Google’s Hummingbird algorithm is used for search. As of August 2013, it affects 90% of Google searches and replaces the Caffeine algorithm.
Panda and Penguin retain some of their functionality in Hummingbird, an entirely new engine. This new engine is still focused on quality, and Google’s primary goal still remains the same.
Hummingbird, how does it work?
Penguin and Panda are penalty-based updates. Hummingbird, however, is a change in how Google reacts to various types of searches. Instead of understanding each separate term within a search query, it describes the meaning behind the search query. Instead of listing results based on exact keywords or phrases, Hummingbird now displays results which are more theme-related.
The context makes all the difference. Hummingbird allows Google to judge context, which enables it to understand what a user is trying to achieve when they perform a search, rather than just using synonyms. In short, semantic search enables Google to understand what a user is searching for.
In other words, it’s a new means of humanizing interactions. With Hummingbird, Google intends to use this so-called ‘meaning’ technology to expand on Google’s Knowledge Graph, offering users the chance to discover connections related to their query based on the results. Hummingbird can therefore determine which pages are most relevant and high-quality and therefore meet the searcher’s needs.
In addition, it is better at understanding what you are referring to, even if you are not entirely sure yourself. As a result of the search query “what is the film about the three guys in vegas?”,”,vegas?”,”,vegas?”,”, Google is able to interpret context and return a meaningful result. The Hangover knows we mean ‘The Hangover’ despite the vagueness of our keywords.
What does Hummingbird mean for SEO?
The introduction of Hummingbird has changed search engine optimization somewhat. Google Hummingbird has helped digital marketers understand that keyword context for the topics around which pages are created is the most important thing to offer Google.
Rank factors such as page authority have long been considered significant by Google. The importance of page content will lead to a greater emphasis on authority and could result in more relevant search results. As a result of the update, Google will not direct users to a home page or top level page but the most appropriate page on a website. This could lead to higher conversion rates for your website.
An important component of Hummingbird’s algorithm is PageRank, which determines how important links are to a page. Thus, link metrics and cocitations remain important. Linking to other sites allows Google to understand what your business or website deals with. With Penguin, we realized that, but Hummingbird reinforces the fact that inbound links from topically irrelevant contexts are not to be trusted.
Link building is now even more important in the context in which it exists for the way businesses and agencies approach it. Taking advantage of synonyms and co-occurrences becomes even more important. This topic has already been covered in the article about anchor text.
As a final note, when Hummingbird first came out, one of the most common myths was that structured data is the main ranking factor. In order to describe what your page is about, structured data schema markup should be used. We discussed above that, regarding the content of your page, you want Google to ‘know’ it has an answer to a searcher’s query. Your SEO company can ensure that this happens.