Yesterday, Google announced “Hummingbird” right from the garage that Larry Page and Sergey Brin used as Google’s first office. This update is unique as it seems that has been out for weeks now and nobody even noticed! Generally, I am very happy when the algorithm gets updated. A lot of people in the SEO field freak out and start frantically checking websites they manage to see if they’ve been penalized or not, and for good reason, as many of them implement shady tactics. Some of them don’t “get it”.
So, what is “it”?
You should always be feeding the Hummingbird nectar.
In a way, there is nothing new about this at all. Search engines have tried to deliver the best results to their users that they can from day 1. People confuse me in their efforts to outsmart the algorithm. Sure, it can be done, even easily at times, but the results are short lived, so putting forth the effort in the first place is just a bad idea.
I’ve only played with Hummingbird for a few minutes but I am instantly seeing one of the very cool ways Hummingbird affects search. I do not operate many of them myself but I monitor certain sites that gear their pages for search results based on questions. For example, a blog post or web page might be titled and written in Q&A format, such as “How can I get a Respberry pi Laptop?” In the past, if you had a page on your site optimized for this specific key phrase and it was planted on a decent site it could perform quite well. Not all of us search this way but quite a few people type their search queries in question format (or a “natural format”). Now, there are no pages titled word-for-word “How can I get a Respberry pi Laptop?” (yet), but if we google it, the results returned on the results page are very good. See, you can’t go out and purchase a Raspberry Pi laptop; you have to combine various components in order to have one. The results show some great articles on exactly how to do this, as seen below:
Instead of trying to trick search engines and working towards making nectar for search engines, nectar should be made for users. I think that this has been stated a million times in one fashion or another, but content needs value (instead of keyword stuffing, etc.)
So, to me, so far, Hummingbird seems to be just another step in Google’s journey to provide quality, relevant results. Your content, your content’s value, your website, the ease of use, mobility, usability, accessibility, having a relevant author, etc. are the ingredients for great nectar.
If you have been building your websites with these ingredients, they will perform great and remain relevant. I have small business websites I’ve operated for 10+ years, and sites I just launched under 4 months ago, all dominating the competition simply because they’re great and informative websites.
As time goes on it will be interesting to see the other way Hummingbird impacts search. There should be some good reads on it soon. This is just my first impression and I’m sure it is only the tip of the iceberg. Hummingbird is sure to be far more complex that just answering long queries better. There are several other updates to the knowledge graph and more, which you can read about here on The official Google Search blog.
EDIT: So, as stated above, that was only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe more like a snowflake! Hummingbird does a lot of things. During Panda and Penguin a lot of sites were punished for bad behavior but Hummingbird is different and much more than that. More on this later.