Google 'Hummingbird' algorithm to elevate niche websites
Although Google has not given away many details, it said that Hummingbird is focused on ranking information based on a more intelligent understanding of search requests. As Internet data volumes explode we increasingly have to type more and more words into Google Search to gain greater accuracy of results. Often we need to conduct multiple searches to find the information we are looking for, which is frustrating and time consuming.
This is because the Search results we currently receive reflect the matching combination of key words that a search phrase contains, rather than the true meaning of the sentence itself. Search results produced by Hummingbird will reflect the full semantic meaning of longer search phrases, and should in theory produce more accurate results.
For example Hummingbird will more greatly consider question words like “how” “why”, “where” and “when” in search phrases, in addition to content keywords. Hence Hummingbird moves the emphasis of search from “results” to “answers”.
Google also has acknowledged that the number of mobile and voice-based searches is increasing. Such voice searches are in natural language, and may not therefore contain the keywords we might finesse on a computer keyboard. These ‘on the fly’ searches are likely to return poor results using a keyword search system.
The semantic search capabilities of Hummingbird aim to address this need. It should be noted however that the most-used medium for mobile voice-based search is Apple iPhone’s Siri, which uses Yelp and WolframAlpha rather than Google for semantic search. WolframAlpha has had a semantic search capability since 2012, so there is undoubtedly a competitive response angle to the Hummingbird move.
The future is therefore “conversational search” or “hot wording” as Google refers to it. By this Google means that a user can simply voice prompt the Google search engine by saying "OK, Google". The latter is also the voice catch-phrase used to operate the wearable Google Glass spectacles.
In a separate move announced by Google in September 2013, the company will seek to accelerate the movement from Google keyword search to Google semantic search. Google will encrypt all future Search results, which means that keywords used by publishers will increasingly produce ‘not provided’ results in Google Analytics.
This means that publishers will have less idea where the web traffic to their website comes from. An underlying commercial motivation maybe that Google’s premium products will continue to provide some keyword detail, hence encouraging upgrades from free to paid-for Google products.
In both cases Google has been quietly introduced these changes without the hullaballoo that accompanies an Apple product launch, for example. Google has been encrypting search results since 2011, and we have all been using Hummingbird for 6-8 weeks now.
These understated actions also suggest that commercial or competitive motives are to the fore, rather than the altruistic ‘better user experience’ public positioning that Google is promoting. Few if any of us have noticed the improvements suggested by Hummingbird. There has been significantly more debate online by concerned webmasters concerned about the potential loss of their precious keywords statistics.
One beneficial result of Hummingbird should be that it creates a more even and fairer playing field for ‘the long tail’ of website publishers. Search keywords are dominated by large companies and brands who can afford to win the search word bidding war created by Google. Semantic search results are less predictable, and should enable small and niche website providers to gain a higher page ranking when a precise and complex search phrase is used.
Hummingbird is set to affect around 90 per cent of all Google search results, and search results will undoubtedly be affected, but to what degree is currently unclear. One conclusion we can draw is that Google is seeking to retain more data for its own purposes, thus providing it with a unique ‘data competitive advantage’. This will potentially enable Google to target consumers with advertising and promotions more accurately than any other advertiser or publisher.
Already some online advertisers and publishers have expressed concern at Google’s domination of the online advertising industry, so much so that they now refuse to share their valuable data with Google. The Hummingbird and search encryption moves may well heighten similar privacy concerns in other parts of the web ecosystem.
Online Merchants Beware: The Google Zebra Update Is Coming
The Zebra update is fast approaching…are you ready? I am! As owner of an internet marketing agency it’s important that I keep up with everything Google. With all the changes, updates to Google best practices, updates to their algorithm, updates to their blogs… it seems like I am wasting half my day reading, worrying and preparing for the next upheaval in the SEO community. Just trying to figure out what is true and what is not true and figuring out what to do or not do is a full time job.
For online business owners and especially merchants, Google updates can mean the difference between tons of traffic or no traffic, tons of sales or no sales. With Penguin and Panda still in the fore front, news is constantly brewing about more updates to come. Much of this is speculation, and some of it is just plain false information, so be careful. Oh and by the way, there is no Zebra update…yet!
The State Of Change at Google
This past month as SXSW in Austin, TX, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that the Panda algorithm will be more of a rolling update that will be implemented automatically and gradually, instead of by manual refresh. For website owners this means that changes will be much less noticeable and easier to digest (We hope!). Penguin, on the other hand, will soon be our next big headache. As a matter of fact, also while at SXSW in Austin, Matt Cutts stated that there will be a large Penguin update in 2013 that he thinks will be one of the more talked about Google algorithm updates this year. He reported that Google’s search quality team is working on a major update to the Penguin algorithm, which he called very significant and I am sure the full effects will be clear to website owners when the new update is final. Unfortunately, Google hasn’t released any details about the next generation Penguin, (Penguin 4).
Merchants Beware, The Zebra is Coming
Google’s Matt Cutts wasn’t done with announcements and he shared with us yet another important update at SXSW in Austin, Texas, this past month. Matt said, and I quote,
“We have a potential launch later this year, maybe a little bit sooner, looking at the quality of merchants and whether we can do a better job on that, because we don’t want low quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.”
Webmasters have dubbed this update the “Merchant Quality Update”, but I’ve dubbed it “The Zebra”. Although Matt Cutts didn’t say how Google will detect these “bad merchants”, we have an idea of who and what they are going to target, so let’s look at a couple things you need to do as an online merchant to avoid “The Zebra Penalty”.
For some time there has been speculation as to whether Google uses reviews to distinguish good companies from bad ones. To do this Google would have to be able to determine the tone of reviews online and be able to come up with a consensus on a company. Well, I’m here to tell you that evidence already points to Google being capable of doing just that. Google already shows seller ratings in AdWords ads. These ratings are based on customer reviews collected by Google Product Search, which collects reviews, including Google Wallet reviews, from many different sources on the internet. So merchants with bad quality reviews, watch out, you’d better get your act together, take care of your client and hope the reviews swing the other way.
Search Quality Guidelines
Earlier this year, Google published their Search Quality Guidelines for the first time. Last updated in November 2012, the guidelines also hint at what Google is looking for in a quality merchant. Under the heading “Recognizing true merchants” they list the following.
A “view your shopping cart” link that stays on the same site.
A shopping cart that updates when you add items to it.
A return policy with a physical address.
A shipping charge calculator that works.
A “wish list” link, or a link to postpone the purchase of an item until later.
A way to track FedEx orders.
A user forum that works.
The ability to register or login.
A gift registry that works.
While Google emphasizes that a merchant doesn’t need to meet all these criteria to comply, it’s probably a good idea to do an inventory of the list above and make sure you meet all of the quality guidelines listed.
Google Shopping’s Trusted Stores Program
Merchants affiliated with Google’s Trusted Stores program must meet certain criteria, such as having at least five hundred transactions per month, with ninety percent of deliveries happening on time, and providing excellent customer service.
For smaller merchants, this may not apply but for larger merchants, you may want to look into Google’s Trusted Stores Program.
Your Physical Location
Location, location, location is becoming increasingly important. Despite the popularity of online shopping, many consumers are more comfortable doing business with an online store that has a physical location, where they can address their complaints or visit in person if the need arises. Now, this is just speculation but, having a physical location nearby might be a plus point for Google.
These five points are what online business merchants should focus on for the time being. They can help you to improve your website and provide a better online buying experience to consumers. This way you will be ready when Google rolls out “The Zebra” for online merchants.
Last Manual Google Panda Update #25 Rolled Out on 15 March 2013
Posted in Google, SEO by Sachin Gupta+ On March 16, 2013We all knew that Google panda update rolled out almost in each month to filter out the Google search result by Google web spam team. With each update all best seo company in delhi ncr just start wondering how Google panda is going to affect their company website and their all SEO clients website. The main objective of Google panda is just to penalize the low quality and thin content websites and to give priority to higher quality content websites in Google search results. As per threads on various forums and blogs, Google has rolled out the last manual Google panda update #25 on 15 March 2013. Though Google has not made any official statement for this recent algorithm update but as per fluctuations in keyword ranking from 15 March 2013 showing that most probably a Google panda update has been rolled out.
We wrote this post title as last manual Google panda update has been rolled out and you would be wondering what does this mean by last manual Google panda update? Well guys as per news, Matt Cutts has confirmed that now onwards Google Panda will be also a part of regular algorithm update which rolling out regularly and as it will be running regularly with other algorithm updates, so it would be a rolling update instead of pushed update. May be you would not be aware but all Google panda updates till now were Manual pushed out updates scheduled by Google web spam team. As now onwards Google panda will be running regularly, so impact of this will be less as compare to what Google panda effect on English search queries we have seen till now. So most probably you are not going to know exactly when Google panda update took place.
Here one more thing you must to know that Google is not going to make any official statement for these Google panda updates now onwards. It will be working as an automatic algorithm update along with all other algorithm updates done by Google to index the database. Let us know if you have seen any sign of recent Google panda update on 15 March 2013 and Goodbye to last manual Google panda update.
The Next Black & White Animal for New Google Update: Google Skunk
Published January 28, 2013
If you’ve worked on the Internet in the past 12+ years, you may have felt the sting of a Google update to their search algorithm. Nowadays, just hearing the words “Panda” or “Penguin” will send a company-wide shiver up everyone’s spines. For some reason, Google likes to name these updates after black and white animals and as with most things “SEO,” there’s a certain amount of speculation and theorizing involved. Just like the inevitable next version of Apple’s iPhone, there will surely be another Google update to their algorithm. This algorithm update that Google has brewing will leave website owners, SEO specialists, bloggers and other Internet people pulling their hair out.
Are you ready to hear what we believe is the next black and white, anti-web spam, animal algorithm update that Matt Cutts is raising over at Google?
THE GOOGLE SKUNK
While we wouldn’t bet the farm on the skunk part, here are some things you can be sure the Google update will focus on:
Weak content gets smashed. Again.
This shouldn’t be a surprise after Google’s past duplicate content penalties, but you would be amazed at how many people still publish tons of low quality, duplicate content. If you use guest bloggers to pump content into your blog, be very, very careful. Thin, spun, and weak content is right in the middle of Google’s cross hairs. Low quality guest bloggers will sometimes give the same exact article to several different websites. Google may see this as an attempt to game the system and slap a penalty on your site. Some guest bloggers do great work, but keep your eyes peeled for duplicate or copied content. Fortunately, you don’t need to scour the Internet for hours looking to see if your content is posted elsewhere.
Instead, consult these tools for checking duplicate content. Even better than using guest bloggers, create your own, original content. You’re an expert in your field, so write good, quality content and post it on your blog or website. That’s a strong start to creating a solid content marketing strategy.
Poor backlink profile
If your site’s been around for a while, which in Internet terms is more than 5 years, you might unknowingly have a poor backlink profile. A backlink, if you don’t already know, is a link from a website that points to your site. Poor means spammy and low quality, which Google has very publicly declared it will penalize.
Unfortunately, a poor backlink profile isn’t always your fault, and, worse, you may not even know you have one. Back in the “Wild, Wild West” days of SEO, lots of companies, big and small alike, did some less than stellar practices, also known as blackhat, that are specifically intended to beat the algorithm and gain top keyword rankings.
If you’ve ever hired an SEO firm or consultant in the past, no matter how honest they said they were, you still should check your backlink profile. SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer is a great tool to use for this. If you do a random spot check on a few of your links and they lead to sites you wouldn’t dare forward to your Grandma, then odds are you don’t want them linking back to your site. Wish you could just get rid of them? You’re in luck because Google has been kind enough to provide a tool to get rid of spam and low quality links. Behold the Google Disavow tool. This tool, in short, tells Google you don’t want them to look at the links for one reason or another. Now before you go hog wild on with this powerful tool, do some research and be sure you’re disavowing only bad links that you really want gone, and not links that you want to keep. Don’t forget that backlinks are still important and provide significant SEO value.
Rumors are just that… until Google makes it official
The SEO industry is known for their high amount of speculation, regarding updates. That is the nature of the SEO beast, as Google doesn’t release a ton of details regarding their updates. Usually the vagueness of a Google update sends everyone scrambling to check their site’s backlinks with a fine-toothed comb. But here’s an easy way to do it: Take each blog post, article ,and commentary, including this one, with a giant grain of salt. You should take note of the issue, do some investigation and analysis, and then act slowly and surely. Just as there is no quick way to a #1 keyword ranking, there is no quick fix to crawl out from under a Google update penalty. There are horror stories of sites deleting almost every piece of content and backlink just days after Google’s latest black and white beast was let out of its cage. Does all this gloom and doom have you worried? Don’t freak, because we’ve got your back.
So what CAN you do to protect your site from the next Google update?
The constant threat of a Google update has most webmasters and SEO specialists shaking in their boots. Google always preaches about wanting to help the user get a better search result and experience. Almost every link building technique you’ve heard of in the past 5 years is almost certain to line you up for a Google penalty.SEOMoz’s Rand Fishkin, a leader in the SEO industry, posted about the death of traditional link building, and the rebirth of “link earning.” There’s no quick way to obtaining a 1st page ranking. Good rankings, like most good things, require lots of hard work. One thing that always rings true in Google’s ears: high-quality and original content.
Here are the 2 must-knows for SEO that’ll keep you in the clear of a Google update penalty, and climbing up the keyword rankings:
1. Keep your content natural and not over-stuffed with keywords
2. Keep your keywords and landing pages diverse.
So maybe you won’t be reading about the Google Skunk update, but you can be sure sometime in the future – and sooner rather than later – there will be another anti-spam Google update. If you keep up the high-quality content, diverse link profile, you can avoid getting skunked by the next big Google update.
Do you have any ideas on what the next Google animal will be? Or do you think the next update will ding some other factor? We would love to hear about it in the comments!
Google Panda Update Version #24; 1.2% Of Search Queries Impacted
Google has announced a new Panda refresh, making this version number 24.
This refresh has a noticeable impact 1.2% of English based queries according to Google.
The previous confirmed update was #23 and it impacted 1.3% of English queries on December 21, 2012. Prior to that was a refresh on November 21st that impacted 0.8% of queries. It seems like Google is now rolling out these updates every 4 weeks or so.
Last week there were significant reports of a Google update, which Google denied.
The 5 SEO Tricks You Need to Ditch in 2013
This blog post is a must-read for all small businesses considering working with a marketing agency for SEO. Have any prospective partners brought up terms like link wheel, reciprocal linking (link trading), or blog commenting, or social bookmarking? If these terms are the main talking points of what is being recommended, be warned, you are likely heading down the wrong path.
Years ago, SEO was all about tricking search engine algorithms for the top position. Website owners would buy links, manipulate anchor text, and keyword-stuff blog posts for quick wins. Then, with Google’s first Panda update back in February 2011, it all came crashing down. Overnight, businesses lost traffic and revenue. The quick wins stopped working — valuable content and user experience came out victorious.
There’s no magic or mathematical recipe to SEO, so don’t let sketchy agencies convince you otherwise. SEO is a core component of inbound marketing. It’s a practice that is becoming more scrutinized for trying to take shortcuts. Here’s what to stay away from and why — complete with recommended alternatives:
1. Link Buying or Trading to Pass PageRank
Website owners and marketers would swap links to pass authority from what Google calls ‘PageRank,’ a numerical rating system that benchmarks a website’s quality for certain keywords, topics, and phrases. Old school SEO marketers would try to boost their own rankings by acquiring links from authoritative sites.
They’d pay money to participate in link wheels and other gimmicks to build links unnaturally. Google uncovered this practice and started running surveillance. If you get caught with unnatural links (which is more than probable given the sophistication of Google’s technology), you’ll be penalized.
What to Do Instead:
Focus on building authority through blog posts, videos, presentations, content syndication, valuable press, interviews and genuine relationships with fellow website owners. Build a network of people and share your knowledge instead of superficial links.
2. Spammy Mass Commenting
Questionable SEO marketers would adopt this practice to quickly build backlinks. For under $100, you could hire an overseas “consultant” to build you thousands of links by leaving meaningless blog comments in broken English that backlink to your website.
This practice ruins user experience and could hurt your reputation. Not to mention, it’s completely tasteless.
What to Do Instead:
Keep commenting! But only in a way that legitimately provides value to article readers and builds your influence and network. Slow, steady, and high quality wins.
3. Pointless Press Releases
Why publish news that nobody wants to read? Chances are, that you’re paying for your press releases, so your goal should be to get them in front of as many eyes as possible. If you really have absolutely nothing to write about, you should revisit your core business strategy. There must be more than fluff for you to talk about. Pointless press releases only hurt your business by basically showing the world that your company isn’t doing anything notable.
What to Do Instead:
Share substantive news and information about your business activities, growth, and changes. What makes you proud? What makes your customers proud to use you? If you care about what you’re doing, somebody else will too. Be passionate, have your CEO available for interviews, and be compelling.
Optimize your press releases for SEO and check editorial calendars of relevant publications for upcoming story pitch opportunities. Two hundred high-quality backlinks from press will beat 20,000 low-quality backlinks from spammy SEO practices any day.
4. Focusing on the Wrong Technical Details
Stop counting how many keywords you’re running on your web pages. If you focus on mathematical formulas to trick Google’s algorithm, your SEO strategy will completely fall on its face.
What to Do Instead:
Be technical in the right way. Focus on your meta descriptions and page titles to craft targeted and valuable messages that potential web visitors can use to understand what the page is about. If your content is valuable, targeted, and directed at them, it’s then in-turn valuable, targeted, and directed at search engines as well.
Target the niche and long-tail keywords phases. The more specific, the better. If you target a broad audience, and a website visitor stumbles on a page on your site and quickly leaves, search engines will get signal that the bounce rate for your page is high and therefore the content on your page is not what searchers are looking for. That’ll hurt your SEO.
5. Article and Directory Submissions
There are thousands of cruddy article submission sites out there. You’ve probably come across a poorly written article on a site with a bunch of other articles that don’t seem to relate in any way. You want to stay way from these sites. They hold no real authority with the search engines and can actually hurt your SEO effort.
Directory submission can also get you in trouble. Don’t submit your site to any directory that is not related to your industry (with the exception of DMOZ). Also, do not pay for directory listings. You will be penalized for this type of activity.
Both of these are tactics that website owners leveraged in the old days of SEO. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll find an audience on those types of sites, because you won’t.
What to Do Instead:
You need to focus your time, energy, money, and efforts on getting published on sites with legitimate audiences. Focus on building a network. If you want to guest post, target sites with audiences that are a strong fit with your business. Remember that every article you write should function as a tool to attract prospective customers.
The Full Circle
Stop chasing algorithms. There is no mathematical ‘right way’ to do your SEO. The key lesson to learn is that search engines are trying to measure your value to website visitors. So, start providing value. Some experts say the best SEO is no SEO. Try focusing on building a compelling user experience — one that keeps your visitors coming back.