Google is constantly trying to deliver the best results possible for each and every search done through its search engine. In order to ensure we get the best results, Google makes regular updates to the way in which it ranks web pages. These changes are known as algorithm updates and they happen more often than you think. It is only when something major changes that we hear the news from Google themselves.
Launched late August 2013, announced by Google on 26 September 2013.
The new algorithm update has been given the name 'Hummingbird' by Google themselves to emphasise the speed and precision of it's new ranking engine.
So what's actually changed?
Well, Google has simply upgraded the way in which it searches the web, indexes web pages and delivers these web pages to searchers based on around 200 different relevancy factors that effect a website's ranking in search results. Put simply, the aim of this change is to bring the most relevant results to the searcher faster than it did a month ago.
One of the key areas in which Google has made improvements is how it deals with 'conversations'. So if a searcher asks a question for example, Google is now that little bit smarter and can offer results to answer that question rather than just focusing on the individual words in a search query.
What does this mean for webmasters?
The new changes shouldn't negatively effect the average website. If you've seen no loss of website traffic in the last few weeks, you've probably escaped any change in your positions. Likewise, there's no need to take any action for this update.
Penguin 5 with Panda 2.1
The latest installment of the Penguin and Panda spam filtering algorithms were released on 4th October 2013.
As with the previous Penguin updates, Google's main target are those websites that are spamming the search results and manipulating their position with paid links.
What should webmasters do?
If you've been hit by any of the Penguin updates, you'll need to clean up your act and remove as many paid links to your site as possible. You can use Google's disavow tool in Google Webmaster Tools, or manually remove links that you're aware of.
How does this relate to Hummingbird?
Hummingbird has been a change to Google's entire ranking algorithm, whereas the Penguin and Panda updates are changes to small areas of the algorithm. Think of it as though Hummingbird is the engine, and Penguin and Panda are parts that make up the engine.