Even after 15 years in business, Google isn’t a company that rests on its laurels. In a press conference held at the home where the the company was launched, Google announced a major overhaul to the algorithm that controls its search engine. This post will explain what is known about Hummingbird, the code name for the biggest change to Google in three years. The update will make it easier for the system to answer complex questions and has a new formula for handling voice searches from smartphones.
As is usually the case, Google is being tight lipped about the specifics of the changes, to preserve the integrity of the search, but what they have revealed does indeed seem major. While other recent updates have been relatively minor, these changes will affect 90 percent of search results, though Google says that most users won’t notice an overt change in their search results.
“We think about having 100 years to create the most amazing search opportunity. So we are 15 years in,” said Google’s vice president of advertising Susan Wojcicki in an interview with USA Today.
The new algorithm is designed to make searches more relevant and useful, even in cases where users input complex questions. Google has expanded its Knowledge Graph feature so that it can answers questions without a simple answer. The Knowledge Graph is Google’s encyclopedia of more than half a billion concepts and the relationships between them.
There is also a new filter tool that will make it easier to switch to related topics and explore other avenues of searching. On the Google blog, the example is given of a child researching impressionist painters and suddenly wishes to switch to abstract artists. There is also a new comparison tool that will give insights that will help people answer their own questions. In the example on a blog, rather than view search results to “Compare butter with olive oil” the comparison tool pulls up both items side by side with the relevant information for the user to view.
While this feature will certainly be useful for the end user, it may be less beneficial for websites that derive traffic from people looking for answers.
“If I get the information first on Google, maybe I don’t click through to WebMD anymore,” Sameet Sinha, an analyst at B. Riley Co., was quoted as saying in the USA Today piece.. “There will definitely be some boats that will be rocked by this.”
Another key change is a greater emphasis on providing better results for voice searches, where people are more likely to use natural language than when they type in their questions. The updated formulas for voice search makes is possible for the system to obtain more context from the extra words people use. According to key engineering director Scott Huffman, the goal is to get natural conversation between the user and Google search (on whatever device they are using).
Smartphone users will also notice a few new features. According to Amit Singhal, the Supervising Vice President for Google Search, the updated Google Search app will be “cleaner and simpler, optimized for touch, with results clustered on cards so you can focus on the answers you’re looking for.”
After 15 years, Google is still just getting started, and the newest changes show the company has a lot innovation left within them. While it will take awhile to see how these changes affect the search results and web traffic of business, smarter, more intuitive searches are always better for businesses. It means the people who are looking for a product or service are more likely to find what they want. Keep following this blog to make sure your website has what the customer wants and that it’s optimized for new changes to Google Search.