Did Hummingbird Eat Link Building?

Did Hummingbird Eat Link Building?

Did Hummingbird Eat Link Building?

Panda squashed bad content. Penguin froze low-quality links. And now, did Hummingbird eat link building?

Hummingbird wasn’t just another algorithm update. It was more a re-tooling, behind-the-scenes adjustment to make Google faster and smarter. And it most likely opens the door for a lot more change to come.

Let’s take a look at what Hummingbird means for the future of link building.

What Is Hummingbird To Online Marketers?

It’s a new engine, not a new paint job. It was in effect for 30 days, and we all missed it. It affects 90% of search results. And it’s designed to deliver more relevant results to every user, faster. Danny Sullivan summed it up best:

In general, Hummingbird — Google says — is a new engine built on both existing and new parts, organized in a way to especially serve the search demands of today, rather than one created for the needs of ten years ago, with the technologies back then.

Unlike other algorithm updates, Google didn’t seem to be chastising, correcting or directing the SEO community when they blogged about their 15th birthday the day Hummingbird was announced. Instead, the focus was on how they are making everybody’s life better with intuitive user experience improvements, including:

  • Updates to the Knowledge Graph (comparisons and filters)
  • Conversational, cross-platform search
  • Better mobile search experience

Hummingbird is all about the user.

Did Hummingbird Change SEO Forever?

Hummingbird is one more (big) step in the same direction Google has been heading since day one: Deliver the absolute best result to users, as fast as possible.

One of the goals of this update is to better understand the meaning behind words in search queries and deliver relevant results — for example, searching [pizza] at home might mean you’re looking for a recipe, but searching [pizza] on your phone most likely means you need the closest pizza joint, pronto. Conversational search came up too: “Having a ‘conversation’ with Google should also be more natural” (from Google’s birthday post).

That means the goal of every forward-thinking SEO and online marketer need not change. Mission critical is still the same: give your audience what they are looking for, quickly and easily.

Did Hummingbird Kill Link Building Once And For All?

No. Link building is alive and well. But the definition of link building sure does need to change. As Will Critchlow from Distilled says, “Link building is a terrible name for what we do.” And that is true for so many reasons.

Remember Panda, which was designed to penalize and discourage low-quality content? And Penguin, which put the ax to low-quality “link building”? Hummingbird wasn’t like those updates. As Danny noted in his detailed article, PageRank is still one of the 200 factors that Hummingbird uses to determine search results. But link building ain’t what it used to be.

Link building is dead. Long live link building.

How Does Hummingbird Impact Link Building?

Directly, it changes little. Indirectly, it changes everything.

SEOs used to be able to use links and other factors to trick Google into thinking that their search website was more authoritative and helpful than it actually was. Hummingbird once again makes the end user the absolute focus of search results. We can’t trick Google anymore! Building links to less-than-amazing content will fail. Google will notice high bounce rates, the lack of natural social sharing, and a variety of other quality signals no matter how many links you build — probably even faster with Hummingbird.

Everything we do should also focus on the end user. More than ever, link building needs to be focused on providing real (significant) value to users. Is our site worth the links we are trying to earn? Does blasting 1,000 potential link partners with a link request provide value? How can we leverage link building to provide more value at every step in the process?

Think quality content, intended to meet specific needs (“long tail”) and to be authoritatively long-lasting (“in-depth”).

Is Google+ More Important After Hummingbird?

The Google+ team said it themselves: “Google+: The social spine that improves the user experience across Google.” Now, their team said nothing about Google+ when discussing Hummingbird, but you can find the connection if you read between the lines. More Google+ is coming whether we like it or not — are you ready?

How Should Link Building Not Change After Hummingbird?

The greatest mistake you could make is seeing Hummingbird as a reason to make another “update” to your link building formulas. For example, maybe you have been trying to build links with this type of framework: 50% branded links, 30% partial match links, 20% exact match links. Now that Hummingbird happened, you might think maybe it’s time to update that formula to something “safer” such as: 70% branded links, 20% partial match links and 10% exact match links.

Rigid link building formulas like this are based on dangerous out-of-date mentalities. Instead, try a new “formula,” like this:

  • Develop amazing content
  • Get to know the influencers in your space
  • Contribute to relevant online communities
  • When appropriate, ask your friends to consider sharing your valuable content
  • Bank on earning a majority of your links passively (i.e., naturally)

The Wrap Up

Link building is still important, but treating it as a one-size-fits-all, cut-and-dry tactic is dangerous. Integrating link building into your overarching marketing and content marketing strategy is the only way to be future-proof — and open up new opportunities along the way.

(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license and modified.)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Hummingbird | How To | How To: Links | Link Building | Link Building: General | Link Week Column

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About The Author: is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. As CEO and founder of SEOperks, Nate has driven revenue improvement campaigns for companies large and small with a focus on high-quality link building and future-oriented SEO.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://localreachlabs.com/ Russell Hayes

    HAHA not funny, well sort of funny if you’re being sarcastic.

  • Guest

    Not to mention where he says to try a new formula for link building and then link building isn’t even in his list. Pretty much it reads as “Link building isn’t dead, but don’t do it anyways, but you still need it”.

  • http://www.skiusainc.com/ Ehtesham Shaikh

    Yeah they are valid but don’t try to game or spam through hashtags.

  • http://www.skiusainc.com/ Ehtesham Shaikh

    I have recently attended a seminar of Google where they mainly focuses on social signal like g+, Facebook, Twitter … to use it for link building and branding.

  • Yiannis Gedeon

    “SEOs used to be able to use links and other factors to trick Google into thinking that their search website was more authoritative and helpful than it actually was. Hummingbird once again makes the end user the absolute focus of search results. We can’t trick Google anymore! Building links to less-than-amazing content will fail. Google will notice high bounce rates, the lack of natural social sharing, and a variety of other quality signals no matter how many links you build — probably even faster with Hummingbird”.

    - Dont know where to start disagreeing with this paragraph. SEO were using links and other factors to rank their web site, “tricking google” is never in anyones’ agenda unless this refers to black hatters which I doubt as this is not a black hat blog. It is Google’s nature and faulty -sometimes- ways of rankings sites that forced most people to seek those links. Unless Google is a saint and SEOs the devil.

    - The end user was always the absolute focus (not sure what you mean by “once again”), no serious marketer will look at the “traffic number”. The first think I check every day when I log in to my accounts is the “GOAL” tab. that was, is, and will remain the primary focus of all online businesses. Everything digital marketers do is around that tab wether its organic, vian email, facebook etc.

    - YOu say that “Google will notice high bounce rates, the lack of natural social sharing, and a variety of other quality signals no matter how many links you build — probably even faster with Hummingbird”. Not sure how HUmmingbird will make this process “faster”.

    Lastly the ratios % you are giving us for the new link building are more related with the Penguin 2.1 update rather Hummingbird.

    Other than that, good read and thanks for taking the time to post it.

  • Ashutosh R

    Wondering wasn’t Google already looking into this stat… :)

  • RedLeader

    What he said is nearly word-for-word what the Google Search team has said over the past couple of months in various channels, and it’s what is in their new updated “spam” definition- “any link built for the purpose of manipulating PageRank” is considered spam.

    While you may be right that Google can’t tell right now, that doesn’t make Chris Koszo wrong about saying that that’s what Google *wants* to accomplish, soon.

  • RedLeader

    Damnit, I wanted to click. ><

  • RedLeader

    Aren’t you the “guest” that replied to me? Go attempt to spam links elsewhere, dude.

  • http://beaublinder.com/ Beau Blinder

    Yeah, this article is misleading and spouts what essentially amounts to nothing more than wild speculation.

  • David H. McGuire

    I do weddings, birthdays and bar mitzvah’s

  • http://localreachlabs.com/ Russell Hayes

    Hired! What are your rates?

  • http://www.seo-writer.com SEO writer

    “searching [pizza] at home might mean you’re looking for a recipe, but
    searching [pizza] on your phone most likely means you need the closest
    pizza joint, pronto” And what about the increasing number of people who search on their phone both at home and away?

  • george

    I am absolutely sick of hearing about social signals. I wish the SEO community and sites like these would stop talking about it. It’s all a load of BS… you would know this if you ran some tests! The only social signals that matter to google will revolve around Google Plus and mobile search queries.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    In my experience, whenever you look at link building as a way to connect your website to your audience you build/earn the kind of links Google rewards. As soon as you look at links as way to the top you sacrifice the value of those links for the amount of links you could get.

  • http://www.bluecorona.com/ Ben Landers

    Haha! Exactly!!

  • http://angelasdiscountmarket.com/angela.html AngelaE8654

    Most of the information given after ALL the updates are knee jerk reactions based on guesses and conjectures. If they are said on a site like this that has “authority” or by a guru type, people believe it. People are led astray VERY easily with SEO type information. It’s sad, actually.

  • http://angelasdiscountmarket.com/angela.html AngelaE8654

    Now THIS is a good comment with correct information that people SHOULD listen to.

  • http://angelasdiscountmarket.com/angela.html AngelaE8654

    Yep.

  • http://www.myplick.com/view/aj3R_O0M9fn/Storage-King-Arthur Janell Casey

    Does Google manipulate the site ranking? Is that hummingbird says!

 

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