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Should You Change Your SEO Strategy Because of Google Hummingbird?

If the idea that SEO is dead crosses your mind or turns up in print, dismiss it. The fact is that nothing is really going to change in the way that we pursue the almighty ranking, with the possible exception of the resurgence of the long tail keyword, which was working its way back into our hearts anyway. Everything that worked before Hummingbird’s release will still work moving forward. This includes:

  • Original and engaging content is still king
  • Legitimate back links that are earned using proper SEO are still important
  • The same signals that worked before will continue to garner results
  • Keywords will still need to be carefully placed and used in moderation

The only thing that is really going to change in a meaningful enough way to be noticeable is the way Google’s new algorithm interprets the way we search.

Hummingbird Breaks Old Search Habits

Currently, we type our question into the search engine and the algorithm chooses words from it, often sending us on a wild goose chase by bringing up links that have those specific words in them rather than finding links that relate to the context of the overall query.

In essence, Google has trained an entire generation of search engine users to pose questions in short keyword phrases that had little to do with what we wanted. Instead, we tried to guess where Google would take us and hope for the best. They taught us trial and error searching.

Keep in mind, search engines are the ONLY web properties with a goal to have their users spend as little time as possible on their website.

A Glean of Hummingbird Intelligence

With all of the intelligent changes Panda and Penguin brought to the table, it was only a matter of time before one of Google’s big brained developers found a way to “smarten” search engines up enough to take a question and look at the context rather than seeing the words within the query as separate entities. What does this mean for us? With any luck, it means that the Hummingbird is smarter than your average Panda.

So What is Hummingbird?

The Hummingbird is an entirely new algorithm. It approaches search engine queries in a brand new and intelligent way utilizing new technology combined with older features of the existing algorithms. It is named for the speed and accuracy of the tiny bird.

The Resurgence of Long Tailed Keywords

The Hummingbird is what Google is calling the latest (greatest?) algorithm that they slipped in under our radar in August. If the rumors are true, the Hummingbird will take a search engine query using long-tailed keywords and try to decipher the context of the question rather than chase the specific keywords within the question. The goal is to provide results that actually answer the question

The Knowledge Graph

When you think about it, an algorithm that looks for context within a question was inevitable. Google has been up and running for 15 years (as of September), and in that time it has been collecting what could very well be the largest database of knowledge ever recorded.

In theory, the Knowledge Base has collected data for only a short while; however, most people believe differently. To this very moment, knowledge is being gathered, categorized, cross-referenced thousands upon thousands of ways, and stored. This vast well of knowledge is available to the Hummingbird.

With such a Knowledge Graph, was it not inevitable that Google would eventually find a way to utilize this information with an algorithm that deciphers the context of all the words in a query rather than homing in on a few key words therein? This is exactly what Hummingbird is designed to do.

Was Hummingbird Really A Surprise?

This new algorithm may have surprised the majority, but many people saw it coming. These are the people who use Google’s Conversational Search. The reason so many were caught off guard by Hummingbird is that very few paid that much attention when Conversational Search was rolled out nearly two years ago.

For those who do not know about Conversational Search, which is most of us, here is what you missed, which may have been the biggest hint to date that Google was close to cracking semantic search.

Conversational Search

Users of Google Chrome may have noticed a small microphone icon in the right hand corner of Google’s search box (now on Google search as well). If the user clicks on that microphone (and has configured their computer for it) they may ask aloud the question they would have typed into the search box. The question is then displayed on the search screen, along with the results.

If the answer to the query is in Google’s Knowledge Graph, an Information Card is displayed with the pertinent facts listed along with a list of sites you may visit with more information and hopefully, the answer to your question. What users of “Google Speak” have come to realize is that the more conversational the query, the more information is provided. Did I mention the fact that Google speaks the answer back to you? Pretty cool, huh?

google speak now

Why did Google Create Hummingbird?

Here are three reasons why Google had to create Hummingbird, and why it now has to perfect it:

  1. The ball is already rolling.
  2. Google promised answers by creating its very first search engine. The problem is, people are asking questions, not typing in keywords.
  3. More and more people are using their mobile devices to search. Google knows how important it is to understand a question, especially when you are driving. Comprehension is not new. It is just refined.

Technology Marches On

Google promised to answer our queries when it created the first algorithm that could answer them in the form of leading us to the answers. It takes this promise very seriously. In all, it has addressed the issue rather admirably. Of course, in providing the websites that hold the answers, it created its own worst problem in how to rank them.

The other problem is in the questions. We have always asked questions and up until now, Google has not answered any of them. It merely shows us where we might get the answers based on some of the words we use and making a guess. Now, Google wants to answer the questions by comprehending them and giving us the right answer the first time out.

Now for the Bad News

There is an aspect of Hummingbird about which no one is really talking. As searchers, we expect Google’s search engine to supply a results page with links to the best websites to answer our questions according to their rank. As websites, we expect to compete for those ranks by using SEO and providing interesting content with what we hope are interesting and thorough answers. What we do not expect is the answer to the questions appearing to the searcher before we get a chance to impress them with our hard work.

That Darn Traffic Stealing Information Card – Hummingbird is supposed to answer the search question. It does this by giving us an answer in the form of an “Information Card” taken from its Knowledge Graph and displaying it right at the top of the results page either above or to the right (sometimes both). While this is new and exciting, it is also a clear message by Google that it does not owe us anything. This uses our intellectual property without the responsibility… Hmmm, food for thought. It also begs the question of how our CRO and CTR will be affected when this is widely spread.

Let’s say you want to know if our president has brothers or sisters. There are plenty of websites that want you to visit them for that information. They work hard, play by the rules, and often, pay an arm and a leg to SEO firms. However, if you type in the question “Does Barrack Obama have brothers and sisters” (Hummingbird in action), here is what you will find at the top and side of the results page. (In Google Chrome):

barack obama google

barack obama siblings

There are many wonderful websites, CNN included, that want to give us that information and while they are at it, show us what wonderful surprises they have to offer. Unfortunately, Google has already answered my question in the Information Graph. Why should I bother to click on those links when I have the answer right here in front of me? Many of us offer professional information for free and in return hope the visitors will take actions on various CTA’s presented on our website. Is that the end of it? YES and NO, keep reading…

Hummingbird is a People Pleaser

If anyone has been paying attention, nearly every article on the Internet about Hummingbird says nothing about Google trying to please websites. Google is trying to get it right for people who type in questions looking for specific answers. If Google has the answer, why would anyone look any further?

This seems almost like a slap in the face to websites that spend good money – and lots of it – on genuine web marketing trying to get traffic. If we have to compete with other websites for traffic, that is fine. Bring on your best stuff because I am bringing mine. However, if we have to compete with a giant like Google, what chance do we stand, and why should we even bother to try?

Google Never Made Promises to Websites

The truth of the matter is that Google has never in its history promised websites anything more than a fair chance at a good rank using proper SEO. Google, the search engine, has never told anyone that it would never step into the information ring. Everything that Google has done has been for the searcher, not the website with the answers.

SEO is not affected by Hummingbird. You can still improve your ranking in the search engines by always striving to improve your SEO and provide original content (can’t stress that enough). Now, however, you also will have to compete with Google’s Information Cards that may already have the answer to the search in them. At the moment, this just applies to Google Chrome. How long will it be before other browsers find a way to follow suit?

Searched by browser:

search by internet browser

How Can We Take Advantage of Hummingbird?

There has been a great deal of worry since the release of Hummingbird. If keywords matter less, long tailed keywords matter more, the ability to answer search engine queries through content matters most, and links are still extremely effective, what can businesses on a tight SEO budget do to increase their exposure? When in doubt, content is always the answer.

Hummingbird is an Invitation to Opportunity – What matters most is giving search engines more opportunities to find you. This means broadening your horizons by expanding the number of entrance pages that answer the questions being posed in your niche. More entrance pages with original content will accomplish several goals that can help with Hummingbird on the prowl:

  • More pages that are original offer more opportunities to answer search engine queries
  • A wider topic coverage area for your expertise
  • The opportunity to introduce more long tail keywords
  • Surfing the news websites for your niche and writing creative content from current stories
  • Videos are still hot and alluring for those choosing links with answers to their questions
  • Infographics draw the curious and are a great way to answer search engine queries in a creative and attractive manner

The Hummingbird Algorithm Opens Doors – In essence, nothing changes unless you have not been doing the things that you should be doing to be noticed. Creativity is what is needed if your business wants to compete in an incredibly competitive keyword market. Original content needs to be produced as often as possible.

If your business is to grow, the website and its corresponding blog needs to grow. The same thing that worked before, should still work with Hummingbird, especially if the content contains the answers to current topics from which questions may arise. All of these things still work:

  • Surfing the news websites for your niche and writing creative content from current stories
  • Videos are still hot and alluring for those choosing links with answers to their questions
  • Infographics draw the curious and are a great way to answer search engine queries in a creative and attractive manner

Hummingbird and the Opportunity for More Exposure – When you really think about it, the release of Hummingbird creates the perfect scenario for smaller websites to gain more exposure. The incentive to create more entrance pages and be as creative and daring as larger sites should bring about a new prosperity.

Since branded keyword traffic data has been eliminated through Secure Search and Hummingbird now “gets” search engine queries, the ability to broaden website, blog content, and entrance pages in order to answer more questions is now a vital part of SEO strategy. The Hummingbird’s presence should just be an afterthought.

Hummingbird Do’s and Don’ts

One of the mistakes that some webmasters have made already is to hit the panic button and attack their existing content. There is really no need to go through your entire site making changes to content or anchor text to reflect a “How To…” overhaul in order to attract Hummingbird’s attention. The only thing that this can lead to is disaster.

If you have good, original content, revamping it may only make matters worse. You open the door to mistakes and may only ruin perfectly good content. The best thing to do is balance your content moving forward, making sure to be creative while adding some “How To” articles and blog posts liberally. You can tweak your website content to a small degree; just don’t be too obvious about it.

Claim authorship if you have not done so already. If you need to ask what authorship is, you are already behind in the game and need to start doing a little bit of catch up. Here is the deal… Google loves Google. If your website and corresponding blog is not already tied to your Google+ account, it needs to be.

Tying your efforts to Google+ allows your content efforts to be seen in the work section of your plus account by everyone in your circles, which should be half of the planet’s population. Check out this link for details on how you can take control of your Google authorship.

Do not do anything that would appear to be an overt move to take advantage of any new Google rollout. Think about this for a moment: Google rolls out a new algorithm, the largest single change since 2001, and adds nothing to prevent smart and sly webmasters from taking advantage of it. That is very doubtful.

Do not do anything foolish such as suddenly hiring a link building service that uses less than desired tactics to load you up with how to links or who knows what. Google will surely have a watchdog program for that. Keep it natural and have your company message associated with good quality content. When my clients ask about the core of their marketing plan, I always end up explaining content marketing. This is what everyone should focus on. Simply ask yourself what if Google didn’t exist?

It is always a good idea to take advantage of any and all of the numerous Google services that are offered, mostly free of charge, that will help you to improve your website and blog. Video links on Google owned that teach or answer important questions are a perfect example of taking advantage of Google’s generosity and putting your business website squarely on Google’s Hummingbird map. Interviews with experts in your niche also are a wonderful idea since they are already composed in the question and answer format. Here are some other things that can help:

  • Comprehensive FAQ page
  • Q&A blog category
  • How to posts (in moderation)
  • Interviews
  • Researches
  • Industry debates
  • Ask the expert (Are you an expert? Do something with it. Google will love you more.)
  • Where can I [complete the sentence]
  • Why [complete the sentence]
  • What [complete the sentence]

A Brand New Way to Look At Keyword Optimization

If we break down Google’s 15th anniversary present to the world, we find that it is really just a new way for an algorithm to read search engine queries. Rather than looking at a few of the words within the query, Google’s Hummingbird looks at the combinations of words and tries to ascertain the true meaning of the search. It then provides a result based on what it believes is the overall question. Does this not, in itself, spell the end of keyword optimization?

Not the End, Just a Change – The answer is no. The keywords within a query are still important. It does strengthen the role of long tailed keywords. However, once we couple the release of Hummingbird with Secure Search, which encrypts the search data of keywords, effectively hiding that information from marketers, we again have to draw the conclusion that Google is trying to reduce the importance of keyword optimization and force webmasters to appease the searcher.

In other words, it is no longer enough to draw any traffic to a website. We have to be more specific and target specific traffic by answering specific questions within the content. This cannot be done with just broad stroke keywords.

Good SEO becomes Good Marketing

One of the most obvious goals of Hummingbird is to turn SEO into marketing. It turns the website’s focus on a broader audience, forcing us to appeal to a wider market of readers. Content has just taken another large step, becoming even more important than the Panda tried to make it.

Could this have been Google’s end game all along, or are we in for an even bigger surprise, possibly included within the updates to Hummingbird that are sure to roll out in the near future? Only time will tell; but with each new release, Google becomes more transparent in its quest to appeal to and appease the public at large and change the way we look at Search Engine Optimization.

Hummingbird Heralds the Evolution of SEO

SEO is not dead, nor is it going away. What SEO is doing is evolving. Like the conductor of a great orchestra, Google is leading us along a road that will undoubtedly lead to its masterpiece. A search engine that understands queries and answers the call of the public’s cry for better search results and providing one search service would be a heck of a thing.

It may even turn out that e-commerce marketers needed to jump through all of the hoops that represent a changing SEO in order to get to the endgame in one piece. Again, we may not know what Google ultimately has in mind until we actually get to the end of the journey. All we know is what is put in front of us along the way.

A Look at Hummingbird and Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are an effective way to search for specific information, especially now that the Hummingbird is loose. As a general rule, the long tail keyword is the complete opposite of the “head” terms, like shoes. A search for shoes is more common, but a search for “shiny red women’s shoes,” which is a long tail keyword based upon the head term, are more effective, making them more valuable.

Does Hummingbird Know What it is Doing?

It starts to become obvious that Google knows what it is doing when it comes to the long tail keyword. Making them more important than individual keywords in regard to SEO is the best thing that could come out of Hummingbird. After all is said and done, long tail keywords have a higher conversion rate than standard keywords. In fact, on average, they convert 2.5 times more than one or two word keywords, making them far more lucrative. Look at it from a sales funnel and information point of view:

search term funnel

Hummingbird – Information and the Sales Funnel

The potential customer who uses long tail keywords is obviously more informed and therefore much further along in the sales funnel than those who do not use them. If you sell chocolate bars, and someone is looking for a Bavarian chocolate bar with coconut sprinkles, you stand a better chance of selling to this searcher than the one looking only for chocolate (provided you sell Bavarian chocolate bars with coconut sprinkles). Hummingbird’s move to strengthen the role of long tail keywords is extremely helpful in this way.

Hummingbird and Useful Content

The Panda asked us to provide unique content. What makes content unique? A big part of it is originality. Original content that offers a creative and interesting read for traffic and engages the reader to the point that they want to share it was the goal. Now Hummingbird want us to change that thinking just a little bit by broadening our aim to include content that is useful. (The more useful, the better.) The five things that we should take out of the release of Hummingbird are as follows:

  • Content
  • Long tail keywords
  • Useful information
  • Increased Entrance Portals
  • Continued SEO

Content… Hummingbird Style

How to… These are the two words that will come to dominate webpages everywhere as webmasters will now seek to answer the questions that could be posed by potential traffic and customers seeking answers. It is a brave new game for content writers everywhere as they strive to provide the kind of how-to articles and blog posts that will best serve the search hungry public at large. Originality, engagement, informative content is still king.

Hummingbird Welcomes Long Tail Keywords Back

The re-emergence of the long tail keyword should be a welcome sight for webmasters. The average person never abandoned long tail keywords and now that websites are going to optimize for those, everyone will benefit. Long Tail Keyword Generators will become more popular than ever. Website owners will benefit from the free long-tail keyword generation tools that can be found on the Internet, like WordStream’s Long Tail Keyword Mining software.

The Useful Hummingbird

Useful information is the name of the game. What webmasters must decide is what is useful and what is not. For this reason, websites that answer as many questions over a wide array of topics will do well. What this means is more content. In order to answer as many questions as possible and provide more information, webmasters will call upon writers to produce more content than ever before in the hopes of making their websites as invaluable as ever.

More Places for the Hummingbird to Land

The more entrance portals a website has, the better off it will be. This means, again, more pages, more content, and more links that lead to these pages. Whether it is better to meet a few needs per article or blog post and provide numerous pages, or whether it is better to fill more needs over longer word counts with fewer pages, remains to be seen. Either way, it boils down to content.

Optimizing for the Hummingbird

Google stated that the release of its Hummingbird could potentially go unnoticed. It also stated that SEO would remain unaffected. For the most part, this is true. Everything we were doing to optimize our websites should continue to be our focus with the exception of long tail keyword optimization.

It is a brave new world in internet marketing and Google is leading the charge slowly but surely toward a better way to search for what we need. If you have a website, now is the time to adapt and prepare your websites and blogs for whatever may be coming next. It is anyone’s guess what the future holds. It may well be that we will have a better understanding of where Google is leading us upon the release of Hummingbird’s rolling upgrades. Until then, content and long tail keywords are the order of the day.

About the Author: Asher Elran is a practical software engineer and a marketing specialist, CEO at Dynamic Search, and founder of Web Ethics.

  1. So many words and so little said…

  2. The new update just makes things more interactive- the whole seo and interesting vitality is still there!:)

    • Jenks, I completely agree with you…the seo is still there and will always be as long as the SE’s are algorithm base. However, we see how everything is being shifted to be content base and that what we need to embrace and get used to.

  3. Are we going to see spam completely get nudged out. I think that day is slowly creeping in on us. Hummingbird did improve a lot of our clients rankings for key terms. We’re playing by the rules so only way is up.

    • Puya, two thumbs up. Playing by the rules goes long way. Hummingbird is another update that brings us closer to a user oriented web rather than search engines being in the center of the web marketing industry. Keep up the good work :)

    • I completely agree. Makes alot of sense. Thanks

  4. Hi Asher, thanks for the article,
    As I’m novice at seo, I found useful information for me and interesting ideas for my work.

    • Hey Yuliya, I’m glad you found it useful…Kissmetrics’s blog is indeed a great place to learn and stay updated. Good luck :)

  5. Great blog post with a ton of value. Hummingbird will have little impact for my 100% uniquely written content. SEO strategies will always exist no matter the refinements to the mighty Google algorithm. I will simply use analytics to identify any serious impact and adjust any pages accordingly to attract a more positive result.

  6. The best article I have so far read on Google Hummingbird

  7. profesordeseo Nov 13, 2013 at 1:28 am

    Since the update, I have changed my way of working to GMO online marketing strategy, I hope to have it translated into English as soon as possible, so that everyone can understand.

  8. Nice and well researched post.

    This simply tells one thing: the end of desktop computer is finally come.

    To buttress much more on your last phrase ‘ Until then, content and long tail keywords are the order of the day’, I’d want to add two more elements which are social media signals and having an engaging community around your blog or website.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Venkatesh Iyer Nov 13, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Hats off. I rate this one of the best posts I have read on KISSmetrics.

  10. Man, eHow must be losing their minds right now then. I had no idea that these were the changes Hummingbird is bringing. This is huge!

    I agree with your point about opening the door for smaller sites. It seems like sites that do are well in-tune with their target and VERY specifically what they’re looking for will see the majority of Hummingbird traffic. I wonder how this will affect sites that don’t have a blog or produce regular content…

    • Eric, I agree. eHow, About, WikiHow, Answers, and many many more of them are in the same place. Over 75% of the searches online are about information people are looking for. We predicted this shift several years ago. Google was busy killing spam before they found the time to replace their carburetor engine with a super jet version.

  11. I like what Hummingbird is doing. It helps us get the information that we really need. I think this time, businesses should try to work on providing better content than focus on keywords.

  12. Nice post i appreciate clearly explained about the latest google update……!

  13. Nitin Rustagi Nov 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    This is the best article explaining what is hummingbird and how its going to work for seo’s. Making the paradigm shift form only keywords to intent matching.

  14. Nice article but I have to disagree on everyone’s stance that nothing will change on the way that we currently practice white hat SEO techniques.

    Not to take away from your fabulous article but, I see a lot of people in the SEO stratosphere yammering about how google hummingbird is great for content creators but what the hell are you supposed to do if you are a small local business that provides local service?

    It’s great that google wants all of the awesome Pulitzer prize winning content but the question that begs to be answered is who in the hell is going to read all of this great content when just about everyone these days has the attention span of a circus flea and they are all too lazy to read anything beyond a 3 line paragraph and 5 bullet points?

    I mean seriously already, who the hell made GOOGLE the supreme over lord of the internet where they get to dictate what is what and who gets the Cocoa Crispies and who doesn’t?

    I never saw any democratic process being carried out by the people electing Google as the supreme dictator of the internet so why is that this is the case whether any of us like what is going on or other wise?

    Basically all of this equates into work more and more and get less and less in return! This little dance that we all do trying to keep up with GOOGLE has us all headed on a race towards zero and no one see’s this and if they do, they politely agree just to agree whether it’s right or wrong only because Google is involved

    We live in a time where consumers dictate to educated professionals what they are going to pay despite the fact that many of us actually have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in our educations….I mean what’s up with that and what the hell was the point of going to college and getting 2 degrees?

    Personally, I monitor this stuff pretty closely and from what I see and have been witnessing over the past 2 1/2 years now tells me that there is a huge shift in the paradigm coming our way and it spells disaster for small business!

    Say what you want but at least I have the balls to tell it the way it is!

    • Late reply … but I’d like to pick at one thing you said. The ‘masses’ of consumers should be telling ‘educated professionals’ exactly how much something is worth! I don’t like to think that just because someone spent money in a classroom means that they what I want and how much I value it better than myself. Do we really only see other people as ‘masses’? Are they (and we) really that unintelligent? I for one have more faith in my fellow man, and though I am among the ‘educated’, I’d prefer to provide something useful to my fellow man that have my work ‘rightly rewarded’. If the ‘masses’ aren’t willing to pay for your work, that is a signal that your work is not as valuable as you think. Nobody owes anyone anything just because they spent money to become ‘educated’. If you contribute, you will be rewarded.

      The buggy whip industry was killed by the invention of the automobile. Should the ‘masses’ have been denied the comfort and convenience of cars just so the ‘educated’ buggy whip makers could keep their industry?

      We live in an age of information. Prices are signals.

      SEO is not dead, it is just changing. It may be harder to achieve instant results by plugging keywords than it once was, but in no way does that make the industry dead. The internet has always been about one thing: open and readily available information. Some people became good at navigating the imperfections. Now that some of them are ironed out we shouldn’t be bemoaning that fact. Contribute, and you will be rewarded.

      Local businesses aren’t out of the running. The ‘masses’ romanticize small and local businesses. Target those that will buy local. People search geospecifically all the time.

      Be a part of the solution, not a begrudging big fish of the buggy whips.

      (PS see it’s possible to present a free market approach that respects the value of the individual)

    • PPS a race to zero is always a good thing: better product, lower cost. Why are we complaining about that??

  15. Hi Can,

    I know and understand exactly what you mean. The shift is obvious and geared towards big companies, while the small business is being pushed down. This situation, however, might change some of the marketing methodologies, but in my honest opinion it seems much worse than it really is for many people. With my local clients I focus on NAP mentions, co-citations, quality directories, and reviews. Together they work great and this method can not be applied to nationwide/world wide clients. In your comment you talked specifically on SEO while your focus should really be on other things. Don’t put all the eggs in one basket, make sure your organic traffic is not more than 25% and all the rest web referrals. One more thing, content is not just text, explore other methods of content distribution that could grab peoples’ attention. The rules are definitely changing, this is a very dynamic industry and one should consider himself a professional only if he can keep up with the trends.

    • Hey Asher,

      Sure that is fine and well but, the majority of small business owners in America are hanging on by a very thin thread and are spread very thin financially where most are uncertain if bankruptcy is in the imminent immediate future..or not.

      It’s great that you and I can do and perform SEO but what about the 95% of the population that cannot?

      Where are these already economically challenged small businesses supposed to get the money from to finance these expensive Search Engine Optimization endeavors from when everyone is broke to begin with?

      Let’s forget the SEO for a minute, where is everyone supposed to find the time to be a full time content creator as well as a social media extraordinaire?

      See what I mean?

      Mark my words… Google is very much a part of and a major contributor on the proposed new world order strategy that is currently under way.

      I am 43 years old and I have to tell you that society ,people and life, in general is just so different and unrealistic on all accounts these day that it is just sickening!

      Lets be honest here, all of this technology that was supposed to educate everyone and make life simpler has done anything but that and from what I see, people are stupider than ever and technology is to blame here.

      So in the end, where do any of you really think that this is going to end up at?

      Life , liberty, the pursuit of happiness? The American dream? Bull Shit!

      • I’m with Cam on this. Google is not trying to help the little guy; it’s starting to effectively steal content and make money from it – just like it did with images.

        Plus, this whole “author” pushing is simply to allow google to own the content creator. You have to please big brother with your own profile on google+ to get high rankings now; you have to create content that is unnecessary in the running of a good business; you have to allow yourself to be profiled on the internet. Why do you think you have to have a straight headshot for your google author image? So they can use facial recognition is why. Comes in handy when loads of kids are walking round with google glass.

        Plus results are getting worse in my opinion. All sorts of crappy websites are gaining ground, most likely because they have ticked all the google boxes, and by that I mean sharing their personal data with google. I’ve also noticed that unlike bing and yahoo, google isn’t going as deep so you get more homepages coming up in the results rather than pages that match the query.

        Ultimately, the internet should not be dictated by a corporation that has its own interests at heart. Google making money does not translate necessarily into a better service – and at what price anyway? We know now it doesn’t care about privacy or handing over personal data in suspect surveillance programs.

        Best thing in my opinion for people who are increasingly uncomfortable with google is to switch marketing strategies. Go social, go local (using traditional methods like networking), paid ads and don’t spend too long killing yourself to please google. You can’t compete with the big corporations that google favours. You have to be clever.

        god i hate google.

      • I actually agree too. I run a small business making a product and I only have 2 competitors in Australia – yet I currently do not rank within the top 50 on for my main keyword. I am constantly at work on my website and I see no results for it. The more content I add the more I have to diverge from my products because I cannot write 100 separate original articles about the silly little products that I manufacture.

        I’m getting really tired of the number of hours I have to play silly little games to please google. To be honest, all the work I do on the website is of zero value to my customers.

  16. Brings greater clarity to what I’ve seen before and appreciate the ideas for generating content, although some pieces were repeated/redundant — use an editor? My summary: Google is changing search to reflect human behavior. Hooray for marketers and businesses with the time and/or money to create so much content. For everyone else, you may want to pay more attention to other means of driving website traffic. There’s so much more to marketing than SEO.

  17. Hi Asher,

    I completely agree with you. SEO is not dead but refined and more updated as you have mentioned.

    However, while the Google Hummingbird is a welcomed development, the truth here is that Google will eventually erase off some blogs/websites. What value will this blogs give when the big G has already displayed the result to the answer on their page?

    The foreseeable future in this is that the websites and blogs that will survive will be authority blogs as defined by Google.

    Let’s wait till middle of 2014, more secrets and shock will be let loose.


    • For the sake of argument, is that such a bad thing? We live in a changing and evolving world. Remember Myspace? Were we upset that it got ‘kicked out’? Why are we so upset that the blogging industry may be in decline?

      My siblings blog, my friends blog, it’s a great thing, not saying it isn’t. But if people really only read blogs for specific one sentence answers, they aren’t sustainable and kind of unnecessary. If people read them for unique insight or author loyalty, Google cannot and will not take that away.

  18. I am a very small business that sells items. Hummingbird does not appear to focus on items for sales but only services or questions. What is a small shop supposed to take away from this? What is a person who has struggled with SEO and now is facing the unknown supposed to do. It would be nice if someone would take it upon themselves to tell a small business owner selling items what Hummingbird means to them.

  19. As Hummingbird focuses on the context of search queries, it’s now more important to make sure that your content covers all bases.

    For example, if you are writing content for a blog, make sure that this platform isn’t just focussed on news pieces. Create advice driven, informative and opinion pieces as well, so that you can encourage a larger following and target more visitors off the back of a range of initial search queries too.

    Relevant content needs to address every angle on a range of subjects to attract more people to your pages.

  20. Really great article about the latest update and a lot of info that I was searching for. I really think that this new algorithm will benefit for sites that are intended for quality content sharing and that are not just big directories of affiliate links. As you noted, content is still the main thing we need to focus on and it should be :) thanks for sharing some good tips :)

  21. Great article, A very long read but some good parts to pick out from the rest. We definately be looking at a few and also disragarding a few.

    Thank you for the information, will be keeping an eye on the blog from now on.

  22. Pusparenu Sahoo Nov 27, 2013 at 5:57 am

    The best article till I have seen and read. Single word “Hummingbird” but explained it very neat and cleaned. Thanks a lot and keep it up.

  23. Asher, thank you so much for such a full and well-structured article! I was glad to find the answers to some of the questions that I had.
    After all, it seems that everything starts leaning more on common sense – you just have to aim at what you yourself would like to receive and always keep that potential reader in mind.

  24. appreciate the effort you put in to come up with long form article “indepth” with little or no key takeaways

  25. No matter what change in the search engine algorithm takes place the SEO is always going to be requirement for the website to help in promoting the business online, only some method of SEO need to be changed for doing it.

  26. Google new rules is very important for SEO work. Hummingbird rules said, unique content is must. I follow new rules for my SEO work.

    Thanks for your great post.

  27. Google wants to deliver the best results to their users. So we need to write the content in a way which is relevant to the users search queries. Thanks for showing how to make positive use of the this update.

  28. I have to edit this comment. Now the social bar went a bit more left wich is great because eralier it was ON the post, and I couldn´t read. Ok, let´s go on :)

  29. i think there is a relationship between google and wikipedia. mostly in the “information card” result is taken from wikipedia.

  30. We have all been on our toes ever since Google started rolling out high-impact updates to its algorithm. Panda had web developers check the quality of their articles and web content, removing poorly-written, scraped, and duplicated content. Penguin had everyone scrambling to audit their link profiles, burning the evening oil to comb through thousands of links and contacting other websites for link removal requests.

  31. Great Tip! Good Content which explain idea of hummingbird updates now no worries about it. Just create good quality content for the readers.

  32. Hi Asher,

    thanks for this detailed post on the hummingbird algorithm. My question on this is don’t you think this update will drive more traffic towards forums or for that matter yahoo answers, wikihow, etc?

  33. Awesome Article.

    I want to say only two word for Humming Bird after reading article.

    1. Long Tail Keywords
    2. Lots of Unique Content.

  34. Algo Hummingbird is covers main factors about serp like speed, accuracy ,keywords..

    i got informative info at here..thanks for share

  35. Was excellent.
    Thank you very much., You are a good writer.
    In addition to art that will give you good
    I congratulate you

  36. Hi ,
    I have a question about the new algorithm,

    After Updating the new search engine algorithm my site increased the page rank by 2 factor but so many of my index article got de-ranked !

    I am really confused I don’t know hummingbird is working for me or against me ?

  37. Asher,
    Congratulations for your great writing. I barely find a good post through twitter feeds.

    I did not notice any change and hummingbird was a silent update for me. But curiosity has increased to get into some observations after reading your post.

    Once again, great writing.

  38. What about ecommerce? What about an ecommerce site that does not (yet) have blog posts , articles, etc.? How can we apply your recommendations? (We’ll get a blog eventually, but for a lot of logistical reasons, it won’t happen overnight.)



  39. Yes, we should change our strategy :)

  40. Sohail Qaisar Mar 01, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    If your site is hit by Google, then you should change your strategy :)

  41. Alice Wainwright Mar 19, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    I was determined to learn all I could about the Hummingbird algorithm change, expecting to have to bounce from blog to blog searching and gleaning information from all kinds of horrific marketing sites (the usual drill), but wow! I feel like you neatly covered everything about it in this one post. Thank you for the in-depth article, now to put this information to work. Also, I think zed (in the comments) is correct about the “relationship” with WP and the Google information cards.

    Lastly, what it’s worth, this article showed up in my Google results for “Google hummingbird” first, so nice work if it was optimized using those techniques. :)

  42. déménagement martin Apr 24, 2014 at 4:07 am

    Muchos Gracias for your article post.Truly thank you! Amazing.

  43. Nicholas Jacob Apr 25, 2014 at 3:19 am

    nice and detailed explanation all about hummingbird.

  44. Napoleon Nalcot May 10, 2014 at 2:49 am

    With Google’s long history of algorithm updates, Panda and Penguin have so far had the most impact on the majority of existing websites starting a couple of years back, and now there’s Hummingbird, internet success, in my humble opinion, will be determined by how much time you are willing to invest for your online brand or business as well as how far you are willing to go on learning new things that are considered vital or necessary. Survival of the fittest, you might call it.

    • Napoleon, you bring up some great points. Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing more from you :)

  45. Thanks for such a great article! I’m an NYU marketing student and have found useful insights from this for my SEO project :)

  46. Your article is excellent, well-written, and detailed. I sincerely appreciate your thorough breakdown of Hummingbird. I thought I already knew a lot about it but was pleased to learn more from you article. Keep up the good work!

  47. Amazing secrets. Thank you for your posting, very important for optimization on my blog. I will teach every days how to make article for algortima hummingbird.

  48. Piyush Dhiman Apr 25, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    These regular algorithm updates are only a problem to those bloggers who don’t take their work seriously. I think these are essential to keep the search results clean for users. Thanks for sharing the info.

  49. Even being a small time SEO ( at the very first step), I think it is getting harder and harder to keep up with the algorithm changes. The problem is that it is in Google’s control. On the other hand, Content marketing is in the webmaster’s control which makes the results a little more predictable. Better content marketing means better results. And Google cant change that unlike their algorithms.

  50. 1) Can I use swedish keywords in english content?

    2) How it will help?

    30 Will it be black hat? Any reply will be appreciated.

    • I am using English urls in Persian contents, and have no problem. The thing is that I believe that google has the translation embedded in itself, because it happened to me that I search something which does not exist in Persian websites and google automatically shows the English content.
      But you are proposing to do the reverse, so I can’t be sure if it works well

  51. Eric Van Buskirk Oct 25, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Great stuff. My only disagreement is your big focus on long-talls. Not sure where you’re getting data, but look at moz or Search Metrics and you’ll see “holistic” content has a more broad reaching impact.

  52. it was really informative, the problem that I am recently facing is that in my specific keywords, some larger websites started to work and it seems that google loves large websites, so I wonder how a website in a niche compete with larger wesbites with broader audiences.

  53. So this is why searching on google had turned up crappy results in the last couple of years. I put in a question and google always thinks I’m talking about something else, no matter how many times I rephrase to be more specific. I hate this new kind of algorithm

  54. I’ve always wondered about how much you alter your SEO campaign due to changes in Google algorithm. As an SEO campaign is a long term strategy it doesn’t seem like the right thing to do to fully change your campaign structure at any point. I actually am a big fan of the humming bird algorithm, as a big applier of the white hat SEO I love creating content for my clients that are about their website and brand, so this algorithm doesn’t change anything for anyone except the fact that people need to produce quality content! Thanks for the interesting read!

  55. This kind of information is meaningless if there isn’t a date on the article! That’s just annoying. I can tell from the comments that it’s at least from 2013 or earlier, but that’s all I know.


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