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I’m hearing confusing and false statements about Google Hummingbird, missing keyword data, knowledge graph and social media from people trying to sell SEO and social media services. Even those who read my previous article on Hummingbird find themselves confusing the issues based on misleading messaging on the subject all over the internet, even from Google’s own PR. Hummingbird seems to be the new great mystery from Google that everyone uses as a reason to sell any digital marketing service. Some say Hummingbird put a wrench in things and turned SEO business on its head. That’s not true. Issues are being confused, but I believe that’s exactly the way Google wants it. I’m here to clear up the confusion.
Google’s Strategy for Business, Adwords and SEO
To unravel the misunderstandings, let’s take a step back. This may seem like basic stuff, but its essential to remember as we consider Google’s recent initiatives and PR. Google was started as an idealistic company, but as it became a giant we’ve come to realize it’s decisions and PR are done in a way for it to make money.
Google sells Adwords advertising based on keyword bids. Google also owns Motorola, sells the Nexus tablet and provides the Android operating system for mobile and tablet devices. With this in mind, it is in Google’s best interest to provide an excellent search experience in order to continue selling Adwords and to provide an excellent product experience on its mobile and tablet devices being sold.
Google makes no money from people strictly in the business of SEO. In fact, the very nature of SEO is to provide someone an advantage to boost visibility in Google without paying Google. Yet it recognizes there is an entire SEO industry that influences how the world creates websites. Instead of waging war on SEO, Google realized it can leverage it’s own voice to influence SEO practices and the way websites are made. In this way Google can help maintain quality of listings that appear in the organic search product. Google certainly does not owe anything to SEO professionals. Any pointers Google provides on optimizing for its algorithm are to help improve Google’s search product experience.
Biggest Misunderstanding About Google Hummingbird
Hummingbird is Google Not Providing Keyword Data…Wrong!
Hummingbird is Google’s new ranking algorithm. It decides what listings to display after a user submits a search query. It was implemented live near the end of August. Google stopped providing all keyword data September 25. These are two separate things. But to confuse the issues into one, Google announced Hummingbird on the same day they stopped keyword data. To further confuse and blend the two issues, Google stated that the new direction of search is less keyword oriented. They were making an announcement about their algorithm, so they knew their audience was SEO’s. They urged SEO’s to focus less on keywords and more on website quality and user experience. And on that day, all organic keyword data ended. This spawned many articles discussing the relationship of Hummingbird and keywords not provided. However, Google continues to provide keyword data and insights to Adwords customers for the keywords they purchase. Google is certainly not telling Adwords customers to stop focusing on keywords.
Hummingbird is Made to Sell Phones and Tablets
Hummingbird is designed to help people on an Android device do a voice search that brings up a rich snippet for knowledge graph information (which often includes Wikipedia data) or vertical results like conversions, dictionary, maps, etc. The idea being that you ask your Android device a question and Google can answer it. And Hummingbird is only concerned with understanding the query (person asking a question…Google, how far is the moon? What movies has Tom Cruise been in?, How do I get home? Where can I get Thai food?). Knowledge graph, rich snippets, vertical search are all separate initiatives for displaying the results. But these were all improved recently before Hummingbird was announced and were highlighted during the announcement. This all just in time for the new Nexus 7 tablet, new Kindle Fire (runs on a modified version of Android) and whatever onslaught of devices are pushed during Christmas (Motorola is owned by Google) so that people have a cool Google/device experience on their new devices.