The launch of the knowledge graph and Hummingbird reflect the industry’s shift from quantity toward quality. This shift, in turn, reflects the increasingly significant impact that social signals – both a direct and indirect – have on organic search rankings.
Linking the two updates together, Dan Dodds (2013), Creative Director of M16 Marketing, writes that Hummingbird “takes Knowledge Graph and turns Google’s results into a more conversational, more semantic, and even a more sentient search solution.”
The Knowledge Graph
The launch of the Knowledge Graph was a major step toward semantic search. SEOMOZ describes it as “a SERP-integrated display providing supplemental object about certain people, places, and things.” The Hummingbird update is a natural progression from the Knowledge Graph.
Hummingbird not only seeks to identify and highlight connections between people, places, and things, but also offer insight into these connections. The result is far more complex and knowledgeable responses that would normally be associated with a human mind rather than a search algorithm (Dodds, 2013).
SEOMOZ describes it as a core algorithm update, which may power changes to the Knowledge Graph and semantic search for months to come.
Rather than identifying individual keywords or key phrases, Hummingbird looks at the search query as a whole and then looks for the most relevant results to match it – with supporting information, to boot.