Last Thursday was an exciting day: Google announced the launch of a new search algorithm – Hummingbird.

Hummingbird is specifically designed to deal with complex queries. So far, there has been very little information released about the new algorithm. The key points of what is known have been gathered by Search Engine Land to help SEO marketers get to know it a little better.

Hummingbird is now live and is sifting through all information online to deliver better and more relevant results to users, especially for complex queries, or those that the search engine calls “conversational searches.” The name was selected because, like the bird, the new algorithm is supposed to be “precise and fast.” Although the algorithm has actually been used for about a month now, Google only announced its arrival last week.

According to Google´s search chief Amit Singhal, the rollout of Hummingbird is probably the most significant change the company has made since 2001; it is a complete rewrite of an algorithm. It is going to work together with the Panda and Penguin (which updated parts of the old algorithm) to return the best possible results.

Here is how Hummingbird works: if a user asks: “What´s the closest place to buy the iPhone 5s to my home?”, a traditional search engine would search for pages that have “buy” and “iPhone 5s” within them. But Hummingbird will analyse the query at a deeper level; focusing on the user´s location and understanding that by “place” the user means a store.

This type of information is not new for Google, but until now it was only available within Google´s Knowledge Graph answers. Hummingbird will now do this for billions of pages online, Search Engine Land noted.

Hummingbird will not affect SEO; in fact, Google has specifically pointed out that SEO marketers do not need to worry about doing anything new. Google´s guidance remains exactly the same: websites need to have relevant, high-quality content. Hummingbird simply allows Google to process them in new, and hopefully improved, ways.

By Ben Hollom

Ben Hollom

October 2, 2013