Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Update: The impact on search and PPC.


By | PPC Account Director

Last week I celebrated my birthday by raising a pint of the black stuff for Arthur Guinness day. The very next day Google celebrated their 15th birthday by announcing their first major algorithm update in 12 years. Now, if there’s anything that’s going to have every digital professional on tenterhooks it’s an announcement from Google that they’re releasing an update.

Google Hummingbird.

Google Hummingbird.

And so it came to be that Hummingbird no longer refers to the tiny bird with the long beak, commonly known to be good at hovering in mid-air while flapping its wings up to 80 times a second. Instead, Hummingbird is now vernacular for our latest step in the journey towards truly semantic search. In a nutshell, search just got smarter. There was that and of course there was their piñata game, which my niece certainly seemed more interested in.

Google's piñata game.

Google’s piñata game.

The effect and impact of Hummingbird on search and PPC campaigns

But what effect did Hummingbird have and more importantly how will it impact any PPC campaigns you have on Google? The primary purpose of Hummingbird is to tap into the power of the Knowledge Graph to not only create context around searchers’ queries, but also to provide more intelligent and relevant results.

Hummingbird and search

While the Panda and Penguin updates wreaked havoc among businesses who thought they had their online strategies well established, it appears that Hummingbird has had much less of an impact on ranking. Hummingbird instead focuses more on the processing of the search engine results page (SERP) and ensuring it’s as streamlined as possible. The update also evolves the search experience on mobile, aiming to

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better understand more complex queries through less

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emphasis on matching keywords and more emphasis on judging what someone is looking for based on what Google already knows about them.

Amit Singhal, SVP of Search for Google couldn’t be clearer about the direction he sees Google going in, “Google will keep reinventing itself to give you all you need for a simple and intuitive experience. At some point, pulling out a smartphone to do a search will feel as archaic as a dial-up modem.”

Amit Singhal, SVP of Search for Google.

Amit Singhal, SVP of Search for Google.

You can also expect more and more integration of Google Plus as the guys in Mountain View continue to explore ways to eat into the Facebook pie.

Clearly, making social a more integral part of the search experience will help draw more users and hence advertisers to their network.

Hummingbird and PPC

Getting back to the crux of the issue from iProspect’s and in particular my own point of view, how will this update impact any PPC campaigns? Initial reports suggest the answer is not very much, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. With a more nimble engine that can make more accurate assumptions about what users are searching for (even if they cannot find the correct keywords to express that accurately themselves!), what do we get? We get a higher degree of targeting, not only to show ads where appropriate but also to exclude them from searches where they don’t add value and are unlikely to convert. The result? Potentially a more discerning ad serving engine which can both improve the user experience while providing more value to advertisers. That would be an incredible result, especially for the team at iProspect as we strive to continually find efficiencies for our clients.

As for Google, they continue to go from strength to strength and with projects like Google Glass, self-driving cars, interior street view and Loon for all, I’d challenge anyone reading this to question whether they may actually be capable of finding the key to immortality.

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