Google Hummingbird – How the Change Affects You

December 3, 2013

google_hummingbird-580x334Google recently changed its search algorithm to a version called Hummingbird (a name that’s intended to symbolize precision and speed). If you’re the type of person who monitors your SERPs (search engine results pages) closely, you may have seen some changes in your ranking. Websites that are heavy on content should have fared the best.

Should you be greatly concerned? Probably not. A comprehensive FAQ on Search Engine Land explains Hummingbird in greater detail, but here are a few of the high points:

– “Conversational search” is one of the biggest examples Google cited as the type of new search activity that Hummingbird helps. (Example: “Who’s the most-helpful marketing design company in Jacksonville?”)

– Google says there’s nothing new or different that search engine optimizers or publishers need to do in response to Hummingbird. The importance of high-quality content remains the same.

– The change was made in August but was announced in late September.

– If you think you lost traffic, Google says that could be due to some other part of its algorithm that it is constantly tweaking. There’s no way to know.

Such is the fun of Google and SEO — part art, part science. They don’t reveal all the rules (and they’re constantly changing them anyway) but honest SEO practitioners are trained in proven tactics that deliver solid SERPs. To view a small selection of tactics that can help or hurt your search engine results, view Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors.


Jan Hirabayashi founded BroadBased in 1996 and is the company's CEO and lead marketing strategist.