Google overhauls its search algorithm: meet Hummingbird

Today, Google turns 15—an interactive piñata-inspired doodle game on the search page announces the anniversary. While the actual date of Google’s birthday is debatable, it still falls on September, which is a celebratory month for the company. Google has made itself a great birthday present—it has introduced its new search algorithm dubbed “Hummingbird.”

Pic.: Google turns 15, a screenshot from the loading search page (click to enlarge)

The set of upgrades has been announced at the place where the company was actually started, in a Menlo Park garage that housed Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google says that the changes have been in action for already about a month.

The refreshed algorithm affects 90% of all searches and is designed to cope with longer and more complex queries—the ones we are more likely to ask in real life, like “Tell me about how to grow potatoes.” The update corresponds with the today’s era search demands—the keyword-based formulas are being substituted with the lengthy queries to search concepts and meanings, not just words.

Hummingbird is also developed to better meet the user demands in the mobile search field. Google has revealed more advanced voice queries that allow the desktop computer or tablet to give voice responds to the user. “Voice will be fundamental to building future interactions with the devices [we use],” explained Amit Singhal, senior vice president of search at Google.

The package of updates also includes a refreshed version of the Google Search app on iOS, which is to arrive soon.

Mr. Singhal writes in a blogpost: Remember what it was like to search in 1998? You’d sit down and boot up your bulky computer, dial up on your squawky modem, type in some keywords, and get 10 blue links to websites that had those words. The world has changed so much since then: billions of people have come online, the Web has grown exponentially.