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September 30, 2013

Google's Recent Changes - Hummingbird & Encryption

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As Google made one of the most significant changes in its search algorithm last month, most of us went on with our lives as if nothing had changed. Google's new algorithm, called "Hummingbird" is possibly the most significant change in Google search since 2001, Amit Singhal suggested to Search Engine Land. Google's Hummingbird is designed to pay more attention to each word in a search query - to take the whole sentence into account instead of just a few keywords, to allow the search results to be more clear, concise, and more towards user intent. Google also released information in the past few weeks about their aim to encrypt all Google searches, even to users not signed in to a Google account. In 2011, Google protected users logged into their Google account by encrypting all searches for extra protection. Now, Google is moving towards protecting all users from search queries showing up in any website analytical tools, including Google Analytics. Website owners will begin to see more and more of "not provided" in keyword terms used to search for their site. Website owners and SEO marketers will no longer be provided with the information to gage traffic or revenue by keywords. Keywords are becoming less and less important in regards to search engines, it is now all about quality content. Google claims that Hummingbird will not affect SEO practices. The truth is, if you as a website owner or SEO marketer did not see a change in traffic in the past month, then chances are your SEO practices are working as and there is no need for any changes. If you did notice a change, be sure to use updated, relevant, engaging, and quality-level content on your site, the core of what Google searches for when indexing pages. Hummingbird is a complete replacement of previous search algorithms, although it contains parts of previous updates like Panda and Penguin. The new algorithm reflects Google's ability to understand semantics and complex queries. This allows Google to return more precise results quicker and more relevant to what the user is searching for. Thus, providing more detailed, distinct, and accurate information on your site in which readers will want to share with their network will boost your rankings in Google. It is hard to ignore that Google launched the encryption of all user searches just before Hummingbird was announced. It seems like a big sign from Google that SEO is less about keyword seeding and more about your information architecture and active engagement with readers.    

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