Google Hummingbird Changes the Game Again

Google Hummingbird Changes the Game Again

Every so often Google shakes up the search landscape with an unforeseen update that sends SEO managers into a frenzy. Maybe it’s a new security encryption, or maybe it’s new piece of the search puzzle. In select cases, we’ve seen a comprehensive algorithm rewrite.

In the last month or so, Google has introduced all three. In an unprecedented slew of updates, Google eliminated organic keyword data, introduced hashtag value in its search results, and more importantly, released Hummingbird, the biggest technological update in at least three years. Marketing managers are trying to put the pieces of their SEO strategies back together, in many cases with pieces missing. It’s a classic Google move: Invoke chaos and see who comes out on top. It’s up to you to employ the proper responses to keep your website relevant in search rankings.

Google Hummingbird Changes the Game Again


Google took over the search market in the early 2000s because its engine was smarter than the competition’s. Despite exponential growth in a few different directions, Google hasn’t forgotten what put it on the map. Hummingbird is the next generation of search intelligence.

“Our algorithm had to go through some fundamental rethinking of how we are going to keep our results relevant,” Google senior VP Amit Singhal said when he revealed Hummingbird. In this latest update, Google further distances itself from the “exact match” keyword weight that drove early search results. No longer can marketers expect instant results from linking their websites to a specific keyword numerous times. Instead, Hummingbird is better at handling conversational search. In a blog post explaining conversational search, Google noted that it is now more equipped to handle full phrases like “Will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?”

Because of this linguistic boost, relevant content is more important than ever. High-quality, viral content will receive more weight from Google. Businesses who have maintained their SEO prowess through link-building and low-quality content will have to shift to a more content-focused approach. Even if businesses wanted to continue pursuing specific key words, Google is making it more difficult to do so.

Keyword Search

Webmasters used to receive organic search data that would reveal what keywords brought visitors to their sites. In an effort to promote security, Google has slowly added an extra layer of encryption to searches. Earlier this year, Google put a fork in keyword data altogether, adding an SSL encryption for all searches. That means no more organic keyword data to guide your SEO efforts. It might be a blessing in disguise for businesses who relied heavily on this data. Google was already moving away from specific keyword optimization. This closed door may speed up the shift to content marketing for some websites.


It’s no secret that Google values the world of social media. It’s own social platform, Google+, is growing faster than any of its major competitors, and a report by SearchMetrics indicates the Google+ could surpass social giant Facebook by 2016.

Another example of Google’s commitment to social media is its inclusion of hashtagged content. Search #SamsungGalaxy in Google and you’ll be more likely to find social content from Google+, Twitter and Tumblr. The takeaway is simple: social media isn’t a fad. Google values this social data, and sites like are more likely to come up in search engines because of their commitment to social content. If you’re not interacting with followers and potential customers, you’re losing out on the fastest-growing lead pool in the world. Not only will social media help your SEO, it’ll help you business or website as a whole.

8 Responses to “Google Hummingbird Changes the Game Again”

  1. Sam says:

    There are more smarter ways of building back links than it used to be 5 years a go. With Google Algorithm changes all the time you should not rely on one method. Try to save your self and your business huge drop by using verities of back link methods.

  2. Gil Datz says:

    Hey Paul. Thanks for writing this article! It’s true, it does seem that Google creates these updates and waits to see who comes out on top. I think part of it though, is that if Google doesn’t switch things up, there will always be those people who try to game the system. SEO is a refining process that will always be changing. Google consistently changing things is what makes it the better search engine. It doesn’t guarantee the best results all the time, but it guarantees better results.

    Thanks for putting good content out there!

    – Gil Datz

    • Paul Salmon says:

      Hi Gil,

      Google definitely should change things up, especially since people do manage to game the system. Keeping things the same will benefit no one but those that are able to game the system. I agree, SEO will always be an evolving process.

  3. John Gough says:

    Hi Paul

    I find it difficult to understand what Google is trying to eliminate. I understand that thin content sites are not in favour but Google still ranks retailers highly.Perhaps they just want us to stop second guessing.



    • Paul Salmon says:

      Hi John,

      There are many times when I find it difficult to understand Google’s changes as well. On top of that, many sites try to discuss the changes, but many times they are way off. It is best to just create a site with good content and not worry about the changes so much.

  4. Jong says:

    Great infos. Truth to be told I didn’t really pay attention to what Google will do next with the way how SEO will become in the future. (I guess post like this will help me to have a glance of what’s coming) I’m tired of optimizing the post, the blog and all things that will help me rank well in Google.

    I think what I really need is a strong Google competitor so we all get rank well across the search engine. That would seem to be better future.


    • Paul Salmon says:

      I have also grown tired of optimizing posts for Google. I know just publish posts that way I like, and see what happens. I fell that if I start to optimize posts one way, Google will change their algorithm to the point where I will have to change the optimization. It just isn’t worth my time to keep chasing algorithms.

  5. Hi Paul – I like the conversational keyword thang, but I have a question. What about images? It seems that I hear something new in relation to images almost on a weekly basis.



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