This hummingbird isn’t your average beija flor; it’s Google’s latest update and it might have rocked your world back in August and you might not have noticed until recently. Now those disturbances you sensed in the Force over the past few weeks make a little more sense following Google’s announcements of 9/26/13.
All joking aside, these changes in Google’s algorithms can drastically affect traffic to your website. As always, Google tells us basically that if we create websites which have good content for humans, and well-formed html, there’s nothing to worry about. However many sites continue to run on old infrastucture which is tough to upgrade in a short time, etc., etc. (excuses). Owners of those sites may have the most to worry about when these changes occur.
Here are some links for you to review and get up to speed quickly on these changes. Review your Google and Bing Webmaster Tools data, your web analytics data, and pick up the pieces following this change. Learn from the data you churn: improve your website content and infrastructure, monitor your rankings and your traffic.
FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm (SearchEngineLand)
Google Algorithm Change History (Moz)
Follow search engine changes on a daily basis:
Daily forecast at mozcast.com (weather forecast analogy)
SERPs volatility at serps.com (lots of other useful free tools here as well)
Depending on your site content, there may be a side of inbound search traffic you haven’t considered or quantified: image search. Honestly, I hadn’t thought much about it, but after reading this blog post over at SEO blog BlindFiveYearOld.com, I’m interested in making this data a part of my normal rounds of site analysis. There is significant configuration required to get this analysis, and it is documented nicely in this post. It requires creating another profile within your existing Google Analytics setup, and also requires configuring filters, a worthy, but slightly intimidating tactic I first encountered when setting up cross-domain tracking with GA. Check out the post and open a new venue for search data to come into your purview!
PS – check out this simple Regex Cheat Sheet to help you configure filters and more in GA. (Side question: will SiteCatalyst ever support Regular Expressons?)
Amazingly I couldn’t find any writeups about how to modify VPASP to capture on site search keywords into Google Analytics or the http logfile, etc. So I decided to take a look at shopsearch.asp looking for opportunities for a quick mod. I quickly found the location to add one line of code so that I could pass the search term as a querystring parameter to the shopdisplayproducts.asp template (search results page).
On the system at hand, the location was on/about line 57:
responseredirect "shopdisplayproducts.asp?Search=Yes&sppp=" & howManyItems
responseredirect "shopdisplayproducts.asp?Search=Yes&sppp=" & howManyItems & "&kwd=" & allwordsString
So, what we’re doing here is passing the ‘allwordsString’ variable (the search term) as a query string parameter value to ‘kwd’. ‘kwd’ could be anything unique on your system, but you’ll need to add whatever you call ‘kwd’ to the Google Analytics Site Search query string parameter setup in order to capture the data. (Let me know if you need more help with that part.)
The next improvement on this mini-project will be to pass some data into Google Analytics so that failed searches (on site search where search term generates zero results) can be quantified. More on that later…..