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The Old Age Of Exact Match Queries And The Advent Of Hummingbird

We often spend a precious amount of our time Googling for something or getting virtually social on Facebook. However no matter if it’s Google, Facebook or any other similar platform, have you ever wondered about how they work once you have entered a word (query) in the search box. More often we are in a process of searching something and use a different set of words for the same. It is these words or phrases which commands your search engine to indicate what you want from them.

There was a time when most of us used to type in a few words and the Google SERP used to unfold its list of results in front of us. Although at times we used to get annoyed with the results but then a few more combinations of words and we are spot on target. The Google search was more like a probability game. In other words it was an era of exact match queries, queries which were more centric towards words rather than the phrases.

Well that was the story of 90’s and early 21st century. Eventually with the up-gradation of search engines, revolution of Artificial Intelligence, updates like Penguin, Panda and many more, things changed drastically. Google today as they say can read your mind and predict your actions just like an astrologer or an Oracle. Interesting isn’t it?

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So what happened? Where’s our old white SERP? Is it like Google has come out of its cocoon of just being a search engine and finally catering to the needs of users, or is it like the new Google has a complete new plan for our future? Let’s check this within next few paragraphs. 

In order to understand how Google works we should start with the queries. Queries can be a single word or a set of words used in order to search something. However once you have typed in the queries there’s an array of processes which are executed in order to show you the proper result on SERP. In order to get an in-depth sight of this you can always check it here.

Till very recently Google used to face a real hard time when the queries were more like a complete sentence. A minor tweak in the queries and you have an entire new set of links on SERP not because they were better suited to your choice but because Google was not able to differentiate between these or find out if they have the same meaning or they are two different queries.

Let’s observe the snapshots below for the same. It should be noted that search engines likes Bing still shows different SERP’s with minor tweaks in the queries

Query 1- Eiffel tower pictures

Query 2- get me the pictures of Eiffel tower

Based on the above snapshots you can easily see that for the 2 queries mentioned above you have exactly similar results on Google however the same is not true for Bing. I do agree that some of you may see a flaw in this algorithm change for Google but we will come back to this in a short while

One of the main techniques used by Google these days in order to show the SERP for the long tail queries as above is called Hummingbird algorithm. This algorithm is not a new concept for the evangelists of Digital marketing as the patent for this was filed by Google way back in 2003 however Google integrated it in the algorithm only last year.

One of the key concepts in the hummingbird algorithm is the use of synonym and substitute query rule in order to fine tune the SERP results.

Talking about the impact of hummingbird algorithm, when it was released last year nothing much was felt as it never impacted the SERP drastically. However now the heat can easily be felt and this is just the beginning. With gradual fine tuning of Query analysis by Google and discarding the use of exact match queries the SERP’s today are quite different from the ones shown before. Most of the sites which are just optimized on the basis of keywords can no longer be found in the top results and given the way things are going those which are still there in the results will disappear soon.

One of the thoughts behind all these is that Google wants to be more like an Answering medium for its user rather than promoting something which is of no help to the millions of people visiting Google every day.

Getting back to the point, is the tweet of Hummingbird really loved by people? Well there is a difference of opinions. Many say that it’s good as you cannot trick Google with the use of Exact match queries and the long tail keywords as Google can figure out the nature of your business, your niche and the purpose of your site instead of just crawling your site for title and showing them on SERP. But a much darker side of this algorithm is what hidden from many. In the pursue of quality SERP with the help of Hummingbird, Google has limited the option of variety and vividness in results which earlier used to be a key feature of the SERP. Today you have more or less the same results on Google for a set of similar queries, irrespective of the fact that each one of them has a unique literal meaning and should have given the results on SERP accordingly.

Just before I wrap up, I would like to conclude by saying that I am happy that Google today is able to filter the spam more effectively and deliver much better results but it must be acknowledged that it’s still a long way before you will be able to get exactly what you expect from the search engines.

What you guys say, is it the end of that old age when companies used to fight over some exact match keywords? Or the beginning of the new era where regardless of brand and link count, only user queries will rule?

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