Thursday, October 31, 2013

Digest for - 1 Message in 1 Topic


    Google Expert Michael Wilson <> Oct 31 06:53AM -0400  

    [image: Hummingbird]
    Google has a new search algorithm, the system it uses to sort through all
    the information it has when you search and come back with answers. It's
    called "Hummingbird" and below, what we know about it so far.
    *What's a "search algorithm?"*
    That's a technical term for what you can think of as a recipe that Google
    uses to sort through the billions of web pages and other information it
    has, in order to return what it believes are the best answers.
    *What's "Hummingbird?"*
    It's the name of the new search algorithm that Google is using, one that
    Google says should return better results.
    *So that "PageRank" algorithm is dead?*
    No. PageRank<>is
    one of over 200 major "ingredients" that go into the Hummingbird
    Hummingbird looks at PageRank — how important links to a page are deemed to
    be — along with other factors like whether Google believes a page is of
    good quality, the words used on it and many other things (see our Periodic
    Table Of SEO Success Factors <> for a
    better sense of some of these).
    *Why is it called Hummingbird?*
    Google told us the name come from being "precise and fast."
    *When did Hummingbird start? Today?*
    Google started using Hummingbird about a month ago, it said. Google only
    announced the change today.
    *What does it mean that Hummingbird is now being used?*
    Think of a car built in the 1950s. It might have a great engine, but it
    might also be an engine that lacks things like fuel injection or be unable
    to use unleaded fuel. When Google switched to Hummingbird, it's as if it
    dropped the old engine out of a car and put in a new one. It also did this
    so quickly that no one really noticed the switch.
    *When's the last time Google replaced its algorithm this way?*
    Google struggled to recall when any type of major change like this last
    happened. In 2010, the "Caffeine
    was a huge change. But that was also a change mostly meant to help Google
    better gather information (indexing) rather than sorting through the
    information. Google search chief Amit Singhal told me that perhaps 2001,
    when he first joined the company, was the last time the algorithm was so
    dramatically rewritten.
    *What about all these Penguin, Panda and other "updates" — haven't those
    been changes to the algorithm?*
    Panda <>,
    Penguin <> and
    other updates were changes to parts of the old algorithm, but not an entire
    replacement of the whole. Think of it again like an engine. Those things
    were as if the engine received a new oil filter or had an improved pump put
    in. Hummingbird is a brand new engine, though it continues to use some of
    the same parts of the old, like Penguin and Panda
    *The new engine is using old parts?*
    Yes. And no. Some of the parts are perfectly good, so there was no reason
    to toss them out. Other parts are constantly being replaced. In general,
    Hummingbird — Google says — is a new engine built on both existing and new
    parts, organized in a way to especially serve the search demands of today,
    rather than one created for the needs of ten years ago, with the
    technologies back then.
    *What type of "new" search activity does Hummingbird help?*
    is one of the biggest examples Google gave. People, when speaking searches,
    may find it more useful to have a conversation.
    "What's the closest place to buy the iPhone 5s to my home?" A traditional
    search engine might focus on finding matches for words — finding a page
    that says "buy" and "iPhone 5s," for example.
    Hummingbird should better focus on the meaning behind the words. It may
    better understand the actual location of your home, if you've shared that
    with Google. It might understand that "place" means you want a
    brick-and-mortar store. It might get that "iPhone 5s" is a particular type
    of electronic device carried by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings
    may help Google go beyond just finding pages with matching words.
    In particular, Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to
    each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or
    conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular
    words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than
    pages matching just a few words.
    *I thought Google did this conversational search stuff already!*
    It does (see Google's Impressive "Conversational Search" Goes Live On
    but it had only been doing it really within its Knowledge Graph answers.
    Hummingbird is designed to apply the meaning technology to billions of
    pages from across the web, in addition to Knowledge Graph facts, which may
    bring back better results.
    *Does it really work? Any before-and-afters?*
    We don't know. There's no way to do a "before-and-after" ourselves, now.
    Pretty much, we only have Google's word that Hummingbird is improving
    things. However, Google did offer some before-and-after examples of its
    own, that it says shows Hummingbird improvements.
    A search for "acid reflux prescription" used to list a lot of drugs (such
    as this<>,
    Google said), which might not be necessarily be the best way to treat the
    disease. Now, Google says results have information about treatment in
    general, including whether you even need drugs, such as
    one of the listings.
    A search for "pay your bills through citizens bank and trust bank" used to
    bring up the home page <> for Citizens Bank but
    now should return the specific
    paying bills
    A search for "pizza hut calories per slice" used to list an answer
    like this<>,
    Google said, but not one from Pizza Hut. Now, it lists
    this<>answer directly from
    Pizza Hut itself, Google says.
    *Could it be making Google worse?*
    Almost certainly not. While we can't say that Google's gotten better, we do
    know that Hummingbird — if it has indeed been used for the past month —
    hasn't sparked any wave of consumers complaining that Google's results
    suddenly got bad. People complain when things get worse; they generally
    don't notice when things improve.
    *Does this mean SEO is dead?*
    No, SEO is not yet again
    In fact, Google's saying there's nothing new or different SEOs or
    publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have
    original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the
    past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in
    new and hopefully better ways.
    *Does this mean I'm going to lose traffic from Google?*
    If you haven't in the past month, well, you came through Hummingbird
    unscathed. After all, it went live about a month ago. If you were going to
    have problems with it, you would have known by now.
    By and large, there's been no major outcry among publishers that they've
    lost rankings. This seems to support Google saying this is very much a
    query-by-query effect, one that may improve particular searches —
    particularly complex ones — rather than something that hits "head" terms
    that can, in turn, cause major traffic shifts.
    *But I did lose traffic!*
    Perhaps it was due to Hummingbird, but Google stressed that it could also
    be due to some of the other parts of its algorithm, which are always being
    changed, tweaked or improved. There's no way to know.
    *How do you know all this stuff?*
    Google shared some of it at its press event
    and then I talked with two of Google's top search execs, Amit Singhal and
    Ben Gomes, after the event for more details. I also hope to do a more
    formal look at the changes from those conversations in the near future. But
    for now, hopefully you've found this quick FAQ based on those conversations
    to be helpful. Danny Sullivan
    Best regards,
    *Michael Wilson*
    Canada's Google Expert*
    *Founder of Google SEO

    * <>
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