Hummingbird – Google Hummingbird was a rewrite of Google’s algorithm that anticipated the need for search on mobile devices, specifically by enabling conversational search.

Let’s take a look at what Google’s Hummingbird update has done, how it’s affected natural language search, and what Googlers and SEO industry experts are saying about it.



The Google Hummingbird update was launched in August 2013 and announced a month later in September 2013.

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However, despite the scale of this update, the immediate impact was so subtle that the update went largely unnoticed.

However, the paradox becomes more understandable when it becomes possible for the next wave of hummingbird inventions.

This update was called Hummingbird because it made Google’s original algorithm more accurate and faster.

Arguably the most important part of Hummingbird is the word “correct” because it’s about accuracy and precision

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As you’ll see in the conversation linked below by the Googlers, Hummingbird enabled Google to be more specific about the meaning of a query.

And, moving away from matching queries on a webpage, Google Search became more specific in showing pages that match the original subject of the query.

This does not mean that it was a new algorithm but that the original algorithm was rewritten in a way that enabled it to improve its performance.


In a December 4, 2013 video interview, Matt Cutts stated that the Hummingbird algorithm is a rewrite of Google’s original search algorithm.

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“Hummingbird is a rewrite of the original search algorithm To do a good job of matching users’ queries to documents, especially for natural language queries, you know that the longer the query, the more words it contains, and sometimes those words are important and sometimes they aren’t.

Some people consider Hummingbird to be a component of Google’s core algorithm, just as Panda and Penguin are part of the core algorithm.

Matt Cutts explained that Hummingbird was not part of the original algorithm. It was a rewrite of the original algorithm

One of the goals of the rewrite is to make the core algorithm match queries on webpages and handle more conversational search queries.

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Matt Cutts follows up by sharing that Hummingbird’s accuracy and speed were present in 90% of searches.

“And so Hummingbird affects 90% of all searches. But usually only a small amount because we’re saying that this particular document isn’t really what the user searched for because maybe they said, ‘Okay Google, now I’m going to put this, what’s really important. is rutabaga and not place and how can i search hummingbird and natural language.

When Hummingbird came out, some in the search community suggested that it might be a good idea to change how content was written to match how searchers were searching.


In Matt’s example, Google was ignoring certain terms to better understand what the search query meant.

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In the old algorithm, Google would try to rank webpages that contain all the words in the search query, for word-by-word matches between the search query and the webpage.

What Matt was explaining is that Google is now ignoring certain words to understand queries and then using that understanding to rank webpages.

Hummingbird enabled Google to stop relying on keywords matching web pages and, instead, focus more on the meaning of search queries.

To do a better job of matching user queries to documents, especially for natural language queries…” Is Hummingbird patented?

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Something Hummingbird was doing with search queries was rewriting them using techniques like query expansion.

Five different search queries can be the same search query, the only difference being that they use synonyms of each other.

With something like query expansion, Google can use dissimilarity to rank a group of potential webpages.


Bill Slovsky writes about a patent that is said to enable the Hummingbird algorithm, describing it in the context of natural language queries.

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“When the Hummingbird patent came out on Google’s 15th birthday, it was like overhauling Google’s infrastructure, like caffeine updates, how Google’s index works. One thing we were told was that the process behind Hummingbird was to rewrite queries more intelligently.

Thanks to Bill Slovsky, we can read a patent that describes some of the new things made possible by the Hummingbird update.

Similar to what Bill Slovsky touched on when the patent was discovered, Matt Cutts said that the Hummingbird update allows Google to remove words from mobile search queries.

Matt Cutts said in a PubCon 2013 keynote session that Hummingbird allows algorithms to remove words that aren’t relevant to what users want to find from mobile voice search queries.

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“…the idea behind Hummingbird is, if you’re doing a query, it can be a natural language query, and you can include some words that you don’t need, like… What’s my favorite capital of Texas? Well, ‘my favorite’ doesn’t really add anything to that question If you just said, [What is the capital of Texas?] or, [What is the capital of Ever Lovin Texas?] or, [What is the capital of Crazy Rebel Beautiful Texas?] it would be perfectly fine. Not that important And earlier, Google only matched query terms Now, we are starting to talk about which ones are actually more helpful and which ones are more important And so Hummingbird is a step in that direction, where if you’re typing or typing a long query, we can figure out which words are most important…”

But just because Google is learning to understand conversational search queries doesn’t mean webpages need to become more conversational.

In the above video recording of the 2013 PubCon keynote address, Matt commented that Hummingbird doesn’t affect SEO.


“Now, a lot of articles have been written about Hummingbird, when only the code name was known, people were saying, OK, how will Hummingbird affect SEO? And even if people don’t know what Hummingbird is, they’ll write 500 words about how Hummingbird affects SEO. And the truth is, it doesn’t affect him much. The influence of hummingbirds on discovery was subtle

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“It affected 90% of queries but only marginally and we took it out on people’s notice for over a month. So it’s a subtle change that you don’t need to worry about It won’t rock your world like pandas and penguins It’s just going to improve the results a little bit and make them better, especially on those long tail questions or really specific questions. “

Cutt continued his discussion of hummingbirds by describing their impact on sites targeting highly specific long-tail keywords.

To better understand what Matt Cutts is talking about, we need to stop here and discuss long-tail phrases.

Many people associate the long tail with keyword phrases that contain many words – but they are

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While some long-tail phrases may contain many words, the number of words in a search query is not a defining characteristic of a long-tail search phrase.

The number of times a phrase is used as a search query defines a long-tail search query.

Because there are so many people using the Internet, it’s easy for spammers to rank for rare search queries so they start targeting millions of long-tail search phrases to attract thousands of site visitors every day and make ad money.


Before Hummingbird, many legitimate sites also routinely targeted rare keyword phrase combinations for the same reason as spammers, because they were easier to rank for.

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After Hummingbird, Google began to use some of the technology that Bill Slovsky reviewed in his article about Google patents.

The changes to how Google handles long-tail keyword phrases had a profound effect on how content was written, prompting Hummingbird, as many publishers found that focusing on thousands of granular long-tail search queries was not profitable.

“So unless you’re a spammer and you’re targeting, ‘How much SEO does it take to change a light bulb,’ and you’ve got all the keywords, you’ve got 15 variants, you’ve got it. A page for each, you know If you are doing really long tail work, this can affect you But generally people don’t need to worry too much about hummingbirds

Despite their confidence that this change will not affect normal sites, Hummingbird has affected some legitimate non-spam sites that have optimized their webpages for highly specialized search queries.

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Because Hummingbird is a rewrite of an older algorithm, making it more accurate and faster, it can be seen as a step towards today’s modern search engines.

The keywords in the search query were matched one-by-one with the keywords on the webpage

Combined with other reforms,


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