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What Do SEOs Around the World Think About Hummingbird?

Kathleen Garvin
What Do SEOs Around the World Think About Hummingbird?

The Hummingbird effect.

What do SEO specialists all around the world think about it? Two weeks ago, you read Diego Ivo's answers. Now let's examine the opinion of an expert from another continent. Is it different?

Here's our interview with Alan Perkins, CEO at SilverDisc Limited in the United Kingdom.

Did you face any problems after the Hummingbird launch?

No, I haven’t seen any problems. Google stated Hummingbird was released in August, yet nobody seemed to notice until they announced its release a month later. Even knowing that Hummingbird is out there, it's difficult to spot any change to the sites I manage or consult for. This could be because Hummingbird mainly affects long tail results but, even taking all of the long tail aggregated as a whole or into various baskets of keywords, little seems to have changed. More recently the dominance of not provided keywords has made such analysis even more difficult, but the total organic traffic from Google and the conversions from that traffic are what would be expected for this time of year.

What should you pay attention to while making keyword research now?

When performing keyword research now, you should pay attention to the same things that were always important. Make sure you consider the personas of the searchers your website is targeting, and what those searchers need your site to deliver to them. If Hummingbird is about anything, it's about better matching the searchers' intent rather than simply their keywords. Google's co-founder and CEO, Larry Page, described the perfect search engine as something that “understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.” With Hummingbird, Google is taking a step in that direction.

Will simple (one-word) keywords work any longer?

Simple (one-word) keywords can definitely still work. Google still has to provide search results no matter what keyword a searcher enters, whether it is a simple keyword or a more complex one. The thing to note now, if not before, is that your content needs to be a good match for the searchers' intent rather than simply their keyword.

Will Hummingbird affect traffic volume due to low-frequency keywords?

To date, Hummingbird does not seem to have affected anybody's traffic volumes too much. However, it certainly has the potential to do so in the future, as sites that better match the searchers' intent start to displace sites that simply match the searchers' keyword in search results. One benefit of this is that sites could see better quality, higher-converting traffic from Google.

Google suggests paying more attention to the content, but people steal unique content! Is there any way to protect yourself? Or you just have to update the content periodically?

That is an article in itself, but in brief: clearly label your content as copyright protected; use author and publisher markup; write using your own unique style and content; monitor for copyright infringement; and complain to the infringer, their web host or Google (via their DMCA report) when you spot an infringement.

How do you deal with not provided keywords now? Any tricks or advice?

The loss of keywords is a blow to website owners, and will inhibit their efforts to monitor and improve their websites for visitors from Google’s organic search. There are a few tricks that can be used to mitigate the situation and make the organic keywords report at least partly useful in the future. A simple concept to bear in mind is that, in the absence of a keyword, you should create a proxy for a keyword. I use filters to monitor for not provided keywords and overwrite the keyword with the visitor type (new or returning) and the landing page URL — it really helps if you use meaningful URLs rather than, for example, /node/48. The combination of visitor type and landing page URL can still give you insights into search, but those insights are not as useful as the raw keyword data that Google has taken away.

Alan Perkins bio

Alan Perkins is Managing Director of SilverDisc, a UK-based marketing agency he co-founded in 1993. With a technical background, he has been practicing SEO since 1995 and has patents in search technology. Alan is a strong advocate of ethical SEO, so much so that he was a contributor to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines,” and “Would I do this if search engines did not exist?”). Alan helps out on the High Rankings SEO Forum and has spoken at leading search marketing conferences around the world regularly since 2001.

Kathleen Garvin

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Kathleen Garvin is an online editor and analytics wrangler for The Penny Hoarder, the largest personal finance blog. She's also a contributing writer for I Want Her Job and started a beginner-friendly digital marketing blog, The Maroon House. Kathleen is the former blog editor at SEMrush.
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