How the Latest Google Algorithm Hides Search Results

Do you remember all that blah by Google and internet marketing opportunists telling you how you just need “great content” and everything will be fine? Well, here’s the deal, Google has changed its algorithm lately to be more “conversational”.

They call the algorithm update Hummingbird and it affects 90% of searches. What exactly does it do?

In many cases it just hides the search results and provides onsite answers instead so that there is no need to click through anymore. For you it means: people won’t see your great content at all, unless Google grabs it and displays on its site for free.

How to lose weight and stop snoring with Google

Yeah, I know that bad news does not spread that well and people like optimistic articles telling them how Hummingbird is actually great for content creators while their own examples actually prove otherwise.

I will present a few examples here that show what actually happens since this algorithm change has taken place.

When you ask questions you sometimes get answers instead of search results. This is for example what I see when I ask [how to lose weight] – a very popular question as you can imagine:


I see three answers taken from third party sites and then one actual search result. Take note that there is no single ad on top of the query. This will be pretty unlikely in the future. It looks still pretty OK, at least there is one search result above the fold, that is in the visible screen area without scrolling.

Look what happens when I ask a similar question [how to stop snoring]:


There is just one ad above the three answers but you already have to scroll to see even the answers in their entirety. The last one is already only partially displayed above the fold. I search from Germany so I guess that’s why I get only one ad and the one I see is from the UK.

I can imagine that in the US or other English speaking countries there will be even more ads above the answers.

Also please take a look at the sites that get their answers displayed. They are always the same ones it seems, Webmd seems to be the top dog here. I couldn’t find many of the otherwise ranking sites there. Only a small group of very specific niche sites gets into the answer box.

I bet you will soon lose weight when you optimize for that query because you’ll get hungry.

Also you will stop snoring because you will lose sleep too. These queries are still only a few but there will be more and more of them. Google may force you out of business in case you relied on a lot of “great content” targeting “how to” phrases.

Who needs a weatherman to know which way the wind blows?

Google now also responds to common queries directly cutting out the middleman (that is you). Just consider weather related searches like this one:


Did you notice the fine print below the “great content” Google shows onsite? These are the links to the competition. I only did because I use an extension called WOT that adds these green circles to links.

Google solipsism

You don’t need weathermen anymore. In case you work for an online dictionary you can look for a new job as well. Google will take all of your traffic sooner or later. Just search for [what is solipsism]. There is no need to visit an actual dictionary anymore!

ARticle_google-solipsismWhen I click the solipsism Google layer it unfolds completely so that I don’t see any results above the fold. Indeed I have to scroll to see the entire Google box.

Google, your personal assistant

The future is clear: Google will become a personal assistant just like Siri on the iPhone and stop relying on third party sites (that is you) to be clicked on. The open Web will become less and less popular.

From now on more and more search traffic will stay on Google.

You have to look out for alternatives to Google traffic. Ideally you start building your faithful audience now that will visit you despite of Google. Google is your biggest competitor now.

Tad Chef

Tad Chef writes for SEO blogs from all over the world including his own one called SEO 2.0. He helps people with blogs, social media and search, both in German and English. You can follow Tad on Twitter @onreact_com to get his latest insights daily.

  • David C. Weber

    So what I see happening is that all this time Google has been telling us great content is your key to success when Google has been gathering that great content, and now that Google has all the content imaginable they no longer need any of us for any damn thing, PERIOD!

    Google has very quietly, well sort of, and methodically created their own dictatorship! What Google says goes, and if you don’t like it you not only won’t make a dime, but no one will hear your opinion either because Google won’t allow your message to be seen! I have said this before, and I’m saying it again. Google has been allowed to become to strong for it’s own good. My hope would be that Google will some how, some way, IMPLODE!

    There you have it. I hope Google just blows up internally! I wouldn’t want any of that funk getting on any of us!

    I greatly appreciate your article. I have been watching Google’s algorithm changes for the last few years. From Penguin to Panda and now the Hummingbird. What a terrible shame to destroy something that so many have embraced, enjoyed, and yes profited from.

    There in lies the problem my friends. Greed is the great corrupter of men, and women! Wouldn’t want to keep the ladies out now would I :-)

    Google has become so wealthy that our little minds cannot begin to embrace it. The more you get the more you want, and so on. To keep the money rolling you use the power it brings to control, ultimately bring more, and more money!

    Have a great day everyone!

  • Ria Parish

    As much as I love how Google’s weather and dictionary queries work, it is terrifying how much control Google has over the rest of the internet with its monopoly of internet services. I didn’t even consider before the impact that Google search results have on Dictionary websites…

  • Jeremy Rivera

    I remain somewhat reserved, and only wear my tinfoil hat for fancy cocktail parties and Google Hangouts. Here’s why: How much of those queries are actually transactional? If the answer to [how to prevent snoring] can be satiated with a small blurb then were they ever actually going to make a purchase from you? Further, let’s say you sell oral appliances that prevent snoring, in your snippet you can see that Mayoclinic lists it as an option, isn’t that going to trigger a further direct query for [oral appliance] where you are going to be catching a transactionally minded search visit vs someone just shopping for info?

  • Chris

    Google may have its problems, but you need to stop adding quotes in the middle of your articles. It makes it almost impossible to read as the content keeps getting broken up as you read.

  • Spook SEO

    Google has made it easy for the user to get the appropriate and quality content through the new update of hummingbird and I think it will have a large impact on the future SEO .It’s the time of content marketing and the key to success is mostly depend upon quality content so be alert and achieve the desired goals by following new updates.

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