Launched in August 2013, the Google Hummingbird Update was released in order to help Google gain an improved understanding of a searchers request and therefore show results that better match their intent.
The Hummingbird Update resulted in some pages ranking well for despite not having the exact keywords in the content. Before this, an effective semantic search had not previously occurred. The update now impacts search results for billions of queries and works toward a more personal SERP for Google users.
Before the Hummingbird Update, search results would only show exactly what you searched for which meant results would often be precise to but lacking in depth and resources. So, Google began to look at ways to analyse the user’s intent and be more receptive to interpretation.
The Hummingbird Update allows you to fine tune your query and attempts to avoid misclicks and unnecessary extra searches. The newfound understanding of context meant that Google was now able to provide answers to precise questions where there would have previously been confusion.
The Google Hummingbird Update was applied to the algorithm as an extension of 2010’s Caffeine update and as a response to changes in how users were engaging and responding to search results. It proved a successful advancement that impacted about 90% of searches worldwide including long-tail phrases.
The algorithm was focused around conversational search which meant that Google would now be able to process natural language and generate niche results for queries. It also centres on human search and focuses on synonyms and theme-related topics which has resulted in better search results for users who may have had limited knowledge on a subject matter.
As a result of Hummingbird, local results have become more precise. Users no longer needed to carefully consider nouns or avoid colloquialisms when searching, and the combined focus on natural language processing and human intent along with location data has all contributed to the intelligent Google search system we use today.
In the history of Google Updates, Hummingbird is considered crucial in terms of how Google has advanced its relationship with human intent. ‘Micro-moments’ are acknowledged as times when people will turn to their device and search engine to either act on a desire to find something out, watch something or buy something etc. Hummingbird saw to cater to this by covering search topics that involved the words Do, Know or Go for example.
From a webmaster or SEO technicians’ perspective, the Hummingbird Update now meant spamming a page with keywords was further weakened. However, this humanisation of the search engine meant that words such as the who, where and why are now more effective, just as in real life.