Skip to main content

Hummingbird Hype and the Google Algorithm

Oh the SEO world is abuzz with Hummingbird hype. Allegedly, Google has made a major, incredible, catastrophic, complete overhaul of their (magical) algorithm. Many are freaking out, quite a few are concerned, and of course every serious Google-watcher like myself must pay attention.

Google's Hummingbird Algorithm
We've been through this before. Sometimes the hype is understated, as when Penguin rolled out and at first it did not seem like a big deal. Now it's clear Penguin is a very big deal with many severe penalties for naughty link-building. Panda, in contrast, doesn't seem to be nearly the problem.

Hummingbird and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)


Hummingbird seems to be mainly about latent semantic indexing, which is a fancy word for:

  • Google being smarter about what words go with what words, and thereby to infer meaning. So many words and phrases are ambiguous and only with "context" can a "machine" interpret what you truly mean.
  • Moving to a more Siri-like user experience. Allowing users to "talk" to their computers and get responses.
But keywords still drive queries - not at a Google level, but at a human level. If I ask you:

Do you know the best Pizza restaurant in Palo Alto?

The relevant words are: best, pizza, restaurant, Palo Alto.

No amount of Hummingbird technology can "change" the fact that speech queries are driven by keywords. At its best Hummingbird will be about inferences, such as:

Do you know a pizza restaurant?

With the inference being you want a) the best, b) someone near you, and c) I know you are in Palo Alto.

Is Hummingbird important? It's too early to tell. Can Google or Will Google change the fundamentals of human speech and queries? No: at best they are going to try to be more intelligent about adapting to the ambiguities of human speech, and better at inferring what a query means.

From the SEO perspective, it all still implies that we should:

  • Know our keywords.
  • Write strong keyword-heavy copy, that is good both for humans and for Google.
  • Build links, social mentions, and all that external stuff that confirms we are an "expert" on the topic.
Keep calm and carry on.
 



Popular posts from this blog

How Customer Service Dies at USAA (and Other Places)

Oh, customer service. Of endangered species, you are perhaps the most endangered. Companies with formerly great customer service seem to be abandoning it in droves. Take USAA, the big insurer (of which I have been a member since about 2000). I had the misfortune of credit card fraud on my account, through no fault of my own, and after resetting my credit card with one division, the other division "didn't get the memo." 


Two late fees later, I got an envelope through SNAIL MAIL with an alert. So I call into the call center to reset the credit card and are first told that they'll waive the late fee, and then oops - that they can't. The computers are clearly in charge.

Next, after listening to platitudinous message after message from the Customer Service (SIC) rep, I ask how to file a complaint, and she says, "Oh, we don't have a Complaint Number or Department." We can't actually file a complaint.

So basically the bottom line message was, "Sorry …

How to Get a Negative Review on Yelp - the Chik-fil-A Way!

This is how companies get bad Yelp reviews. Step one. Offer breakfast (which, to be honest, is very good as "fast food" goes at Chick-fil-A), but only serve it to 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Step two. Have an employee literally run out at 10:30 am and flip the signs to lunch. Step three. Be so popular with your breakfast that you have a pile up of cars in the drive thru. Step four. When a car pulls up at 10:32 a.m, having literally been the "next car in line," tell the occupants - Sorry! It's lunch time now (10:30 in the morning for LUNCH?), and that it's too bad. They can't get breakfast. Step five. Let said occupants sit in car for about 5 to 7 minutes while they wait for the other folks ahead of them to get their food, and let them listen to the cars behind them bark into the drive thru - WHAT? NO BREAKFAST? You're kidding me. Step six. Let said occupants, drive hurridly through the drive thru (without getting any food), and be starving while they g…

An Email Sign Up Should Convey the Value Proposition

An email sign up should convey the value proposition. One "easy" thing to do is to show past email newsletters or alerts, so users can see what they "get" by signing up.

Here's REI's email prop: