Google’s ‘Hummingbird’ Update- Impact on your Website’s Google Rank

Hummingbird, that fluffy, fragile, featherweight of the bird kingdom has suddenly become the talk of the town. Nope- the Hummingbird isn’t gonna be immortalized on the big screen like that tiny lizard that turned into Godzilla. Google has just released the latest update to its influential search algorithm, and keeping with its penchant to name things after cute animals and birds, called it the Hummingbird.

Common, Panda and Penguin were just here…

Surely, you seem like a frustrated Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) wondering if Hummingbird will play havoc with your hard earned search rankings. It won’t (if you are focussed on good, unique content and the quality of websites that link back to your website). It will (if you are using more spammy methods to get noticed on Google and less of the good stuff listed above).

…Er, How is Hummingbird different from Panda and Penguin?

Good question. Hummingbird is the biggest change in Google’s Search Algorithm in 12 years- it’s a brand new search engine that’s focussed on improving Google’s already impressive search capabilities. Panda and Penguin were minor updates to Google’s previous search algorithm- Hummingbird replaces it, while keeping some key elements from Panda and Penguin unchanged.

Google’s ‘Hummingbird’ Update

What is Hummingbird supposed to do?

Google being Google, are thinking up new ways to do the same old search thingy all the time. Hummingbird is Google’s attempt to understand the user’s search queries better- especially, a long query, or what is termed a ‘Conversational Search’. Primarily targeting people who Google on their mobile devices and like to speak a conversational sentence, something like ‘Where can I find the best Chicken Biryani in Bangalore?’ Hummingbird is designed to understand the gravity of each word in this sentence rather than independent keywords. While searching for the meaning behind this ‘cryptic’ query, Hummingbird will ascertain your current location (if you have shared this with Google), it figures that ‘Chicken Biryani’ is a traditional Indian dish and determines your requirement for a food outlet. This type of intuitive behaviour allows Google to pull out web-pages that better match the meaning of your search query rather than just pulling out pages with the designated keywords. Voila! Tasty biryani, for sure!

In simple terms, with Hummingbird, Google is trying to break free of its dependency on keywords. A user’s search query (spoken or typed) will be gauged on the basis of individual words used, taking the whole sentence as an individual entity rather than a collection of keywords. Finally, the search results will list pages that better match the meaning of the query at higher ranks than pages that utilize keywords as beacons to attract Google’s attention. Thus, your query will almost, always return the results as expected.

What about my website’s SEO efforts? Must I change things?

Nope. It’s been already over a month since Hummingbird went active and not many websites have complained about falling ranks and other complications. Webmasters who were trying to act smart with Google were given their bitter pill by the vengeful combine of Panda and Penguin. Hummingbird encourages the use of good, quality and fresh content, and back links from websites with good page-rank (yup, PR is still very relevant). All the SEO rules that were endorsed by Google are still in place, just the method to separate between the billions of webpages has changed, somewhat.

Why Hummingbird? That’s a funny name.

Not a fan of Animal Planet, I see. Hummingbird is supposed to imply ‘precision and speed’. Qualities that will surely be felt by the average Google user in the times to come, as also by enthusiastic SEOs as they try new methods to tame the Google mania. Listen…hear the tiny wings flutter with breath-taking speed? Welcome to the Age of the Hummingbird.

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