The Hummingbird Update (Kolibri Update) is an algorithm change in Google’s search engine and took place in 2013 – for the 15th birthday of Google. The peculiarity of this update: The search algorithm has been completely changed towards a semantic indexing or semantic search. For comparison: Panda Update and Penguin Update also made extensive algorithm adjustments, but in contrast to the Hummingbird Update were only partial updates.
How did the Hummingbird update change the Google algorithm?
On 25 September 2013 the Hummingbird update was officially Google announced. The search engine provider announced that the search has been working on the basis of these fundamental algorithm changes since August 2013. Due to the extensive algorithm adjustment, the update was the most extensive change in Google search since 2001.
According to beautyphoon, the aim of the hummingbird was to better interpret the search queries or the search intent of the users and thus to be able to provide them with a better search result. The search engine does not focus on individual keywords as before, but on whether the content “as a whole” matches the search query, i.e. whether the context is correct. So Google attaches much greater importance to the semantic context than before.
The search engine should deliver better results, especially for complex questions, so that the user can go straight from the search to the correct landing page and does not have to navigate further on the website and search for the answer.
Background for the label Hummingbird
The hummingbird was chosen by Google to clarify the main objective of the update: The Hummingbird update should now deliver a fast, precise result for search queries. Incidentally, also for voice searches, because voice searches tend to use longer search phrases or entire sentences and thus require a semantic approach in order to better understand the context.
Effects of the Hummingbird Update
According to Google, around 90 percent of all search queries were affected by the Hummingbird update. It has the greatest impact on mobile search results and the knowledge graph.
The update meant immense progress for the Knowledge Graph. Search results are displayed in a bundled, clear form in the SERPs – above position 1. The aim of the Knowledge Graph is to provide the answer with this overview so that the user no longer has to click on a search result.
Hummingbird Update – Impact on SEO
Do not focus on keywords, but on the semantic context. This is the most important conclusion for search engine optimization after the Hummingbird update from Google. And that in turn has an influence on the content quality, because since the update it is no longer enough to include just a few keywords – the entire context of the page has to be right in order to achieve a good ranking.
The content must be highly relevant to the search term / phrase. Therefore, it makes sense to deal with a complex of topics holistically, with all “sub-topics” and questions, in order to generate a high level of relevance for a topic overall. In the course of this, it is also important to include synonyms in the optimization.
The effects of the Hummingbird update on the Google Knowledge Graph should also be considered, as this can mean that users no longer click on the organic search result below, which can lead to a drop in traffic, despite a good ranking position. Of course, only if the graph really fulfills the user’s intention and the user does not require any further information.
Another option for dealing more intensively with the semantic search in SEO is the use of structured data. They make it easier for the search engine to classify the content.