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November 12, 2013

Six Vital Google Hummingbird Questions Answered

Photo credit: Robert Scoble via flickr

It is not often that Google releases a new algorithm. Sure, we have seen a slew of algorithm updates over the last few months, but Hummingbird is brand new. Here, we will answer the most important questions related to the Hummingbird release, from the viewpoint of digital marketers.

1. What is the Hummingbird algorithm?

Google algorithms don’t change often —there hasn’t been such a major update for the last 10 years. A search algorithm consists of several factors that determine the rankings of website for search terms. Hummingbird is a new algorithm that Google has deployed in the hopes of providing better results to its users.

2. When was Hummingbird released?

Hummingbird has been humming right under our noses for quite some time. Google announced the release of the algorithm officially Sept. 26, but it had been active since Aug. 30.

3. Does this mean that Penguin, Panda and other updates are not relevant anymore?

There are about 200 different factors that affect search results — Panda and Penguin are just a part of the mix. We can see them as subsets of the Hummingbird algorithm. So, Penguin and Panda will continue to impact search results.

4. What is the purpose behind this algorithm?

People are relying more and more on mobile for searching the Internet. Consequently, the importance of voice search is growing. While Google doesn’t have any competition in Web search, there are many Smartphone-specific browsers competing with it for mobile search traffic. People use conversational search queries while searching on mobile devices. So, it became imperative for Google to provide better results to spoken queries.

Up until now, Google has focused on matching the words with content. After Hummingbird, the search engine giant will pay greater attention to the intent or meaning of the search query to provide more relevant results.

5. How has Hummingbird affected webmasters?

Unlike Penguin or Panda, Hummingbird is not a punitive update. Its purpose is to improve search results for long-tail and conversational search queries. Analyzing comments from webmasters on major digital marketing blogs reveals that Hummingbird hasn’t adversely affected the ranking of websites.

6. How can I optimize content for Hummingbird?

Mot webmasters know that Google offers answers to conversational searches. But, most of the search results in response to conversational queries were pulled from its Knowledge Graph answers. The answers to conversational queries will be plucked from all over the Web.

7. Is there a way in which webmasters can benefit from this?

We can focus on the root of the matter: the major reason that Google has rolled out Hummingbird is because it wants to offer relevant and helpful results to conversational, voice searches. By creating content that is suitable for mobile users, you can optimize it for the Hummingbird algorithm.

  • Target Conversational Keywords: Most webmasters know that people make conversational queries. But very few of us deliberately target conversational keywords. To capitalize on the trend, identify possible conversational keywords that your target audience is most likely to use and create content that answers their questions.
  • Local Search: Hummingbird will make local search automatic. For example, when some enters the search query ‘best restaurants nearby,’ she will get results from review sites for local restaurants, and perhaps, results of restaurants ranking high for the specific location. So, local search optimization will be helpful. 
  • Google AuthorRank for Content Value: More and more content from experts will be fetched by Google to answer specific conversational queries by users. Currently, many of the queries on Google return results from Yahoo Answers and Wiki Answers. Over time, we can expect results from: 1. Authority websites and;
  • Individuals with a solid Google Authorship profile.

Wrapping up

While you can use the above tips to create content to benefit from Hummingbird, the lessons learnt from Penguin and Panda are still relevant. Creating rich content that adds value to the life of the users is your best bet.


Mr. Rajveer Singh Rathore is the founder and CEO of Yug Technology, a positioning brand firm that focuses on increasing organic search visibility, website development, and software development company in India. He is a leading expert in helping businesses use data to drive digital change. His extensive marketing experience to provide tips and insights to businesses looking to learn more about things like blogging, branding, and social media, mobile, and content marketing. Website: