm.

Hummingbird effects up to 90% of Google’s worldwide searches and they are calling it a “major overhaul” to how the search engine works, said Amit Singhal, senior VP at Google..

With ‘Hummingbird’ Google aims to change to the way it interprets users’ search requests to better deal with longer and more complex queries.

The new algorithm represents the biggest change to Google’s search functionality in 10 years, the search engine said after also revealing they had indeed rolled out Hummingbird a month earlier.

Denis Pinsky of Forbes writes  : “one big part of this relates to adding the ability to do comparisons and add filters to a technology that Google calls the Knowledge Graph.

“In short, the Knowledge Graph is the beginning of Google’s efforts to move search past simple use of keywords and links to determine what to show in its search results. Instead Google now has mapped the relationships between many things, and can use that to answer more complex queries.”

Pinsky belives that although keywords will remain important, there is a clear shift of focus toward giving more importance to networking with peers and building audiences.

But the general message every man and his dog keep spitting out is that these updates and algorithm changes from Google will only serve to crush spammers and stamp out black hat SEO practices in favour of… great quality content which engages users…

Sound nice, but many argue this rhetoric does little to help Mike the Chesterfield mechanic who has a website to wrap his head round what this ‘quality content’ is supposed to be so he is in with a shot at securing a deserved place in the all-important first page of Google for, well, ‘car mechanics in Chesterfield’.

Ken Wisnefski writes in an article  on Wired, that it’s “not enough to have a beautifully designed website or an entertaining blog that keeps people coming back for more. “Businesses need to focus on staying ahead of the competition by taking advantage of all the marketing initiatives the Internet provides. From blogs and website design to a strong social media presence, it all ties in to becoming the authority in a given space,” he says.

What most agree on is that Google Hummingbird focuses more on context of a search query and less on the individual keywords.

As Hummingbird was reportedly launched in late August 2013, John Colascione of newsli.com  believes that whatever you’re going to see from Hummingbird, you’ve probably seen most of it already, “but in an ever changing and moving roller coaster world of Google, it surely isn’t all over yet.”

So the big question: does Hummigbird spell the demise of traditional SEO?

In short. No, not White Hat SEO anyway.

“In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about,” writes Danny Sullivan for SearchEngineLand.com

“Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.”

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Google Hummingbird? Nailed it! 

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