Google Announces a New Search Algorithm Named Hummingbird

On Thursday, September 26, 2013, Google announced a substantial change in its search engine. A new algorithm named “Hummingbird” had been implemented. As Greg Kumparak wrote in an article titled Google Recently Made A Silent Shift To A New Search Algorithm, “Hummingbird”, Google claims ” . . . that this was the biggest overhaul to their engine since the 2009 ‘Caffeine’ overhaul (which focused on speed and integrating social network results into search) and that it affects ‘around 90% of searches'”. The announcement offered few technical details.

The main focus, and something that was repeated several times in Mr. Kumparak’s article, was that the new algorithm allows Google to more quickly parse full questions (as opposed to parsing searches word-by-word), and to identify and rank answers to those questions from the content they’ve indexed.” (quoted from Mr. Kumparak’s article).

This announcement seems to me to be more fluff than substance. For example, I just tried out this new search tool with a simple question “Where can I find a ride to Las Vegas?” The very first Search Engine Results Placement (SERP), “las vegas rideshare classifieds – craiglist” was the ONLY SERP on the first page of results relevant to my question. When I ran the same search with Bing, 2 of first 10 SERPs were reasonable results for my query. So where’s the big improvement for the Google Search engine?

I don’t think there is one. So this announcement signals yet another crack in the wall of Google’s prize position — its search engine. But is there something else at work here? I think there is, something to do with tailoring the search engine to better service the changing needs of click advertisers for better results from their investments. Over the last couple of quarterly returns, Pay Per Click advertising has not done as well, for Google, as the analyst community would have liked to have seen. So I think this change in the algorithm is really designed to deliver better click ad performance. I hope the actual mechanics of how the system will work better for online advertisers will shortly be illuminated for the public.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Complex Content Publishing Systems Pose a Challenge for SEO Efforts

We publish all of our online editorial content with the WordPress blog publishing tool. While this tool poses few challenges to users simply looking for an accessible method of online self publishing, ease of use becomes an issue for WordPress as users require additional features.

WordPress is an option worth some serious consideration for businesses that need a method of quickly publishing no more than marketing communication content. When these businesses need a traditional web site, and want to build it with WordPress, the level of complexity of the application goes up very quickly. WordPress is an application. In other words, WordPress is a software program, which, like other software programs, includes a lot of variables, functions, and more. Any method of transforming the look and feel of a software program like WordPress will likely be put together with even more of the same variables, functions, etc. The end result is a very steep curve, indeed, for anyone looking to build a web site with WordPress. The same challenge faces businesses that need to measure visitor activity on a web site.

Online marketers using a publishing engine like WordPress for ecommerce purposes should carefully consider the resources required to deliver the web site traffic information they will require prior to building the site. If the objective is to collect web site traffic information to support an online advertising campaign with a system like Google Adwords, it makes sense to either:

  • keep the design for the site as simple as possible
  • or build the cost for specialized technical help into a business plan so that the funds will be available to enlist professional help as needed to expand on the functionality of the site

Our preference is the first option. We have lots of experience with static web sites, which are very simple. We now think that building simple static web sites, with, or without a WordPress blog, makes more sense for businesses than committing everything to the WordPress blog platform.

Keep in mind that regardless of whether the measurement method one chooses for Google Analytics amounts to conversion goals, or events, it will be necessary to add code to pages. Obviously it will be easier to add complex code to simple static pages than it will be to add complex code to pages which are dynamically produced by complex code.

In the next post to this blog we will look at the kind of information about visitor behavior on web sites that can be collected with Google Analytics.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Successfully using search engine marketing for brand promotion is a difficult task and not presently worth the effort

In our opinion Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a low return, high effort undertaking that should be avoided by tech innovators selling software to enterprise markets. We have direct first hand experience in this space. Placing at the number 5 slot for a targeted keyword with Google does not necessarily produce any outreach whatsoever from the marketplace. Further, Google’s “free” online tool for visitor activity analysis, Google Analytics, has grown so arcane as to be useless for anyone without a certificate in the ins and outs related to this software.

We think it makes more sense to simply maintain an underlying understanding that web pages, Twitter pages, etc must all be ongoing activities for a Marketing Communications team. Keep expectations as low as possible as regards a return on investment from electronic media promotion. However, unless your business is operating under the radar, we strongly admonish against simply putting up a brochure as a web site and simply “forgetting about it.” Stale online content does not produce any useful results. Better to periodically post to a blog than to pay for a custom web site that does not lend itself to periodic updates to content.

Nevertheless, if recent research from IDC, the University of Dayton, and SiriusDecisions is to be believed (we think the research is entirely credible), then one should assume that enterprise buyers are making even greater use of electronic media to research purchases than ever before. As we see it, SEM has simply become irrelevant. Further, all the blabber about social media marketing via public venues like FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc is also irrelevant. Bottom line, the activities of enterprise prospects online still require further analysis before useful predictions can be made about online behavior. We counsel clients to continue promoting online, but with substantially lowered expectations.

Online promotion ought to lead to some engagement with prospects. Perhaps many more impressions are required to produce targeted levels of engagement. Our jury is still out on this point. We think some companies are onto an effective approach, such as Alinean. A visit to the Alinean web site should be useful. We recommend reviewing their promotional materials, which are available at no charge. Further, we welcome opportunities to engage with businesses that have felt the impact of electronic media on their promotional efforts, but are still skeptical as to how best to capitalize on them while successfully managing their online market message.

Please telephone Ira Michael “Mike” Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved