Search Engine Optimizers and website owners are familiar with the fact that Google changes its algorithm a bazillion times ever year and each time, they give the update a unique name. Some of the names may sound extremely funny because they are based on people, cities, states, animals or drinks. Some of their most popular updates were the Penguin, Panda, Pelican, Polar Bear and not to forget the Big Daddy update. The codename of Google’s most recent algorithm update is "Hummingbird".
The announcement of Google’s Hummingbird update made quite a stir in the web and SEO communities. The announcement of the algorithm coincides with Google Search turning 15 years last month. From 1998 to 2013, Google Search has come a long way and so has the way information is shared on the Internet. Today, billions of people have access to the Internet daily and the web has grown exponentially in the last 2 decades.
Unlike the Panda, Penguin and other updates which were changes to parts of the old algorithm, the Hummingbird update is a major update, much like the Caffeine Update that happened in 2010, but it is still different. The Hummingbird update sorts through the information available on the web effectively rather than simply improving the way Google gathers information. According to Amit Singhal, Google’s search chief, this is a drastic change in the algorithm since he joined in 2001.
Should you be worried?
According to Google, there is nothing new or different which SEOs and website publishers need to worry about. If you have original, high-quality content on your website, you should not be worried. Original and high quality content will always be appreciated by Google; the Hummingbird update just allows Google to process that content in new and better ways.
The next good thing is that if the past Google updates have not affected you, you will come through Hummingbird unscathed too. The algorithm was already live for a month before it was publically announced and there has not been a major outcry among publishers. There may be a query-by-query effect which helps improve specific searches, but it is not an update which will cause major traffic shifts.
In these 15 years, Google has become less of a search engine and more of a wise, all-knowing guru. Questions like "Who", "What", "When", "Where", "Why" related to your daily struggles are effectively answered by Google. Internet users have also changed the way they search online, and instead of typing in a few keywords related to a topic, they enter lengthy queries regularly. Hummingbird is addressing this search trend.
With Hummingbird, Google is trying to understand the user’s intent and meaning when they type in "long tail" searches. Google announced that it is moving away from a keyword-based search to providing niche websites to the searcher. When Amit Singhal announced the Hummingbird update, he also affirmed that Hummingbird is also an infrastructural update, which governs more than 200 elements that make up Google’s algorithm.
What do you think of the Hummingbird update? Do you think your website is now getting more visitors, less visitors or you don’t see any change in web traffic?