Last week Google announced its largest algorithm update, dubbed Hummingbird, since their 2010 installment of Caffeine. Previous updates have historically sent many SEO’s scrambling to recover their rankings, but this wasn’t the case with Hummingbird.
According to Google Hummingbird was released a few months ago and any impact it has had on rankings has since settled down. This update is a change to Google’s core algorithm, whereas updates such as Panda and Penguin were separate, yet significant additions to an existing algorithm.
Each update builds on the one before it and Hummingbird isn’t any different.
While Caffeine was introduced to improve indexing and crawling of websites to speed up search results, Hummingbird’s focus is geared towards improving the answers users receive to more complex search queries. Google’s Knowledge Graph will supposedly have a much bigger role in searches.
Changes to search results are unlikely to be noticed by most people, but Google felt it was time to react to people speaking their searches into a smartphone. There was a need for mathematical formulas to handle such natural, complex voice searches and that’s where Hummingbird comes into play.
What Does this Mean for SEO?
Google says there is nothing new for SEO’s to worry about and that guidance remains the same: produce original, high-quality content. Any signals that have influenced rankings in the past will continue to do so, including backlinks, content, title tags, on-site navigation, and so much more.
However Google’s intent with Hummingbird is to make information easier to find without having to click on multiple websites. Much of this will be accomplished through Knowledge Graph, which certainly has an effect on SEO. By providing more information through Google properties and keeping users on search results pages, organic results will naturally receive less traffic. Google is likely trying to increase our exposure to sponsored ads so they can make more money.
If your website’s ranking improved following Panda and Penguin updates, it’s likely you’ve experienced some positive changes following Hummingbird as well. On the other hand if your site has fallen in rankings in the last few months, perhaps the introduction of Hummingbird has answered some of your questions.