Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm first came out in August 2013. It was termed as a replacement for Google’s previous caffeine algorithm. Matt Cutts officially announced that Hummingbird affects approximately 90% of Google searches at the time of release. According to an estimate, it affects 3.15 billion searches every day.

Hummingbird was a brand-new engine and an ambitious update on Google’s search algorithm. Even though it used some parts of old algorithms like Panda and Penguin, it was termed as a reframing of the whole structure of Google’s algorithm. Hummingbird came out as an entirely revamped version of Google’s search algorithm’ not just a patch or minor update.

How Does Hummingbird Work?

Google Hummingbird AlgorithmThe primary element differentiating hummingbird from Penguin and Panda is its non-penalty nature. Penguin and Panda aimed to rid search engine results pages of low-quality content. Low-quality content means irrelevant information or inaccurate information uploaded to different web pages. However, Hummingbird was an innovation to how Google reacts to several queries. It’s a new way of understanding what the user wants rather than focusing on a bunch of keywords in the statement.

The importance of semantics in Google’s Hummingbird algorithm can’t be ignored at all. After all, semantics serve as the heart of Hummingbird. However, semantics can make even the fanciest of computers stupid. A human can easily distinguish between the context of a statement and the statement itself, but it’s tough for computers to do so.

Hummingbird and Semantic Search

Semantic search means a contextual approach towards improving search results and search engines’ understanding of contextual relevance. By using semantic search techniques, search engines can identify what a user means, rather than focusing on a string of keywords and giving results based on relevance. This scenario can be illustrated with the help of the following example.

Imagine a user searches ‘weather’ on Google. Now Google has two options here; either it can return the actual meaning of the word weather and its association with meteorology or return weather forecast for the user’s area. That’s where the hummingbird algorithm kicks in. According to this algorithm, the user will most likely search for the weather forecasts in his area, so it will primarily return the local weather forecast.

In the mentioned case, the subject of the search may be the weather, but Google is returning results based on the user’s intent. Google’s algorithm can never be sure of the user’s plan; it’s a machine, after all. But, Google presents the most accurate and relevant information according to the user’s needs because of the hummingbird algorithm. The prominence of Google’s search results implies the confidence of Google in its algorithm.

Innovations in Search Engines

Over the years, it’s been evident that Google prioritizes mobile phones over any other device or source. That’s because almost 75% of the human population has smartphones worldwide. That ratio is far lower for PCs or any other devices. Google has taken several steps to ensure Googlers’ smooth mobile phone experience.

Google introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) to boost its performance on handheld devices. Moreover, site speed was a ranking factor in a website’s SEO. This step ensured that a site should always be designed to keep its rate accountable on mobile phones and computers. In addition to this, a mobile-only ‘primary’ index was introduced.

Google keeps its company as a living organism and adapts to the changes faster than any company in the business world. That is one of the contributing factors to its success.

Voice Searches and Hummingbird Algorithm

With mobile phones and other handheld devices comes voice searches. Search engines these days are not limited to using it for search purposes only. It can also control your device, fetch files, and do many other purposes.

All tasks can be done via voice searches or talking to your phone. People don’t speak two to three words while talking to a mobile phone. Users speak in complete sentences and without thinking of the context. The whole purpose of a voice search is to treat your mobile phone like a living organism, and it is of no use if it can’t understand your language.

Users are using whole sentences and complex queries when they speak. The hummingbird algorithm is the backbone of this function. Google stressed that the hummingbird algorithm plays a crucial role in making search engines understand users’ conversational tone.

In addition to that, Google watches, and other wearable devices are fire rocketing in the market. These devices have voice command functionality and use the hummingbird algorithm to understand the user language.

Hummingbird Algorithm and SEO

Search engine optimization took a significant hit with the introduction of the hummingbird. With the Hummingbird algorithm being released in 2013, web admins realized that Google no longer works on keywords or strings of keywords. It has evolved into the understanding of the context of the user.  Check out Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for more information on what they recommend.

Google tries to link Google to the most relevant page. It no longer directs you to the home page, no matter the context. That’s where the SEO part kicks in. Over the years, Google has considered Page authority a critical ranking factor for any website. Rather than directing traffic to the top-level page, Google will require it to the relevant page. It will help improve the conversion rates on your site.

Hummingbird and PageRank

PageRank plays a crucial role in the hummingbird algorithm. PageRank looks upon the links associated with your website. Their importance, relevance, and density are essential for modern-day SEO. That’s why link metrics are an integral part of SEO. The relationship between your site and others allows Google to verify the authenticity of your website. It came out with Penguin, but Hummingbird made sure that the links formed on your website should be relevant.

If irrelevant websites link to your website, Google considers it a violation and takes it as a red signal. It’s not good for the SEO of your website. Hummingbird reaffirms that inbound links from topically irrelevant contexts are considered wrong links. It’ll be appropriate to say that Hummingbird redesigned the whole SEO industry in a way.

Hummingbird and Keywords

Keywords’ importance can’t be neglected at any cost, but phrase-based queries are given priority in the hummingbird algorithm. With a high number of cell phone Googlers and web surfers, it is necessary that your web page can respond to voice-based queries. Conversational queries play a vital role in the SEO of your website.

If two web pages are displayed in Google’s search, Google will prioritize the web page with the most informational, navigational, and transactional queries. Phrases starting with Who, What, and When are beneficial and can produce promising results. Google’s way of improving its user’s surfing experience can prove a gold mine for your website if you use it correctly.

If you do the research, you get to know the modern demands of Google. Fill up those demands by producing aligned and relevant content with appropriate queries, and you’re good to go. There might be many traps present online to confuse the users. For example, when hummingbird first came out, it was believed that it only promoted the structured forms of data. Later, Google declared the apparent facts regarding its new algorithm to straighten out the misunderstanding.

Tips for Hummingbird SEO

Although hummingbird is quite old and easy enough to understand, one can never be sure of the content uploaded to their platform. Here are some best practices for Hummingbird SEO.

  • Diversify the Length of Your Content

It’s true that exceptionally well-written, long-form articles can do wonders for your website, but too much of everything is terrible. If all article pieces of your website contain thousands of words, Google will not recognize it as a green signal for your SEO. Therefore, it’s necessary to diversify the length of your content. Keep your content engaging and keep changing the sizes of the article segments. The relevance of the article matters more than its length.

  • Visualization

As per the hummingbird algorithm, visual content is superior to written content. Google realizes that most of the users of Google are always in a hurry; that’s why visual, original, and engaging content is given more importance. Infographics, videos, and simple optical elements such as graphs and tables can skyrocket the SEO performance of your website.

  • Using Appropriate Language and Tone

Using appropriate language for your traffic and tone according to the niche of your website and the age of your traffic is a smart way of telling Google that your website is fantastic. Hummingbird algorithm reaffirms that language and ton of the content should be set according to your website’s type of audience.


Since its release, the Google Hummingbird algorithm has been the topic on the hot seat in the SEO world. Hummingbird was an innovative and revamped algorithm of Google that changed the outlook of the whole industry. The hummingbird altered the way the search engine looks at its users. The hummingbird algorithm serves as the backbone to the modern wearable gadget and other applications of voice commands features. Even after eight years of its release, the Hummingbird algorithm plays a crucial role in modern-day SEO.