Do you remember all that blah by Google and internet marketing opportunists telling you how you just need “great content” and everything will be fine? Well, here’s the deal, Google has changed its algorithm lately to be more “conversational”.
They call the algorithm update Hummingbird and it affects 90% of searches. What exactly does it do?
In many cases it just hides the search results and provides onsite answers instead so that there is no need to click through anymore. For you it means: people won’t see your great content at all, unless Google grabs it and displays on its site for free.
How to lose weight and stop snoring with Google
Yeah, I know that bad news does not spread that well and people like optimistic articles telling them how Hummingbird is actually great for content creators while their own examples actually prove otherwise.
I will present a few examples here that show what actually happens since this algorithm change has taken place.
When you ask questions you sometimes get answers instead of search results. This is for example what I see when I ask [how to lose weight] – a very popular question as you can imagine:
I see three answers taken from third party sites and then one actual search result. Take note that there is no single ad on top of the query. This will be pretty unlikely in the future. It looks still pretty OK, at least there is one search result above the fold, that is in the visible screen area without scrolling.
Look what happens when I ask a similar question [how to stop snoring]:
There is just one ad above the three answers but you already have to scroll to see even the answers in their entirety. The last one is already only partially displayed above the fold. I search from Germany so I guess that’s why I get only one ad and the one I see is from the UK.
I can imagine that in the US or other English speaking countries there will be even more ads above the answers.
Also please take a look at the sites that get their answers displayed. They are always the same ones it seems, Webmd seems to be the top dog here. I couldn’t find many of the otherwise ranking sites there. Only a small group of very specific niche sites gets into the answer box.
I bet you will soon lose weight when you optimize for that query because you’ll get hungry.
Also you will stop snoring because you will lose sleep too. These queries are still only a few but there will be more and more of them. Google may force you out of business in case you relied on a lot of “great content” targeting “how to” phrases.
Who needs a weatherman to know which way the wind blows?
Google now also responds to common queries directly cutting out the middleman (that is you). Just consider weather related searches like this one:
Did you notice the fine print below the “great content” Google shows onsite? These are the links to the competition. I only did because I use an extension called WOT that adds these green circles to links.
You don’t need weathermen anymore. In case you work for an online dictionary you can look for a new job as well. Google will take all of your traffic sooner or later. Just search for [what is solipsism]. There is no need to visit an actual dictionary anymore!
Google, your personal assistant
The future is clear: Google will become a personal assistant just like Siri on the iPhone and stop relying on third party sites (that is you) to be clicked on. The open Web will become less and less popular.
From now on more and more search traffic will stay on Google.
You have to look out for alternatives to Google traffic. Ideally you start building your faithful audience now that will visit you despite of Google. Google is your biggest competitor now.