April is often known for practical jokes, but hopefully your SEO efforts are bringing you some serious, no foolin’ success. Our IM Round-Up this month includes good news for podcasts, bad news for fake maps and much more. Let’s take a look at all the SEO and internet marketing news from April you need to know:
All Google Open Source Projects Now on One Site
Google has a wide variety of Open Source projects – perhaps too many! Keeping track of each project can be complicated. The search giant hopes to reduce some of the confusion with their new central directory.
“Contain[s] the expected things: our programs, organizations we support, and a comprehensive list of open source projects we’ve released. But it also contains something unexpected: a look under the hood at how we ‘do’ open source.”
So, what’s on the site? Mainly a ton of source code, including source code for:
- Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages Project
- Android mobile OS
- Chromium web browser
- Tesseract Optical Character Recognition engine
Most of this code has already been available on GitHub, but this is the first time all the source code is in a central location. If you’re interested in how these Google programs are created, OpenSource.Google.com is sure to be a site you’ll want to check out.
Rich Results for Podcasts Added by Google
Good news for podcasters! Google added rich results for podcasts. The new move is detailed in a recent Developer’s Blog.
Currently, this new feature is only available on Google Search app 6.5 (or higher) and Google Home. With Google Home, you can use voice activation to start a podcast. Support for Chrome on Android is planned for the future.
Speaking of Podcasts, let us quickly introduce our favorite podcast ever: The Joe Rogan Podcast. Yes, it’s powerful Joe Rogan, that many of you probably know from the show Fear Factor, of from his commentary on UFC. But his podcast is where he and his guests really shine. He is super entertaining, smart, semi-educated on (arguably) a lot of topics and he knows how to get the most out of his guests. Speaking of the devil(s), his guests range from scientists, comedians, over actors, culture experts, musicians and academics. It’s simply one of the best podcasts out there and entertaining as hell, especially when you are grinding out monotone tasks or work on new projects. We especially recommend the episodes with Duncan Trussel, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Burr and Sam Harris. Listen to it on iTunes, or on Youtube. Also the subreddit for his podcast is always very active and discusses recent episodes.
Google and Baidu Announce Partnership
It must have been love!
Google and China have a long and volatile relationship. Google first became available in the country in 2005. However, this relationship changed dramatically just five years later.
In 2010, Google stopped censoring their searches in China. They did this by redirecting searches to their Hong Kong search engine, which isn’t censored.
Google implemented the redirection as a response to a massive cyber-attack on their systems which originated from China. In the following years, Google has been blocked by the Chinese government on a number of occasions.
This regular blocking by the government gave the native Chinese search engine Baidu a serious competitive edge. Currently, Baidu holds about 80% of the Chinese search market with Google holding only about 10%.
But the two companies aren’t exactly rivals anymore – they’re partners. Recently Google held their first conference on Accelerated Mobile Pages. Not only was Baidu in attendance, but they also announced Mobile Instant Pages (this page is in Chinese). MIP is very similar to AMP except optimized for the Chinese market.
In another sign Baidu and Google are growing closer, Google’s AMP Project now loads in mainland China. The relationship between Baidu and Google appears to be growing. We expect to see additional developments between the two search giants as the year progresses.
Google Lands a Bit Hit Against Fake Map Listings
Scams aren’t exactly uncommon on the web. If you’re like most people, you’re probably pretty careful about who you conduct business with online. But what about scams which start on the internet and then continue offline?
Google Map scams are a real problem – but not too many people know much about them. Recently, Google has been taking big steps to reduce fake listings on Google Maps.
- Other Contractors
When you contact the business, you’ll likely think nothing is wrong. After all, Google Maps will show that the physical business is near your location. Over the phone, you’ll get a reasonable estimate for services. But when the “professional” arrives on your location, they’ll claim the service required is more complicated than expected and you’ll need to pay far more than the original quote.
Most victims reluctantly pay the higher fee. After all, they’re locked out of their house or in some other emergency situation.
Google has been aware of this problem for a while now, but recently they’ve made some big strides towards combating these Map-based scams. Since 2015, Google’s managed to reduce fake listings by 70%. This year Google removed more fake listings than ever before. They use a multi-faceted approach which includes:
- Prohibiting bulk registrations at most addresses
- Requiring verification for businesses which move impossibly far from their original location
- Detecting and blocking intentionally mangled text in address fields
- Detecting data discrepancies common to fake/deceptive listings
Even if you use black or gray hat techniques to boost your site’s position in the search results, outright fraud is never okay. Google’s crackdown on fake Google Map listings benefits both customers and businesses.
State of Social Webinar Concludes
Recently, ClickZ Intelligence held their annual The State of Social webinar. This event takes a look at current social media trends.
The big takeaway this year? Businesses and people use different social media platforms. This mismatch means many companies aren’t connecting with their customers as well as they could be.
For instance, the top four platforms companies use for brand promotion are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. But more consumers are on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr.
You might be pouring a ton of effort developing a business page on a social media platform your customers don’t use. You’ll want to periodically analyze your customer base to make sure your social media marketing is on the right track.
A/B Testing Gets Easier with Launch of Google Optimize
A/B testing is a common and effective way to develop site pages. If you’re not familiar, A/B Testing is when you create two separate versions of a web page.
Differences are simple but significant. You might change the emphasis of your content from price to features. You might reposition your call to action buttons. The possibilities are practically endless. The idea is to compare what works and what doesn’t – and use that data to build the most engaging page possible.
Previously, you’d have to create and test each page on your own. But not anymore. Google announced the global launch of Optimize, their new A/B testing tool.
Integrated with Google Analytics, Optimize is now available for every business. The tool is designed to be, in a word, easy. Even if you’re not very familiar with A/B Testing, you can quickly create various pages and compare the results.
From Google’s launch statement: “Leading businesses are building a culture of growth that embraces the use of data and testing to improve the customer experience every day. We’re delighted to offer Optimize to everyone to help deliver better user experiences across the board.”
If you don’t already use A/B Testing, now is a great time to start. Even you’re already a fan of A/B testing, Optimize now makes the process much easier. You’ll want to check out Optimize soon in order to stay ahead of your competition.
Twitter Changes Tweet Reply Length
Twitter is often associated with 140 characters. While that’s still the limit for Tweets, the social platform recently made changes to their tweet replies.
Now, when you reply to an individual or group of Twitter users, their names don’t count as part of your character count. Your reply can contain the entire 140 characters.
The look of replies is also changing. The main idea is to reduce the number of @usernames which clutter up the top of a conversation.
Instead of showing user names, you’ll now see a line which reads “Replying to @username.” This line appears below the account handle and above the tweet.
Also, replies can now be managed. Simply tap the reply button to manage which accounts you want to reply to. You can reply to some or all of the people in the tweet conversation.
Multiple Device Remarketing Introduced by Google
Recently, users who logged into their Google Analytics account were shown a message describing some upcoming changes. Starting May 15, remarketing across multiple devices will be available in AdWords and DoubleClick.
What does this mean? If a user starts a search on one device, they can be marketed to later on a different one. For instance, if someone uses their smartphone to book a flight, relevant ads can be sent to them the next time they use their desktop PC.
Google builds audience lists for cross-device remarketing by using data from signed-in users along with your data from Google Analytics.
Even better, marketers don’t have to do anything to enact these changes. They’ll be implemented automatically. You’ll likely want to update your users about what data is collected. Also, if you don’t want to use remarketing with Google Analytics, you can turn easily opt-out.
Roughly six out of every 10 people use more than one device to go online. This enhancement is a great way to identify your core customers and reach them in a targeted way.
Remember, multi-device remarketing arrives next month. So your customer data might look a little different soon. Don’t worry, though, most marketers are likely to see big benefits, cause Remarketing is the shitnit!
Mobile Index Implementation by the End of 2017?
Boston’s Next10x Conference recently wrapped up. This annual gathering of business and SEO experts offered speakers, networking, news and more. One of the most noteworthy items came from Google’s Gary Illyes, who provided a bit more info on the upcoming mobile first index.
Specifically, he said Google “would like to launch by the end of the year.” But he also said a launch in early 2018 would be more likely.
Mobile first is a major reorganization of search results. Site are ranked according to their mobile pages. You’ll want your pages to have a responsive, mobile-friendly design. While we all know the mobile index is getting ready to launch, this is the clearest picture to date we have for an actual arrival time.
If your pages aren’t quite ready for Mobile First, don’t panic. You have plenty of time this year to prepare.
YouTube to Block Ads on Smaller Channels
Advertising on YouTube poses a unique challenge for brands. In many cases, a brand has no control over where their ads show up. Recently, this has led to issues where brands ads are displayed next to content they find objectionable. We covered this last month in regards to advertisers pulling ads from Breitbart and other politically-charged content.
A recent Wall Street Journal article detailed YouTube’s latest attempt to keep ads away from content which brands find offensive. From now on, YouTube is barring ads from channels which have fewer than 10,000 views total.
Previously, YouTube’s system placed ads based on algorithms. This meant removing ads from specific content was actually very difficult.
The new threshold of 10,000 views helps eliminate potential problems. A lot of offensive content likely won’t garner over 10,000 views. Plus, these smaller channels aren’t a large enough audience to appeal to most brands. The 10,000 minimum view count allows for self-selection among the YouTube audience to keep offensive content relatively obscure in many cases.
h3h3 on the issue:
It will be interesting to see everything unfold over the next months.
AI is Getting Ready to take Offense
In a related story, Google is training their AI to recognize and react to offensive images. The New York Times reports that Google is teaching computer systems to spot objectionable content. The goal is to prevent ads from appearing next to the offensive material.
Currently, Google AI can already spot copyrighted and pornographic content. But “offensive content” is a bit harder to define, and can be difficult for a machine to spot.
For instance, a racial epithet in a rap video isn’t necessarily offensive. The same word in a video created by skinheads, however, will pretty much always cause advertisers to flee. Teaching AI the nuances of offensive words and images is no easy task. But Google is hoping AI can eventually help keep advertising away from content brands don’t want to be associated with.
Beyond identifying offensive content, there are other applications possible here, too. For instance, an ad for an addiction clinic likely doesn’t want to be associated with gambling content. Identifying why certain brands want to avoid certain content can lead to big benefits for advertisers. While this type of machine learning is still in the early stages, there’s an important story here developing for the future.
Google Fact Check Launches
As we’ve detailed in previous Round-Ups, fake news has been a big issue for tech companies. An early version of Fact Check launched in October of last year. But April brings a bigger, better Fact Check for search results worldwide.
The Fact Check format shows up automatically. Users see what the claim is, who made the claim and whether the claim is verified. What’s considered a reputable source depends on the subject of the claim. So far, we’ve seen Snopes and Politifact used as trusted sources.
Fact Check will show up next to any news story which adds ClaimReviewSchema.org tags to its source code. Check out the Google Developers blog for more technical details on how Fact Check works.
Millions of SSL Certificates in Limbo
Google wants sites to be as secure as possible. To this end, they’ve encouraged companies to use HTTPS. The secure version of HTTP, HTTPS encrypts all communication between browser and site.
In order to create a secure connection, a web server needs an SSL Certificate. The majority of SSL Certificates are issued by a company called Symantec. Unfortunately, the company is in a bit of hot water after a recent announcement from Google.
A member of the Chrome team published a proposal to make millions of SSL certificates issued by Symantec “untrusted.” They claim over 30,000 certificates were improperly issued by Symantec over several years.
The proposal would limit Google’s recognition of Symantec certifications to only those issued in the past nine months or less. As the company has issued up to a third of all SSL certificates on the web, Chrome’s proposal would have major repercussions. Millions of certifications could be invalidated and need to be reissued.
Symantec disputes the quality of their certificates. Their official response calls the claims “exaggerated and misleading.”
If you have any certificates from Symantec, this is a situation you’ll want to keep a close eye on. Currently, Symantec says they’re open to working with Google Chrome to find a solution. We’ll let you know new developments as they occur.
Google Improves In-Store Measuring
For many businesses, website optimization goes hand-in-hand with in-store visitation. Two years ago, Google first launched store visit measurements. Data from over four billion store visits has been collected and analyzed by retailers.
This month, Google released a series of innovations and improvements to their store visit features. There are four general categories of improvements:
More data. Thanks to machine learning, mapping tech, and survey improvements, more store visit data is available than ever before.
Deep learning. Certain types of businesses had issues collecting in-store data. With deep learning upgrades, those businesses should now have an easier time measuring store visits. Some “difficult” businesses able to take advantage of the upgrades include multi-story malls and other areas where many businesses are located close to one another.
New and improve mapping. Refined image capture from Google Earth, Google Street View, and in-store Wi-Fi now help Google map the exact geography of each business location. The exact physical boundaries of a store are now more accurately determined.
Visit verification. Google is now sending out surveys to customers. This helps manually verify when someone has visited a business. The data collected is used to calibrate Google’s machine learning models.
If you own a physical store, this is a great time to take a second look at Google’s in-store measurement features.
Google is Paying Women Less than Men
Issues of gender bias and payment disparity have plagued Silicon Valley for a while now, and a recent report from The Wall Street Journal is adding a lot of fuel to the fire. According to officials from the U.S. Department of Labor, Google systematically pays female employees less than their male counterparts.
Google’s a federal contractor and, as such, they’re subject to routine anti-discrimination investigations by the Department of Labor. One recent investigation uncovered the gender-pay gap.
Currently, the investigation is in the initial stages. The Department of Labor is now suing Google for access to more comprehensive data. Google disagrees with the claim and says their internal pay analysis shows no gender gap.
This is an on-going story we’ll be keeping an eye on for additional developments.
Mary Pickford is Honored in the April 8th Google Doodle
While the gender gap story at Google continues to unfold, let’s switch gears and look at Mary Pickford, who was honored with a recent Google Doodle. Pickford, who would have turned 125 years old on April 8th, was known as the “Queen of the Movies.”
An actress, director, and producer, Pickford was the co-founder of the United Artists film studio. She was also one of the 36 original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Mary’s Google Doodle is an amusing cartoon showing her behind the camera.
Continents are Now Reviewable on Google Maps
Finally, here’s a short item which is mainly just for fun. Recently, Google Maps introduced the ability to review continents. That’s right – Europe, North America and more can be given a rating. Even better, you can also review oceans and other major bodies of water. While there’s no particular point to this new feature, the reviews themselves are good for a few laughs.
For now, you can’t review the Earth itself. Maybe a planet-wide rating will be introduced later this year?
How are your SEO efforts shaping up for 2017? There’s a lot of news out there to keep track of. What stories are affecting your bottom line? What stories are catching your eye?
Check back soon for more updates on the world of internet marketing and search engine optimization!
We are also proud to announce our new PBN S service, which we have recently launched. Yay!
This is a next-generation PBN service, which will be setting an industry standard when it comes to PBNs going forward. It boasts many features which are unique to our service, so make sure to check it out on our site or see the diagram below for some quick details.