Google recently announced a major update to their algorithm, and again it’s a cute and cuddly animal. However, putting this update in the same basket with Penguin and Panda, and even calling it an update is not exactly right. Hummingbird is a major modification to the algorithm, even more influential than Caffeine was, targeted mainly on allowing the algorithm to better understand the language that the searchers are using, instead of only providing results based on keywords.

It was revealed that this update has been active since some time in August, and while it is said that it influenced 90% of the searches, most SEOs and webmasters didn’t really notice any significant difference in rankings since the update went live. Naturally, this is not to say that the revamping of the algorithm didn’t have any effect and that it won’t play a huge role in future SEO efforts.

The intention behind algorithm seems to be facilitating search to people and not making them try and formulate their questions in a way that is more acceptable to Google. One of the things that prompted this is the fact that the number of people who use their mobile devices to access the web is rapidly increasing. Most of the time they will simply use voice input to enter their queries, and they will usually do so in the same way that they would pose a question to a human being. The goal of the algorithm update is to provide them with relevant answers, regardless of the way in which the query is formulated.

This is to say that the algorithm is striving to understand the meaning behind your question, and not only rely on keywords that you mentioned. A lot of SEOs are concerned that this could devalue keywords as a means for obtaining better rankings, but most agree that keywords will definitely still matter. There has also been some speculation on whether this update will bring higher rankings to pages already optimized for such questions, for instance different FAQs and similar.

One thing, however, remains as certain as ever, those who provided great and useful content to their visitors have nothing to fear. Google still values relevance over everything else, it is just using a modified tool to assess that relevance. While its algorithm already considered synonyms when recommending a page, Hummingbird is bringing a whole new level to its semantic analysis, allowing for better search results.

Naturally, all the previous updates are still as relevant as ever, and have been absorbed into the new algorithm, which means that you still have to be concerned about following the previously established guidelines. While for now we can only speculate about the exact impact that the algorithm change is about to have on the SEO world, chances are that those who have been responsible, ethical and creative in their SEO efforts are more than likely to keep their good rankings, while those who relied solely on keywords may have a reason for concern.