1/1/2014 — In late September, Google moved to block keyword-level data on all searches, regardless of browser or user opt-in. One of the most important tools for SEO — keyword data — became unavailable, but one of the most important types of SEO — keyword-centric optimization campaigns — became irrelevant not soon after. In other words, (not provided) created new opportunities for optimization, and for SEOs to innovate while optimizing. It has also forced SEOs to expand into branding and consumer awareness.
10/1/2013 – Google Webmaster Tools is showing no traffic data since September 25. On September 24, WMT is showing decreased impressions and decreased clicks at a rate of 77%.
The data may come back, or it may be another tool that Google is disallowing. I’ll have a post on SEO without Google keyword data, but for now, at least WMT isn’t a tool to fall back on.
*Update: Google expects WMT to be back up later this week.*
9/29/2013 — Google announced the Hummingbird algorithm on Thursday, on the heels of a new patent granted on September 17 titled “Synonym Identification based on co-occurring terms.” Google has been using the new algorithm for a month, and it affects about 90% of sites.
Hummingbird is a way for the search engine to recognize human-language synonyms. It does this by identifying your lexicon, matching it with a known lexicon, and returning sites that contain terms from the lexicon. In other words, Hummingbird distills down a longtail query into the ask and context phrases and identifies corresponding sites by the incidence of synonym words.
Or, Hummingbird is co-occurrence and synonyms wrapped into one. In order of the claims in the patent (mostly), here’s how it works: