By Julian Steinforth, Expedition PR
Americans are spending an average of two hours per day on their mobile devices, according to a Pew study. A sizable portion of that time is dedicated to searching for information online, presenting a huge opportunity for marketers. And, searching for information has become even easier.
Last September Google launched its new search algorithm Hummingbird. Compared to previous updates such as Panda or Penguin, Hummingbird is a completely new search algorithm that changes how Google is handling search queries. The search engine can now understand conversational, mobile-friendly and audio-based search queries. It is not restricted to keywords anymore.
For example, to find a PR agency in New York, you previously had to type the key words “PR Agency New York” into Google to get results. Now you can use the voice search on your phone saying “I need a PR agency in New York” and Hummingbird will find you one.
Here is a summary of the chances that users will notice through the implementation of the Hummingbird algorithm.
- Search is becoming more “conversational”. Instead of combining a list of key words, consumers can now use entire sentences as search terms. Jim Yu, founder and CEO of the enterprise SEO Platform BrightEdge wrote in Search Engine Land that Hummingbird allows the Google search engine to better do its job through an improvement in semantic search. “As conversational search becomes the norm, Hummingbird lends understanding to the intent and contextual meaning of terms used in a query,” stated Yu.
- Search results relate to each other: Eric Enge gives a good example on how Google recognize prior searches and refers to following queries on his blog post for Copyblogger. In a first search he would enter the search phrase “give me some pictures of the Transamerica building” and a selection of illustrations would return. Asking the follow-up questions “how tall is it” gives you information about the building’s height. As you can see Google recognizes the word “it” and refers the query to the prior one.
- Search results will automatically be put into context. Google is heading towards a “mindreading algorithm” that can automatically put activities into context. Google is already offering email, calendar and map services, among other programs, that help provide the context for a query.
- Your phone will become your personal assistant: The first step towards this direction is taken through Google Now, an intelligent personal assistant that recognizes repeated actions that users executes on their smartphone. Google Now is competing with Apple’s voice assistant service Siri to become your virtual assistant. One day you might ask your smartphone “What time is my dinner on Tuesday night, where is it, and how do I get there?” and you will actually get a respond. Those queries don’t function yet, but it is only a matter of time until they do.
For more information on Hummingbird yet, take a look at Search Engine Land’s extensive F&Q on the new search algorithm.