As we approach the end of the first quarter, how are your SEO goals coming along? Are your sites gaining traffic and generating the results you want?
This year is already shaping up to be a busy one for the world of internet marketing. March had a lot of new SEO news. Here are some of the stories you may have missed:
Instagram Gets All Mixed-Up
The photo-based social media platform underwent a big change this month. Posts are no longer displayed by chronological order. Instead, Instagram unveiled a brand new display algorithm.
Now, posts are displayed based on your relationship with the poster. People you interact with the most or otherwise designate as preferred will show up at the top of your feed. This should be familiar to Facebook and Twitters users, since those sites when through a similar change.
Unlike the reaction to the Facebook and Twitter changes, the internet seems generally okay with the Instagram changes. Most experts feel it will be good for businesses, and easier for people.
Google Makes Some Algorithm Changes, Too
Last April, Google brought about “mobilegeddon.” This was a significant shift in how sites were ranked, with major preference given to mobile friendly sites.
Over the past year, all sites were strongly encouraged to become mobile friendly. While some non-mobile sites saw a drop in rankings, overall the effects were a bit… understated.
But that might change very soon. Starting in May of this year, Google is going to strengthen the algorithm significantly. They want to really apply pressure on all non-optimized sites. So if your site isn’t mobile friendly now, you have less than two months to get there. This time, the penalties are expected to be pretty substantial.
Google Tries to Change the Rules for Bloggers
Blogging might be undergoing big changes. Then again, it might not. This month Google released Best Practices for Bloggers Reviewing Free Products They Receive From Companies. Within are some pretty drastic recommended changes for bloggers – but it remains to be seen how these changes will be implemented.
Google recommends bloggers “nofollow” any links to products which they received as a gift. The reasoning here is that those types of links weren’t obtained through traditional link-earning.
While that makes sense in a way, it’s also a bit much to ask for the majority of bloggers. Free items are often presented to many popular bloggers in exchange for a review. This has been a long-standing practice for both bloggers and traditional media. Not every free product is given with the expectation of a great review. Some companies simply think they have a quality product and want the exposure a major blogger can bring.
This practice was just implemented, so bloggers shouldn’t panic just yet. But there are still more questions than answers:
- Who is responsible? The manufacturer who is offering the free gift or the blogger who is writing the review?
- How will Google differentiate between reviews with natural links and those who were given freebies?
- How will Google enforce this new rule? Are they going to come down hard on a few popular bloggers in order to make an example?
Google Introduces the 360 Suite
Your view of the “complete customer journey” (Google’s words) just got a lot clearer. March saw the release of the Google Analytics 360 Suite. This beta program helps present a more detailed view of the customer through a set of “integrated data and marketing analytics products” (again, Google’s words).
The 360 Suite includes:
- Audience Center – Google’s first data management program
- Optimize 360 – A website testing and personalization tool
- Data Center 360 – Data analysis and visualization
- Tag Manager 360 – An improvement over their previous tag management product
- Analytics 360 – the new version of Google Analytics Premium
- Attribution 360 – the new version of Adometry
While the beta certainly seems to contain a ton of new and improved features, there are two caveats to keep in mind. First, this is a beta, so any glitches and problems might only be temporary. That’s the good news. The less good news is this is an Enterprise product. So it’s a pricey product geared towards larger organizations. But if the budget is right, this suite of tools does look promising.
Mobile Ad Spending Takes Off
Specifically, mobile ad spending overtook desktop for the first time ever. This is the result of a white paper released by Marin Software. They analyzed over $7 billion worth of internet spending and found that over 50% of it was spent on mobile ads.
Additionally, they found:
- Social ads accounted for 71% of the spending.
- Social ads also accounted for three quarters of all clicks.
- Smartphone conversions saw a 30% increase, and accounted for three out of every five display conversions.
Desktop hasn’t completely disappeared, of course. Desktop is still where most conversions and impressions occur. Smartphones have the most growth annually, however, with clicks increasing 13% and spending increasing by 11%.
Bing Introduces Social Extensions
Bing’s beta Social Extensions program hit the US this month. This lets you promote social channels in your search ads. The idea is to create a bridge between paid search and social media.
The Social Extensions appear under the ad copy of text ads. They can link advertisers directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram accounts. You can even include a hashtag. So far, this is shaping up to be an interesting idea and something to keep an eye on.
Doodle 4 Google Winner Celebrates her African Heritage
Finally, some feel-good news. Akilah Johnson, a Washington, D.C., 10th grader, was named Google’s 2016 Doodle 4 Google national award winner.
“My goal with my art was to not only turn heads, but souls as well,” she said. “Not only for someone to see it and be amazed by it, but also to have them understand and connect with it.”
Her winning doodle was posted on Google’s home page earlier in the month. Additionally, Akilah will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a Chromebook, an Android tablet, a $50,000 grant for her school and a trip to Google’s HQ.
Akilah’s winning entry was chosen from over 100,000 others. Congratulations Akilah!