Google post Hummingbird, Panda and Penguin
I've been watching the web since the early days of dial up, say mid 1990's. I was there for the transition from Altavista, Yahoo to, now the monster all consuming monolith, Google - and then the subsequent business opportunities garnered through being in the #1 spot on a page of search results. Of course there are other search engines out there, like the pretty Microsoft Bing
Searching for link opportunities, directories, and all the other "old skool" methods of building a connectivity to your corner of the web, became the skill, or what some see as the dark art of SEO. Every so often there were changes and updates to Google's algorithms over the years. Each and every SEO (search engine optimisation) you talk to, will have a different obsession as to what is the key driver of success.
A small wander around the web will show articles that suggest "SEO is dead", and I wonder how people without a presence on forums, or links already can start a web based business; of course you can go the eBay/Amazon route, go social or spent oodles of cash advertising/Pay Per Click.
Over the past couple of years, Google has made several changes to their algorithm that has made the process of link building far more challenging than it used to be, and at the same time made the process of keyword analysis - especially as it relates to link building - much more difficult. Gone are the days of simply finding a few keywords or blog posts containing those terms in the anchor text of the link, and ranking well for it.
I have always looked at Google as a way of navigating a Free Ad's newspaper type thing, where one would simply be searching for a specific Keyword; now Google is, from an outsiders perspective, transitioning to a magazine, asking people for more of a query based search bias.
So, all they have done is started competing with Yahoo Answers.
If you've spent any time around the web, you may well have heard of "Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird". These are attempts by Google to render old practices (including exact match domains, anchor text, and most paid links) far less effective, and it's believed that they will continue to be less and less effective as the search engines get smarter.
Look at Google’s results for the word “Hummingbird”. Notice how out of 20 million results, even the first 4 results are about 3 very different things:
- The bird
- The Google algorithm
- The fishing device that helps people find fish, which happens to be called “humminbird” (note the missing letter “g”).
Searching around the web, there are articles aplenty that seem to either refer to patents, or supposition, or even best guess as to what Google is trying to achieve. I can only but guess that they are trying to give the user a good search result. Obvious, no?
Perhaps, they are seeing far more usage of the intent modifiers to the mainstay of search queries: cheap, free, fastest, in X town/city or the like. I've found research digging into Google's patents, “A search query, entered by a user is typically only one query of many that express the information that the user desires. For example, someone looking to buy replacement parts for their car may pose the search query “car parts.” Alternatively, however, the search queries “motor part,” “auto parts,” or “automobile spare parts” may be as effective or more effective in returning related documents." In general, a user query will have multiple possible alternative queries that could be helpful in returning documents that the user considers relevant.
Conventionally, additional search queries relating to an initial user query may be automatically formed by the search engine based on different forms of a search term (e.g. “part” or “parts”) or based on synonyms of a search term (e.g. “auto” instead of “car”). This allows the search engine to find documents that do not contain exact matches to the user’s search query but that are nonetheless relevant.
What Google is stating is they can take the search word(s) I enter into their search box and produce a set of search results for me that is based on different words, depending on the meaning and intent of those words and Google’s confidence that a better search result will be given to me.
The effect of this can’t be underestimated, and means much more to your linking strategy than simply trying to use every possible alternative search phrase in your anchor text. None of us can guess all the words someone might use when conducting a search?
But, I think we're seeing the transition from Google operating like a Free Ads tool, to a magazine tool. Google should really stick to what they do best.