Hummingbird may very well be the most dramatic rewrite of Google's search algorithm since 2001, according to Google search chief Amit Singhal.
Why then, has there been so little buzz surrounding it? Google announced Hummingbird last Thursday, and if history is any indication, these kinds of announcements usually spread like wildfire (Penguin 2.0, anybody?). However, unlike the Penguin update, Hummingbird seems to have had very little effect on search rankings. In fact, Hummingbird has already been running for over a month and currently affects 90% of all worldwide searches, so if you haven't experienced its impact yet, you're likely in the clear.
Nonetheless, we thought it would be wise to give you the low-down on what exactly Hummingbird is and what it may mean for marketers and SEOs.
What Is Hummingbird?
Hummingbird is a new search algorithm that Google rolled out for the purpose of improving the results generated in response to search queries. It is purportedly faster and more precise than its predecessor. Unlike Penguin or Panda, which were updates to already existing algorithms, Hummingbird is brand spankin' new.
With this move, Google is hoping to better handle the influx of longer, more complex search queries. One of the main areas of focus for Hummingbird is "conversational search," meaning it is geared to respond better to strings of related queries that transpire more as a conversational dialogue than a standalone search. Google is essentially remembering the context of conversation as you search, ensuring that the entire query - from an entire sentence to a whole conversation - is taken into account.
What Does This Mean For SEO's And Marketers?
The tepid response to Hummingbird from SEOs and marketers can probably be chalked up to the fact that it doesn't really seem to have had a drastic impact on anybody in terms of search rankings. Unlike the Penguin update, if you've been doing SEO right, Hummingbird really doesn't require you to make any real changes to the way you have been conducting SEO.
The same guidelines still hold true. Google still recommends the creation of original, high-quality content, coupled with a well-structured, user-friendly website. Also, signals that have been important for ranking in the past haven't changed. What has changed with Hummingbird is the ways that Google processes these signals.
So, if you've been using the right SEO practices up until this point, continue to do so - you don't have to change anything with respect to the Hummingbird algorithm. However, if you haven't been consistently creating high-quality, unique content or have been using shady SEO tactics, your fate will be the same with Hummingbird as it was with the Penguin update. When it comes down to it, remarkable content and stellar user experience are still the best practices you can use in your SEO efforts.