POV: Hummingbird Algorithm

MINDSHARE POINT OF VIEW – Marking its 15th birthday with a bang, Google announced a new algorithm it calls ‘Hummingbird’. The new algorithm, designed to make search results more relevant, has apparently been in action for the past month. Despite this major change, most people noticed nothing different when searching.

However, in fairness the Hummingbird algorithm uses many of the old procedures, weights, filters and methods of the old algorithm. However, the “new” algorithm will deliver better search results for long tail, conversational based searches.

How does it work?

Previously, if searching for ‘’How can I fix my iPhone?’’, Google would return a set of results that includes the keywords ‘fix’ & ‘iPhone’. This means Google would return a number of Web pages that contain these keywords but may not relate to the actual query ‘’How can I fix my iPhone?’’. 

With Hummingbird, Google’s algorithm will be giving more emphasis to the other words in the search query such as ‘’how can I?” Under the old model, Google was matching individual keywords and phrases to the pages in Google’s index. Now it is considering all the keywords in the query and the relationship between each to understand the intent behind the search query.


This change does not have any negative implications on any paid search campaigns. Marketers need not panic. However, it does create a small opportunity to expand long tail search queries or add ‘conversational’ based queries to a search campaign. Previously, these types of queries had very few impressions, but if better and more relevant results are provided, there will be a growing number of users typing in longer search queries and ‘questions’ directly in Google.


To get the most out of the ‘Hummingbird’ algorithm for search campaigns, it is important for PPC marketers to review user search queries on a regular basis for their search campaigns. There is a feature within Google AdWords that allows you to see exactly what users are typing into Google to get to your Web page. This will ensure you are on top of any long tail or conversational based queries that are being used.