As part of its 15-year celebration, Google Search is making a major upgrade to its search algorithm. Code-named Hummingbird, it's the biggest morph since the Caffeine update in 2010.
Google actually made the change a month ago, and you may not even have noticed because the user interface is the same. Essentially, Google is expanding features of the Knowledge Graph so it can answer more questions -- even questions that don't have simple answers.
"Let's say you want to get your daughter excited about a visit to the Met. You can pull up your phone and say to Google: 'Tell me about Impressionist artists.' You'll see who the artists are, and you can dive in to learn more about each of them and explore their most famous works," said Amit Singhal, senior vice president of Google Search. "If you want to switch to Abstract artists, you can do that really easily with our new filter tool."
Conversing With Google Search
Singhal said having a "conversation" with Google should also be more natural. Ideally, he said, you wouldn't need to pull out your phone or tap buttons to use Google. Singhal admitted the search engine giant isn't quite there yet, but you can already do a lot with just your voice.
"In the next couple of weeks, you'll be able to download a new version of the Google Search app on iPhone and iPad. With this update, you can get notifications across your devices," he explained. "So if you tell your Nexus 7, 'OK Google. Remind me to buy olive oil at Safeway,' when you walk into the store with your iPhone, you'll get a reminder. We'll also show you Google Now notifications so you're not late to your cooking class."
Singhal also pointed to a new look and feel for Google Search and ads on your phones and tablets. He described it as cleaner and simpler, optimized for touch, with results clustered on cards so you can focus on the answers you're looking for. Those are big improvements that you will notice over time as you run into them in practical searching.
"We'll keep improving Google Search so it does a little bit more of the hard work for you. This means giving you the best possible answers, making it easy to have a conversation and helping out before you even have to ask," Singhal said. "Hopefully, we'll save you a few minutes of hassle each day. So keep asking Google tougher questions -- it keeps us on our toes! After all, we're just getting started."
We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on the biggest change to Google Search since the Caffeine update that rocked the SEO world. He told us Google is constantly working on and tweaking its algorithm.
"The impact of mobile and the demands to better serve the mobile user, plus the massive amount of data that Google has are fueling these changes," Sterling said.
"More and more user, especially mobile users, want information and not links. Google is thus providing more structured data and results accordingly as well as taking advantage of search history and context," he said.
Posted: 2013-09-28 @ 6:00am PT