Hummingbird + Keyword (Not Provided) = You Actually Have to Care

SEOs have been annoyed for the past week with Google. First, they took away our keywords on the Google Analytics reports. And then, they created Hummingbird.


Credit: Dawn Hopkins

Not as many people have been annoyed with Hummingbird, probably because:

A) They have not seen their rankings drop, yet.
B) They are well branded and their site is benefiting from the long tail keywords being converted to short tail, or
C) They have no clue what Hummingbird is actually doing, yet.

But! People are still annoyed – at least, most bloggers and those who Tweet.


So, Why did Google do this to us?

Before you go and whine and claim that Google is killing small business, destroying search, and is ruining the world… Don’t blame Google. Blame yourself.

SEOs tried to win over their audience without caring about them.


  • We keyword stuffed
  • We keyword stuffed invisible areas
  • We wrote crappy content. Ever re-read anything you wrote 3 years ago, let along 6 months ago?
  • We bought stupid domain names with keywords
  • We hired writers with no knowledge of our business to write articles on specific keywords.
  • We talked about Keywords
  • We said the word SERP and thought we were cool.
  • And we keyword stuffed some more.
  • Some have even yet to remove ["meta name="Keywords" content="Keyword Stuffed"] because they still think it works.

We did not care about the consumer. So Google Had to fix it. Hummingbird and (Not Provided) in addition to Panda are are direct response to this.

What do you do now? Here’s what you don’t do!

When you first begin working in SEO, you focused on turning everything into keywords. If you were a mechanic in Boston with specialties in repair or maintenance, you crafted blog posts around :

  • Oil Change Boston
  • Tire Rotation Boston
  • O2 Sensor Replacement
  • Battery Replacement

Based on that list, here is a sample list of articles that you wrote:

  1. Boston Mechanic Shows You How to Change the Oil
  2. 6 Reasons why Tire Rotation is a Must
  3. What does an O2 Sensor Do?

And then you would put some cheesy CTA at the end.

And Sadly, you didn’t have to know anything about car repair – or write good content – to rank for these keywords. In fact, you could just re-write Wiki content, throw some links at it, and it’d probably rank.

All you had to do was beat the formula. You could write about an oil change and have never changed oil in your life.  It was all about beating the formula, not serving the customer.

*Be careful. I’m definitely not saying, stop doing keyword targeting, stop putting good keywords in your titles and making your pages contextually relevant to search queries. But, instead of that being the FIRST step, make it the SECOND step.

So, post Panda, Hummingbird, Not Provided, where we go now?

Where Do You Begin? The First Step

We begin to care.

We began where traditional marketing always started. We research and define our buyer personas. We define …. to beat it to death … our “Target Audience”. But instead of treating them as pageviews, clicks, unique viewers, we think of them as people (ironic, huh?).

Think about your audience for a bit.

  • Who are they?
  • What would they want to read?
  • What interest them?
  • How old are they?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • What do they spend their money on?
  • What are they most passionate about?

Then, we begin to write content that:

  • appeals to our audience,
  • interest our audience, and
  • delights our audience

As a business owner, think of your audience as the person walking in your store…

Would you run up to a customer and spam them and harass them until they did what you wanted? NO! So why do you do it online?

Treat your customer online the same way you would in person. Greet them kindly. Ask them if you can help. Show them how you can help. And if they don’t buy anything, leave a great impression and they’ll probably come back.

These Google updates wouldn’t bother us if we treated online visitors with decency and respect.