On September 26th, just days after dropping the so-called (Not Provided) bomb, Google announced their new search algorithm: Hummingbird.
This new algorithm is supposed to be faster and more precise than the previous algorithm and marks Google’s move toward a more semantic web. What’s a ‘semantic web’ you ask? Before you Google it, read what Bluetrain’s own SEO wizard (a.k.a Tina Wilson) has to say about this new search development.
Diana: Can you tell us what Hummingbird is?
Tina: Hummingbird is a brand new algorithm. We don’t know a ton about Hummingbird and people won’t for the next few months while SEOs are analyzing the effects, now that we know it was launched in September.
What we do know is that it is a brand new algorithm and some “core” components are still the same. We still care about PageRank, domain authority and trust, and we probably still care about keywords, but we can’t track them and target them the same way. We care about new things though now; social media matters more, it will be as important if not more important than links.
Hummingbird, however, it’s not what we’ve seen with Panda and Penguin; it’s not an update. It’s not tweaking or changing a little piece of the algorithm; it’s a completely new algorithm.
Diana: How has Google improved because of Hummingbird?
Tina: I think the jury is still out on that one. There are people that feel Google hasn’t improved, and I know there are people that say there is no difference. I’ve been following quite a few strings where people are debating whether this is actually returning more relevant results. The hope for Google was that, ideally, people could speak in a search term like: “How do I find McDonald’s”, and it would return a relevant result whereas right now maybe it doesn’t. So, it’s moving towards what we call a “semantic web” which is a web that understands what you are asking for as a person would understand, that’s what Google is striving for.
The semantic web is more important than ever before, marking up your web pages properly so that they are able to be understood semantically is important. But as for whether or not it has actually improved or altered the results, I think the jury is still out; I think people are going to have to be watching that for a little while. I would say that people should keep an eye on things, because I definitely think they will be changing in the months to come.
Diana: Is a website’s traffic likely to dip over the next few months because of Hummingbird?
Tina: I think some sites will see traffic hits just like with the previous algorithm updates that we saw. I think some sites will see traffic spikes, and I think the vast majority of sites will not see a huge change. If your content was well-targeted to an idea rather than a keyword, I don’t think you’re going to see a big change. If you were very fixated on a specific keyword phrase, you may notice a change in traffic.