Google’s Hummingbird is the most recent upgrade of the Google search engine. However, it isn’t so much an upgrade as a replacement. Sure they have kept some of the old stuff like, penguin and panda, but the majority of what you are looking at is different.
“But it looks the same”, I hear you say, and you could be right depending on what technology you are using to do your searching. If you are using your laptop to do your searching then you probably haven’t noticed much change. However, if you happen to use your mobile to do your searching then Hummingbird will introduce you to “conversational search”.
The idea is that you use your microphone to ask the questions rather than typing them in. Its a bit like Siri if you have an iPhone, only the big difference is that Siri is a series of stand alone questions, whereas Hummingbird remembers the last question and the answer it gave.
Rather less apparent on first use is Hummingbird’s ability to study the meaning of a search rather than just the keywords used. Now, its very difficult to know at this stage whether or not this is improving the results that Google serves up. However, they say that should you be searching for treatments for an ailment, whereas it used to give you a list of drugs, it now gives you a more diverse set of results in order to give you a wider understanding of the ailment, possible cures and whether you need to be looking for a cure at all.
To be honest, I think that the conversation search idea is a pretty good one as I do a lot of driving and its a lot more legal to talk to your phone, in its cradle of course, rather than typing. (very bad)
If you have an iPhone, download the Google app here and have a play. Ask it whether you need an umbrella tonight, then ask “what about tomorrow”. There is no need to mention the weather again or your umbrella, just like there wouldn’t be if you were speaking to another human being.
It’s particularly good if you need to translate a conversation into another language for someone. Ask Google to translate, “can we meet tomorrow” into Spanish and it not only displays the results but also speaks it back perfectly, even adding a spanish accent.
Will it transform search I’m not sure, if you are alone in your office or car, then I can see it being very helpful. However, I can’t see too many people using it on a busy commuter train.