Is This a Google Hummingbird Search Result?

Filed in Google, SEO by Matt McGee on November 8, 2013 7 Comments

(Obviously ALL Google search results are Hummingbird-impacted, but this one really caught my eye today as being odd. Maybe you agree?)

A couple times a year, I need to share a link with someone to an old article that I wrote here on SBSM:

Dear Small Business Owners: Put Down Your Ranking Reports

The easiest way for me to get that URL is to do a Google search for “put down ranking reports.”

In the past, that query has produced results that are pretty much exclusively SEO-related. I did that search this morning, and got this:


As you can see, it’s an odd mix of football “rankings” that are being broken “down,” a couple journalism-related pages (i.e., US News college “rankings report”) and credit card “rankings” from Consumer “Reports” magazine. Oh, and my article is right there in middle.

That’s one of the strangest Google search results I’ve seen in a while — a total mishmash of mostly unrelated pages that use my query keywords in very different ways.

Take a look at where my four words show up in the top result (a Google News match):


Here’s the credit card page from Consumer Reports:


And this one might be the strangest match of all:


I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t spend as much time analyzing Google SERPs now as I did when I was more active in doing hands-on SEO consulting, so I have to ask:

Are these search results weird to anyone but me?

Comments (7)

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  1. Phil Rozek says:

    Those search results look funky to me, too, Matt.

    I think at least some of it is personalization. I see more SEO-related results: your post, a post that links to and references yours, a post from Moz, one from Jill Whalen, and a page on Bruce Clay’s site. I see the same results whether I’m signed into Google or in incognito mode. In both cases, the top-3 organic placements are the recent, football-related results – from BleacherReport.

    So on the one hand, the results I’m seeing don’t seem quite as random. On the other hand, Hummingbird seems to be putting those less-relevant but more-recent BleacherReport results a little too high.

  2. Pranjal says:

    Believe me Matt, those are still some good results from decent sites, and in my niche after this latest penguin update the results are worst. Sites copying my 100% original content are ranking on first 5 results and surprisingly we are not even in first 50!

    So, I am totally fed up with these updates at all. Except hitting hard, these updates had done nothing good to our business.

    Doing SEO these days is like pissing in your own pants for momentarily warmth. I had ceased everything I was doing related to SEO, cancelled all my third party SEO services, and terminated the contract with SEO agencies, as well. Plus, I had even stopped reading anything related to SEO be it advanced guide to SEO or link building.

    I am working on a new strategy on how to build direct traffic to my business, I simply don’t want Google traffic anymore. Let Google promote authority and e-Commerce portals.

  3. Oscar says:

    They should just stop showing so much Bleacher Report in the search results!

    Don’t get that site and how it doesn’t seem to be penalised at all. Even as a sports fan their top 10 lists, reports, stats, and slideshows aren’t even useful or interesting, but you can’t move for it when searching for anything sports related. The ultimate sports site built around SEO techniques and content for content’s sake is now showing up for non-sport related searches, they’re that good at black hat SEO and Google ignores it.

  4. AJ Kohn says:

    Nice find. I’d say this is a pretty good example of a potential Hummingbird result. Or more precisely, Google is using things instead of strings.

    Because when you put the title in quotes (strings) you get the piece.

    So in this case, ‘ranking’ is interpreted more as an entity to do with sports, particularly just now after the weekend (there could be time context at play here as well.)

  5. Kristine S says:

    This is a very standard example of a HummingBird Search and why they are extremely irrelevant for SERPS that do not translate well to “things” or require abstract complexity (the search is not complex, but the thought pattern is) IE it can do What is (insert football player’s) running record? well because it is an easily translatable info nugget (a thing), however, it does not do what you searched for well because it is not easy to translate in the new algorithm.

    Hummingbird – It has a huge irrelevancy issue.

  6. L Rob says:

    I agree with what you all said.

    But I think serious content writers can benefit our of this algorithm. This is coz searches now are more focused on “conversation” style.

    Mobile devices might be a big factor in this strategy. Sooner or later, people wont have a use of keyboards to search for something. Queries might be voice activated.

    Which is may be what Google had already anticipated. Hence, the changes in the search queries.

  7. Ron says:

    I’m working with a big car dealer on a group of sites and have noticed another odd result.
    Using a term such as “ram truck (city)” often returns a series of results for
    I realize they have multiple RAM trucks listed, but why would Google assume we need to
    see more than one result from that domain, while completely ignoring others?

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