We like to say the winds of change are constantly swirling when it comes to organic search engine optimization. One of the biggest changes ever to happen was the launch of Google's new ranking algorithm back in August 2013, titled Google "Hummingbird".
In the latest edition of 2013 in Review, learn more from Dave and me about how Google Hummingbird is impacting your your company's web presence.
Dan: Obviously, whatever website areas you concentrate on, or combinations of website areas, people have to find you. In the old days of search, you'd load up some meta tags, you'd have a good title tag and some of that. Search has evolved so much; it continually evolves. There are many players but, I guess, Google still drives search. What's the latest in search engine optimization, is organic still viable or do you have to pay and what advice would you give?
Matt: Alright, so probably the biggest change in recent history is the launch of Google “Hummingbird”, which is the completely new ranking formula that Google uses to decide where a website ranks for a specific keyword.
The old ranking algorithm focused a lot more on things like keyword density. As you mentioned, focusing on getting those keywords stuffed into various tags on the website. Hummingbird is different in that it tries to focus on the intent; it tries to infer the intent of the search. It's more conversational, trying to answer the questions that people are typing into Google.
That's a major distinction. It's not an update to the old algorithm; it’s a completely new algorithm. Having said that, good old Google Panda and Penguin updates that were made to the old algorithm are still being incorporated into this new algorithm. Again, ultimately, what Google is trying to do is promote a stronger user-experience; better focus on stronger content and usability. There are things that were taken from the old algorithm and plugged into Google Hummingbird, but that's probably the biggest change that relates to organic optimization.
Another big change that happened that was more - I kind of looked at it as more - like an extension of the Hummingbird updates because it all happened around the same time. Google was blocking organic keyword data in Google Analytics, which might sound a little bit crazy, because from a marketing standpoint or website administrator's standpoint, it's harder to understand which keywords are matching up with the user-intent. But, again, Google is trying to drive people away from focusing so much on keywords and they’re trying to get people to just focus on providing valuable, useful content. So those are kind of the two things, semi-related, but two things that have changed on the organic side of things in recent history.
Dan: You know, Dave, say I search for “Dave Skorepa.” It used to be it'd go right to maybe the contact page of Aztekweb.com and that would be your first thing. Now, it's probably going to be one of your social media things: a Twitter feed, or a YouTube video, or a blog post or something. It seems that those things are getting captured and crawled and chronicled faster than some of the old things we were targeting.
Dave: ...Also, there's a famous Czech hockey player named David Skorepa...
Dan: I thought that was you.
Dave: No, there's also another artist named Dave Skorepa, which is really confusing because he's my age. So anyway, that's not me. And anything bad that you find, that's also not me.
Dan: So those images…That's your story.
Dave: This one time in college....
Dan: SafeSearch, off.
Dave: But no, you're right. They're trying to get whatever they can get their hands on about you. I mean, Google's - it's not really a secret that they use pretty much every tool at their disposal. In fact, we had to shift some of our development practices here because they would even - if you sent a link, an orphaned link through Gmail, they were reading those and then sending a Google bot out to spider that link. So we were having development links that only we thought we were sharing privately with clients get spidered because it was going through a Gmail account. You know, anything they can do to figure out, have an advantage to spider the web, they're doing. Back to our earlier comment about advertising, it’s really kind of frightening how good these companies are getting at finding anything on the internet about you and using that for their own benefit.