Google made a bunch of search-related announcements today. Most of them were discussed in a blog post on the company’s Inside Search blog, but the one that most readers will probably be interested in more than anything was not mentioned there.
At a press event at the old Google garage, Google revealed that it has implemented a new algorithm called Hummingbird, which is reportedly geared towards helping with complex queries, and already affects 90% of queries.
According to TechCrunch’s Greg Kumparak, who was presumably at the event, Google didn’t get too detailed in its explanation, but said that it is the biggest overhaul to its engine since Caffeine.
“The main focus, and something that went repeated many a time, was that the new algorithm allows Google to more quickly parse full questions (as opposed to parsing searches word-by-word), and to identify and rank answers to those questions from the content they’ve indexed,” he writes.
Google apparently pushed this out about a month ago, so you shouldn’t expect to have your traffic significantly impacted by it if you haven’t already.
Reuters took this away from the event:
Google is trying to keep pace with the evolution of Internet usage. As search queries get more complicated, traditional “Boolean” or keyword-based systems begin deteriorating because of the need to match concepts and meanings in addition to words.
“Hummingbird” is the company’s effort to match the meaning of queries with that of documents on the Internet, said Singhal from the Menlo Park garage where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin conceived their now-ubiquitous search engine.
And from Forbes contributor Robert Hof:
Most people won’t notice an overt difference to search results. But with more people making more complex queries, especially as they can increasingly speak their searches into their smartphones, there’s a need for new mathematical formulas the handle them.
This update to the algorithm focuses more on ranking sites for better relevance by tapping into the company’s Knowledge Graph, its encyclopedia of concepts and relationships among them, according to Amit Singhal, Google’s senior VP of search. Caffeine was more focused on better indexing and crawling of sites to speed results.
Here’s the real-time Twitter reaction to the Hummingbird news:
This is pretty much all we know about Hummingbird at this point, but I’m sure it will be discussed a lot more in the coming days. SMX East starts on October 1st, so there will no doubt be plenty of discussion to come out of that.