In September of this year, search engine giants Google announced their latest update, Hummingbird, during their 15th year birthday celebrations. The world’s online population use Google to search for information over 5 billion times every day, a figure which is likely to rise as ever-growing numbers of us surf the internet on laptops, tablets and smartphones. So, what exactly is Hummingbird, and how will it affect the way results are found and displayed?
Hummingbird is named so because of the speed and precision which can be seen in the movements of the bird, and the parallels found within Google’s new and improved search functionality. Instead of a change to the search algorithm, which has occurred several times over the past decade and a half, Hummingbird sees an entire overhaul to the way in which Google searches and collates results. The system is an amalgamation of old and new algorithms and calculations, and is designed to display accurate and appropriate results for the modern day internet user.
In particular, Google have redesigned the ways in which the search engine understands longer search queries and finds the most appropriate results. This deviates from previous Google updates, which focused on fine-tuning the ways the search engine gathered information from the internet. These updates mainly focused on eliminating spam-ridden pages or those which have used fraudulent tricks to improve page ranking, while ensuring that pages full of unique and engaging content remain near the top of the results. With over 200 million search queries being completed every hour, these updates ensured that only the most relevant and useful pages would
be displayed in Google’s search results. While this technology still influences the order in which results are displayed, Hummingbird primarily focuses on a better understanding of exactly what the user is actually searching for. For example, let’s consider long search queries in the past, Google would analyse and search for pages containing the individual keywords within the query, often producing a variety of loosely-related web results. With Hummingbird, Google attempts to identify the meaning behind the query, by taking into account the systems and nuances of human language and communication. This new algorithm is likely to affect up to 90% of search results, through a better understanding of search queries.
If you’re interested in seeing the new Hummingbird technology in action, you may be surprised to know that you probably already have. Although the announcement only came a matter of weeks ago, Google revealed that Hummingbird has actually been running since August 2013. A lack of news coverage would suggest that none of Google’s 150 billion monthly search queries provided results which seemed different or obscure, something which the search engine giants are likely to be proud of. Google aim for a search experience which is useful and personalised for today’s modern internet user and their latest update uses a better understanding of human communication to do just this.
Did you notice a change in the way Google deals with longer search queries? After Hummingbird, what do you think the next step is for search engines like Google?
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