Lauren Kaye

Marking 15 years of Google Search, it seems the company plans to continue breaking boundaries of what the internet can do. Namely, Google aims to provide answers to complex questions faster than ever – perhaps even before they are asked in the first place. While the technology is admittedly not there yet, the company is making strides in that direction with a new algorithm. “Hummingbird” is its latest search technology that enables Google to rank content based on whether it answers complicated questions, rather than match search keywords.

Hummingbird – The biggest buzz since Caffeine

The algorithm update was announced at an event celebrating the company’s birthday at its first headquarters – a Menlo Park garage rented to house the fledgling operation when Google was still a two-man operation led by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

The aptly named “Hummingbird” is designed to quickly rank search results based on how well digital content answers internet users’ full questions. It’s expected to be the biggest thing to hit the SEO world since caffeine and impact 90 percent of all queries.

The aptly named “Hummingbird” is designed to quickly rank search results based on how well digital content answers internet users’ full questions.

“Not provided” data less important post-Hummingbird?

The good news? If your search rankings haven’t significantly fluctuated during the past month, chances are your brand content passes the “Hummingbird” test. Marketers who have lost SERP real estate recently must evaluate their content creation process, asking whether resources are designed to answer internet users’ questions or climb rankings solely through keyword optimization.

This release seems timely given the significant amount of website traffic that no longer provides keyword data in Google Analytics, forcing SEOs to evaluate their content with a more holistic scope.

Search goes beyond keywords and keyboards

Along with the “Hummingbird” algorithm, Google announced new Knowledge Graph features that support side-by-side comparisons in queries and an interface update intended to improve mobile UX. For example, users can now ask Google to “Compare butter and olive oil,” and receive a chart showing side by side nutrition information. The company plans to flesh out this function, but users can currently see contrast things like dog breeds and celestial bodies. Ultimately, these updates could hold commercial potential for ecommerce shopping, especially with a coming Google Search app that will allow consumers to set reminders via voice command – “OK Google. Remind me to buy dog food at Kroger. ” They’ll get smartphone alerts upon entering stores.

Users can ask the search engine questions like, “How tall is the Eiffel Tower?” 

Google is also beginning to facilitate exchanges that seem more like conversations. Users can ask the search engine questions such as, “How tall is the Eiffel Tower?” and ask follow up questions without referencing the original query- such as “How tall is it?” A filter tool lets them explore similar results for, say, French architecture.

With the announcement of these updates, Google reiterates a message it’s long since been sending brands – search engine optimization is multidimensional and flat strategies won’t win top SERP spots. Brands must also be responsive to customers’ changing behaviors, which means providing visitors with richer information, faster than ever before.