Google: Mobile Speed Should Be an Ongoing Priority

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Google encourages businesses not to think of mobile speed as a one-and-done fix. It should be an ongoing priority.

Mary Ellen Coe, president of Google Customer Solutions, penned an article outlining the reasons why mobile speed should be taken more seriously.

“While there are as many growth strategies as there are types of businesses, there’s one area where nearly every business has room to improve: the mobile web.”

Having a mobile presence is no longer enough. In order for businesses to grow, they need to continue delivering speedy mobile experiences.

Fifty-four percent of people say that as the load time for a brand’s mobile site increases, so does their frustration.

To that end, a one-second delay in mobile load times can impact conversion rates by up to twenty percent.

Conversely, a fast mobile experience can help attract and retain customers.

Milliseconds can earn millions, Coe says. No matter how fast a site is today, the will eventually degrade over time if it’s not an ongoing priority. – Read more

Google My Business boosts visibility of business offers in Google Posts

My Post - 2019-03-11T142901.324.jpgA new feature in Google Posts can display up to 10 offers from your business.

Google announced it has changed how offers show up in a Google local listings by giving offers a dedicated space within the local panel.

What it looks like. Here is a screen shot of the new area for offers in the Google business local listing on mobile search:

How it works. You can login to your Google My Business account and go to Google Posts section to add offers. When you create a new post, you should see an option to categorize it as an “offer”. Offers can include a description of the promotion, a coupon code or any terms and conditions useful to your audience. – Read more

 

Voice gaining on mobile browser as top choice for smartphone-based search

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Since 2018, voice has become more users’ first choice for mobile search.

We increasingly are talking to our phones in public. That’s the top-line finding of a new studyfrom Stone Temple Consulting (now a part of Perficient Digital). In its third year, the survey polled 1,719 U.S. adults on “how they use voice, when they use voice, and why.”

In nearly every environment people are using voice more than in the past. In 2017 there were considerable inhibitions surrounding public voice usage; almost across the board that has changed. Usage is still highest, however, at home or alone (at the office).

Search in 6th place. Voice is used more often to initiate communication (calling, texting), get directions or play music than it is for most other online activities. In this survey, “online search” was cited by roughly 23 percent of respondents as an “application” they’ve controlled by voice. This figure is low compared with other surveys.

According to the findings, the group most inclined to use voice commands was married males, between 25 and 34 years old, making more than $100,000 per year, with post-college education. Survey respondents overall said they liked voice commands because of speed, accuracy and the absence of typing. Roughly 47 percent also liked the fact that the answer was read back to them by an assistant. – Read more

Duplex-powered Google Assistant restaurant booking expanding to more states and users

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Available on Pixel phones, it will be rolling out to other Android and iOS users in the near future.

Google announced that Pixel phone users can now use Duplex via the Google Assistant to book restaurant reservations over the phone. Google said it was available in 43 states in the U.S.

Duplex is an AI-powered phone based-system for booking appointments with local businesses that don’t have online scheduling. It was first demonstrated at Google’s developer conference in May 2018. The demo, though controlled, was impressive and very “natural language” sounding.

Request a reservation, get a notification. Here’s Google’s description of the process (also shown in the video below):

Just ask the Assistant on your phone, “Book a table for four people at [restaurant name] tomorrow night.” The Assistant will then call the restaurant to see if it can accommodate your request. Once your reservation is successfully made, you’ll receive a notification on your phone, an email update and a calendar invite so you don’t forget.

Google says it will be rolling out Duplex restaurant booking via the Assistant on other Android and iOS devices in the coming weeks.

Hello, I’m a bot. Duplex is intended to mimic the cadence and sound of natural human speech. In the video the hypothetical exchange clearly discloses that Google Assistant (a machine) is on the other end and that the call will be recorded. The disclosure is mandated by a new California law. And many states require disclosures when calls are being recorded. – Read more

How You Can See Google Search Results for Different Locations

My Post (100).jpgWhat you and I are likely to see in Google differs a lot even if we search for the same thing.

The results we get depend on our:

  • Search habits.
  • The devices we use.
  • And, most importantly, our current location.

This makes perfect sense to users who often search Google for places and services nearby.

At the same time, this leaves marketers blind to what customers really see in Google in all the different locations their business targets.

So, today we’ll dig deeper into localized search results and look into every possible way to search Google from another location – both manually and using tools.

Do All SERP Elements Depend on Location?

The short answer is “yes.”

Even though we often think of local search as something related to “local 3-pack” blocks, the rest of the SERP is also tailored for the searcher’s specific geo-location (especially for queries with an obvious local intent).

In different locations, you may see changes in organic listings (the 10 blue links include different local businesses and directories), knowledge panels, universal search blocks, and paid ads. – Read more

Google Merchant Center to deliver real-time search results

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The information in Shopping Ads is now available to all retailers (free of cost) and can be submitted directly to Google in real-time, not just by adding schema markup to your site.

Google Merchant Center is a tool and central dashboard where online retailers can upload store and product data and manage the appearance of their e-commerce products. Perhaps its biggest benefit is that the feed is uploaded directly to Google in real-time, ensuring that all information displayed is accurate at the time of a given search.

This data was used to primarily to power Google Shopping Ads, which meant that the benefits of the merchant center were not readily available to non-AdWords users. Retailers generally relied on schema markup to display information in rich results and rich product image results. Information displayed usually included ratings, price, availability, etc.

But in its latest news, Google announced that it would be opening up its merchant center capabilities to all online retailers, regardless of whether they run AdWords campaigns. This comes after its recent updates to the product report in Search Console and improvements to product visibility through Google Manufacturer Center.

So why is the merchant center update important? – Read more

Google’s next chapter for metrics to focus on clarity once ‘average position’ is removed

My Post (93).jpgFred Vallaeys explains why advertisers need to rethink bidding strategies and position metrics now that Google has announced it will sunset one of its oldest metrics later this year.

Average Position was one of the original metrics in Google Ads when they launched their search advertising product called AdWords. But as search advertising has evolved, what used to be a primary metric for making optimization decisions has lost its usefulness and so Google has announced that it will disappear later this year.

This means advertisers will need to rethink some dated bidding strategies, update reports they share with stakeholders and figure out how the new position metrics can replace what is being deprecated. But first, let me share my take on why this change is being made.

Why ‘average position’ is a poor metric to understand position

Historically the average position metric was useful because ads reliably showed up in consistent locations on the page. Knowing the average position of an ad meant you knew where your ad showed on a web page. Its physical “position” on the page correlated to the “average position” in reports.

For example, in the earliest days of AdWords, premium ads that were sold to big companies on a CPM basis were shown above the search results. Ads on the right side were reserved for smaller advertisers who paid on a CPC basis through what was then known as AdWords Select. So if you were an AdWords Select advertiser and your ad was reported as having an average position of 1, you understood it was the first ad on the right side of the SERP.

But then Google realized that the ads they were putting in premium locations on the page from advertisers paying on a CPM basis were making less money than the CPC ads on the right side. So they merged the two advertising programs and made all advertisers compete for all slots on the page based on Ad Rank, a metric comprised of the CPC bid and the CTR. Position still equated to a physical location on the page, except for the fact that Google made one more change in its effort to ensure only the most relevant ads would occupy the top of the page. – Read more

Google Ads to sunset average position reporting metric later this year

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Average position has become less valuable in recent years. Prepare to adjust your reporting, management with newer metrics.

The signs have been popping up, but now it’s official. Google will retire average position reporting from Google Ads later this year.

What were the signs?

We can point to two key ones. The first and most significant: In November, Google introduced four new ad position metrics to indicate the percentage of impressions and impression share your ads received in the absolute top (the first ad at the very top of the page) and top of page (above the organic results) ad slots.

With that announcement, Google explained that average position, which has been around long before ads were removed from the right rail of desktop search results, had never been intended to show where your ads were showing on the page. Instead, it “reflects the order that your ad appears versus the other ads in the ad auction.”

With Tuesday’s announcement, Pallavi Naresh, Google Ads product manager, said, “These new metrics give you a much clearer view of your prominence on the page than average position does.

The second (granted, more tangential) sign was the addition of click share reporting to Search campaigns earlier this month. Google first introduced click share in Shopping campaigns — where there is no position reporting — to give advertisers some of the insights they were used to getting from average position in Search campaigns. – Read more

Content structure and structured data: Will they impact featured snippets?

My Post (87).jpgIn a recent Webmaster Hangout, Google’s John Mueller said there is no particular markup that he is aware of used to generate Featured Snippets. But clear content structure, like using a table, helps a lot.

In this article, I explore the difference between Structured Data and content structure as a continuation of John Mueller’s response in the Hangout. I also provide some advice on getting featured snippet tables that I’ve gleaned through research and rigorous testing.

As an SEO who is in Google’s trenches day in and day out, I’ve learned over time the importance of targeting featured snippet opportunities. This is especially the case if your client is already ranking on the first page of Google, but their content is not the page being featured.

One of my favorite of the different types of featured snippets, is when Google is showing a table in the search results already for your competitor’s site. I even made a video where I challenged myself to take a featured snippet table away from my biggest competitor, Amazon.

Thankfully, we won that battle and my table has survived to tell the tale: – Read more

Tools to build a better mobile experience

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It’s been twelve years since the dawn of the mobile era—a span where we’ve witnessed what can seem like a lifetime’s worth of digital innovation and new platforms.

Apps. Voice-activated assistants. AR. VR. It’s an age of digital plenty, and one that can make it easy to forget a plain truth: the mobile web is still the most widely used platform.

Because mobile is where most people turn when they want to know, go, do or buy, it’s important to deliver the kind of mobile experience that people expect today: one that’s fast, engaging and doesn’t get in the way of what they want to accomplish. And because Google is deeply invested in the success of marketers and brands, we never stop looking for ways to develop and support new tools and innovations that can move the industry forward.

With this in mind, today we’re introducing two new updates: a top-to-bottom rebuild of Test My Site, and more availability and growth of Rich Communications Services (RCS) Business Messaging.

Test My Site

One of the mobile era’s clearest lessons has been that the foundation for any great mobile experience is a fast mobile experience. How important is a fast mobile experience? According to SOASTA’s The State of Online Retail Performance, a one-second delay in mobile load times can impact conversion rate by up to 20%. That’s why in 2016 we created Test My Site, a tool for businesses to check the speed of individual mobile pages and get a few recommended fixes.

But moving at the speed of mobile means making the adjustments needed to continuously improve.  – Read more