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The Google Hummingbird Update

Usually, any Google algorithm update will receive substantial coverage from the search engine optimisation community. So when Google’s latest ‘Hummingbird’ update was introduced somewhat under the radar, it produced a bit of a shock for search engine optimisers. In fact, the update has now been running live for several months.

What is the Hummingbird Update?

In comparison to the previous algorithm updates, the effects of ‘Hummingbird’ have been minimal. in comparison to previous algorithm updates, this update has gone by somewhat unnoticed. This is primarily because the update was not geared towards page or website quality, but towards Google’s search processing procedures.

What Does It Mean?

This is the first time that Google have rewritten their search algorithm in twelve years. It is for this reason that the update addresses the changing search behaviour of users as opposed to website quality.

The update has addressed the changing search behaviour of users. While past users commonly searched in keywords, they have now become much more conversational. For instance, while a desktop searches might type in ‘sunshine coast coffee shop’, a mobile user might search ‘where is the nearest coffee shop’.

The ‘Hummingbird’ update also targets the changing environment for users, including both mobile searches and voice searches. This is a long overdue update that should improve the search experience of users on mobile devices.

Taking Advantage of Hummingbird

While Google doesn’t usually release the particulars of their algorithm updates, there are a number of assumptions that can be made. For instance, Google has noted that the update is geared towards long-tail phrases and search queries.

This means that for certain searches, Google will be rewarding query-answer based content on your website. For example, you might look at producing content addressing common queries and concerns from your customers. Examples of this content could include:

  • ‘Does my business need a website?’
  • ‘How much does a website cost?’
  • ‘How long does it take to build a website??’
  • ‘Where is the nearest website developer?’
  • ‘What is email hosting?’
With the ‘Hummingbird’ update, Google has a much more sound understanding of a user’s query. It essentially eliminates the irrelevance of particular keywords in search phrases. Previously, the majority of searches were handled by parsing each word of a search phrase one at a time. With the update, Google is parsing compete search phrases (particularly queries), and then organising the results accordingly.

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