What We Can Learn from Google’s Hummingbird Update

Google’s search results always seem to be fluctuating but for some industries, it has been an especially tumultuous month. Now, it finally makes sense! Google’s new Hummingbird engine has been up and running for about 1 month now, even though they’ve just announced it this past week. Some would even say that it’s the biggest overhaul since Caffeine in 2010.

If you’re up to date with the latest SEO news and strategies, this algorithm change shouldn’t come to much of a surprise to you. In fact, the major change is how Google tries to find the best results based on the context and conversation of your searches. Instead of feeling panicked about new changes, there are many takeaways we can learn from this latest update.


It’s no surprise that Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm. In order to keep up with tech-savy searchers who are using conversational searches, à la Apple’s Siri, Google has to adapt. This means relying on a completely new engine, Hummingbird, that still uses “old” parts, such as Panda and Penguin updates. There is no one factor that is causing a drastic change but this algorithm change is more complex as it relies on hundreds, if not thousands, of different pieces.

The most frustrating part of these changes is that Google isn’t necessarily always translucent about their updates. This is especially difficult for SEOs to deal with as they’re trying to make sense of the best way to optimize their website and please customers, as well as Google. Wouldn’t it be nice if Google gave us a small heads up before making such a huge change? Honestly, we can’t rely on Google to be on the side of SEOs, especially when they’ve made it clear that their intention is to enhance the search experience for users.

Context and conversation is everything. Although the new Hummingbird engine sounds scary and complex, SEO strategies have been pushing in this direction for years now. It’s not about narrow-mindedly just optimizing for a set of keywords. As an SEO, you have to grow beyond that to provide new insight or helpful information. This is where questions and related topics come into play. This opens up a new playing field for optimization and content marketing, hopefully in a good way.

Hummingbird is a big deal but there isn’t much you should worry about if you’ve been paying attention to the SEO world. Google waited a month before making an official announcement because it’s a big, important change for them. It’s likely that they’ve been working out the kinks this past month to make it the best that they can. The conversational side of search has been missing for awhile and it’s time to integrate that into your SEO campaigns.

Interestingly enough this summer, Yahoo beat Google for the first time in 2 years, in terms of traffic. We can only speculate as to why more users are turning to Yahoo. Perhaps, they’ve been dissatisfied with the quality of Google searches? It’s interesting that we often forget there are alternatives to Google. Love it or hate it, Google’s Hummingbird is here to stay. That is, at least until another major algorithm change comes along our way in a couple years.

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