Google Penguin, Panda, and now Hummingbird – what’s a website or small business owner to do? These days, it’s hard to know what is effective in regards to SEO, and what isn’t – and by the time you think you have it all figured out, Google makes another update, leaving you in the dust one more time. Perhaps your website has fallen victim to all of the updates over the past year or so, or you feel like you are sitting on the edge of a cliff, about to go over at any moment. What is Google Hummingbird, and will it eventually force businesses into promoting their goods and services through pay-per-click advertising?
Google celebrated its 15th birthday recently, about the same time the Google Hummingbird algorithm was announced. Essentially, the search engine giant has overhauled the search algorithm in order to deliver relevant results to web users, who today often use longer, more complex queries in searching for products and information. Considering that Google has now made the move to 100 % secure search, website owners are unable to analyse what key terms and phrases users are using to find their websites. Many tools used to analyse this information now display “not provided” or “encrypted,” making it impossible to evaluate the results of SEO efforts.
Considering Google Hummingbird and “not provided,” how are website owners to determine the origins of their traffic, what is effective, and which strategies are not working? This is the question in many business owners’ minds as the updates keep coming at an alarming rate. Since keyword optimisation is no longer as important as it once was (and we don’t know what keywords searchers are using anyway, thanks to Google), all we really know is that Google demands quality, fresh content that delivers what the user wants. Content that is engaging, valuable, and readily shared via social media by readers. Given that nearly everything we have ever known about SEO has literally been tossed out the window as of late, will it leave most website owners and small businesses giving up on ever ranking organically, and instead being forced into PPC?
Ultimately, while the Panda and Penguin updates were substantial and impacted many businesses (and no doubt families) in a not-so-good way, Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm is like reinventing the wheel. The updates we’ve experienced in recent months which we thought were still relatively new are now antiquated. Instead of making a small repair here and there to get back (or stay) in Google’s good graces, it now seems that a majority of online businesses will now be forced to use PPC to receive any targeted traffic, or start from scratch. That is what’s really frightening, considering all of the effort you may put into beginning fresh, only to read the next day about another Google update. Is it just us, or does Google seem to rule the world?