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Google Hummingbird Explained

Malhar Barai


Google Hummingbird Cover Google Hummingbird Explained

This week on #SEOTalk we had some amazing discussions on Google Hummingbird. There were so many questions and few were pretty intriguing.

Here are the transcripts of the entire Twitter chat.

While I had captured the essence of the Google Hummingbird update earlier, many of the participants were still perplexed with the update.

This post is an aim to answer each of these questions and share few more information beyond 140 chars of Twitter.

1. What is Google Hummingbird?

For starters, it’s a new search algorithm. No, it wasn’t released on Google’s 15th anniversary, but it was put to test a month prior to that. According to Google, the new algorithm will improve the quality of search results.

2. What does Google Hummingbird do?

The new algorithm decides how you will see the search results.

The changes being effected are to understand more human, conversational style, long search queries. Effectively, this means that, you can no longer depend on few keywords to master Google Search. Instead, one has to write better content in a way that it provides answer to certain questions.

One of the post explains three patents that are believed to be part of the Google Hummingbird update and they talk about synonym identification, substitution rules and concurrence of the term.

If we try to understand those patents a bit, they would be actually translating the query and look for the context of the query and also look for synonymous words.

Thus improving the quality of search result.

According to one more post at GodOverYou, the content writing should be able to answer questions according to the  5W’s – Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

All of these point to the fact that, all the content that are stuffed with keywords is now passe. In the era of Google Hummingbird, write content around long-tail subjects and in a way that it would answer to human questions.

3.What happens to Panda and Penguin updates

They are still in place, because as Jaydip Parikh mentioned in the chat, the Google Hummingbird update is not about how you rank, but it’s about how search will show up in response to your query.

These updates still form a back bone of the new algorithm. So, be careful of your link building tactics and other black hat SEO mechanisms. Pagerank still matters and so does quality content.

4. Semantic Search?

Semantic search is Google’s way of showing you the best possible results, depending on your location, online behaviour, your network, trends, etc.

Thus content creation along with great amount of social interaction will be vital and also authority.

Though, at the heart of semantic search is ‘Knowledge Graph’.

5. What is Knowledge Graph

The Google Hummingbird update has suddenly brought the focus back on Knowledge Graph. In the simplest of terms, Knowledge Graph is a repository. It is what Google searches into, to give you results.

With the latest update, capabilities and filters have been added to the Knowledge Graph.

So something like, ‘show me restaurants around me’ will leverage the location data and translate the query to show places around your current location where you can eat.

Or, if you’re trying to compare Earth with Neptune. The information from Knowledge Graph will be picked up as follows.

Google Hummingbird Search Google Hummingbird Explained

The ultimate aim -

If you tell your Nexus 7, “OK Google. Remind me to buy olive oil at Safeway,” when you walk into the store with your iPhone, you’ll get a reminder.


5. What happens to the SEO process?


Yes, you heard it right. Nothing is needed if you’re doing things the right way – writing good content, social sharing, no keyword stuffing and backlinking from good PR sites. But if your content is not answering any questions and is still full of keywords, beware!!

That’s it!!

Your Turn

While I am still exploring the Google Hummingbird update, if you have any questions or additional information – share right now!!

The post Google Hummingbird Explained appeared first on Malhar Barai.

Join The Conversation

  • malharbarai's picture
    Feb 26 Posted 3 years ago malharbarai

    Thanks for dropping by Alicia.

    IMO, Google's biggest fight would be against everyone who wants to guard privacy. Well, we know that privacy is gone the instant we connect to a network.

    The way Google is becoming part of everything that constitutes our life - phone, car, friends and every other thing, that makes people more wary of the way how our details could be used by Google.

    Guess, that would be it's biggest challenge, keeping private data 'private'

  • malharbarai's picture
    Feb 26 Posted 3 years ago malharbarai

    The update is not about ranking but more about how your search will be processed.

    You might want to check if the site has not been hit with Panda/Penguin updates.

  • Nov 21 Posted 3 years ago Aliciaf

    Nice post!. 

    Could it be that Knowledge Graph is the final release of "Google Square"? (it was in Google Labs a couple of years ago). It was a great product even in beta :-) 

    You just hit the point with your answer. Google is in my car, in my inbox, in my desktop, in my mobile, in my house, there where I want them to be? 

    It's the same old story ... a nice young start-up growing so fast and in so many ways, eating and buying companies in its own expansion to further strengthen its already dominant position on the Internet. Ask Microsoft about what's next: antitrust battles and fees, detractors, ...

    What do you think Google will fight against in the upcomming years?



  • Oct 28 Posted 3 years ago Karthik Dhananjayan

    My site has gone back in the search results (ie) to 14, 15, 16  pages in google. how should i make it to the google 3,4,5 pages.. awaiting your response


  • malharbarai's picture
    Oct 23 Posted 3 years ago malharbarai

    Thanks Lizzie.

    Agree with you. Google is trying to get more human and if you look closely at all activities of Google, you might also note that Google is building an entire ecosystem around you - the car you drive is Google, the food you eat is delivered by Google, the content you see is driven by Google. They are touching all the aspect of our lives and it would be foolish to ignore them.

  • Oct 21 Posted 3 years ago Lizzie Davey

    Great overview. Essentially, Google is trying to become more human so, instead of whacking out loads of keywords in each post, we need to carefully consider what users are actually looking for... Just like if you were talking to a friend! Not much has changed if you already create good quality content that answers consumer's questions. 

    Sidenote: If you are intested and to further add to the discussion, I wrote a piece last week on the effect of Hummingbird on Video (

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