Attention website owners: Google is reportedly introducing a red warning label in the search results for websites that take a long time to load.
The label appears to indicate when a website will take a long time to load to warn users before they click the link.
So what could this mean? Essentially, it seems to be the latest message to site owners to review their user experience and make sure they are optimised for mobile, or sites could lose significant amounts of traffic to better-performing competitors. When Search Engine Land reached out to Google for a comment on the update, Google rather cryptically answered: ‘we’re always experimenting.’
This news further supports the growing importance of mobile SEO: Google previously tested a “mobile-friendly” label in the mobile search results, which went live in November 2014. So take some time to evaluate your site so you don’t get stuck with a red label!
Facebook are changing the world of advertising forever by creating a new tool that will help advertisers compete for expensive and scarce ad slots. However, unlike before, the tool will be able to say how relevant an advertisers ads are to their target market – making sure that ad space is not being wasted. This will allow advertisers to monitor their scores over time and tweak less relevant ads when needed, potentially lowering an ads price and boosting it’s performance.
The tool will score an ads relevance between 1 and 10, with 10 being highly relevant. This is scored by how positively or negatively the target audience may respond which depends on different aspects. A positive response would depend on video views, shares and clicks on the advert, whereas, a negative response would depend on audience hiding the advert or reporting it as spam. Facebook will take all this into consideration, and when an ad has been served 500 times, the tool will score an ads relevance. This stops irrelevant content flooding peoples news feed and only shows what a user will find interesting.
Throughout the years, the average price for a Facebook ad has been on a steep incline, however, the number of ads Facebook served has dropped. For example, in the first quarter of 2014 the price per ad rose by 335%, unlike the number of ads served, which decreased by 65% – the competition for ads to be shown is fierce.
Facebook don’t just want the ad that has the most expensive bid to show any more as cost does not make an advert superior. Judging an ad on expense may not attract the right audience and will alienate users and eventually – like what happened to Myspace – they may move on to another social media platform. Facebook is going to become more clear with advertisers about important relevance score is and why is matters when serving ads.
Now with this new tool, Facebook will not just be looking at bids any more and will be taking in to consideration relevance score. However, it must be made clear that relevance score varies depending on the objective of each advertiser, such as an ad for an app download will prioritise the ‘Click to Install Button’ when calculating a relevance score. The tool will have the biggest impact on a brand who when seeing the adverts wants a user to take action such as clicking through to the site, however, brand advertisers just aiming for gaining attention will see a smaller impact on delivery and cost. Also, ads bought on a guaranteed basis (Facebook agreeing on a certain number of impressions) will not be affected.
It goes without saying that mobile usability is a must for websites in 2015. However, there is now one more reason to make your website mobile-friendly. Google is thought to be in the process of creating a mobile ranking algorithm, which would factor in mobile usability when ranking websites in the mobile search. Which would make sense as 1 in 7 searches now comes from a mobile device.
Google is yet to confirm this, however over the past couple of years they have been taking steps leading up to this.
The Broken Mobile Site Penalty
Back in June 2013, Google introduced penalties in the mobile search for websites with mobile usability issues. They announced that to improve the search experience for smartphone users, they are going to roll out several ranking changes to address websites that are misconfigured for smartphones. They aimed to address the main problems experienced by smartphone users, such as fualty redirects and seeing an “error” screen when trying to access a website.
Mobile Usability Report
Last October, Google added a new feature to Google Webmaster Tools. The Mobile Usability Report shows users the common mobile usability issues with their website to enable them to be fixed and improve the user experience. The most common issues flagged up in the report are flash content, fonts that are too small to read, fixed-width viewpoints, content which isn’t sized to the viewpoint, and links which are too close together to tap.
Mobile Friendly Test Tool
Google introduced a new tool to Google Webmaster in November 2014, which enables website owners to check whether or not their website is mobile friendly. The tool will give a website either a “pass” or a “fail” grade, and let the user know what the issues are with the site.
Mobile Friendly Label In Search Results
In November 2014, Google also introduced the “mobile friendly” label to its mobile search results. There is now a text label underneath the URL letting the user know if a website is mobile friendly, to help mobile searches know which websites are best to click on. Google looks for features such as avoiding software not common on mobile devices, readable text, content which is sized to the screen and links that are far enough to tap.
Special Rankings For Mobile Friendly Sites
Around this time, Google also experimented with giving special treatment to websites who have earned the “mobile friendly” label. It is said that Google will give a “boost” to websites who have adapted their websites for mobiles in the mobile search results.
Google Sending Mobile Visibility Warnings
Last month, Google began sending notifications to the owners of websites that are not mobile friendly. These notifications are being send via Google Webmaster Tools and email, and warn users to “fix mobile usability issues found on…” or their websites will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users”.
These are clear signs that a new development in Google’s algorithm is coming. These mobile visibility warnings and predicted changes in the mobile search could be the final stage in completing the transition from desktop PCs to a fully mobile internet.
One of the ongoing frustrations we encounter as PPC specialists is losing the months of hard earned data following updates to destination URL tracking. When using value tracking parameters or a 3rd party tracking service, these changes are all too frequent. A work around to this is creating duplicate ads with new URLs, however this because time consuming and often difficult to manage (100 paused versions of the same ads with unique URLs? No thanks!). Google’s newly rolled out Upgraded URLs may be a partial fix to this issue.
While Upgraded URLs will not be of benefit to complete landing page changes, they will allow us to flexibly update tracking parameters while maintaining data and Quality Score. Google has redefined landing pages by treating Destination URLs and the newly created Final URLs as separate entities. By establishing the Final URL, you are telling Google what the domain is (similar to Display URLs), and by using the newly developed tracking template and custom parameter fields, you can easily append the tracking parameters to the Final URL.
This not only provides access to new insights into ad interaction, it will (hopefully!) save advertisers considerable time in managing URL tracking updates.
I am eager to see if this is another great Google innovation, or if it will be sunsetted like many of its other Beta roll-outs.
It has been reported on Bloomberg that Google have struck a deal with Twitter to allow them to index tweets immediately after they are published. This reignites a deal which ended without renewal in 2011.
Currently, Google does a decent job of crawling Twitter to find popular tweets but does not have the capabilities to capture and index all tweets in real time. Therefore just a small handful of tweets currently appear in Google search results compared to the amount potentially possible.
Twitter will now be giving Google access to a feed of tweets (over 6,000 a minute), meaning tweets may appear in Google search results very quickly after being posted.
Twitter links have been appearing in Google search results since 2011, but mostly to account pages rather than individual tweets.
The future impact of this deal is yet to be seen, but we can speculate that Twitter may become more utilised by SEO professionals in their regular activities. Tweets may become more optimised towards specific keywords and phrases.
This could for example make organic search a channel for driving traffic towards temporary offers, products and discounts announced on Twitter, or for grabbing organic search traffic towards topical and trending stories.
Ultimately, tweets could open to a whole new audience of search engine traffic, rather than just twitter users. Even logged out or unregistered users will be able to view tweets in some form.
The importance of using Twitter for SEO could grow more if Twitter were to extend the firehose to include things like Twitter cards and location data.
On the negative side, it appears that ‘Blackhat SEOs’ (Aka spammers) are getting a little excited, with comments in Black Hat forums such as:
“I see so much potential with this. I’ve already started snatching up vanity urls… As most have i’m sure but going for more longtail…”
“let the spam games begin”
Let’s hope we don’t see spammy tweets filling our search results in the near future, as can sometimes happen after new Google updates, such as the Google Pigeon update which negatively affected local big brands initially with spammers prevailing. Fortunately though, further Google updates are usually able to iron out bugs and prevents things like this from continuing.
In the long-run, the re-integration of Tweets in search results could be a major change in organic search engine results, and perhaps the first of many tweaks by Google to give social signals more weight as a ranking factor.
Instagram is No.1!
The dawn of 2015 saw Instagram overtake Twitter in the on-going social media popularity contest. Drawing in over 300 million users every month, Instagram is now the channel for brands to watch, with Twitter missing out on the heavyweight title by a substantial 16 million users.
What makes Instagram great?
As someone who’s had a fair bit of experience with social media, I know and understand the importance of captivating imagery. If I post a particularly beautiful (or eye-catching) image for my clients I’d put money on the fact that its reach and engagement will be higher than a regular quality image. We are the image-savvy age, phones have impressive cameras and anyone can take a beautiful image, so that’s what we expect to see from our favourite brands. It just so happens Instagram is the absolute perfect tool to get those images to us!
Whether you’re a hash tag lover or hater, in terms of getting your posts, they’re extremely useful and no channel is more of a hash tag advocate than Instagram. When using hash tags on Twitter or Facebook, there seems to be a limit of about two before it becomes a bit ‘#cringe’. Whereas Instagram etiquette dictates the hash tag as king, the more you use and the more creative you get the better.
In my opinion, people generally respond positively to creativity and original ideas and Instagram is the creative social channel. There are an abundance of Instagram accounts out there that think outside the ‘square’ and this just proves the potential for brands, it wouldn’t take much to come up with something eye-catching and original. Here’s an example by London artist Tania Ling of how you can turn your Instagram feed into a work of art:
On top of that, brands that take the Instagram avenue can show their loyal followers something a little more ‘behind the scenes’. Where Facebook is your polished, finished product (more like mini advertisements), Instagram is the window into the world of your brand. It’s a great way to build brand loyalty and show your followers what you really do and how you’d like to be perceived.
Let the figures speak for themselves
Instagram introduced the verified badge in December 2014, marking it as a brand-friendly platform. Accounts with a badge are more easily found and cement their authenticity for Instagram users. And once a user has found their desired brand you’ll find they are 120 times more engaged than your average Twitter follower and 58 times more than a Facebook fan. This evidence is from a study by Forrester which found that Instagram posts achieved a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%.
So what’s there not to like? All aboard the Instagram train before it leaves the platform!
Here’s a little #QuoteForLife to get you motivated