Internet Marketing Round-Up – June ‘16
Summer is here, and hopefully your SEO efforts are hot, hot, hot! The summer season brings search engine changes, industry events and more. So grab a cool drink, sit back and check out the latest news in summertime SEO:
Google Launches Mobile-Testing Tool
Summer kicks off with big news for mobile SEO. In a recent blog post on their site, Google announced the release of a tool which rates the “mobile-friendliness” of your site. Called TestMySite, you simply go to the site, enter the URL you want to test and you’ll receive a score based on these three metrics:
- Mobile Speed
- Mobile Friendliness
- Desktop Speed
Of course, other speed tools and mobile accessibility tools already exists. But Google is, well, Google so you probably do want to see how they rate your site.
Aside from an instant score, Google will also send you a detailed report. This explains the scores and offers some potential fixes.
There have been reports that many sites, including many big name brands, are ranking “poor” in regards to mobile friendliness. This might just be a lack of mobile support in general or it might be an indication that TestMySite is currently experiencing some growing pains. Just something to keep in mind if you use the tool and are shocked by the results.
Mobile Speed is About to Influence Page Rankings
For more than a year now, Google has been stressing the importance of mobile optimization for pages. But mobile page speed hasn’t been a factor in page ranking. That is, until now.
During the Search Marketing Summit in Sydney, Google’s Gary Illyes told attendees that page speed will be a factor in search result rankings. Unfortunately, he didn’t give a timeframe as to when this will happen. Most experts believe it’ll occur within the next few months.
If you haven’t checked the mobile speed of your site in a while, the TestMySite tool mentioned above is a great resource.
People are Talking (especially to Bing)
Voice search is growing in unexpected new ways. Bing recently announced that 25% of all searches performed on the platform are voice queries.
VP of North American Search Sales at Microsoft Search Advertising Rob Wilks had some interesting info to add. “Text searches are between one to three words,” he said, “compared with voice searches that have grown to between six and 10 words.”
While keywords will always be important, the increase rise of voice queries is something to keep an eye on. Increased voice searches mean you need to focus on keyword context and longer keyword phrases.
Did You Miss Google I/O?
As July begins we see the end of this year’s Google I/O conference. Over 7,000 developers met in Mountain View to discuss Google, search and everything in-between.
A lot of information was covered. The main topics this year were:
- Rich cards
- Search Console
- Real-time Indexing
- Accelerated Mobile Pages
- App Streaming
- Developer Documentation
Other big announcements at the conference included device bidding for advertisers, expanded text ads and the ability for “similar audience targeting” for search. Internet marketers will want to pay close attention to follow-up announcements related to these topics, especially “similar audience targeting” which wasn’t elaborated on too much – yet which could be a big game-changer in the future.
Missed the conference? Want to know more? Google has posted a detailed summary of this year’s event.
New Service ClickZ Debuts
In order to succeed with SEO, you need accurate and current data. The beginning of June saw the introduction of ClickZ. This is a new service which provides a variety of internet marketing related reports for your site.
Right now, reports are only for dedicated SEO and PPC. As the year unfolds, the company plans to release other reports as well. They plan to offer the ability to create reports for ecommerce checkout, customer journeys, mobile ads, mobile commerce, AI and social customer service.
We’re always fans of more marketing data. While ClickZ doesn’t have a ton to offer right now, they’re still worth checking out both now and in the future.
Google News Goes Local
Google has always placed an emphasis on local search results for businesses. Now they’re extending this to news, too. Google News now has a new Local section.
This new section “surface[s] content from regional paper to hyper-local blogs that otherwise wouldn’t appear in national news.” About 75,000 news sources are local. This new addition should provide a whole new level of news for many users.
Each local news story will now get a “Local Source” tag. These tags can added only by Google, and are based on previous story locations from the publisher.
DuckDuckGo Adds New Search Features
- Date Filters –Sorts results by day, week and month. Helps you find current or older info fast.
- Site links – Find subsections of sites easier.
Search users in general are becoming increasingly interested in protecting their privacy. DuckDuckGo’s new features, with promises of more to come, are a search engine to keep in mind with your marketing.
Instagram is About to Change (Again)
You may remember from an earlier Round-Up when we told you about some upcoming changes to Instagram. Instead of displaying posts chronologically, posts are now displayed based on your relationship with the poster.
Well, the official rollout begins this month. While there was initial skepticism after the announcement, Instagram’s testing shows promise.
From their official blog post:
“We found that people are liking photos more, commenting more and generally engaging with the community in a more active way.”
Under the older way, they estimated Instagram users missed up to 70% percent of the posts from the people they followed. The new algorithmic feed is designed to help users engage with Instagram easier and more fully.
Google Introduces Changes to Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
During the last few weeks, have you noticed anything different about the title tag and meta description in the SERPs? They’ve had a variety of size expansions lately. But don’t expect it to last.
Google’s John Muller was asked on Twitter if this was a permanent increase in size. He responded with this Tweet where he said:
“We’re always experimenting, so I’d have a tough time saying “new” to any particular change.”
So, while there has been a change, don’t get too comfortable with the differences.
Watson Wants to Talk (and Sell)
Remember Watson, IBM’s supercomputer who beat Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings in a trivia contest? Well, Watson’s back. Early this month IBM’s The Weather Company released Watson Ads.
Watson Ads allows users to have real-time, brand-related conversations with the famous computer. This can occur either by text or voice. The goal is to create a fluid, free-form and natural conversation while also providing access to Watson’s vast bank of knowledge.
Computers have been helping customers answer simple questions for a while, but Watson is different. “He” doesn’t parse keywords in order to return pre-defined segments. Instead, Watson makes sense of the question cognitively.
One prototype ad shown to the press was Manwich, the sandwich sauce. If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, it’s an ingredient used in a variety of meat dishes. This is the type of knowledge where Watson shines. Users can ask a question such as “I have Manwich along with ingredients X, Y and Z. What can I make for dinner?” Watson will be able to provide a variety of answers, each context-sensitive based on the ingredient prompts.
Will this end up being just a niche product for recipes? Will this be the start of an industry-changing trend for the world of advertising? Or is this the beginning of the inevitable Robot Uprising? Okay, we doubt it’s that last one but Watson’s new “career” will certainly be interesting to watch from an internet marketing perspective.
Google Tests New Features for “People Also Search For”
You’ve probably seen this already. When searching with Google, there’s often a box titled “People Also Search For” with a few extra phrases used to expand results.
Google is now testing a new look for this feature, but only on mobile devices. This is part of Google’s overall trend towards mobile-friendliness.
Self-described “Twitter addict” and social media director Matt Navarra seems to be the first person to discover the redesign. The new look is cleaner with a boxed-in design which adds to the clarity. Also, like many Google carousel features, you can scroll left and right.
Twitter Expands Use of Carousel Ads
Twitter has been testing carousel ads for about a year now, but starting this month they’re introducing some changes. Now any Tweet can be part of a carousel, including yours.
The new carousel format lines up tweets into a horizontal sideshow. These Tweets can be text, photos or videos. The carousel is pretty similar in appearance to the ad carousels you already see on Facebook, Instagram and Google.
Brands who use Twitter’s advertising carousel can display up to 20 Tweets. Perhaps obviously, this is a bit beyond what most people will be interested in. For that reason, Twitter recommends brands limit their carousels to about six Tweets max.
The new twist introduced recently is this: Instead of creating a carousel using just their own ads, brands are now no longer limited to using their own content. They can also use ads from Niche’s influence program, which is owned by Twitter.
They can also use Tweets from regular Twitter uses, as long as they first obtain permission. Getting permission falls upon the brand. They can direct message the user on Twitter or otherwise contact them.
As of now, Twitter does not have a way to verify permissions. Instead, they only take action if a user complains. This seems like a potentially troublesome situation. But maybe the potential negative PR will force brands to obtain user permissions more often than not. Since this new carousel is just starting, this will be an interesting development in Twitter to keep an eye on.
Google AdWords Bans “Pay Day” Loans
Sacrificing an estimated $34.5 million in advertising revenue, Google has decided to no longer accept ads from so-called “pay day” loan companies.
As detailed in their updated AdWords policy, any company which offers quick loans with ridiculously high APRs and a 60 day (or less) repayment period. The reason for the ban is entirely on ethical grounds.
Google’s ban goes into effect July 13, 2014.
Baidu Secures a $2 Billion Loan
Ever heard of Baidu? Your answer may depend on what country you live in. Baidu is China’s largest search engine. Recently they secured a $2 billion loan.
Originally a five-year, $1 billion loan, this new loan is a commitment from 21 banks. The borrowed money will be distributed through a five-year syndicated facility. Already a very successful search engine, Baidu plans to use the $2 billion for “general corporate purposes.”
While your SEO efforts may have nothing to do with Chinese consumers, this is still a news item worth keeping an eye on. China’s internet giants are currently undergoing a growth surge. Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, secured a $4 billion loan earlier in the year. As President Xi Jinping backs new economic drivers, China’s internet infrastructure seems poised for continued growth.
Facebook is Hiring
Such a specialized job requires a unique skillset. According to the posting, they’re looking for someone with:
- S., M.S. or Ph.D. in Computer Science or related field
- Experience with Perl, PHP, Hack, or Python
- Experience with big data technologies
- Experience with C, C++
- Two years of experience doing in-house SEO at a major internet company dealing with sites with >10MM and ideally >100MM pages
- Min 6 years total experience in software engineering
Obviously, this isn’t a job which just anyone is qualified for. But it does provide an interesting look into what Facebook desires for their top-level SEO needs.
AdWords Adds an Extra Headline
Google’s recent Performance Summit included new changes to AdWords. One of the most significant new additions is an expansion to text ads.
The new ads are still in a testing phase but here’s what they’re like so far:
- Two 30-character headlines
- One 80-character description line
- Two customizable 15-character path fields.
These path fields are automatically appended to your Display URL.
Overall, these ads have 45 extra text characters. That’s in addition to the URL path field. Ads are designed to work better across multiple devices. This is a pretty significant change for AdWords. We’ll keep you updated as more info is released.
U.S. Politics Provides a Unique Look into Auto-Complete
Finally, SEO news which is a little off-beat.
Try entering the word “lyin” into Google and see what suggestions appear. You’ll see the autocomplete fill in the phrase “Lyin’ Ted.” This is a nickname for the former Republican Presidential Ted Cruz, bestowed by Republican nominee Donald Trump. “Lyin’ Ted” is such a commonly known phrase that it’s the first autocomplete result.
What about “Crooked Hillary?” A similar situation, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was given a nickname by Trump. But when you type “Crooked” into the search bar, “Hillary” doesn’t show up as an autocomplete.
First noticed by a Reddit user, many people began to immediately suspect Google bias. Is that really the case? Well, the real answer is nobody knows for sure.
Google released a short statement which said in part:
“Autocomplete predictions are produced based on a number of factors including the popularity of search terms. Our systems are periodically updated to improve Search, and our users’ search activity varies, so the terms that appear in Autocomplete may change over time.”
While this doesn’t provide a lot of information, as the election continues this will be an interesting real-time example of Google’s autocomplete practices in action.
Anything We Missed?
Internet marketing is always in motion. While we try to always bring you the most important stories, sometimes news slips through the cracks. Got any hot SEO news for the summer? We’d love to hear more – post your stories below.