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Why Google’s search update affects nearly everyone

When most companies make a small update the world doesn't pause. Not so at Google, where the smallest change can be likened to a butterfly flapping its wings and leading to all sorts of chaos.

A similar reaction has greeted Google Hummingbird, the search giant's latest update that endeavours to answer queries in a more human manner.

Human, all too human

Over the past few months Google has been quietly tweaking its search formula and officially announced Hummingbird in a press conference last week.

While Google is keeping tight-lipped about which parts of its search algorithm have been tweaked, it revealed that the update is a response to the increasingly complex questions posed by internet users. For example, if a user asks a question such as “How far is it to drive to Melbourne?”, Google will now be able to provide a more specific answer. 

Hummingbird is the largest update to Google since the Caffeine redesign in 2010, and according to The Huffington Post could affect 90 per cent of the search requests processed by Google.

When Google redesigned its Page Rank system with Caffeine many businesses were affected, from SEO companies to review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.

Searching for answers

During the announcement of Hummingbird, Google engineers ran a search query about coconut oil versus olive oil.

Hummingbird yielded information on Google's homepage, well before linking to third party sites.

This could potentially mean users will begin gleaning information from Google, rather than top ranked pages. If this is the case, the cost of Google Ads would presumably rise. 

While it's too early to predict how Hummingbird will affect page rankings, you can bet brands are watching Hummingbird's first flight very closely.

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