What is Google Hummingbird?

  • 7th October 20137/10/13
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If you’ve been searching on Google over the past month or two you’ll have been receiving results from the Hummingbird algorithm. Mean anything too you? Maybe not, but it’s one of the most significant developments to come from Google in the past ten years.

Google as a search engine are constantly aiming to improve, tweak and develop their search algorithm in order to provide you with better results. In most recent times we’ve seen the Google Panda update, which aimed to lower the rank of low-quality sites with little content, and return higher-quality sites to the top of search results, and Google Penguin, which in turn looked to penalise and address sites that violated Google’s webmaster guidelines through ‘black hat’ search engine optimisation techniques and mass link building in order to rank higher.

These were both significant updates; Google Hummingbird is a replacement of the entire algorithm.

To place that in to perspective, it’s the first algorithm replacement for Google since way back in 2001 and effects 90% of all worldwide search terms.

Trust us, that’s quite a few searches!

The reason you won’t have heard much about it unless you work within the industry is that it wasn’t released to a great fanfare from Google. It was up and running a month before any confirmation was made from them. It nevertheless doesn’t demean the changes it makes to how your search results are presented.

So what is it trying to achieve for the average searcher?

Google tell us that Hummingbird aims to provide ranking results based on a more intelligent understanding of search terms. What does that mean in plain English? Simply that they want to understand the entirety of what you’re typing into the search results box and not merely look at those words in isolation.

They want to understand what you mean, not individual words you type.

For example, if you are asking a “how”, “what” or “where” question, it wants to provide you with the answer rather than results that closely link to each of the words.

If you’ve ever typed a question into Google and not got answers to your questions then you’ll appreciate the impact a full understanding of your question will have.

With this in mind Hummingbird aims for Google to begin providing you with answers, not results.

Lets hope it does indeed lead to smarter search results and top quality answers!

For information about how MiHi Digital can help your search engine performance please give us a call or drop us an email at

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