What Exactly Is Google Hummingbird?

Like many in SEO and content marketing, I have been reading a lot of articles on Google’s Hummingbird update. A Witmer Group team member forwarded an article to me that we think is the best we’ve read, Gianluca Fiorelli’s “Hummingbird Unleashed.” His article covers what the Google update is and isn’t in fantastic detail.

Just in case you are not aware, Hummingbird is one the biggest changes to Google’s search algorithm since 2001 and further refines the updates that were introduced with the 2010 Caffeine update. As Fiorelli explains, “Caffeine’s purpose was to optimize the indexation of the billions of internet documents Google crawls, presenting a richer, bigger, and fresher pool of results to the users. Hummingbird’s objective is not a new optimization of the indexation process, but to better understand the user’s intent when searching, thereby offering the most relevant results to them…..Hummingbird is an evolution of Google search, not a revolution.”

Google Hummingbird is ultimately about the user - finding better, more contextually accurate results for increasingly longer and voice based information searches. I won’t go into the technical details about the evolution of Google’s recent updates or how Hummingbird works; we are providing a link to Fiorelli’s article where you can read all about it.

I love that Fiorelli calmly and so clearly explains how the most recent Google update works and what those working in SEO need to be thinking about. SEO and content marketers should be excited about Hummingbird. We are relieved by the continued shift and focus on content quality and depth. Conversations and content creation cannot be keyword centric anymore. Those who are listening – gathering information on what sales and customer service are hearing on the front line and on social media networks, will deliver the most relevant and searchable content. Content needs to predict needs, answer questions and make contextual connections for users with natural language, not copy that was backed into.

The good news for Witmer Group is that we really don’t need to change very much about how we develop content. Our approach to developing content for SEO has always strived to achieve a balance of optimizing for individual keywords while delivering high-quality, audience-focused content. To me, Hummingbird is validating and a welcomed push away from the heavy-handed keyword centric approach to online marketing that became pervasive in the industry. Caffeine and Hummingbird are the one-two knockout punches for this narrow approach.