Over the past few weeks, search engine optimization experts have been whispering among themselves that Google seemed to be behaving strangely. On Thursday – the day before its 15th birthday – Google revealed the reason why. It has quietly introduced a new search algorithm, named Hummingbird, which processes search results in a new way.
Past updates to Google’s systems, such as Panda and Penguin, have only changed one or two aspects of the search process at a time. Hummingbird is a very different beast. Rather than looking at the frequency of individual words on a page and then filtering the results, it takes a semantic approach, attempting to decipher the relationships between words and the relative meaning of all the words in any given search query.
Semantic software has been in development since the late 1980s and has always been considered to have important search potential, but it is much, much harder for a computer to decipher than for a human brain. It is only now that this technology has reached the point where it is ready to be imported into a major search engine at this level. The lack of any obvious problems so far suggest it is working at least as well as the old system.
Google has assured marketers that nothing will change with Hummingbird; however, it will be difficult for many to keep track of this over time due to the recent privacy upgrade that hid search data. Google Webmaster Tools can still be used to access aggregate data and the top 2,000 search terms, but cannot provide the same individual page-based information that search engine optimization specialists have been used to working with. This is particularly pertinent because it is likely to be in less common, more complex searches that any difference with Hummingbird becomes apparent.
Google argues that it is playing fair with marketers because the basis of what makes a page rank highly remains the same – good quality content. It is possible that Hummingbird will actually favor content with a more natural structure than has traditionally been created for SEO purposes; one route for marketers to explore will therefore be the restructuring of popular search terms to create more natural-sounding variants likely to be used in queries and to focus on contextualizing the terms they focus on.
For advice on how to do this effectively and develop a strong marketing campaign for your website, call Xcellimark at 888-318-3950 ext 211 to speak with an internet marketing consultant today.