Is Google on your list of competitors? If not, add them.
If you depend on your audience to use Google search to find you and buy your products, consider that Google relies on the exact same audience, using the same exact product (search) to accomplish the same business objectives.
Your business objectives and Google’s business objectives are in increasingly more competition with each other because you’re competing for people’s attention. You both want it and in the same locations. And there’s never enough of it.
How Google will steal more attention from your audience
Google stepped up the competition for your audience’s attention with their new algorithm, Hummingbird and Hummingbird’s companion product, Google App Launcher.
By nature, Hummingbirds are showoffs. They love to steal attention, especially when they are trying to win the admiration of other Hummingbirds. Hummingbirds can also become extremely defensive when other Hummingbird’s make attempts at taking their food source.
Take a look at this result for “flights to los angeles from philadelphia”:
The first paid result, which looks like an organic web app result, is owned by Google. It definitely steals your attention away from Expedia’s and Kayak’s organic results, and it displays the logos of popular brands that fly out of Philadelphia. Google, you have our attention.
Google’s designed this travel web app with a total of 9 click-through options:
Once you clickthrough, Google doesn’t give you any noticeable escape hatches, you stay on property. Even after you take the action step of completing your purchase, Google doesn’t take you off property, they simply open a new tab.
Hummingbird will steal attention like this too:
Google calls this a medical condition search. Google owns the first result, and all 6 of the clickthrough actions I can take will keep me on Google’s property and using their products.
These are aggressive paid and organic search results from Google.
It's clear that Google knows the context of my search just by looking at the ads they served. The first organic result is irrelevant to the context of my search, but because most people still click the first result, why not give it a shot that I'll want to try their uninteresting address book?
Expect Hummingbird to return results that favor Google and give them an attention-advantage.
Kiss your clickthroughs goodbye, suckaz
After doing a Google voice search for "what is tomorrow's weather", Google returned a weather card accompanied by a voice telling me what tomorrow's weather is supposed to be. It was a pleasant experience.
Sorry, Weather Channel and AccuWeather, no more clicking-through to your sites. Google’s taking my attention away from you by giving me a contextually-relevant result that is visually appealing and reduces the time it takes for me to get this information.
This traffic map result appears to be useful and relevant to the context of my search. It’s also an attention-grabber.
When you click Google's traffic map result, it keeps you on Google's property by taking you to Google Maps. There, Google has at least 5 different actions you can take to keep you engaged with their products.
Think about these implications in the context of ranking, keywords, click throughs, and traffic.
Hummingbird is not a threat to SEO
Hummingbird is not a threat to SEO. Worrying about that is just a distraction. Hummingbird is a threat to brands that don’t understand their audience or have a community.
Hummingbird is an opportunity for brands that have relied heavily on SEO and Google’s search channels as a key revenue driver to get serious about investing marketing dollars into solving problems for people, understanding the lifestyles of their audience and community, and satisfying people’s desires.
The value of clicks vs. attention
Any brand, especially lifestyle brands, that depend on paid and organic search as marketing channels to get attention, clicks, traffic and sales should spend some time with their marketing teams asking themselves:
How could Hummingbird and Google’s increased competition for attention affect our ability to use paid and organic search to reach business objectives?
You want to understand the impact this may have on how you reach your audience and community, and where you make marketing investments to reach business objectives.
Google probably sees Hummingbird as an algorithm that can generate more revenue than the previous algorithm. Google always has to expand the paid search market, and to grow new markets through innovation and better marketing of their own value.
As an action step, consider doing a competitive analysis of Google. Where is Google competing with you in search? And what are they doing to steal attention from your audience?
If you disagree or have another perspective, please take a moment to leave a comment, we could all use the education and insights.