November 6, 2013

Google demands your papers with Hummingbird

Stay up to speed with changes to the world’s top search engine algorithm

This is the first of a two-part series on Google Hummingbird. Also see:
Google Hummingbird tries to remove the masks

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamWhy is Google being such a hard-ass? Why are they cinching the noose so tightly that they’re killing droves of innocents, possibly including you? Because there are not only billions of dollars being spent in trying to get to the top of Google, but everything to lose — losing just one spot, going from 2nd to 3rd, to say nothing about going from a top-three organic result on Google to the fifth spot. Heaven forbid, the second page.

And, because getting to the top of Google is a puzzle that the world’s top minds are working on. The moment that Google rolls out a new algorithm to plug exploits and vulnerabilities, minds are working on finding new glitches, blind spots, and vulnerabilities for some serious exploitation.

It’s like tax law: the teams of lawyers retained by big business are always better than the teams of lawyers employed by the IRS.

In the Google updates code-named Panda then Penguin and now Hummingbird, Google has finally decided to put up roadblocks and checkpoints that just weren’t there before.

Show me your papers!

To foil misbehavior and to tamp down the wonton manipulation of search, Google has implemented authorship associated with real names, real identities, reputation, track record, share-worthiness, popularity, true organic behavior patters, and patterns of impact and penetration.

In doing so, Google is not preventing anonymous content from existing online, it’s giving preference to verified, identified, and vouched-for content. It’s a tacit tiering of the Internet: real-name-verified authored content and everything else.

The image in my mind is the Registered Traveler at the airport: there’s the CLEAR lane and then there’s everone else. Personally, I am in the clear. It’s blue skies for me because I am an open book. I am verified and cross-checked and author-ized and associated with well-reputed and serious publications. I also rock a 78 Klout score (maybe that matters to Google? Maybe they’re maintaining a “Glout” score on me, Chris Abraham, even if they’re not tapping a reputation service) and am active on a majority of the social media and networking platforms including Twitter, Facebook, reddit, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and even Google+ (yes, Google Plus!).

Of course, there’s always been first class, frequent-flyer programs, and the like. Now, all you have to do is jump through all the hoops that Google has put before you well in advance and you’ll be good to go (and don’t forget to share as much about you as you can.

How to register your authorship

Have you connected all of your blogs, published, and social accounts at Google Connected Accounts?

What do you need to do to get started? Well, join AdWords, even if you don’t plan to advertise. Then, join AdSense, even if you don’t plan to host ads on your website. Next, join Google Webmaster tools and add and verify all of your sites. Join Google Analytics and fully implement tracking software on all the sites you have access to. Be sure to not only register for Google+ but also fill out everything about yourself, especially everything Google asks your Google Account page  – everything, don’t be shy or try to rush through it. Especially important is making sure you connect all of your blogs, published, and social accounts at Google Connected Accounts. Finally, make sure you’re not missing anything and head over to Google Authorship to make sure you’re on your way to becoming completely G-Verified.

And, if you’re especially canny you can take the bold step of submitting your blogs to Google to be considered as a news source for Google News.

You want to make sure that when — not if — your site is pulled over and Google asks for your papers, you have current, stamped, and legal papers on your person to proffer. In the new verified world of Google Hummingbird, you really want to make sure you stay on the right side of the wall.

Whether this verification is in any way associated with ad buys on AdWords is still to be seen, though why wouldn’t it? Porn sites have always verified age and real name through running a credit card, right? What better way to verify your right to exist than spending lots of money on Google ads? This is just conjecture at this point.

Ticked off about spending so much money on SEO

You’re just furious because you feel like you might as well have dumped that huge pile of money you spent on search into a blast furnace.

Think about it this way: Perhaps you’ve exploited Google’s algorithm loopholes in the past — if so, you shouldn’t feel so betrayed. I bet you’ve spent more money on Google AdWords contextual ads than you ever have on organic search; however, you never expected advertising to be persistent and rewarding long term: turn on advertising, you get visitors; turn it off, they go away. You’re OK with that impermanence when it comes to advertising but not organic. Interesting.

As an online reputation manager and organic SEO consultant, I never promise guaranteed results or outcomes. Navigating Google search is like exploring the North Pole: the ice is always shifting, cracking, breaking apart, crashing together. What is North, anyway? Is it a place or is it magnetic?

Once you start optimizing for search you can never stop

Online Reputation Management (ORM) and SEO demand constant expedition. Constant funding. The moment you stop spending on organic SEO is the moment you stop evolving your campaign, your search expedition, forward. Google is constantly tweaking the way it identifies, spiders, indexes, pre-caches, returns, and displays not only your content but everyone else’s, too.

And, you very well may be as white hat as they come — just a small-but-successful little ecommerce site that sells Kydex holsters — but you may suffer as well. No matter how well you’re playing the game, no matter how observant you are of Google “traffic laws,” Google has had to keep ahead of global lawlessness, an entire billion-dollar industry of very smart SEO consultants who are pushing the state-of-the-art to new levels.

There are content cabals leveraging global back-office relationships that participate in SEO horse-trading at a very high level and across many companies that often seem, on their face, to be competitors, but are actually working together — hundreds and thousands of data centers, content marketing sites, news platforms, blog networks, pay-per-post syndicates, newspapers, news aggregators, message boards, review sites — to create an entire “Shadow Web” stitched together through automated system of trading and linking to emulate the perfect bottom-up, consumer-generated, organic, natural, and valuable resource possible.

It’s catnip so potent that not even Sergey Brin himself could resist — and until recently, he honestly couldn’t. The quality of content was just too good to ignore and the speed, professionalism, and relevance of the content that the Shadow Web offered was just too good.

Behold the Zombie, Robot-Army, Shadow Web!

And when I am talking about a Shadow Web, I don’t mean the place on Tor where Silk Road lived but a complete simulacrum pretending to be the hard work of millions of consumers, citizens, reviewers and online denizens. However, real humans are too unpredictable in the real world, in the wild, so at the end of the day, hundreds of coders, developers, publishers, advertisers, registrars, marketers, and data centers chose to create an entire infrastructure that could be conducted, controlled, and orchestrated without needing to depend on the kindness of strangers.

Anyway, this tiering, verifying, and paper-checking strategy that Google is implementing is out of desperation. The SEO-Industrial complex is too well-funded, too global, has a lot to win, and nothing to lose. Either that or this is a very blunt-force scheme to get someone, anyone, to adopt their death-watch social network service, Google+ — but that’s crazy, there’s no such thing as conspiracy. Right?


Why Google Authorship matters to your business (

Content strategies to deal with Google Panda & Google Penguin (

What goes into Google’s search rankings recipe? (

• More SEO articles on

• 15 ways to increase traffic to your blog (

• 10 tips to take advantage of Google+ for SEO ( Abraham is a partner in Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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3 thoughts on “Google demands your papers with Hummingbird

    • When you have a global marketplace, you can assume that there are plenty of people who are creating valuable content; however, what does that even mean? And what does quality content mean if nobody cares? If your site has amazing content but is on a slow server, doesn’t have any social sharing, doesn’t have any Google clout, and is in a highly-competitive vertical. In that case, writing great, germane, content may not be enough. Especially because Google expects more from us now: how “viral” and “popular” is this amazing content?

      You can write the best site ever and make it amazing, but we’re all going to have to get much better at being much better publicists, marketers, and promoters.

      Build it and they will come has never, ever, worked. Anywhere.

      Even Vincent van Gogh would have disappeared into history were it not for the patronage of his brother Theo.