Do you remember a time when you may have put in a search term like "rain bucket" and gotten search results that didn't necessarily speak to a bucket that catches rain but maybe one or the other? So then you try different words, variations on phrases, etc? And how about trying to just find a number to contact someone about buying a rain bucket? Oh how far search has come.
Search is SmarterWith technology like that which built Watson - the computer that defeated some champions at Jeopardy!, the way Google performs has changed too. First came the knowledge graph and just recently announced is Hummingbird. Which according to this piece in the New York Times, the changes made for Hummingbird are because "Google users are asking increasingly long and complex questions and are searching Google more often on mobile phones with voice search."
Thanks to those lovely Apple commercials featuring some of our favorite celebrities and Siri, we expect to ask a question and get an answer. Rather than asking for a specific make and model of car and then finding what looks like a reputable site to find out the MPGs, we simply ask "how many mpgs does [insert make and model] get." (Maybe one day Google will even be able to pull up your actual car if you enter the first search phrase listed in the picture above - creepy but not likely very far off with the amount of data it collects on us).
Google says marketers only need to stick to original, high-quality content for SEO efforts with Hummingbird.
Search is More Efficient (sort of)
With the knowledge graph also came information directly in your search results, such as birth dates of public figures and similar people. Per the statement about the Hummingbird release, users are searching often on mobile phones and finding information directly in the search results can prove much more efficient then browsing to a possibly-not mobile friendly site to find a phone number.
70% of smartphone users would agree. According to a survey of 3,000 smartphone users, 70% have used the click to call function in Google's mobile search results and 59% of them do it to "quickly" get a response/answer.
Only problem is that Google Places still can pull incorrect information and the click-to-call function just gets really frustrating for users and the business owners. I work in healthcare and this is a huge problem for hospitals with locations inside of locations. More on that, if you'd like.
This change makes it more important to be using Google Places for Locations and keeping Google+ business profiles updated.