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Google has been seen testing its latest experimental feature; ads that encourage searchers to call or text the company directly for local services. Joe Goldstein of Navolutions was first to report seeing this feature after conducting a search for “plumber los gatos”, which returned an ad reading “Call Google to find a trusted local plumber.”

The ad leads to a landing page dedicated to a new service which appears to be titled “Concierge”, and at this point its dedicated to just plumbers. The page offers links to call or text Google directly to get in touch with a pre-screened plumber — aimed at reducing time searchers spend searching for the best service providers in their area.

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When contacting Google through one of the numbers provided, a representative from the company will be on hand to discuss your needs and put you in touch with the plumber best suited for the job. From there, a pre-screened and insured plumber will call back within a few hours to book an appointment.

“We take the guesswork out of finding trustworthy, reliable plumbers,” reads the tagline, but ultimately it’s up to the individual who they want to work with. Plumbers will call back with quotes and you can see for yourself who is the best fit before making your decision.

A Revealing Experiment

It’s interesting that Google is adding a human component to the search for local service providers. With this experiment Google may be conceding its algorithms have shortcomings when returning the most reputable service providers. Is Google not able to return results for pre-screened and insured service providers without adding a real live person to the mix?

It may also reveal that Google’s home service ads, launched last summer, have not been catching on as the company had hoped. Goldstein reports the ad disappeared as quickly as it was spotted, although the landing page is still live. There’s no telling how heavily Google intends to move forward with this experiment. Likely we’ll learn more after Google received feedback from the limited test.

Source : Search Engine Journal

Categorized in Search Engine

Last Monday Google announced the launch of their basic call tracking solution for AdWords. Since then, my company has received hundreds of questions about Google call tracking from media, clients, prospects, competitors, and random people on Twitter. Google is calling their version ofAdWords call tracking ”Website Call Conversions”.

The day they launched, we posted a response on our blog.

In this post, we’ll answer a few of the questions we’ve received and explain who should use Google’s call tracking, and who shouldn’t.

What did Google Just Release?

Google will now display unique phone numbers on AdWords landing pages dependent on the visitor’s session. In other words, every visitor will see a different phone number on the AdWords landing page. Google is essentially offering session-based call tracking for AdWords only. It is free and, again, it is only for AdWords.

It does not work for Google organic search.

It does not work for the Google Display Network.

It does not work for any lead source anywhere on the web, except AdWords.

From the Google AdWords blog:

“Let’s say your Google search ads send people to your website where they research and learn more about your business. Website call conversions dynamically inserts a Google forwarding number on your website that measures the calls made by these customers. Whether they click on the number or dial it directly from their phone, you can attribute the call conversion and conversion value back to the keyword and ad that drove the customer.”

This now allows marketers to attribute calls to specific ads, campaigns, and keywords directly within AdWords.

What are the Pros of Google’s AdWords Call Tracking Service?

Whenever Google comes out with a product, the world is forced to sit up and take notice. Thus, Google’s call tracking solution has been analyzed and re-analyzed. There are some definitive pros and cons of their call tracking offering. Here are a few of the positives about the Google call tracking solution for AdWords:

  • It’s free. Free is free is free.
  • It works perfectly with AdWords. It is automatically integrated with AdWords and UA.
  • It is relatively easy to set up…not necessarily easier than a third-party call tracking number, but simple.
  • Keyword level call tracking for AdWords
  • Phone number appearance can be formatted to match the website design

What are the Cons of Google’s AdWords Call Tracking Service?

Again, this list of cons comes from agency blogs, industry experts, and the limitations of Google’s AdWords call tracking platform:

  • It only works for AdWords. Most marketers use AdWords as only a part of their broader marketing mix. If calls result from a Google organic search, Google’s display network or ANY other source, Google call tracking simply won’t track that call.
  • No call recording.
  • No in-depth call analytics. This is the big one for our company. Basic call tracking is not powerful. Deep call analytics—conversation analysis—are extremely powerful. That’s where the power of phone calls truly lies.
  • No local numbers, only toll-free numbers are available. This is a problem for small businesses and enterprises with a local presence.
  • No telephone features like call routing, scheduled routing, IVR, and geo-routing. These features matter to businesses.

Are Call Tracking Providers in Trouble?

No. Call tracking providers who provide more data than merely basic call tracking are going to be just fine.

Analyzing call conversations is and always has been far more powerful than simply telling you if someone called a phone number or not. That’s rather rudimentary stuff.Over two years ago, our company discussed internally that Google would eventually release a call tracking solution for AdWords. We just didn’t know when (our team actually thought it would happen sooner than it did). And we believed—and still do—that Conversation Analytics is the answer to Google’s entry into the call tracking market.

Will there be some small prospects or agencies that decide to use Google’s AdWords call tracking? Absolutely. But, will they simply ignore the call data generated by their other marketing efforts? Certainly not.

To quote a prominent marketer I had an email exchange with:

“Google isn’t trying to be a competitor to call tracking companies. They’re trying to prove that AdWords clicks convert to phone calls. There is a big difference.”

Who Should Use Google’s AdWords Call Tracking?

If I was a small business spending $800/month on AdWords, and that was my only marketing spend, I would recommend using AdWords call tracking. It’s free. My call tracking vendor brethren might disagree with that statement. But, why wouldn’t you use it for that limited amount of data?

Google provides basic call tracking for free for AdWords. If I’m a small business owner I likely don’t need all of the deep data, recordings, IVR, and routing capabilities provided by LogMyCalls and some other call tracking companies. Instead, I just need to know if a call was made.

Small businesses—if they’re marketing exclusively on AdWords—should use Google’s call tracking platform.

Who Shouldn’t Use Google’s AdWords Call Tracking?

In the days since Google’s call tracking release a consensus has started to build, marketers with a small AdWords budget could significantly benefit from Google’s AdWords call tracking. Agencies our company works with—and the blogs of agencies we don’t work with—are saying they will encourage their smaller clients to use Google’s AdWords call tracking. The data is basic, the information is simple, it is relatively easy to implement.

But, for medium-sized clients and enterprises, agencies will encourage them to remain with a third-party call tracking provider. As one agency exec told me last week:

“The data Google’s call tracking provides is just so basic. Sophisticated marketers want more data than that.”

Perhaps Acquisio’s blog says it best:

“Thanks to Google’s call tracking limitations, current call tracking vendors can rest easy. The limited scope of Google’s call tracking solution (Adwords only) means that multi-publisher and multi-channel call tracking will continue to thrive. In fact, call tracking vendors will even work with Google to generate phone numbers, so it seems Google’s release is more of a friendly pairing than an industry disturbing rival for call tracking providers.”

So, specifically, what types of companies should not use Google’s call tracking solution for AdWords?

Agencies: Agencies that want to use Google call tracking for small clients and a third-party call tracking provider for larger clients are going to find themselves in a mess of data, reports, and analytics. Don’t use two platforms when you can only use one. It makes life harder.

SMBs Doing More Than AdWords: Earlier we used the example of a small business spending $800 on AdWords as someone who should use Google’s call tracking tool. That is true – if that small business is ONLY spending money on AdWords.

If that local business is spending money on local radio ads, directory listings, SEO, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. they should use a third-party call tracking vendor.

Why?

Because Google can’t provide call tracking for any of those sources. Their tool ONLY works for AdWords.

Enterprises: Obviously sophisticated marketers at enterprises need more data than Google is providing on AdWords. Every enterprise exec we’ve talked to knows this.

Basically, any company that wants deep analytics or even basic telephony features simply shouldn’t use Google call tracking.

What Does All This Mean for Marketers?

Calls are now mainstream for marketers. If Google cares about something, everybody cares about that something.

Google’s foray into call tracking validates the call analytics world. Google now believes that calls matter. The rest of the marketing world will follow Google’s lead and start caring about calls too. Call data and call intelligence are mission-critical for leading businesses. The exciting thing for the call tracking industry is that now, with the entrance of Google, there is a known entity that cares about phone calls. Google cares about calls!

In short: Google might take a piece of the call tracking pie, but they will also increase the size of the pie dramatically. More pie is always good for everyone.

Source : Search Engine Journal

Categorized in Science & Tech

Google Home, unveiled on Tuesday, gives you immediate access to Google Assistant whenever and wherever you need it. Ask for a recipe while in your kitchen, ask for the latest sports scores while in your living room, or ask for current traffic conditions as you get ready for work in the morning.

With the simple command of “OK Google”, you can ask Google Home to perform any tasks that Google Search is capable of doing. Google Home can answer questions, convert currency, look up weather conditions, read you the daily news, and more — all in real time.

Connecting Google Home with your personal Google account creates even more options. For example, with the command “OK Google, tell me about my day”, Google Home will tap into your calendar and read off your schedule.

The hardware itself has been designed to blend in seamlessly with one’s home, featuring a clean and minimal design. No buttons, no LED lights, just a capacitive touch surface on top and the speaker grill on the bottom. Since every home has a different interior design, Google Home can be customized to match its surroundings.

A Virtual Assistant with Personality

This may sound like a very mechanical experience, but Google Home is not necessarily all business. Like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa — Google Assistant has been developed with a personality and a female persona.

You can have conversations and/or joke around with Google Assistant, and it will respond back in its own unique way. You can see an example of Google Assistant’s personality in the company’s new Google Allo messaging app.

Pricing and Availability

Google Home will be available to purchase in November, with preorders having already begun. It will retail for a price of $129 and can be bought from the Google Store, as well as major retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.

Source : Search Engine Journal

Categorized in Science & Tech

 

Google is fighting back against fraud with an advanced verification process for plumbers and locksmiths.

An email sent out to Google’s top contributors states the company’s plan for an advanced verification process is being beta tested in San Diego. All locksmiths and plumbers currently verified will have to go through the new verification process. Failure to do so before November 1 will result in the loss of verification and the removal from Google Maps.

Of course, any new applications will have to go through the new process as well, which said to be simple. It includes a combination of questions from Google and completing an application with a third party verification company. The new application process is said to take about two weeks to complete.

The entire advanced verification process for plumbers and locksmiths in the San Diego area is explained in this Google My Business help article. The process will also be used for plumbers and locksmiths using AdWords.

Why Locksmiths? Here’s Why.

Did you know that one of the biggest online scams is perpetrated by so-called locksmiths? Google knows, and the issues are finally being taken seriously.

 

It only takes a few bad actors to ruin it for the rest. In this case, the bad actors are individuals or companies claiming to be locksmiths to make some quick cash. Here’s how the scam works.

Locksmith Scam:

  • After being locked out of one’s home and not knowing what to do, a quick Google search brings up a list of local locksmiths.
  • Google returns AdWords ads and Google My Business listings for locksmiths promising cheap or inexpensive service rates.
  • Calling one of these bargain locksmiths actually routes you to an offshore call center, where they dispatch someone local to come to your door.
  • The locksmith shows up and, before trying any other options, immediately drills the lock open and slaps you with a large bill for the service.
  • The cheap service you thought you were getting then turns into a large expense.
  • Congratulations, you can now get back into your home but you’ve become a victim of locksmith fraud.

This locksmith scam has been well documented over the past few years and even written about in the New York Times. To get an idea of how rampant it is becoming, search for “locksmith scam” in Google.

Google’s advanced verification should cut down on the amount of fraudulent locksmiths found in ads and search results. As for why plumbers have to go through an advanced verification, I’m not quite sure. I tried to research online plumbing scams but was unable to find anything.

Google is notoriously secretive about why it makes the decisions it does. Regardless, I have reached out for comment in an attempt to gain further information.

Source: Search Engine Land

 

 

Categorized in Online Research

Google is often criticized for how it handles spammy links, but columnist Ian Bowden believes this criticism may be unfair. Here, he takes a look at the challenges Google might face in tackling the ongoing issue of paid links.

Prior to the recent arrival of Penguin 4.0, it had been nearly two years since Penguin was last updated. It was expected to roll out at the end of 2015, which then became early 2016. By the summer, some in the industry had given up on Google ever releasing Penguin 4.0. But why did it take so long?

I’d argue that criticism directed at Google is in many cases unjustified, as people often take too simplistic a view of the task at hand for the search engine.

Detecting and dealing with paid links is a lot harder than many people think, and there are likely good reasons why Google took longer than hoped to release the next iteration of Penguin.

Here are some of the challenges Google may have faced in pushing out the most recent Penguin update:

1. It has to be effective at detecting paid links

To run and deploy an effective Penguin update, Google has to have the ability to (algorithmically and at scale) determine which links violate guidelines. It’s not clear the extent to which Google is capable of this; there are plenty of case studies which show that links violating the guidelines continue to work.

However, not all paid links are created equal.

Some paid links are obviously paid for. For instance, they may have certain types of markup around them, or they may be featured within an article clearly denoted as an advertorial.

On the other hand, some links may have no telltale signs on the page that they are paid for, so determining whether or not they are paid links comes through observing patterns.

The reality is that advanced paid linking strategies will be challenging for Google to either devalue or penalize.

Penguin has historically targeted very low-quality web spam, as it is easier to distinguish and qualify, but a level above this is an opportunity. Google has to have confidence in its capability before applying a filter, due to the severity of the outcome.

2. Google is still dependent on links for the best quality search results

Maybe, just maybe, Google is actually capable of detecting paid links but chooses not to devalue all of them.

Most people will be familiar with third-party tools that perform link analyses to assess which links are “toxic” and will potentially be harming search performance. Users know that sometimes these tools get it wrong, but generally they’re pretty good.

I think it is fair to assume that Google has a lot more resources available to do this, so in theory they should be better than third-party tools at detecting paid links.

Google has experimented with removing links from their index with negative consequences for the quality of search results. It would be interesting to see the quality of search results when they vary the spammy link threshold of Penguin.

It’s possible that even though certain links are not compliant with webmaster guidelines, they still assist Google in their number one goal of returning users the best quality search results. For the time being, they might still be of use to Google.

3. Negative SEO remains a reality

If Google is sure that a link has been orchestrated, it is very difficult for the search engine to also be sure whether it was done by the webmaster or by someone else executing a negative SEO campaign.

If a penalty or visibility drop were as easy to incur from a handful of paid links, then in theory, it would be pretty straightforward to perform negative SEO on competitors. The barriers to doing this are quite low, and furthermore, the footprint is minimal.

Google has tried to negate this problem with the introduction of the disavow tool, but it is not realistic to think all webmasters will know of this, let alone use the tool correctly. This is a challenge for Google in tackling paid links.

4. It provides a PR backlash and unwanted attention

When rolling out large algorithm updates, it’s inevitable that there will be false positives or severe punishments for small offenses. After any rollout, there will be a number of “adjustments” as Google measures the impact of the update and attempts to tweak it.

Despite that, a large number of businesses will suffer as a result of these updates. Those who regularly join Google Webmaster Hangouts will be used to business owners, almost in tears, discussing the devastating impact of a recent update and pleading for more information.

While the vast majority of Google users will most likely never be aware of or care about the fallout of algorithm updates, these situations do provide Google with some degree of negative PR. Any noise that points toward Google yielding too much power is unwanted attention.

On a related note, sometimes penalties are just not viable for Google. When someone walks down Main Street, they expect to see certain retailers. It’s exactly the same with search results. Users going to Google expect to see the top brands. The user doesn’t really care if a brand is not appearing because of a penalty. Users will hold it as a reflection on the quality of Google rather than the brand’s non-compliance with guidelines.

To be clear, that’s not to say that Google never penalizes big brands — JCPenneySprintthe BBCand plenty of other large brands have all received high-profile manual penalties in the past. But Google does have to consider the impact on the user experience when choosing how to weight different types of links. If users don’t see the websites they expect in search results, the result could be switching to another search engine.

This is how Google deals with the problem

The above four points highlight some of the challenges Google faces. Fewer things are more important than meeting its objective of returning the most useful results to its users, so it has a massive interest in dealing with paid links.

Here are some ways Google could address the challenges it faces:

1. Prefer to devalue links and issue fewer penalties

Penalties act as a deterrent for violating guidelines, and they serve to improve the quality of search results by demoting results that were artificially boosted. A lot of the risk of “getting it wrong” can simply be mitigated through devaluing links algorithmically, rather than imposing manual penalties.

In the instance of a negative SEO attack, the spammy links, instead of causing a penalty for a website, could simply not be counted. In theory, this is the purpose of a disavow file. Penalties could be saved for only the most egregious offenders.

The fact that Penguin now runs in real time as part of the core ranking algorithm suggests that this is the direction they are heading in: favoring the devaluation of spammy links through “algorithmic” penalties (which websites can now recover from more quickly), and manual penalties only being applied for serious offenses.

2. Do a slow rollout combined with other updates

Slowly rolling out the Penguin 4.0 update provides Google two advantages. First, it softens the blow of the update. There is not one week when suddenly some large profile brands drop visibility, drawing attention to the update.

Second, it allows Google to test the impact of the update and adjust over time. If the update is too harsh, they can adjust the parameters. Penguin 4.0 may take several weeks to roll out.

To add to the confusion and make it more difficult to understand the impact of Penguin 4.0, it is probable Google will roll out some other updates at the same time.

If you cast your memory back two years to the introduction of Panda 4.1 and Penguin 3.0, they were rolled out almost in conjunction. This made it more difficult to understand what their impacts were.

There was a lot of SERP fluctuation this September. It is possible part of this fluctuation can be attributed to Penguin 4.0 testing, but there is no certainty because of the amount of other updates occurring (such as the local update dubbed “Possum“).

3. Encourage a culture of fear

Even if the risk of receiving a penalty is the same now as it was five years ago, the anxiety and fear of receiving one is much greater among brands. High-profile penalties have not only served their function of punishing the offending brand, but they also have provided a great deterrent to anyone else considering such a strategy.

The transition to content marketing and SEO becoming less of a black box assisted in this, but this culture of fear has been a large driver in the reduction of paid link activity.

Final thoughts

Google is often criticized for not doing more to tackle paid links, but I think that criticism is unfair. When one considers the challenges search engines face when tackling paid links, one can be more forgiving.

Now that Google has incorporated Penguin into the core algorithm, webmasters may have an easier time recovering from ranking issues that arise from spammy or paid links, as they will not have to wait until “the next update” (sometimes years) to recover from an algorithmic devaluation.

However, the fact that Penguin now operates in real time will make it more difficult for webmasters to know when a loss in rankings is due to spammy links or something else — so webmasters will need to be vigilant about monitoring the health of their backlink profiles.

I suspect that Google will continue to make tweaks and adjustments to Penguin after the rollout is complete, and I expect to see a continued shift from penalties to devaluing links over time.

Source: Search Engine Land

Categorized in Search Engine

Columnist Adam Dorfman explains how Google's recent local search algorithm update, "Possum," has impacted brick-and-mortar businesses.

For brick-and-mortar businesses, proximity to the searcher’s location has become even more important as a ranking signal thanks to a Google algorithm update nicknamed Possum. With the Possum algorithm change, Google is continuing down a path it has been traveling for quite some time, which is the merging of local and organic ranking signals.

Google is now applying filters to reward certain businesses that are not only physically closest to searchers but that also are optimizing their location data and content for search far better than anyone else. To understand the impact of Possum crawling into our lives, let’s look at the following scenario:

  • Before Possum: Let’s say Jim, a resident of San Mateo, California, requires orthopedic surgery and is doing a search for orthopedic specialists in the area. An area hospital, Hospital A, that publishes location pages for dozens of orthopedic surgeons might dominate the local pack results — not necessarily because Hospital A optimizes its content better than anyone else, but because it is the largest hospital in the area and has enough domain strength to make those pages relevant from an algorithmic standpoint.
  • After Possum: Jim conducts the same search for orthopedic specialists. Instead of a single hospital dominating search results, Google allocates more real estate to other hospitals nearby based on their location and the usual ranking signals — unless Hospital A’s content and data are so well optimized for search that they outperform other hospitals by a wide margin.

What Google is doing here is not new to search. For some time, Google has been making it harder for monster brands such as Amazon to dominate search results for product searches simply because of their size and prominence.

The Amazons and Walmarts of the world no longer dominate the top search results like they once did unless their search signals outperform competitors’ content by a wide margin. With Possum, Google is applying to local search a similar filter it has been using for organic search more generally.

Greater competition with your neighbors

Possum also affects local results in a more arcane, but important, way. As Joy Hawkins discussed in a recent Search Engine Land column, the algorithm is affecting search results for similar businesses that are clustered closely together, examples being:

  • Two or more retailers, such as mattress stores or restaurants, located across the street from each other or in the same strip mall.
  • Professionals, such as attorneys, insurance agents or accountants, who might share the same office space.

Before Possum, an unbranded search for, say, Greek restaurants in Chicago might yield the names of several Greek dining establishments clustered closely together in Chicago’s Greektown area. Such a result would make perfect sense if the person doing the search were located a block away from Greektown, which is located on the city’s near west side.

But what if the searcher were located in the north or south suburbs and wanted to find Greek restaurants in Chicago? Getting the names of a bunch of Greektown restaurants might not be a very good user experience if the searcher wanted to find locations closer to their physical location.

Possum has made it less likely that similar businesses clustered together will dominate location-based searches unless, as noted, the searcher is conducting the search close to the actual location of those businesses.

One implication of this, as local search expert Andrew Shotland uncovered, is that national to local brands may see positive shifts in rankings due to brand authority being turned up as a signal in the ranking algorithm.

Possum has a number of other implications for businesses, as Hawkins details in her article. But for brick-and-mortar businesses that rely on local foot traffic, the impacts I have described are especially important. As Hawkins wrote, “The physical location of the searcher is more important than it was before.”

How to beat the competition

If you are a business that operates brick-and-mortar locations, you should first check to see if your rankings for local search have been affected. You might not have been affected — or you might be seeing better results, not necessarily a drop in rankings.

Regardless of whether you’ve been affected, now is the time to get more rigorous about how you manage your data and content as assets to make your brand more visible where people conduct near-me searches. Ask questions like:

  • Is my data accurate and shared properly with the publishers and aggregators that distribute my data?
  • Are my data and content differentiated to make my brand stand out? Am I listing data attributes, such as the availability of free parking, which might differentiate me when near-me searches occur? Is my deep content, such as long-form description of my business, or visual imagery, optimized properly for search?

Now, more than ever, it’s time to boost your signal for local search to be found. Don’t let your business play possum with local search.

Source: Search Engine Land

Categorized in Search Engine

This is the wrap-up of the most popular posts and announcements on SEJ over the previous week. Newsletter subscribers are the first to receive this and other updates.

Penguin is Now Part of Google’s Core Algorithm

penguin is now running in real-time as a part of Google’s core algorithm. The update is already in effect in all languages. Learn what else has changed, which is based on some of the top requests from webmasters.

Everything You Need to Know About On-Page SEO

Everything You Need to Know About On-Page SEO

How are you optimizing your online presence to make your voice heard? It starts with ensuring you are up to date on on-page SEO basics to provide peak performance for your website and visibility for your target audience.

Popular Search Marketing Posts

Here is a rundown of the most popular posts on SEJ from last week:

  1. Penguin is Now a Real-Time Component of Google’s Core Algorithm, byMatt Southern
  2. Everything You Need to Know About On-Page SEO, by Ryan Clutter
  3. The Complete Guide to Mastering E-Commerce Product Page, byStoney G deGeyter
  4. 10 Reasons Why Your E-Commerce SEO Campaign is Failing, by James Brockbank
  5. Google AdWords Introduces Cross-Device Remarketing, by Matt Southern / [AD] Looks Aren’t Everything: Why a Successful Infographic is Much More Than Just Design
  6. The Difference Between Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Mobile-Friendly Pages, by Bharati Ahuja
  7. Managing Your Website’s SEO Health, by Melih Oztalay
  8. Google Displaying Vacation Prices on Front Page of Search Results, byMatt Southern
  9. Google Allo Keeps Messages Indefinitely, Raising Privacy Concerns, byMatt Southern
  10. Google Testing New Schema Markup for ‘Science Datasets’, by Matt Southern

Download This Week’s Episode of Marketing Nerds

In this Marketing Nerds episode, SEJ Chief Social Media Strategist, Brent Csutoras, was joined by Tom Anthony, Head of Research & Development at Distilled, to talk about the future of search, other technology trends, and how to put it all together to understand the main trajectories in the industry. Listen to the full episode, or download the MP3 here.

Original source of this article is Search Engine Journal

Categorized in Search Engine

Even if your user downloads your app, which has app indexing deployed, Google will show them the AMP page over your app page.

At SMX East yesterday, Adam Greenberg, head of Global Product Partnerships at Google, gave a talk about AMP. He said during the question and answer time that AMP pages will override app deep links for the “foreseeable future.”

Last week, we covered how when Google began rolling out AMP to the core mobile results, Google quietly added to their changelog that AMP pages will trump app deep links. In short, that means when a user installs an app of a publisher, does a search on the mobile phone where the app resides and clicks on a link within the Google mobile results that could lead to the app opening up, instead, Google will show the AMP page — not the content within the app the user installed.

Google has made several large pushes with App Indexing through the years. These were incentives to get developers to add deep links and App Indexing to their apps — such as installing apps from the mobile results, app indexing support for iOS apps, a ranking boost for deploying app indexing, Google Search Console reporting and so much more.

But now, if your website has both deployed app indexing and AMP, your app indexing won’t be doing much for you to drive more visits to your native iOS or Android app.

Google told us they “have found that AMP helps us deliver” on a better user experience “because it is consistently fast and reliable.” Google added, “AMP uses 10x less data than a non-AMP page.” Google told us that “people really like AMP” and are “more likely to click on a result when it’s presented in AMP format versus non-AMP.”

Google also told us that they “support both approaches,” but “with AMP — and the ability to deliver a result on Google Search in a median time of less than a second — we know we can provide that reliable and consistently fast experience.”

Personally, as a publisher who has deployed virtually everything Google has asked developers to deploy — from specialized Google Custom Search features to authorshipapp indexingAMP,mobile-friendlyHTTPS and more — I find this a bit discouraging, to say the least.

I think if a user has downloaded the app, keeps the app on their device and consumes content within the app, that user would prefer seeing the content within the publisher’s app versus on a lightweight AMP page. But Google clearly disagrees with my personal opinion on this matter.

Original source of this article is searchengineland

Categorized in Search Engine

Google Allo was officially launched this month, and many of us in the search community are wondering how it’s going to affect search, as you can use @google to search by command or text question right within your conversations with one or a group of people.

With over 150K downloads so far on Android devices, a 4-star rating, and 48 percent in an Android Authority poll saying that they use and love Allo, it’s time to contemplate how it could affect organic and local search.

Optimize For Local Search With Reviews

Using the Google Assistant right in Allo allows you to search for specific results on things you’re interested in, like your travel plans, news, local businesses, and more.

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization

Click to enlarge

To get a better chance of being shown in search results for local commands (or where people are looking for service), it looks like reviews and distance to certain businesses are King. Many of my attempts to find local services either near me or my metropolitan area always brought up businesses that have more than 4-star reviews (out of 5).

A Short Guide to Google Allo Optimization

Click to enlarge

This means that local reviews are more important than ever. Be sure to verify all your profiles on sites like Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and other review sites for your industry.

Optimize For Voice Commands

You can also search in the Google Assistant conversation (not in the conversations you have with others, that is only through text commands) with voice, like you do with Google Now. Aleh Barysevich does a good job of summarizing how to properly optimize for voice search in apps like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana.

The main point in Aleh’s article that is still applicable to Google Allo is that people search for things differently in voice than they do when typing into their regular search engine. It is much more conversational, while also more focused on keywords at the same time. For instance, a voice command is much more likely to be “Where is a Chinese restaurant near me?” versus a text search that might just be “Chinese food.” This is why it’s important to use conversational keywords in your website content.

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization

To elaborate on the Chinese food example, phrases like “Chinese Buffet in Leawood, Kansas” is going likely do better in text over voice search. Additionally, adding more conversational phrases like “China Star serves Chinese food in Leawood, Overland Park, and Shawnee” may better fit voice searchers’ needs.

Use Rich Snippets

To further elaborate on this, it’s crucial to use rich snippets in your Google Allo SEO efforts. Verve Search has a good overall guide on Microdata and Rich Snippets, and Hall Analysis has a good schema creator tool that’s easy to use. While Rich Snippets aren’t a requirement to good SEO (e.g. you aren’t going to get penalized for not using them), they can help your site’s content get better displayed in search results, which may lead to better Google Allo SEO.

To learn more about what rich snippets you can add to your website, check out schema.org. Once you’ve added it to your site, you can use Google’s free markup verification tool to make sure it is correct. Rich snippets allow you to add additional information that can be displayed in search results, such as menus, reviews, location, hours, and more.

Will AMP Get Preference?

With the news that AMP is now part of organic search results, we can only speculate that Google Allo (a mobile messaging app), will give AMP results preference. AMP results are easier to read because they load faster and have a cleaner interface.

I ran a test on Allo and asked a question I knew would generate me search results: “how to plan the perfect birthday party” after I asked about partying in general (hey, Allo suggested that I should!). Google Allo gave me its top result right in the chat window: a Wikipedia article.

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization

Click to enlarge

When I clicked on the “search results” option as the next action, it took me to a list of search results. The WikiHow article that was shown in the app was also an AMP article:

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization
 
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Of course, more testing is needed but from using the app, it does look like Allo usually offers AMP articles at the top of their search results when users use Google Assistant.

Optimizing for Google Allo Search is going to be a long road. More time will tell on whether or not Allo is going to become as mainstream as WhatsApp, but for now, focusing on AMP and local SEO can help you get more visibility in user’s mobile searches, no matter what app they are using.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in Search Engine

With the release of the Google Trips Android and iPhone app earlier this week, I decided to plan and visit London using the latest app from the search engine giant to see what opportunities there are for local businesses and their marketing teams alike.

Google Trips is a personalized tour guide in your pocket. In the past, you may have resolved this by paying for a tour guide or a tour book. Now you can save your pennies with Google’s free Trips app. You can even download your destination before you go to save on WiFi bills moving around the city.  You can download the app on Android and iOS.

In their press release, Google stated they wanted to solve the stress that many people face when planning their holidays. A GoodThink study found that 74% of travelers are most stressed when it comes to figuring out the details of their trip – transportation, working out what to do, an unfamiliar location, etc.

Here’s How I Got on With the New App

The first eye opener on the app is that Google has scraped by Gmail emails and reminded me of previous holiday trips I have been on. It also automatically creates trips based on any travel information in your Gmail account – flight confirmation, hotel bookings, restaurant reservations, etc. Google already knows I will be in Berlin, Germany next month!

Google Trips Amsterdam

Day Plan

Ahead of your trip, you can instantly plan each day of your holiday with just a few taps of your finger.

The app contains significant information, picked up from Google Knowledge Graph and manually edited by Google staff. Each city has different sections, for example, London has Literary London, Art Destinations, Historic London, Posh Shops, Local Favourites, Wartime London, Vintage Shopping, Gothic Churches and Quirky Museums. While Paris has Revolutionary Paris, Small Museums, Impressionist Art, Cutting-Edge Art, Parks & Gardens, Haute Shopping, Vintage Shopping, Food Shopping, Local Favorites, and Selfie Spots.

Google Trips Paris Selfie Spots

Interestingly, there is no Selfie Spots section for London!

The app is clever in being able to estimate motorway delays and even discovering when restaurants are most busy. Knowledge Graph helps Google determine the most popular places and what tourists like to do when traveling.

You can plan all of your sightseeing in advanced with maps and directions, distances and walking times between landmarks, and download your day plan so you do not need to worry about WiFi bills once you arrive.

Select from either pre-defined Google day plan suggestions (based on other visitors’ historic data) or create your own day plan.

Google Trips London Day Plan

The + button in the screenshot above allows you to see other attractions nearby.

Opportunities for Businesses

For the top 200 cities in the world (according to Google), Google Trips gives you a variety of Day Plans, Reservations, Things to Do, Food & Drink and more, all at your fingertips. For those outside the top 200, there are still the Google Local Listings.

Google Trips London Food & DrinkWith a Food & Drink section, there is ample opportunity for restaurants, bars, cafes and such to appear when visitors are both planning their trip or while they’re close by.

This means that, with Google’s latest app, completing your Local Listing correctly and getting positive reviews couldn’t be more important for your business.

While I was in London, the results showing up on my searches for restaurants and cafes all came back with a rating of 4.0 or more and at least 40 reviews – this will come as a surprise to no one that the number of reviews and higher the rating contribute significantly to where you show up.

For the record, restaurants and cafes in villages outside of London were showing up with ratings as low as 3.5 – not as much competition.

Location is another significant factor of course. So make sure that you complete your Local Listings page correctly and with as much information as possible if you want to show up both in Google Maps and on Google Trips.

Google previously published its guide to improving your ranking in local results – Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.

They also state in their Local ranking guidelines that information from links, articles, and directories, as well as reviews and positive ratings are a factor in your position in the web results – one would presume this will be very similar for Google Trips also.

Google Trips is essentially a free version of TripIt. User reviews and Google’s historic data will make it a dream for tourists. This app has the potential to become hugely popular, meaning that ranking in Local Results could be more important than ever for small businesses and chains alike.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

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