Last week in conjunction with their 15th Birthday, Google launched Hummingbird. This was not an algorithm change in the lines of Penguin or Panda. It was an entire new algorithm, albeit Google did leave some factors in place from the old algorithm, Caffeine. Caffeine was designed to improve the speed at which search queries were found and delivered. Hummingbird is designed to truly grasp the meaning behind a search query. In other words, it goes beyond the keywords typed to truly understand the intent of the user. In language sciences this is described as semantic language and it has been a big push of Google’s for several years.
Today, if you typed in “Food in Louisville, KY” this is the result you will get:
In the past, the query “Food in Louisville, KY” would have only yielded results with “food”. In this example, none of the results have “food” immediately apparent. What Google is inferring is when you are searching for “food” you are really looking for a “restaurant” and displays restaurant results.
We think this is a positive step in Google’s evolution. As more and more searches are done by voice, interrupting meaning becomes critical because users don’t speak in “keywords”; rather they speak using language and inference.
For more information on Hummingbird, Forbes has a great write-up and LEAP was featured in a Search Engine Land article on the subject.
Hummingbird has been running for a month and we have not noticed any of our clients impacted by it. Our SEO philosophy remains the same: provide quality, relevant, sharable, linkable content. In doing so, we are primed to really show results for our clients.