When Google announced at the end of September that Hummingbird had been live for a month or so, many questioned how such a significant change could have happened without it having been detected earlier.
Amit Singhal, Head of Google’s ranking team, talked about Hummingbird being the first time a completely new algorithm had been implemented since 2001 and that it impacted 90% of search queries.
However, the visible impact of this algorithm change has been less significant than many recent algorithm updates, such as the May 2012 Penguin update.
A few weeks have passed since Google’s long awaited and much speculated Penguin 2.0 update, and with the dust beginning to settle, we took a look at its impact in the UK.
There’s been no shortage of hype in the run-up to Penguin 2.0, with everybody’s favourite Google spokesperson and distinguished engineer Matt Cutts describing the forthcoming update as ‘a big one’ back in March.
But, so far at least, has it lived up to its billing as Google’s most advanced piece of spam-fighting technology to date?
Matt Cutts announced this week that Google update ‘Penguin 2.0’ has been rolled out and has affected about 2.3% of English-US queries.
With Google so keen to cut down on webspam, where does SEO go from here?
Has Google altered its algorithm to favor its own properties in vertical search results?
Numerous publishers which now find themselves competing with the search engine they rely on for valuable traffic have accused Google of doing just that. Some in the industry have even petitioned antitrust regulators to look into the matter.
At a conference earlier this year, Hollywood big wig Ari Emanuel suggested that Google could do more to thwart digital piracy by helping to ensure that pirated content doesn't find its way into the world's largest and most popular search engine.
At the time, a Google executive called Emanuel's suggestion "very misinformed" and noted that identifying who owns content is not always an easy task.
But apparently behind the scenes, Google was far more amenable to the concept than it indicated publicly. In a post on Google's Inside Search blog on Friday, Google SVP Amit Singhal announced that the company has launched a new update that may ensure Google's top executives get invites to all of Hollywood's red carpet events.
This week, Econsultancy published an update to its PPC Bid Management Technology Buyer's Guide. The report estimates that the market for PPC bid management technology will grow by 17% in 2012, in line with the overall North American search sector, which is predicted to grow from a value of $22.9 billion, to $26.8 billion in 2013.
The report shows that many areas of digital are increasingly integrated, with the biggest opportunities for growth in this sector coming from mobile paid search, a focus on multichannel retailing and the continuing forward march of social media.
We know that Google uses hundreds of ranking factors to determine where it places web pages in its index. We also know that social media sites are becoming increasingly influential on search placements.
Charles Duncombe explored the topic on this blog a few days ago, focusing mainly on volume-based signals. I think there’s probably a bit more to it than that, or at least there should be.
This is a think-out-loud ‘Friday’ post, rather than a definitive guide to the things Googlebot is sniffing out (for I know not what it looks for). It considers the possibilities, to explore what Google might be able to make sense of. I invite you to share your own ideas in the comments section below.
So then, what kind of social signals might it take notice of on Twitter?
Yesterday, the SEO forums were buzzing with the news that some major link building networks had been effectively shut down by having sites de-indexed by Google.
These type of sites, that publish short posts across a network of blogs, had been seen as an easy and time-effective way of getting a large number of anchor-text rich links pointing back at a target site.
Despite trying to up their game in terms of relevance and content however, most of these sites suffered from having a large number of clients saturating the network.
This meant each site hosting these entries would be featuring a lot of different topic posts that did not correspond to an overall theme or subject of the site.
Just over a month ago, Google announced the global roll-out of an update to the AdWords algorithm, which increased the value of landing page relevancy and worth when determining Quality Score.
Google predicted that the changes would alter keyword Quality Scores and ad positions for some campaigns. However, the company claimed that most brands would not see a significant change in overall performance.
Google's efforts to improve its SERPs are no secret. From Panda to Freshness, Google's strategy can be summed up briefly: filter out the junk, promote quality and relevance.
When it comes to the former, Google may be considering an interesting approach: penalize pages that it believes have too many ads.