Google Unleashes Hummingbird on the World, the Most Significant Search Algorithm Update Since 2001

September 30, 2013 2:55 pm

Google announced its most significant update to its search algorithm since 2001.  This is according to Amit Singhal, SVP at Google when he spoke to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land. While the announcement was made just last week, the actual roll out of the algorithm was done a month before. Those of us who are deeply entrenched in SEO witnessed the tremors and shakes in mid-August. The signs were there, all you had to do was look.

So, what were the signs that Hummingbird was rolling out?

  1. All of Google services went down on August 16th for 5 minutes and took out 40% of the world’s internet traffic. Though there is no official word that this outage was related to the Hummingbird roll out, the timing is awfully suspicious to think otherwise. In fact, Google never did make an explanation for the outage. The only official indication of it was in the Google Apps Status Dashboard which showed an outage across the board for all services on August 16th.
  2. Secondly, there was extreme volatility in search ranking immediately after the outage suggesting the entire episode was due to a reboot of the systems with a new algorithm. In fact, Mohammed Mustafa Ahmedzi at states that SERPMetrics noted a big spike in search changes.

    Many of Delia Associate clients experienced this volatility as well but quickly recovered.  In some cases, rankings for particular key phrases dropped from the 1st to the 3rd or 4th pages. We attribute the quick recovery due to having unique and quality content as our main focus for SEO which brought the rankings back to normal ranges as the algorithm adjusted.

  3. Lastly, there was a huge drop in traffic from search as a result of this update. I personally experienced this when a blogger of environmental issues reached out to Delia Associates because traffic to her most popular blog posts dropped by 75% during the same time period. Thankfully, our clients had a significantly milder experience than this, typically seeing a 10%-15% change in traffic to the site primarily. The reasons for such a mild hit on traffic is something I started to explore in the last post and one that will be expanded on in the future article. This wasn’t just an isolated incident but one experienced by many others across the globe. Google’s Webmaster Forums is littered with the cries of many SEO and web masters trying to figure out why traffic to their site had disappeared.

While these were the major signs of the impending announcement for the algorithm change, it wasn’t a surprise for those aware of the troubles in search universe. Our next post will talk about what Hummingbird is all about and what needs to be the primary focus when it comes to ranking high in Google search results going forward.

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