Posts Tagged ‘Google update’

What the Google Hummingbird Update Really Means
I was recently doing some keyword research work for a client. Part of that involved surveying competitor sites and seeing for what keywords they’re trying to rank. While I was doing this research, I was surprised to find that many of these sites (a few of which were very well-known sites)  were basically keyword stuffing their back-end. While not uncommon to see this problem, especially on older sites, what got me really thinking was the fact that many of the keywords were just so generic.

On these sites, I saw terms like lobbying, advocacy, politics and cartoons. There were no long-tail keywords, and certainly no thought put into these terms. Advocacy, but advocacy for what? Politics – in which country?

In the past, we SEO people were told to add as many keywords as possible, especially in the early to mid-2000s. It was just the way of the world. But then a few years later, we got to thinking about how people actually search. No one just searches “politics”, but they may search “how do Washington politics affect global industry”. Long-tail keywords just provided more targeted results. If anyone was just searching “cartoons”, they may find a few political cartoons, but they’re just as likely to get millions of results of anything from Garfield to The Oatmeal. So you’d have to search “Washington political cartoons” to find for what you are really searching.

Targeted searches provide better results, and the importance of that is nowhere better seen than mobile devices. Mobile devices don’t have a lot of battery life, and WiFi can be painfully slow. Mobile users don’t have the time (or the patience or battery life) to wade through thousands of results. The screen is small, and you’re on a mobile device because you’re probably on the move. Or worse, you’re sitting in a meeting and need to get the right result ASAP. Mobile users need to ask targeted questions to find what they need quickly. So people on these devices tend to search via questions or sentences, i.e. “I need to find the closest shoe store to 14th and Curtis, Denver”.

What the Hummingbird update does is simply look at this entire sentence and then finds the results that make the most sense for that person. This update is not another nail in the SEO coffin. It’s just the natural progression of what people are already doing. SEO people just need to get out of the mindset that they just need to focus on keywords or long-tail keywords, and actually start thinking about how people search. It’s our jobs to do that anyway.

So don’t fear the Hummingbird. Embrace it, understand it, and help your clients fly. (Bad pun, but hey, it works!)

Google has done it again! No, it’s not some great innovation or app like Google Glass or Sky. Google has done another one of their “let’s mess with SEO people” tactics. This time, it’s a real doozy: 100 percent of all Google Organic Search Queries will now show up as “not provided”.

As SEO professionals and webmasters, we’re used to looking up the keywords associated with search queries to determine which keywords are/are not working for our brand or website. Now, Google has pulled the rug out from under us. Google has secured all organic search query referral data. This means that you can no longer see from which source your traffic and sales are coming.

Google had been steadily ramping up secure search over the past few months to where nearly 70 percent of organic search data was secured as of a couple of months ago. Now, Google has completely flipped the switch. The only way you can see keyword data is if you use Google AdWords for advertising.

So what can you do? While this is definitely a knock to organic search professionals, there are still some other routes for obtaining organic data. You can also look at the landing pages and the keywords associated with each. If you have been tracking your analytics for a while, you probably know what keywords were driving people to these pages, or you might just know from the keywords that you used within the content. While slightly cumbersome, it can work to determine from where traffic is coming. has also created a script for overwriting “not provided” with inferred keywords.

You can also use Bing Webmaster Tools: It’s free just like Google Analytics, and Microsoft has been improving its analytics offerings. The organic search results for both Google and Bing/Yahoo should be very similar so you can track what keywords/content are working within Bing and infer that those are also working within Google Search. You can also use a more comprehensive tool like Site Catalyst, but for most businesses, this is very expensive and a bit overwhelming.

Stay tuned for more changes from Google. I’m sure that there are more coming, but hopefully, they won’t be as dramatic as this.

In the past couple of weeks, Google made some updates to its webmaster rules. The updates were kind of quietly released, but it could have huge implications for PR agencies.

Some of the updates just made sense: Basically, don’t use paid content as you would earned content. All paid content links should be no follow ( <a href=”link” rel=”nofollow”>content</a>). Many online content producers have been recommending that people and businesses follow this rule for a while. No big deal.

Same goes with the “don’t think you can create thin content and market it on third-party blogs and think you can get away with calling that a real backlink!” If you’re going to be writing content on third-party blogs, make sure that the content is good. You can’t just throw together something flimsy and stuff it with backlinks. Again, another no brainer.

The third major update, however, is a DOOZIE! For years, businesses have been creating press releases and pushing them out on PR Newswire or other PR distributors for a double-edged advantage. Yes, it increases the chances that somebody in the news industry or blogosphere will see your press release and want to contact you or do a story. The other major reason was to create backlink juice. We all know that backlinks help increase your website’s PageRank, which is good for organic and SEM. It’s been the pattern for years, and no one’s complained….until now.

Google is now saying that all that backlink juice that you’ve been getting from press releases is a BIG NO, NO! All those links back to your website better be no follow, Mister. And further, don’t even think about repeating keywords in your press release. Google will think that you’re keyword stuffing, and it will penalize you for it.

The way Google released this update almost made it seem like it wasn’t that important. Just a “oh here’s a little update; now go about your business.” But this update is huge for many small and new businesses trying to improve their PageRank and get exposure. Only time will tell how much these updates will effect businesses and how bad Google penalties will be for not following the guidelines.

Read more about the topic on Search Engine Land.