• http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Here’s hoping the Hummingbird embraces possessive markup in queries because I am NOT giving up my apostrophes. Come on, Google, fix this.

  • http://www.dinomiteseo.com/ Dino Gomez

    Great article Eric. Really like the idea of reworking content and blog posts into question form on the occasion and when appropriate (no overkill). I also find it interesting that your video post using Google properties, Hangout & YouTube, worked so well to rank your video for a competitive term. Google certainly loves Google. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.adamdince.com/ Adam Dince

    Great article! Though the one myth I keep hearing about and reading is that mobile search is trumping desktop search and that’s just not the case. “For the first time ever, comScore estimated that desktop searches surpassed 20 billion core queries – up 11 percent from the previous month. The previous record, set in January 2013, fell at 19.5 billion searches.” Desktop search isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. http://www.brafton.com/news/desktop-searches-reach-highest-level-yet-in-march-2013-data. The truth of the matter is that mobile search doesn’t cannibalize desktop search and vice-versa. They work together.

  • http://www.dinomiteseo.com/ Dino Gomez

    Another good strategy is to host more interviews on your site since interviews come in the form of Q and A’s and you can also use more Google properties by way of recording and transcribing the interview to YouTube. A few tips on traffic for Google Humminbird here: http://ow.ly/pC9B6

  • http://blackhatpwnage.com/ igl00

    its really sad what way its going.

  • http://www.keshkesh.com/ Takeshi Young

    If you aren’t on Wikipedia yet, you’ll want to get in there because that’s where Google pulls most of its semantic data from.

  • http://www.verticalmeasures.com/services/quality-link-building/ @CliqueKaila

    Interesting points you make Eric, great information. I think the principles of co-citation are even more important given Hummingbird. Google is going to be looking for many other areas to establish meaning of keywords not just the keywords themselves to help identify the appropriate results for search queries. The backlinks to a site where your link resides, the other links they are pointing to from their site, phrases and meaning of phrases on the page, on the site as a whole, etc…

  • http://www.warrenlee.org/ Warren Lee

    Great points Eric. Here’s another quick related observation that i’d like to share. I agree
    that the hummingbird algo places more semantic emphasis on queries that
    potentially match to “how to” related keywords. Check this out..
    http://www.semrush.com/info/wikihow.com and look at that traffic spike.
    Then do a few searches like “bake a cake” and notice that “how to”
    related results seem to get a good deal of Google love even though the query doesn’t contain “how to”.

  • Henley Wing

    Great idea. Having an interview is also an easy way to get an influencer to link to your site :) But is there really hard data that suggests having articles with questions brings more traffic from Google?

  • Henley Wing

    Great idea. Having an interview is also an easy way to get an influencer to link to your site :) But is there really hard data that suggests having articles with questions brings more traffic from Google?

  • http://www.seoimr.com/ Steve Sharp

    Soon it will be paid or no show

  • Miroslav Kovac

    It will be interesting to see how Facebook content will rank with new algorithm. What do you think?

  • Bernard Cayeux

    Greatly, neatly, clearly explained the core implications of Hummingbird (I guess.) I was wondering a few days ago whether FAQ pages would become very important, but did not follow through my idea.
    I think extensive use of “How to” does or will not work very long once abuse of those will get into the picture (except for mobile searches eventually) but somehow a website and page, like for authority, are marked as more or less relevant to questions asked.
    We could see in the near future a new set of microdata playing this role.

  • http://www.htmltutsplus.com/ Karun Verma

    Great Information Eric. So, the authority sites of Q and A like ehow and about.com will benefit from this algorithm

  • Marcus

    Hey Eric, great article as ever. :)

    I tend to think this is a good change. Google needs to be better at understanding and answering questions and in certain topics some sites are so weighted for specific words or terms that the answers to questions in well optimised niches could (and still can but lets give it time) be a little wonky.

    For us SEO’s it’s important to step away from our mechanical usage of the web and search engines and often watch how real people search without our bias. I get a glimpse of the future everyday by just watching my 9 and 7 year old kids and how they browse the web. They generally can’t be bothered to type so they search by voice and ask for what they want which leads to much more lengthy search queries.

    I welcome this change and see opportunity to provide more specific answers to tough questions and smart marketers will do the same.

  • stracy

    I totally agree. especially as mobile statistics include ALL MOBILE DEVICES.

    Only 3% of mobile searches are done on a smartphone. And what the heck is the difference between someone searching on his/her PC sitting at a desk and someone searching on a Tablet sitting in a coutch ? THE SCREEN IS ALMOST THE SAME SIZE.

  • Rebecca Williams

    Article #1 in Google – well played, Sir!

  • http://www.lisa-sprachreisen.de/ Ellke Greim

    Your article was my morning-newspaper. Thank you for writing. I agree with most of your points. I dont agree that search by voice will become popular. I know it from my car. I speak to the board-computer during driving. But its very annoying. So I type e.g. when I am using the car-navigation. And public it looks very silly if a person give commands to a computer. I think the typing question wont dissapear. Maybe I am wrong, we dont have GoogleGlass yet in Germany : ) Many regards, Elke Greim.

  • http://www.orzilberman.com/ or zilberman

    I too believe in most of what you said, though i think that hummingbird is more kind of “Query-Focused” algorithm, rather than affect your stats at google’s data centers it is used to interpret the user-query to a way that google could better understand what you meant.

    So for example if you have a long query like “Where can i find X with Y in Z city” google will better understand that it’s a question and the main subject is X. It will pull data from the knowledge graph or any other source about the Entity X and will understand what is Y to X, it will then see what it knows about the X + Y Combination and pull it’s resources about that. After all of this it will see what is related to X and X+Y in location Z and show you the information.

    Today google is built around keywords, the Hummingbird is the change to Entities & Knowledge.

    This will also affect the whole keywords focus, because many queries could be summed up by Hummingbird to the same base query or Entity relation to provide an answer. The new focus should be about the Entities and the Relations between what you offer / have and the main entity of focus.

  • alchemyv

    I think Hummingbird will affect links by discouraging the build up of doorway pages dedicated to optimising towards keywords – that to me is the most obvious takeaway. Sites that don’t have responsive design for mobile devices will also fall by the wayside eventually. Let’s face it – how many made for SEO link building blogs bother to invest in responsive design that doesn’t use the mobile wp theme? Google will eventually find those limits using machine learning so that it doesn’t affect more than 1% of queries.

  • Dave

    Yahoo Answer is also getting benefit from this update.

  • http://www.ericward.com/ Eric Ward

    A couple comments. I know Google is only 15, so my comment about 19 years was based on this: I have been a content publicist/link builder for 19 years, entering my 20th year this November. This means I was creating backlinks for clients for several years before Google existed. Back then we didn’t build “backlink profiles” for Google, because there was no Google, and the search engines of the day (AltaVista/Lycos/Infoseek) did not analyze links, so my linking strategy approach was completely topic focused and involved outreach to people with an obvious and demonstrated interest in the content/URLs I was sharing with them. That’s public relations. And I’ve been saying this every year since I started. Link building is public relations. Now, finally it seems, people are listening. Some always did, like Danny Sullivan and forward thinking guys like Lee Odden, but most folks thought of links as an SEO function, when that was a mistake right out of the gate. Links have always been about content resonating with another person, and sometimes that other person shared the link you shared with them. And that’s what the boys from Google realized.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    Right on! The goal of links should be to bring human users to your site to find content that is relevant to their interests. Google is figuring out the difference between real links and SEO links.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    Right Adam, I made the same point re: the comscore numbers a while back: http://www.rimmkaufman.com/blog/core-search-is-declining-and-other-misinformation/05042013/ As tablet use replaces laptop use at home it creates the appearance that “desktop” search is in decline.

  • http://www.webrevolve.com/ Michael Fielding

    Great analysis on the Google products point Eric! I suppose it’s common sense more than anything, we saw a similar thing happen on our clients brand new site which I think is now ranked 3th including a video snippet.

    Embrace the hummingbird!

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

    I think #2 is a great point. If semantic search is where we are headed then we need to position our content to answer questions, not just target keyword. Who, what, where, when, why and how–can you fit them into you upcoming blog posts? Think like your customers and answer their questions directly!

  • Donna Fontenot

    One fear though, is that if you start asking and answering user questions, eventually Google will simply cut you out of the equation completely (just like you showed in the NFL stats in point number 1 above). Still, how to articles have always been a favorite of mine, so I’ll continue to write them and see what happens.

  • http://www.ammonjohns.com/ Ammon Johns

    I always appreciate reading your thoughts, Eric, but that doesn’t mean I always agree with them. In this case I certainly disagree. I’m afraid that explaining why, and making a good case counter-argument may make this a long comment.

    Okay, let’s start at the beginning. We both agree that the reason for Hummingbird is that Google is increasingly having to look at longer, more verbose, often slightly vaguely worded queries. We agree on what Hummingbird is, and what its for.

    I suspect we also agree that Hummingbird is largely about increasingly applying semantics, context, and synonym recognition to search queries.

    However, were we diverge, and many others agree with you, is that you seem to be equating this quite a lot with established ‘long tail search’ ideas. Hummingbird isn’t about long tail search. Its entirely the opposite. Hummingbird is about taking long-tail, highly unusual and verbose searches, and serving them results as if they were clear short-phrase searches. It is applying semantics to the actual search query, and processing that, prior to actually running the results.

    So, when I’m on a cellphone in Denver and ask Google “Where’s a good place where I can get a pizza?”, Google can take my location from the cellphone, understand that when I say ‘place’ in the context of the words ‘where’ and ‘get’ and ‘pizza’ that place is a synonym for ‘restaurant’, and can also include ‘diner’, and a dozen other words for places to get food, and effectively process the search as clearly as if I had searched for “good pizza restaurants in Denver”.

    It would be lovely to assume that eventually it will understand the word ‘good’ is important and it should probably only include results with positive reviews, and it may even include all italian restaurants (though that adds a risk of including ones that don’t offer pizza).

    So, while you are writing all your new content to exact-match more long-tail search, Google is doing the opposite. It is making the very concept of many long-tail searches go the same way as referral data. Google is trying to get away from exact wording to understanding the concepts. So no matter how verbose or roundabout your search for pizza restaurant in Denver may be, the search it runs is exactly the same as “Denver Pizza Restaurant”, “Pizza Restaurant Denver”, etc.

    Google is applying the semantics and conceptualization to the search itself, not to the pages, so much.

    That’s why despite this already being live for some time, and despite Google saying it impacts 90% of searches, there’s not been any huge shouting about changes to the serps, or massive loss of 90% of traffic, etc. In fact, with Google’s [not provided] shift away from even showing you the exact phrases, you can’t really detect the changes at all from the receiving end.

    Like I said, this is not long-tail search, but rather the absolute opposite. Its about turning long-tail, verbose queries into shorter, more precise ones *before* serving any results at all.

  • Lauren

    Great article- explains a lot! This update has been great news for us, only confirming our tactics are solid. Who doesn’t like validation?! Here’s a similar blog on the Hummingbird release and stats that support it. Thanks Google. http://addion.com/blog/secret-surviving-googles-hummingbird-addion

  • Unbound Marketing

    I reckon whatever the title of this article it would have shown up in search for the first 6 words, although I think that we’ll see a lot of spammy articles written in questions and how to type formats after this update as people will think that’s what it’s about now.

    I agree with @ammonjohns:disqus comments above.

  • Dariusz Romanowski

    Its realy interesting:) but are that results are better thatn info on websites?

  • http://kustcom.com/ Garratt Campton

    U must be seeing something different from me, those results have been climbing since Jan, and looking at ehow.com they have lost massive amounts of traffic over the last couple years with no recent spike.

  • sahil

    I have been in the top ranking for more than a month but this algo hummingbird threw my website http://www.tnttravelservices.com to 5th page ,the main page of the website is not anywhere in the google searches now as it was before the upgradation of google’s algorithm..Its out of my knowledge where is my website’s index page/main page from the search..I can just see the inner pages.Because of this i have lost many to the customers as my website is not in the top .I am totally helpless .Google has ruined my business :(

  • reena jha

    if people search direct question in Google search , then why one word keywords like “MBA” has great search volume. please reply.

  • http://www.ericward.com/ Eric Ward

    You make a great point. Distilling the long tail query down to its essence. I do think certain types of phase based searches will be easier to distill than others, especially subjective technical queries. That said, I just tested a search on my iPhone. All I typed was “I want pizza”. Google gave me local results based on my location that were useful. But, when I typed in “vegan pizza for a party of ten”, I think I made the Hummingbird angry:) google gave me urban spoon. Not helpful.

  • http://www.ammonjohns.com/ Ammon Johns

    “Vegan pizza for a party of ten” is a really excellent test, Eric. The vagueries of the word ‘party’ in this context, and knowing whether the pizza or the party are the more important aspects, will be a great test for a true understanding of Language. Then Google have to make it work in dozens of other languages too, each with their own vagueries and idioms. They’ve begun a mammoth undertaking. They are nowhere close to getting there yet, but Hummingbird is a very important step along the journey. Even if it equates to little more than packing a bag for that epic quest.

    One of the reasons I say your “vegan pizza for a party of ten” is such a great test is that it is one that is vague even to humans. Are you looking for catering for a party you are holding? Is it a eat-in meal for a party of ten persons? Would a few takeaway or delivery pizzas fit your needs? Its a very vague use of language when really looked at, and to make sense of it would require a lot more context beyond the query itself. Perhaps one day this too may be processed with ease. Does your Facebook profile indicate that you host a lot of dinner parties? Have you recently tweeted about being out with friends tonight? Clues from elsewhere will, mark my words, one day be a big area Google will want to consider. For now, the lookups are too slow, unless they can process all of the extra data through their own database copy.

  • http://GarrigusRealEstate.net/ Garrigus Real Estate

    I’ve been using full question searches on Google for a while. This makes perfect sense for Google. I’ve also noticed Google’s steady shift to answering questions without the need to click through to sites. The thing about it though is there are still globs of searches being done that don’t come in question form, like “Auto Mechanics in Townsville CA”, or “Real Estate Agents in My City”. My point being, like you’ve already said Eric, is that Hummingbird will engage us to add long tailed Q&A strategies, but continue with our quality content goals.

  • http://www.webmarcom.net/ Jody Raines

    Bravo, Eric Ward – you are #1 for the search for the phrase “How will Google Hummingbird Impact Links”! Nicely done.

  • http://www.webmarcom.net/ Jody Raines

    By the way, is a MiFi considered a “mobile device” even if I am using it to connect my laptop remotely?

  • madbohem

    That’s similar to what I tell people when they neglect to have their own website in favor of a page on Facebook, or Yelp, and leave it at that, outside your own web space should be considered Ambassador Pages, and that idea of public relations with a link seems very similar in intent

  • madbohem

    i guess this brings up an another question too, considering something a web site can do is provide the same content in different languages to meet the needs of its users… does that content help better define the true content (rather then keyword this, keyword that) and give Google a better degree of gaining whether a site fits in context? after all, there are plenty of words in different languages that have meanings not quite directly translatable, but they can cement the underlining idea

  • http://kustcom.com/ Garratt Campton

    Google will only ever use a certain small percentage of social signals for ranking, as social signals can be easily gamed by spammy tactics. And for the most part all social links do not pass page rank (nofollow, facebook/twitter in particular)

  • http://kustcom.com/ Garratt Campton

    Google will only ever use a certain small percentage of social signals for ranking, as social signals can be easily gamed by spammy tactics. And for the most part all social links do not pass page rank (nofollow, facebook/twitter in particular)

  • http://kustcom.com/ Garratt Campton

    I’m not sure I understand that comment. I have a website that looks beautiful on mobile (have tested on all devices), compared to all my competitors in the market that don’t have responsive templates. Yet in analytics, my bounce rate it around 70%.

    Page load speed is good so that isn’t a factor… I think responsive is mostly hype.

  • http://kustcom.com/ Garratt Campton

    I totally agree, I thought he missed the mark there. Hence why Google is removing long tail results from analytics. It’s So people stop focusing on long tails for rankings and instead focus on building private PR blog networks for rankings.

    Of course that makes no sense… but in all seriousness that is what it has come to. That and spamming youtube videos with 10000’s comment links (which has been working for the past year or more actually extremely well) and on that note: http://youtu.be/1o7jum8489U

  • http://kustcom.com/ Garratt Campton

    I totally agree, I thought he missed the mark there. Hence why Google is removing long tail results from analytics. It’s So people stop focusing on long tails for rankings and instead focus on building private PR blog networks for rankings.

    Of course that makes no sense… but in all seriousness that is what it has come to. That and spamming youtube videos with 10000’s comment links (which has been working for the past year or more actually extremely well) and on that note: http://youtu.be/1o7jum8489U

  • alchemyv

    In the main I agree with Eric, however Link building in my view is not synonymous with public relations because in PR, links are seldomly given. The PR industry perception is that links in press releases are usually seen as advertorial. Another point is that link building is separate from PR because feature editors generally don’t link to commercial landing pages – they link to the home page. Whereas SEOs do – the highly skilled and creative SEOs will find webmaster guideline friendly and legitimate ways of getting links to those landing pages. Let’s not only forget that search engines also have data on the ultimate metric which is brand searches (perhaps as a result of a mention on broadcast media) which is far more powerful as a measure of reputation than any link could possibly muster – even if links spawn as a result of that mention.

  • alchemyv

    I’m sure we all agree that responsive design is not the golden bullet to high rankings, but that doesn’t mean it is not important nor significant. I must also add that bounce rate in isolation is not the ultimate KPI for engagement.

  • Rock Hillbilly (*Patriot*)

    The web will eventually go away in vast swaths. Most internet traffic is people looking for either answers to a question, shopping for products, socializing, or looking for media. Walled Gardens and Youtube will eventually own all media. Shopping will get relegated to Major vendors or niche vendors. Socializing will be what it is.. and questions will be answered by the search engine AI.

    The entire thing will be smaller and smarter in a few more years.

  • Rock Hillbilly (*Patriot*)

    Great post. I agree 100%. It’s the “Watson” approach.