Posted 02 October 2013

2013 Google Updates: Including Hummingbird and No Data Provided

2013 Google Updates: Including Hummingbird and No Data Provided

Anyone in search marketing has learnt to fear all animals black and white with Google releasing regular changes in its ranking algorithm.  Panda and Penguin updates have kept us all on our toes, and one of the most recent; the release of Penguin 2.0, saw 65% of those surveyed stating that its release had a negative impact on their search engine ranking.  The latest update has been slightly gentler with a new algorithm ‘Hummingbird’.  It was quietly rolled out a month ago, so subtly that there wasn’t the usual outcry that has followed previous changes, and if you haven’t noticed any changes in the last month then you’re either yet to see the changes or have emerged unscathed.  

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An actual hummingbird is part of the only group of birds that is able to fly backwards. However, the hummingbird algorithm appears to be moving forward, in that Google are trying to offer searchers the means to ask a question in the same way that they would a person and not a machine, giving a more human approach and ensuring Google is managing the increasing popularity of voice searches in smartphones.
 
 “We’ll keep improving Google Search so it does a little bit more of the hard work for you,” said Amit Singhal, senior vice president of Google Search. “This means giving you the best possible answers, making it easy to have a conversation and helping out before you even have to ask.”   

In short, if you are producing good quality content and have an engaging website, your business may benefit from this change.  If more work could be done on your website, this will raise the bar for you.  Why just aim for being the best marketer for ranking highly after all?  Why not aim for being the best marketer?

This is not the first change that Google have made recently.  As of the end of September they are no longer providing keyword tracking as part of Google Analytics, leaving some unsure on how they will still be able to measure the success of their SEO.  Unfortunately, this means that analytics companies such as ourselves are also unable to obtain keyword information from Google organic searches.  

The change in the amount of data will actually not be as drastic as you might think.  A recent study by Optify showed that over 40% of b2b traffic was ‘not provided’ already and so there was already a certain amount of estimation involved, and whilst Google is the most popular search engine it no longer holds the complete monopoly that it used to; Microsoft sites now make up 17.9% of searches and Yahoo! sites make up 11.4%.  Marketing analytics companies such as us will still be able to access this information, as well as for paid search keyword results.  It could be argued that this paid search data is more important for new leads and sales as 89% of all traffic generated by paid search results is new traffic, outside of organic reach.

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In short, there are still plenty of marketing analytics to be had both with web analytics and call tracking technology.  There is no need to start announcing that SEO is dead, it is just once again evolving.  People using different search engines and clicking on paid search are not from a completely different species to those clicking on organic results; you can still get a great overall indication and a lot of rich data.  Look on this as an opportunity to look beyond Google and organic traffic alone to still see the big picture on your marketing ROI.

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