That animal-named update of the biggest search engine which deals with entities

smxlondonJust home from SMX London, I have realised just how important some of the take-aways were. The biggest one for me was the session about Entity Search. A session moderated by Danny Sullivan with David Amerland and Justin Briggs speaking.

Before reading any further, do this :

  1. copy the title of this article
  2. use the title as a search query in Google*

Your result page will show the answer to the natural language query I used as a title for this article.

* since the article was published and the title was republished on, the search results page has changed. Before indexation, Google would show an article by Danny Sullivan about Hummingbird and Entity Search. Now it is this article which comes out top, at least if the author is in your circles on G+

From Recovery to Discovery

For those in search marketing, you will realise that this is new. It seems like search engines have always been based on keywords and served a purpose of navigational recovery: the search result will show me results corresponding to what is known but hidden somewhere (for example in my mind, in my bookmarks)

With a search results page adding something not outspoken to my query, I no longer need to use the concept of keywords, I can move on to a natural language querying and the function of the Search engine will allow for a function of Discovery. Finding something I didn’t know of.

The Art of Not using Keywords

I find this inspiring and started playing around with some queries. Justin Briggs gave me the first couple:

These queries are all about films because this semantic territory is very structured with entities and properties easy to define but I will come with examples from an other territory further ahead.

From Keywords to Entities

Where the Search paradigm used to be based on Keywords, their pro-eminence in the pages and in the backlinks, we seem to have passed beyond this in. The queries do not name the answer we are looking for whereas the search results page does. We are perhaps seeing the result for the « Entity » that has been identified as the answer to the query.

So what is Entity Search?

On the SMX, David Amerland made a reference to the US Patent number 8538984, which supposedly is the foundation for this Google update. The Patent can be found here as well:

As opposed to other recent animal-named Google algorithm updates, Panda and Penguin which are considered as add-ons, the Hummingbird is a complete rewrite.

What the Hummingbird update does is to move away from the concept of keywords and into the underlying entities. A search query is analysed in order to understand the meaning behind the keywords within and the search results are based on the presence of entities.

We see this effect more clearly on natural language searches using more words in the query. It also likely works more effectively in structured semantic territories. Justin Briggs pointed to Freebase (a Google acquisition) as a likely source of structure to the entities.

Exploring Entities

Let’s have a look into Freebase and the structure of Entities. It is almost noon so I was starting to think about food. Here is a view of the Entity « Dish » in Freebase :

2014-05-19 11-23-35 ScreenshotType of dish: starter, dessert, …

Cuisine: French, Indian, …

Ingredients: Eggs, Ham, …



So, Dish is an Entity under Food and it has the properties: Type, Cuisine, Ingredients and Recipes.

This inspired me to test this query :

« how to prepare that mexican starter with fish, shrimps and lime juice »

2014-05-19 11-37-59 Screenshot

The result on top comes out as a Mexican Recipe for Ceviche. Out of the 12 word query only one of the words appear in the title and I see entity attributes highlighted in the snippet : shrimp, fish, lime, dessert but also, disappointingly, the word « make » which is by no means neither a keyword, nor an entity property.

The Future of Search?

With a number of changes having occured within Search Marketing and especially SEO during the past couple of years, I hadn’t really noticed this under-the-hood change. And I don’t think this will change Search Marketing instantly as I believe the shift to Entity-driven results will be gradual. Most users have now been “keyword search” educated and it will take some time to unlearn. SEOs, however, should start shifting tracks now. Keyword research has become obsolete – we need to look for Entities, Properties and Attributes.

Read more :


So Anders will be speaking on RIMC 2014


The Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference takes place on 28 March and has a great line-up of speakers from Big brands like Heineken, Geox, Nokia, Dell, Lenovo and more. I have been invited to the Wrap-up session at 16.00 about Big Brands online from the marketers perspective.

HearMeSpeak RIMC14Details here: Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference 2014

This will be my first time to Iceland and I am really looking forward to this. I will combine a great looking RIMC conference with the European Search Awards and additionally I will take an extra day to discover this amazing country I have been wanting to visit for many years.

Iceland, here we come!

European Search Awards 2014 – in Iceland

EuropeanSearchAwards2014The European Search Awards aim to identify and promote the best in SEO, PPC, Digital and Content Marketing in Europe as presented by technology providers, agencies and in-house teams alike.

The more entries, the better the quality and the higher the visibility and value of the prize so this is an invitation to submit your best piece of work from 2013 to enter the competition. Entries must be submitted by 17 January 2014 here: European Search Awards.

I think it is important for the Search and Digital community to embrace this type of event in order to continue to learn, improve and share what we do on a daily basis. This is a way to help us to continuously deliver better and more value to our bosses, clients and end-users alike.

I am looking forward to being part of the judging panel and hopefully be both impressed and inspired by what friends, professional contacts, former colleagues and complete strangers alike will be submitting in each of the fields.

The Awards will be presented at a prestigious award dinner at the Grand Hotel Reykjavik on Friday 28 March 2014

As a judge, I promise to be impartial, really hard but also very just 🙂

Program and Early Bird on SMX Stockholm 2013

As promised, here is an update on the (nearly) definitive program for SMX Stockholm 2013 for which I am Chair for the first time. We have ended-up with 4 Keynote / plenary sessions sessions at the start and end of the conference:

  • 14/10 9.30 – Julius van de Laar: “Storytelling and Microtargeting”
  • 14/10 10.15 – Bas van den Beld: “Consumer Psychology and Search & Social”
  • 14/10 17.00 – Dixon Jones: “Can Big Data save the World”
  • 15/10 16.00 – Mike Moran: “What’s Next for the Digital Marketer?”
    (detailed agenda here:

So we are starting the conference with a Keynote which is an eye-opener on how Digital Marketing works in Politics and how you plan your messaging, your interaction and your content distribution. For most Search Marketer this should be a bit of a Wake-up call on the power of contents and social media. Julius van de Laar has previously keynoted SMX Munich with great success and this session is an absolute must. We have placed the session at 9.30 so travellers on early flights from all of the Nordics can just make it to the session if Stockholm traffic isn’t too bad that day.

In the following session, State of Search founder Bas van den Beld will take us a little closer into known territories but will focus on the person behind the click in his Consumer Psychology session. Knowing the quality of Bas’s frequent presentations this should be both very fun and very instructive so here is another can’t-miss session.

And we are closing the Day 1 program with an inspirational session by Dixon Jones from MajesticSEO. Just the kind of thing we need before wrapping up on an intense first day – with a focus on “Big Data” as well as on our role and responsabilities as Search Marketers today. Search has proven to be one of the most Data-intensive disciplines on the Web and most of us were already Big Data-enabled when the buzz-word arrived. So can Big Data save the World?

On Day 2 at the end of the conference we have placed a Check-out Keynote by Mike Moran on the future perspectives for the Digital Marketer.  Mike Moran is an engaging speaker and with his closing session we are making sure everybody has a compelling reason to stay until the end of conference. You can still reach a return flight from Arlanda and you will have plenty of food for thought on your way home after this session.

Between the keynotes, the Day 1 program has 2 tracks where the Organic Track is focused on Organic Media, including SEO and SMO as those disciplines are tending to overlap and integrate. The Paid Track is focused on Biddable Media including Paid Search and Display advertising. As an umbrella to the two tracks, we have placed a plenary session dedicated to the co-habitation of Organic and Paid Media and the synergies between them.

The Day 2 program has two different tracks where the Advanced SEO track is aiming to cover both complex technical subjects like Semantic mark-up, Google Analytics for SEO and the popular session on pulling data from the APIs directly into an Excel sheet – and then the more conceptual themes like Authorship and the rise of G+.

The other Day 2 track is the Nordics Track where international experts will present custom research on the Nordic markets in terms of Social Media landscape, Ranking factors, PPC characteristics and Link landscapes. I wrote some more about this session in an earlier post which you can find here: Nordics Track

The format of this years SMX Stockholm is a little different from other years in its overarching structure as described above, however, the individual sessions will have a familiar format with 2 speakers providing different angles on the topic with 15-20 minutes formal presentation time and room for questions in the end. We will also aim to make all the presentations available to participants after the end of the conference. Many of the main speakers have already been announced on the conference website and more will be added as they are confirmed.

We think this is quite an attractive program and I am personally looking very much forward to this conference. I hope my role as conference chair will also allow me to sometimes just sit back and listen to some of the excellent speakers. There is an early bird pricing which ends on 6 of September which you can find here.

Comments and feedback on the program is more than welcome both before, during and after the conference. So don’t hesitate to connect via social networks or come and have a chat in Stockholm.

SMX Stockholm 2013 will have a “Nordics” track

I will be the chair of SMX Stockholm 2013 on 14-15 October together with Jens Hård, the CEO of Outrider Sweden. With a Danish-Swedish tandem in charge of the program it is obvious that we will aim to further broaden the scope and we are setting up an Advisory board including representatives from all the markets.

We are launching something new called the Nordics track. This track which is on the second day of the conference will focus on the Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Icelandic markets seen as a whole and from the outside.

There will be a focus on Ranking factors specific for the Nordics. What? Different ranking factors in different countries? Well as keyword morphology and backlink profiles are very different from one market to the next, ranking factors differ. Marcus Tober founder of SearchMetrics is aiming to do dedicated research on this for the conference.

In paid search, there are obvious differences also and I have convinced Sean Malseed from SEMrush to also do some dedicated research for this conference. He will be looking more specifically on the ecommerce sector and compare across the Nordic markets.

We are also planning to address the topic of “the Nordics as ONE market”. Adding the 5 populations together you reach some 25 million inhabitants. From a global marketers perspective that may not seem much but the market has some fascinating characteristics in terms of buying power, internet penetration, standard of living. Remains therefore the challenge of managing Search campaigns across 4-5 languages of which at least 3 are very close but not the same.

There will be plenty of reasons for coming to SMX Stockholm this year and catching the early bird AND an early flight booking can even make it quite affordable. Oh, and we will be aiming to do some SMX After Dark as well…

I will do some more updates on this event as we progress towards the final program and speaker line-up!

Search Marketing Day in Poznan


I am announced to speak on the Search Marketing Day in Poznan 27-28 June 2013

SEO Hero» RTB: From Search Marketing over Display Remarketing into Display Acquisition

This will be the second time I speak in Poland but my first time in Poznan. The presentation will go into depth on the mechanics of Display RTB & Remarketing for a Performance-driven client of BDBL MEDIA.  

Online Performance Triggers: from SEM to Remarketing

Below is my presentation from SMX London 2013. It is an Online Marketing case study which traces performance back over 4 years with a focus on the introduction of Display Remarketing into an online Marketing Mix dominated by Search Engine Marketing. My favourite slide is the one on the right.


Lovely French Words for the International Search Summit

I will be speaking on the International Search Summit in London tomorrow on the subject of Search Marketing in France. I have done quite some research both through searches for content, image searches and interviews with Industry Experts who have experience with the French market.

I found the “Lovely French words” on a “Franchophile” blog named My Melange. The author suggested some of them and the community added the rest. My contribution was to sort them, give them weight and then throw them into This is not scientific research but it does give us a nice cloud.

For those attending you will also see input from interviews I did with a handful of Search Marketing Industry Experts. Big thanks for their contributions to:

  • Alan Boughen (Havas)
  • David Towers (MEC)
  • Marc Poirier (Acquisio)
  • David Szetela (Vizion)
  • Shahid Awan (Cheapflights)
  • David Henry (Monster)
  • David Carralon (British Council)

For those not attending ISS tomorrow, I hope to be able to provide the research in one form or the other at a later stage. I will make sure to announce that via twitter @soanders.

For those attending, you will get a chance to hear my own opinions as well – see you tomorrow 🙂




SMX London 2013


15-16 May 2013 – Search Marketing Expo London

I will be presenting a case study from BDBL MEDIA and also moderate several sessions:
» Ready, Aim, Fire… Then Retarget!

Death of Marketing

When I graduated from business school back in the last century, the Internet was just starting to expand beyond army and universities. The commercial internet was emerging. I tried the best I could to apply what I was taught in my Marketing courses to this new thing that came upon us, the World Wide Web. I tried to apply Kotler”s 4 P’s to this new world with very limited success:

  • Price – nope, it’s free.
  • Product – well not quite, more like a service.
  • Promotion – wasn’t the promotion a bit within the Product?
  • Place – euh…

If you would like to explore the old world of marketing check out this Wikipedia page:

Old fragments of Marketing

Set aside Philip Kotler’s Marketing theories, there were other things I had been fascinated by in Business School. For example something called Network Marketing – this was an approach to interaction between big suppliers and big client organizations where you would analyse and influence according to the network of people within the organizations. This of course had strictly nothing to do with the other network, that of interconnected servers across the world where the humans were on the outside and the machines on the inside… Much as I admired and respected my tutor, his opinion with regards to the Internet was close to disgust. Relations should be between people, not between computers.

Another branch of Marketing I had found extremely interesting was that of Retail Marketing and I found a few elements I could transpose to this new world: Entry Marketing, Exit Marketing and the notion of “customer flow” within a commercial oulet – store or supermarket. But still the rules-set did not really seem to apply to the Internet.

So, what else can you do when you are a bright young graduate with great adventures ahead than to proclaim the Death of Marketing. This projection was quite simple: the old framework did not apply to the new economy and the new economy would gradually replace the old economy so the old framework was necessarily dead. The King is Dead, long live, euh who? What?

How do you Proclaim in a World with no rules?

I should have probably written a book about it but would that make sense in this new world? I couldn’t be sure that a “book” wasn’t already an obsolete means of commundeath of marketingication anyway. So I stuck to a simple web site format. It was not my first website and a part from its proclamation, it didn’t really have an objective: there was no price, no product, the place was anywhere in the world where someone would consume it and the promotion was absent.

Little did I know that I had just committed my first act of what would later be known as Content Marketing at that stage…

In 2013 the Information Society has indeed changed our world and a new form of marketing is gradually emerging. It is strongly anchored in Contents and their Distribution on the Internet. I will be describing my view of this new article in a future post which is likely to be entitled the Digital Lotus.