Last month Google revealed a new search algorithm named Hummingbird, which was designed to be more precise and provide faster search results to users. Hummingbird also focuses more on user intent and answering questions than on individual keywords.
This is first time that Google has completely replaced its search algorithm since 2001. More recent changes, like the Penguin, Panda and Caffeine updates, had simply changed only parts of the old algorithm. Also, even though Google announced the Hummingbird algorithm on September 26th, the change had actually already been in place for about a month before the announcement.
Although the exact formula has not yet been released, the new Hummingbird algorithm looks at over 200 signals when determining search rank for a site, and it has increased Google’s ability to deal with complex search queries, like long questions. Hummingbird has also improved Google’s Knowledge Graph, which was introduced last year.
Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in a search instead of just focusing on particular keywords, to achieve its goal of giving users results that match the actual meaning of their search query or question, instead of results that just match a few words in the query. This makes Google much more conversational and is especially helpful for users speaking searches. Since more and more people are now using their mobile devices to search for things on the go, it’s much more likely that more of these searches are being entered by voice rather than the keypad. With the increase in voice searches, it makes sense to make it easier for these users to get results that actually answer the full question being asked instead of providing results that include only a few words in the question.
The other major part of the Hummingbird update is the improvements it has made to Google’s Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph allows users to search for things, people or places that Google knows about and instantly get the information that is relevant to their search without even having to leave Google. Hummingbird expanded the use of the Knowledge Graph to provide answers to search queries that don’t have simple answers without having to leave the page or click elsewhere. The Knowledge Graph also now helps Google understand when a follow up search makes reference to a previous search.
What does this new search algorithm mean for you website? Since Hummingbird was actually implemented a month before Google announced it, if you were going to have problems with it, you would have noticed it by now. Google has said that there is nothing new or different you need to worry about concerning SEO, and as it has been in the past, having original, high quality content is what will help you reach the top of the search results the best.
If you have noticed a drop in traffic, you might want to look at the content on your site and make sure that your website is providing the answers that searchers are looking for and identifies and solves their problems. The most important thing to focus on to improve your SEO is to provide quality and engaging content instead of just focusing on keywords, since Hummingbird is less concerned about keywords and more looking for the intention behind them.