Limited Time Offer: Save 30% on PRO with code WOOHOO »

Real-World Education for Modern Marketers

Join Over 600,000 Marketing Professionals

Start here!
Text:  A A

Do Keywords Matter in Google's Hummingbird World?

by Ray Larson  |  
March 4, 2014

Rolled out in late 2013, the Google search engine Hummingbird delivers answers instead of educated guesses. Powered by semantic search, results are returned based upon an understanding of what users are looking for—rather than a rank order of approximate answers based on keywords and Boolean parameters.

Implicit in Google's new methodology are significant changes for how marketers approach search engine optimization (SEO) and keywords. Now, every marketer needs to ask themselves: Do keywords even matter?

To answer that question, let's add some context (Hummingbird's specialty). First, we'll dig a little deeper into the concept of semantic search. Then we'll walk through five key takeaways for content creators and search marketers.

Semantic Search Explained

Semantic search is precisely interpreting the meaning among words in a search query. For a long time, that capability was just a distant hope. Instead, for years, Google and other search providers relied on keywords and links to determine the best answer to return for a specific search. Answers were returned rank-ordered as approximations based upon matched keywords on a website and the number of links to that site (with links seen as a "vote" of trust on the website's trust and authority).

Thus, keywords and links became the "virtual currency" of the pre-Hummingbird search economy. All search marketers know how that eventually worked out: Search engine results pages were polluted with misleading results, leading to websites with thin content and providing an unsatisfactory experience to the user.

How Hummingbird Results Are Different

Hummingbird makes the SEO tricks that caused the previously described mess too expensive to pursue. Instead, Hummingbird eliminates guesswork and capably interprets queries with associations. The words surrounding your keywords are now more precisely interpreted. The search engine is better able to discern the relationships between words and thus the context and the user's intent, delivering a much more relevant search result.

Sign up for free to read the full article.Read the Full Article

Membership is required to access the full version of this how-to marketing article ... don't worry though, it's FREE!


We will never sell or rent your email address to anyone. We value your privacy. (We hate spam as much as you do.) See our privacy policy.

Sign in with one of your preferred accounts below:


Ray Larson is a content strategist for Brandpoint, a content-based marketing solutions company.

LinkedIn: Ray Larson


Rate this  

Overall rating

  • This has a 5 star rating
  • This has a 5 star rating
  • This has a 5 star rating
  • This has a 5 star rating
  • This has a 5 star rating
2 rating(s)

Add a Comment


  • by Angela Slupe Tue Mar 4, 2014 via web

    Great article, Ray. I especially like point #5... "Content creation, now more than ever, means writing for users—solving their problems, addressing their issues, and enriching their lives." I think too many marketers are concerned about the QUANTITY of their content rather than QUALITY of their content.

  • by Ray Larson Wed Mar 5, 2014 via web

    Thanks Angela- Your comments describe marketers stuck in the pre-Panda/Penguin paradigm: more, stuffed with keywords. is better. Look at Google Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik's blogging efforts. He delivers 2 insightful posts per month. Both provide tremendous value to his audience. His website has tremendous domain authority. Avinash delivers quality in just the right doses.

  • by Harry Hallman Thu Mar 6, 2014 via web

    Excellent article.

  • by Ray Larson Thu Mar 6, 2014 via web

    Thanks Harry!

  • by Jennifer R. Newell Wed Mar 12, 2014 via web

    This article is very insightful and extremely important - not only for marketers but also for companies and business owners trying to understand the shadowy world of SEO. Thank you for shedding some light on the subject!

  • by Ray Larson Thu Mar 13, 2014 via web

    You're welcome Jennifer. I strongly suggest you read David Amerland's book on semantic search. It's the most important marketing book I have read in a long time.

  • by St Louis Web Design Tue Mar 18, 2014 via web

    Exactly the way we handle SEO now and in the past.

MarketingProfs uses single
sign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. That's it, and nothing more! Rest assured that MarketingProfs: Your data is secure with MarketingProfs SocialSafe!