New features of the ‘Hummingbird’ algorithm

Jose Vicente

Written by Jose Vicente

On its fifteenth anniversary, Google has revealed its latest algorithm updateAfter the last two black and white animals – panda and penguin – names such as zebra were considered, but this was not the case and Amit Singhal, senior vice-president of Search, told us introduced theHummingbird update on September 28, 2009.. But the nomenclature should not confuse us since Hummingbird is a complete update of the algorithm whose previous version was called Caffeine and was already 3 years old, while Panda and Penguin are filters that Caffeine needed to deal with SPAM and that Hummingbird will continue to use. Google confirmed that the algorithm has been in place for a month, at the end of August.

Why was the change from Caffeine to Hummingbird necessary?

Users perform searches differently when using the keyboard or voice control, always tending to use more complex and long tail terms in the second option. Google says that the Hummingbird name of the new algorithm update is due to its accuracy and speed in understanding the more complex and longer searches that are becoming increasingly popular due to voice searches from mobile devices. To do this, Google uses its knowledge base with millions of concepts, which are not simple words, and when they are connected to each other they help to relate the terms used by users (keyword or “keyword”). keyword) by the concept you are actually looking for (search intent or search intent).

But let’s give an example of this new feature: let’s imagine that a user searches for “Places to eat pizza in Alicante”. The new Hummingbird algorithm should relate the term “place to eat pizza” to pizzeria or Italian restaurant. The previous version would have returned results containing terms such as “eat”, “pizza”, “Alicante”. This means that Google now not only checks that the search words are included in the content, but also understands the meaning of the entire phrase. But Google’s idea is to go further and have the algorithm be able to hold a conversation and process them in a more fluid way approaching what they call a “natural conversation”. So if the user in our example were to perform a second search such as “and that has a terrace” the algorithm should be able to relate this second search to the first and return “pizzerias with terrace” or “Italian restaurants with terrace”.

Caffeine improved crawling and indexing speed and capacity, and Hummingbird will improve understanding of complex searches.

What about the Panda and the Penguin? These two anti-SPAM filters were necessary at the time and complemented the old Caffeine algorithm.Hummingbird still uses some parts of the previous algorithm, Panda and Penguin. In addition to updating parts that were using obsolete technologies and incorporating new functionalities already mentioned. While Caffeine improved the speed and crawlability and indexing of websites – this is when Google started to put more emphasis on WPO – Hummingbird improves the understanding of more complex searches.

Will Hummingbird affect the ranking of positions?

Although the algorithm has been in operation for a month now, Google assures that there have been no radical changes in the positions since it is not an anti-SPAM filter but a new way of understanding searches. Hummingbird will rank pages that match searches in meaning better than those that simply match words.
In case you detect a sudden change of positions or traffic on your site, you should consider the possibility that it may be affected by one of the anti SPAM filters that are periodically updated and executed on the search results.

Hummingbird ranks better for pages that match searches in meaning than those that simply match words.

In our view, in the medium to long term, this change in the way we understand longer searches will affect searches that have equivalent meanings. These searches, which until now generated very different lists, will end up converging in a single list or lists of very similar results. Therefore, those unexploited keyword loopholes that were synonymous with those used by our competitors and that could give us better positions in some cases will end up not being a competitive advantage since -although with different keywords- we will be competing on the same term.

The solution to this new scenario is already known: generate quality content focused more on terms and not so much on specific keywords. A couple of recommendations when generating content could be:

  • Stop obsessing about keyword density. With Hummingbird it no longer makes sense. Use natural language by combining synonyms and terms related to the keyword you want to rank for.
  • Try to make each page the best possible result for the user’s search intent, not for a specific keyword.

With this new update of its search algorithm, Google takes a step further towards semantic searches and therefore the optimization strategies of websites must go hand in hand.

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Jose Vicente
Jose Vicente
Head of the SEO department and consultant at Human Level. Graduated in Computer Engineering. Expert in SEO and web analytics with certification in Google Analytics. Professor of the Master of SEO-SEM Professional Kschool.

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