Cloud // Software as a Service
News
9/26/2013
11:28 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
Repost This

Google Hummingbird Update, Explained

Google search algorithm improvements will help it understand complicated queries and provide better answers.

20 Great Ideas To Steal In 2013
20 Great Ideas To Steal In 2013
(click image for larger view)
Google marked its fifteenth anniversary on Thursday with a revision its search engine algorithm called "Hummingbird."

The company introduced Hummingbird at Google senior VP Susan Wojcicki's old Menlo Park, Calif., house, where Google in its early years operated out of the garage.

Google updates its search algorithm frequently, on the order of several hundred times a year. The changes produced by most of these adjustments tend to be too subtle to notice.

But the company gives names to its major architectural updates, like Panda (February 2011), an effort to reduce the prominence of low-quality content in search results, and Caffeine (June 2010), a rewrite of the company's Web indexing system so that Google could provide faster search results.

[ What is Google doing in the delivery business? Read Google Offers Shoppers Same-Day Delivery. ]

Google has also given names to content-oriented search changes, like Search Plus Your World and Universal Search.

The Hummingbird update expands Google's use of its Knowledge Graph, introduced last year as a way to help its search engine understand the relationships between concepts rather than simply matching keywords in documents. The Knowledge Graph structures data, so that a search for, say, Marie Curie, returns facts about her contributions to science, her life, her family and other related information, not all of which are necessarily contained in the same document.

Hummingbird expands Google's use of the Knowledge Graph so that its search engine can provide answers to queries that don't necessarily have simple answers. In a blog post, Amit Singhal, senior VP of Google Search, points to a search like "Tell me about Impressionist artists," which now returns a broad set of appropriate facts when submitted through a mobile device.

The Knowledge Graph also helps Google understand when a follow-up search makes reference to a previous search. For example, if you ask the Google Search app for "pictures of the Washington Monument" and then ask, "How tall is it?", Google will understand that you're referring to the Washington Monument instead of treating your query as a separate question.

The search update also adds a comparison tool. For example, the query "Compare butter with olive oil" returns an organized set of data covering nutritional information. This is the sort of query that specialized search service Wolfram Alpha handles well.

Google Search on mobile devices has been redesigned and in the coming weeks, updates to the iOS and iPad versions of the Google Search app will support Google Now notifications across multiple devices. Singhal said that if you tell your Nexus 7, "OK Google. Remind me to buy olive oil at Safeway," and you visit Safeway with your iPhone, you will still receive the Google Now reminder you set.

Looking ahead, Google can be expected to continue pushing the development of predictive search (Google Now) and voice search, because typing on a mobile device is slow and often impractical.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
lauren_sempro
50%
50%
lauren_sempro,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/9/2013 | 7:14:19 PM
re: Google Hummingbird Update, Explained
The point is Google is continuing to improve the search results to be most relevant to you. The Washington monument example just exemplifies that they are using previous searches to improve your experience. We have been working on SEM & SEO for quite a while and this update has been great for us. We wrote a blog on the same topic, with our stats as well. Thanks Google!! http://addion.com/blog/secret-...
CaseyDwayne
50%
50%
CaseyDwayne,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/27/2013 | 4:36:52 PM
re: Google Hummingbird Update, Explained
Try typing "pictures of the washington monument" into Google and then "how tall is it". It still treats it separately, so I'm not sure what you're talking about...
jzbak
50%
50%
jzbak,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/27/2013 | 1:30:28 PM
re: Google Hummingbird Update, Explained
Good Lord, couldn't make it through the first couple paragraphs. L2 write.
The next wave in APM
The next wave in APM
Find out how to get the benefits of application monitoring while avoiding the complexity and performance headaches.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Government, May 2014
NIST's cyber-security framework gives critical-infrastructure operators a new tool to assess readiness. But will operators put this voluntary framework to work?
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
GE is a leader in combining connected devices and advanced analytics in pursuit of practical goals like less downtime, lower operating costs, and higher throughput. At GIO Power & Water, CIO Jim Fowler is part of the team exploring how to apply these techniques to some of the world's essential infrastructure, from power plants to water treatment systems. Join us, and bring your questions, as we talk about what's ahead.