Will hashtags replace keywords?

Google have announced that all their searches are now encrypted. All of them. Every single one. This means no more keyword data will be passed back to site owners.

Anyone watching keyword search activity to their site will already have noted that the ratio of “[not provided]” keywords has been steadily rising for years. With this latest release, your only keyword information will be from non-Google searches.

Debate about the impact of these changes (as well as the real motivation behind them) is already in full swing.

In what may be yet another effort to point users to Google+, the company has also rolled out hashtag searching (the G+ community has had this since May).

When a user submits a hashtagged search in the familiar Google search field, they not only get their regular results, but also, in a column on the right, live scrolling results from Google+ content.

Additionally Google’s ‘Hummingbird’ tech update tackles something much more exciting than Caffeine, which jolted the internet marketing world when it rolled out in 2010. While Caffeine improved indexing speed and delivered fresher search results, Hummingbird promises to drastically raise the bar on search sophistication.

Rather than parsing users’ searches word-by-word, the new algorithm allows Google to intelligently and quickly analyze full questions. Google’s search engine has begun to understand concepts, relationships between concepts, and even more complex questions.

We may at last, have arrived at the point where manipulating a page to pack it with keyword terms is pointless. If this is true, it means we can get back to crafting well-written, informative content. We can once again produce work to share and create value, and to communicate ideas.

Will hashtag searches persuade you to join Google+? Will Hummingbird kill-off the keyword? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Featured image/thumbnail, hummingbird image via Shutterstock.

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  • Tom Jenkins

    Would this affect Google Analytics’s and its keyword statistics? Presumably it will

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/ Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

      Yes, we presume so. But as with most things Google, updates are only confirmed in dribs and drabs, so we can only speculate as to where analytics will be in six months.

    • Dennis Hart

      Yes- it definitely does. It has been since October 18th 2011. It that the percentages were originally supposed to be “single digits” but will soon be 100% It’s not available in log files, you can’t do anything differently to get the data- it’s just not there. Now, the most important metrics still available to us are organic landing pages and the info that Google Webmaster tools provides (not exactly the same). Competitive insight and keeping tabs on your ranking are more important than ever.

  • http://medialoot.com/ Medialoot

    Interesting. We’ve been using Google Plus but have been seeing little to no traffic from it. However, now that makes me glad that we have a healthy archive of G+ posts. But in general, this is a bummer for Google Analytics.

    Thanks for the post. Looking forward to seeing where this will go.

  • dorrellwilson

    Really annoyed by how Google wants G+ to be the center of the Google experience. It’s super annoying since G+ is completely useless to me.