What Is Hummingbird, and Why Won’t You Pay?

Bonjour, Blogger! What Is Hummingbird, and Why Won't You Pay? image 2
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Screenshot 2014-01-23 06.56.49

After we posted last week about inserting links from old posts, Niki got in touch to ask….

I had an email from a PR company asking me if I would be happy to include links to a particular retailer in an old post (your recent post regarding this was super useful – thanks!) but when I asked how much they would  pay for such links and referrals through my blog, they replied saying that in response to Google’s recent “Hummingbird” update, they don’t offer financial compensation for content or links and that if they did, Google might penalise both of us.

What is the “Hummingbird” update and is this true that Google can penalise both parties? Or is it just a way of saying they don’t want to pay??  I’m a tad confused!

First: what is Hummingbird? Every time Google updates its methods of calculating a web pages search ranking, they give it a name – the current algorithm in place is called Hummingbird, and was announced on Google’s 15th birthday (September 26th,2013) although had been in use for at least a month before.

Hummingbird is more focused on natural language – so if you type into Google “Give me some pictures of cake”, Google will fetch back a page of deliciousness.

Stop dribbling over there

If your blog posts have a higher reading score (according to the Flesch Kincaid and Dale Chall readability related tests, in part), then it will get a higher ranking.

Hummingbird is a great update for those blogs that produce interesting, informative and useful content, because that’s what a searcher wants to read!

So what’s the relevance between not paying links and Hummingbird? Mostly? It’s an excuse. That SEO person isn’t interested in your blog for your witty writing and beautiful photos. (*sob*!) They’re only interested in how you can benefit their clients. They don’t want their clients to be affected by any de-ranking that Google may do (it happens!) but what they don’t seem to have realised is that there isn’t really much difference between not paying for a link, and not disclosing that you were paid for a link. Since we’ve seen Google de-rank websites for non disclosure of sponsored content, it’s a little odd that they’re using Hummingbird as the reason why they can’t pay for the links.

The best way to deal with any requests to insert links is to ask what their budget is (even if you’re not interested in inserting links!). That will usually scare off the majority of the requests permanently, leaving you to deal with the ones that are more serious.

What’s the best reason for non payment of sponsored content you’ve heard?

  • Victoria

    I can’t remember if I commented on your previous post about this or not but I have had an experience recently where I was asked to put a link into an old post. When I asked about budget they told me they didn’t pay for links because of google guidelines but would tell the companys media team about me and they might (only might mind!) include me events and I’d be on their radar. Well I assume I’m already on someones radar to have been contacted in the first place!


    January 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm Reply
  • Catherine @ Not Dressed As Lamb

    The best excuse I had was that they would Tweet about my post because “of course they don’t pay bloggers”, as if I should be thankful that they’d share it on their social media. They had far fewer followers than I did, and this was a pretty major, high-end brand. They even went as far as to tell me what I should be writing about in order to attract more visits. Needless to say I politely told them where to go!

    Thanks for the heads up on Hummingbird, very useful :)


    May 13, 2014 at 10:12 am Reply

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