Has Google felt a little bit different lately? On the surface, Google may look like the same, reliable search engine, but under the hood, the company just launched a major overhaul of its search algorithm. And it’s already affecting the way you search.
Google is constantly updating its search algorithms to better serve the public; most updates barely tweak the search engine’s behavior. However, Google’s latest update - dubbed “Hummingbird” - is a major overhaul, and if you’ve used Google.com this week, you’ve already experienced features of the new change. We summarize the update below, the meatier details courtesy of TechCrunch.
Presenting a New Focus on Questions & Answers
Perhaps the most noticeable change is a new focus on questions and answers. Previously, Google Search focused on keywords, but now, Search takes a more intelligent approach to questions. Asking a question results in Google trying to answer it with the most relevant and reliable answers.
Furthermore, an update to Google’s Knowledge Graph, which is a database that attempts to store and relate (connect) all kinds of data from various sources, has made the search engine much more effective at comparing and “understanding” data. For example, you could ask Google to compare the nutritional characteristics of broccoli and asparagus, and it should bring up relevant comparison charts, diagrams, Google+ pages/posts and, of course, good-ol’-fashioned links.
In my test of this feature, I didn’t get any fancy charts or diagrams next to my search results, which is what is supposed to happen (sometimes) if Google understood your question. Fortunately, the first link on the search results did feature a fancy chart. So it looks like the update made the search results more relevant and useful at the very least, but if you’re hoping for fancy charts by your search results, Knowledge Graph may need to grow and “learn” a little more about veggies.
Over 90% Of Searches Affected by the Update
During Google’s presentation of the Hummingbird update, the company remained quiet on how it all works, but they did mention that about 90% of global searches would be affected by the change. That’s a big percentage for an algorithm update, and that number is absolutely frightening to search-engine marketers as they may have to make big changes to the way they operate, the clients they work with, and the employees they hire. I’m search-engine marketers will ponder it over one too many drinks this weekend.
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