Keywords in a time of Hummingbird

Google Hummingbird has brought significant changes to the web, for Google search engine users as well as webmasters. The impact seems more likely to affect smaller e-commerce merchants than large companies with brand name recognition and large budgets to pay for multiple advertising channels.

Hummingbird is NOT an update comparable to Penguin or Panda. Hummingbird is a major change to Google search.

For users

The first change that caught my attention was encryption. All Google search queries are now encrypted, i.e. it is no longer optional to connect to Google search by https instead of http.  SSL makes Google search safer, in a general sort of way.

Google AdWords keyword matching tool

Keyword tool using broad match


For webmasters

Keyword data is not as accessible as it was prior to Hummingbird. Google Keyword Tool has been replaced by Keyword Planner. Now, certain archival keyword data can only be accessed by Google AdWords customers. Google Analytics is free; Google AdWords is not.

Functionality such as broad match is no longer available.

This will negatively impact SEO using Google free services and drive more webmasters toward use of non-free Google services instead. Of course, there are alternatives to non-free Google services, such as (free) Bing Webmaster. Unfortunately, we no longer have Yahoo! as a second alternative.

Matt Cutts and others have said that Google emphasis is changing from strings to things. In 2012, there was a brief ripple among semantic web observers, when Google announced its Knowledge Graph. Thus, Hummingbird seems consistent with the long-extant intent to have a web of things, the semantic web, rather than keywords and text strings.


The secret to successful mobile search remains elusive. No, that isn’t necessarily correct. Rather, I should say that if anyone has discovered a successful mobile advertising strategy, he or she is not talking about it.

Another keyword tool

The Getty Images keyword tool caught my attention. I am not suggesting that it is extensible to the now-departed Google Keyword Tool. I don’t even have any blue sky ideas. Maybe you will.

Getty Images has some novel features that other general purpose image search engines do not. Boolean logic is one of the more useful, and well-documented, see Boolean syntax for image search [PDF] for details.


All comments welcomed! Less enthusiastic about spam though.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: