Hummingbird: The Mind-reading Algorithm
It’s a bird… It’s a plane… Nope, it is a bird.
For better or worse, we all have to cope with the fact that Google updates its algorithms hundred times a year, all in the name of providing people with the most relevant search results. Another such update rolled out five months ago… only this time it was different.
Hummingbird was an entirely new beast. Danny Sullivan, one of the leading “search engine gurus” compared Panda and Penguin (previous algo updates) to Hummingbird, and said the former were just oil filter changes for the engine, whereas the latter was a brand new engine itself, though it did continue to use some of the same old parts.
Can Hummingbird really read minds? It appears so.
With the new update Google can now understand conversation-based queries more accurately, which leads to the most appropriate results. Previously users had to ‘translate’ their queries into machine-language, while now they can ask questions on-the-go, just the way they normally think. In response, Hummingbird analyzes this data and chooses the most appropriate answers. Experts say conversational search queries and natural language can be seen as a result of the smartphones’ voice-powered search evolution.
But what does it mean for SEO marketers? Well, just put yourself into customers’ shoes, and think how they’d look for your product. Conversational keywords, phrases, and match variations will make the work much easier, eliminating all the robotic double-guessing of the yore.
Will the short tail decline? Yep.
The volume in the short tail will fall most probably because users can now make more conversational search queries. Once you learn how to talk normally, it’s really hard to go back.
But does this improve search functionality? Oh, certainly!
Have you used Google lately? Search results are now much more appealing visually, coming up in the form of answers, sorted by a list of cafeterias (like age, popularity, price, etc.), depending on the query. For instance, let’s ask Google: “Who is the president of Singapore,” following by: “How old is he?” Now let’s see what we’ve got –
Using my previous search, Google was smart enough to know that “he” in the second question referred to the president of Singapore. Amazing, isn’t it? It’s like talking to my old geopolitics professor, only without fear! Also, unlike the professor, Google supplements its answer with appropriate pictures and even emphasizes the important stuff with bigger fonts! No need to go deeper into the interwebs, all info is here, you just have to ask for it either by voice or typing a long-tailed question.
So… Is the old SEO dead now, or what? Well… No.
As much as it seems that the new way is the breakthrough of enormous proportions, the old adage still stands – Original, Relevant and Engaging Content is the King – everything is built around this understanding, just as before. Just be careful with those keywords – use them in moderation and carefully spread them around your relevant content in the most natural way.
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