Google’s Hummingbird takes off

Last week Google announced the biggest change to it’s algorithm since Caffeine in 2010 (Caffeine was Google’s
new indexing system designed to offer 50% fresher search results) – the Hummingbird was unveiled.

Hummingbird will affect up to 90% of searches, but Google is giving little away right now.

Google announced the Hummingbird update 1 day before it’s 15th birthday. Amit Singhal, Google Senior VP, explained that Hummingbird would enable Google to understand more complex questions, relationships between concepts and should therefore provide more accurate search results.

What does this mean for your SEO strategy?

Hummingbird is targeted at understanding complex queries and questions, rather than combatting spammy SEO techniques like the Panda and Penguin updates did. If you have good, original content, well structured pages and a well organised web site then there won’t be a problem. I think clear and descriptive Titles and Headings will become even more important now, as will rich snippets and structured data.

Goodbye keyword data, hello “not provided”

The day finally arrived (around 23rd September 2013) when Google finally switched all searched over to https or “secure search”, all in the name of privacy of course.

So what does this mean for web site owners?

Well, the bad news is you’ll see a lot more “not provided” in your list of keywords in Google Analytics or AWStats on your server. I’ve noticed that at least 60% of my visitors are now arriving via “not provided” instead of the actual keyword or phrase they searched for since this change hit.

The good news is, it seems that Google will still make keyword data available in in Webmaster Tools, although its much more high level, it’s better than nothing.

The word on the blogosphere is that this is terrible news for SEO and predictably some are shrieking that it’s even the end of SEO.

Well I don’t think it’s the end of SEO.

Sure it will make it a bit more difficult and it’ll mean that careful and considered up front keyword research before you start your SEO campaign now becomes even more important than it was before.

Coincidentally, Google has also taken the opportunity to rename and relocate it’s keyword research tool and traffic estimator. The new “Keyword Planner” is now only available inside Adwords and has a new look. Just in time for all those new Adwords customers they must be expecting as a result of the secure search rollout!

SEO Success Factors

Google uses over 200 signals to determine how a web page should rank in the organic search results. These are broken down further into around 10,000 sub-signals. These signals range from links and social media activity through to domain age and server speed. Not all signals are equal and over time Google occasionally tweaks and adjusts their algorithm.

Search Engine Land’s excellent SEO Periodic Table is a useful resource which shows the most important factors.

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