The Search Kernel: your monthly search marketing news in a nutshell
Welcome to first Search Kernel: Further’s monthly search marketing round-up. It’s called The Search Kernel because we know that search is a tough nut to crack, so, on a monthly basis, we’ll be using our digital nutcrackers to get to the core of this fast-moving industry and make the facts and figures more digestible.
We hope you enjoy reading The Search Kernel and can find useful tips and takes on the news to include in your marketing strategies, plans and practices. And feel free to get involved by commenting below. We’ll be chewing over last month’s event on the last Friday of each month.
So, what happened in SEO this month?
Possibly the biggest news in the SEO world over November was Google’s announcement of “Mobile-First”. In short, Google will be testing a new part of its algorithm in the coming months that looks specifically at how content is served to users on mobile devices. Historically, Google has always used the desktop site content as a factor to determine rankings.
Google also confirmed in the same announcement that they one day hope to have separate mobile and desktop algorithms.
You can read more about Mobile-First on the Further blog.
Google Maps adds live view for popular times and multiple opening hours
Popular times has been a feature of Google Maps for quite some time now, using the data of those using Android phones to determine how busy locations, shops and restaurants are at certain times of the day.
Google has recently updated this feature to show a live bar, highlighted in red.
Just in time to avoid the Christmas shopping footfall!
In addition to this change, Google has now made it possible to add multiple opening hours to Google My Business for multiple departments. A good example of this is a large supermarket that has other services within, such as a pharmacy.
We’re yet to see any incidents of this in search results for businesses local to Norwich, but we shall be keeping an eye out!
More information on this change can be found on the Google products blog.
Rich cards expand to online course and local restaurant verticals
In Google’s ongoing mission to digest information and display it to searchers in the best possible way, it’s now expanded rich cards to include online courses and local restaurants in search results.
Rich Cards are Google’s way of showing results outside of the traditional organic listings, using structured data from your website to display scrolling carousels and grouped result snippets within SERPs. These can have a positive impact on CTR and engagement with your website.
For more information on Rich Cards, see the Google Webmaster Central blog.
Progressive web apps (PWAs)
In another November post from the Google Webmaster Central blog, Google spoke about the value of progressive web apps (or “PWAs”) for search.
What is a PWA? In short, it’s a way of delivering an “app-like experience” to a user over a mobile version of a website, and has many benefits including the ability to deliver a better mobile-optimised experience without a user having to install anything on their phone. If you want to know more about PWAs, we recommend this great blog post by Ionic.
If you are a business with an app, Google and Bing are both fantastic marketing platforms to increase your download rates and SERP page real estate using methods such as app indexing and linking.
For more information on Google’s thoughts on PWAs, visit the Google Webmaster Central blog.
Bing ‘My Saves’
In Bing news this month, it has a new option to bookmark search results to read later or keep record of.
The service is called ‘My Saves’ and acts in a similar way to bookmarking sites such as Pinterest.
You can find out more about My Saves on the Bing blog.
What’s happening in Paid Advertising this month?
Google launches Message Extension
Google has launched ‘message extensions’, thus giving customers even more options to get in touch and communicate with businesses. This might not be suitable for all but if your company has the ability to receive and answer text messages it might be worth a try! Not to mention, this ad extension would only appear on mobile devices.
For more information about Google’s Message extensions, read here: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/10/19/adwords-message-extensions
Bing launches Shared budgets
Earlier this month Bing released Shared Budgets – an option that has been available on Google Adwords for a rather long time. What this means is that we can now categorise campaigns and give them a combined budget which is great when you want to maximise clicks and optimize unutilised budget. This is also great when working on a new account as Bing will indicate which campaigns are performing well and receiving more traffic, and allocate budgets accordingly.
More info on this can be found here: http://www.ppchero.com/shared-budgets-now-available-in-bing-ads/
Change in the format on Google’s Price Extensions
Price extensions is something that was released by Google back in July but has now been updated to a new format. As such, instead of a list-format price extension, it is now displayed in a swappable card format. Additionally, price extensions are coming out in 10 more languages and there are rumours these will soon be available on desktop (currently just on mobile).
More on this can be found here: http://searchengineland.com/google-adwords-price-extension-swipeable-cards-263422
What’s up next in Paid Digital?
There seem to be multiple betas and tests carried out by Google as we tend to spot unseen ad formats rather often. Much of this seems to be mobile-orientated as well as visually rich which essentially is there to make the consumer experience more pleasant and eye-appealing. Shopping campaigns is one of the examples where Google tends to introduce new features, for instance, you can now display your products while playing a pre-roll video thus increasing ad engagement. In addition, we’ve seen filters appear on the ‘shopping’ search tab on Google which helps users to narrow down their search which, we believe, is likely to appear in some sort of similar format on the actual Paid Shopping campaigns.
We hope you enjoyed our first instalment. We’ll continue to publish relevant posts throughout each month, with the round-up being published on the last Friday of the month. Alas as it’s Christmas, the next release will be at the earlier time of 23rd December.
Written by Mark Hannant and the Further Search Team.