Google Hummingbird: The Most Significant Algorithm Update Since 2010?

Google Hummingbird: September 26, 2013 marked Google’s 15th birthday.

To celebrate, Google announced a major algorithm update that would affect 90% of all searches, called Google Hummingbird.

The cool part was when they made the announcement a day before their birthday inside the garage where the brains of Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with today’s biggest search engine.

Google says the name comes from the updates “being precise and fast,” as noted in SearchEngineLand’s article announcement about the algorithm. Over 200 ingredients pool together in Google Hummingbird to make the algorithm work.

Is It Really The Most Impactful Update Since 2010?

“Hummingbird” has actually been in the game for a month now; the announcement was made 30 days after it was launched. Google’s VPs are also claiming that the pretty-bird-update is the most significant once since Caffeine was launched in 2010. And that holds pretty true. Penguin and Panda don’t hold a candle to the 90% search query effect rate that Google Hummingbird holds. We aren’t disputing this one. It’s also one of the most “dramatically rewritten” updates, Google VPs say.

That said, what does Hummingbird actually do to affect 90% of the search queries?

Google Answers Me—Like a Person!

The biggest change that Hummingbird has brought around is offering direct answers to search questions. This is called “conversational search.” Unlike Caffeine, which targeted improved indexing of websites, Hummingbird is focused on ranking search information based on intelligent understanding of search queries.

These “advanced voice queries” actually involve your computer, tablet or mobile device answering back to you when you use the voice search option on Google, says Mashable.

Try it out—visit and click the mic icon (must be using a Mac, a Windows with voice recognition, a mobile device or a tablet). Once the red microphone appears and starts flashing, ask Google how tall the Eiffel tower is. Or how old your favorite artist is. Google will answer!

Not only does Google reply in a real-person voice, but it is smarter about understanding long query searches and questions. If you are asking where you can buy an Samsung S4 Android from a place closest to your house, for example, Google will implement previous knowledge you’ve shared about your location in giving you a store location—and it will know that you mean “store” by “place.” This is going far beyond simply matching queries with a name match.


Searching for a specific health issue and the word “prescription” used to bring up a list of drugs (useful or not) in curing the health problem: like this list for GERD medications. Now, Google will bring you results about general treatment and whether you even need prescriptions.

What Does It Mean For Website Owners & SEO?

Those heavily involved in SEO, website traffic rankings, and PageRank need not worry because of Hummingbird. The wholesome practices in good written web content, relevant linking in content, age and website PR (PageRank), etc. are still mostly the same today, even after the occurrence of Hummingbird.

SearchEngineLand says that Google is saying original, high-quality content is still a huge focus. Hummingbird will not change that in any way—if anything, encourage it.

PageRank: Some are debating that PageRank is or isn’t affected because of Hummingbird. The short of the matter: PageRank still matters. Neither is SEO dead, as some ludicrous rumors have it.

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