Google have given themselves a 15th birthday present – a new search algorithm, built from the ground up and named Hummingbird.
The algorithm was revealed in a press event to mark Google’s 15th anniversary, and detailed further in a SearchEngineLand report.
In the article, the search news site claims that the new algorithm has been in use for a month (have you noticed any differences?) and is the biggest overhaul since at least 2001.
Fundamentally, the algorithm’s ranking of pages remains fairly unchanged – Panda and Penguin have survived the cull, and content quality remains the watchword.
However, Hummingbird makes relevance an even greater factor, as the algorithm is now designed to interpret full-phrase searches in context.
For instance, ‘restaurants near me’ should be more likely than ever before to detect your location and show you the nearest restaurants, rather than simply searching for restaurants with the words ‘near’ and ‘me’ on their websites.
Significantly, SEO still has a central role to play in determining your search rankings in Hummingbird-powered results, and the fact that nobody spotted this overhaul until Google announced it is testament to that fact.
Indeed, with more relevant search traffic now being driven to some websites in response to certain context-specific queries, ranking at the top has never held so much potential to drive sales.