This month Google quietly rolled out the ‘biggest overhaul to their engine since the ‘caffeine’ update in 2009’.

Using the modest surroundings of the rented garage in which Google was born, Amit Singhal, Google’s senior VP, announced that a new search algorithm dubbed ‘Hummingbird’ had been covertly rolled out weeks ago.

Essentially, the Hummingbird update is designed to quickly parse full questions when typed into the search box rather than parsing searches word by word. Beyond that, Google did not divulge any technical details, only saying that it will affect around 90% of all searches.

Whilst this new update hasn’t sent instant shockwaves through the SEO community like penguins and pandas past, it has the potentially to significantly change the way users search for things on the internet.

We have been conditioned to search for information using succinct key-word rich phrases such as ‘Mexican reswwwrant Brisbane’ whereas theoretically, the Hummingbird update will understand conversational search queries such as ‘Where is the best Mexican reswwwrant in Brisbane’? The results should be more relevant and encourage a more ‘natural’ user experience.

The new algorithm should greatly improve Google’s voice search user experience, and consequently enrich the Google Glass UX once the product becomes widely available.

For SEO’s the takeaway from all of this is to ramp up your long tail search queries targeting, through a strong content marketing strategy. By doing so you’ll give yourself the best chance of capturing the large increase in long tail search traffic as a result of the Hummingbird update.

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