Six of the most interesting SEM news stories of the week
Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.
This week we have SHOCK HORROR loads of updates both good and confusing from Google, plus one or two other stats and related social news. Oh and a running gag that loses its steam halfway through. What a week!
Google strengthening its mobile friendly algorithm
As we reported yesterday, Google is strengthening its mobile friendly ranking signal.
Since April last year, if you’ve not been offering a mobile optimised version of your website you may well have suffered a drop in rankings, although many experts believed the initial change in the signal led to fairly negligible results.
However from May 2016, Google will step up the pressure on non-optimised sites by strengthening its algorithm. You have less than two months to comply!
Or something that sounds less like a threat from Robocop. Actually maybe that is a good analogy.
Google issues guidelines on bloggers and links for freebies
As Graham Charlton reported late last Friday, Google has issued guidelines for bloggers who receive free products from companies.
Google’s advice is that bloggers should ‘nofollow’ any links to products that they may have received as a free gift, as these haven’t been obtained organically through honest-to-goodness link-earning.
It seems straightforward enough, Google doesn’t like any link-building scheme that involves the exchange of money or a like-for-like link placement. Plus the word ‘scheme’ just sounds a bit sordid anyway.
Unfortunately this raises all kinds of questions and only spreads the ‘grey area’ even further around the SEO landscape. Or something…
- Is this the responsibility of the bloggers or the brands/agencies?
- How can Google tell the difference between a link added in return for a freebie and a natural link?
- Should bloggers be worried? Will Google make an example of one or two sites as it did with guest blogging?
- Why don’t you leave us alone Google, who are you, Robocop?
In a follow-up post, we raise the above questions with a few experts. Apart from that last question. That would’ve just been weird.
Google Analytics launches 360 Suite, promises a better view of the “complete customer journey”
Google Analytics has launched a brand new product this week called Google Analytics 360.
It promises to help enterprises (i.e. its fanciest, richest customers) achieve a more fully-formed view of the customer through a set of “integrated data and marketing analytics products.”
- Google Audience Center 360 (beta): Google’s first ever data management platform (DMP).
- Google Optimize 360 (beta): a website testing and personalization product.
- Google Data Studio 360 (beta): a data analysis and visualization tool.
- Google Tag Manager 360: a standalone improvement on its previous tag management product.
- Google Analytics 360: the new version of GA Premium.
- Google Attribution 360: the new version of Adometry.
It all sounds pretty good and worth raiding the pot of loose change you have on your desk for. I’ve got about £3.67, I reckon if you can put in the rest we can go twos on it.
Although I’m sure Google will find a way to police our ‘little scheme’.
Instagram to adopt an ‘algorithm’ and show posts out of chronological order
As we reported a couple of days ago, Instagram has announced that will be adopting an algorithm that will show posts from the people you interact with/care about the most at the top of your news feed.
So a bit like Facebook or Twitter.
“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”
In the following article I waffle on about whether Instagram’s algorithm is a good thing or not.
Mobile ad spend overtakes desktop for the first time
According to Marin in an analysis of $7.8bn of annualised ad spend, mobile has overtaken desktop for the first time, with more than 50% of budgets spent on mobile ads.
- Social ads accounted for three-quarters of clicks and 71% of spend
- Three out of five display conversions took place on a smartphone, a 30% increase on last year
- Click-throughs on search ads were more than three times higher than social and display
Search ads on desktop still attract more impressions and conversions, however, smartphones continued to dominate year-on-year growth, with clicks and spend rising 13% and 11%, respectively.
Google updates the smartphone user agent of Googlebot
From 18 April, Google will update its smartphone Googlebot crawler from an iPhone user-agent to an Android user-agent.
Here’s what the new Googlebot smartphone user-agent looks like:
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 6.0.1; Nexus 5X Build/MMB29P) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/41.0.2272.96 Mobile Safari/537.36 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)
Basically Google is replacing iPhone and Safari with Android and Chrome.
Why the change?
“We’re updating the user-agent string so that our renderer can better understand pages that use newer web technologies. Our renderer evolves over time and the user-agent string indicates that that it is becoming more similar to Chrome than Safari.”
Apparently this may only affect 1% of all websites, but it may be worth checking it with the Fetch and Render tool in Search Console, just in case.
That’s it for this week. And remember, stay out of trouble!
by Christopher Ratcliff