We’ve nearly reached the half-way mark for 2016 and in this short space of time we’ve seen some massive changes in the online marketing scene.
At the start of the year many of the industry’s leaders shared their predictions for the future across SEO, social media and technology. The trends that cropped up on many a marketers’ lists included:
- The explosion of video and video ads
- The dominance of mobile
- The rising popularity of digital assistants such as Siri and Cortana
- The uptake of the dedicated app
- The marketing opportunities of the Internet of Things (IoT) – i.e. wearable technology
Some of these predictions have seen more progress than others so far, and other completely new developments have come to shake up our approaches to online marketing. Here are some of the latest and biggest updates that have come to us as we take on the second part of 2016, and what new trends will be changing the way businesses tackle their online goals.
In February Google removed ads on the right side of desktop search results, closing the gap between desktop and mobile ad displays and working to improve ad relevancy. Now that only 3 or 4 ads are displayed above the fold of a results page, it’s been suggested that CPC (cost-per-click) bids are likely to increase.
However, a few months on and in their blog titled ‘Ads and analytics innovations for a mobile-first world’, Google let us know of its AdWords redesign. Major news. The redesign allows for expanded text ads, giving businesses more ad space to showcase their products and services:
Optimised for screen sizes of the most popular smartphones, this move surely shows the value of serving the on-the-go mobile user of today and beyond – take note if you don’t yet have a mobile-friendly website!
Also, following their AMP project for mobile (reducing website’s loading times on mobile devices), Google have begun to pre-roll video ads in AMP video. They will also be rolling out sticky ads that stay at either the top or bottom of the screen as the user scrolls through content, as well as flying carpet ads, again with a focus on the mobile user’s convenience. It looks like the professionals were right about the prominence of video and mobile, but these developments from Google are putting these trends to effect.
In an effort to level out the playing field between big brands and SMEs, leading email marketing platform MailChimp has released Product Recommendations, which generates personalised items that each subscriber is most likely to buy. For small businesses, this means that a time consuming process can be automated easily, helping them to strengthen customer relations and brand loyalty.
Facebook has been very busy this year, with a few notable changes to their offerings for businesses including:
- January – March: the global rollout of Facebook Live, a livestreaming feature enabling businesses to share video content with customers in real time.
- February: the release of Facebook Reactions to the public. The 6 additional reactions let people express their response to a post beyond just the “like” action.
- April: a roadmap was published for product developments including Messenger chatbots. The bot platform allows businesses to send sponsored messages (including images and interactive rich bubbles containing multiple calls-to-action) to people who have messaged them in the past.
- May: the announcement that Facebook will be shutting down its desktop ad exchange (FBX). A key reason behind this is that 82% of its ad revenue is coming from mobile ads. Instead, the major online organisation will be focusing on its Audience Network. This is a retargeting ad scheme that allows businesses to target users on Facebook’s network websites, regardless of whether they’re using Facebook or not.
- June: Facebook is experimenting with a new design for the desktop version, which removes sidebar ads, and more:
Instagram have reported that on average, 70% of people have been missing items in their feed. That’s why after a trial in March, Instagram will officially be rolling out their algorithm based feed from this month. This means that brands will have to look to increase their audiences and create relevant and engaging content with their target market in mind.
Recently Instagram announced that they will be launching their Business Tools feature, to help businesses stand out and gain valuable insights. As such, its Tools will include dedicated Business Profiles, which gives businesses the chance to choose how they’d like to be contacted – call, text or email. Plus, there’ll be an Insights feature providing actionable user information, as well as a Promote tool, where well-performing posts can be turned into ads.
Instagram is a social site that has really grown in popularity and it will be definitely one to watch this year and in future.
It seems that Twitter has announced the end of its sometimes frustrating 140 character limit for Tweets. Twitter will be excluding media attachments and @usernames (in replies) against a tweet’s 140-character limit, although links will still count. Images or other media attachments take up 24 characters in an update, so the exclusion of these will help business create more in-depth, engaging Tweets.
In addition, Twitter is set to follow the likes of Facebook, Google and Instagram, through their latest carousel ad format. The carousel feature lines up an array of up to 20 tweets — text, photos or videos — into a horizontal slideshow. Brands can choose from their own tweets and ads, along with tweets from users with permission given, or those in the Twitter-owned influencer program.
There’s a lot happening in online marketing this year, and these updates only prove the significant role of technology in advancing businesses and their customer relations. If you’d like to improve your online marketing and better succeed online, why not chat to the SEO it Right team? Simply call 0121 308 0219 or use our online contact form, and we’ll be happy to assist.
Whilst Bing has grown to be the second largest search engine, currently powering around a third of the world’s search, it’s still a long way behind Google. However, with the introduction of Windows 10 later this year and the new Bing integration strategy, the tables could soon be turned.
As it stands, Bing is the default search engine for Siri, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, all Yahoo! search and until last year, Facebook search was also powered by Bing. With this in mind, Google may not actually be as dominant as you think. In terms of search volume, Google completely engulfs Bing, with the widespread use of the android operating system making a large contribution to this. For all Android devices, Google is the default search engine and Google Chrome is the default web browser, however, Bing could be set to give Google a run for their money.
Mistrust of Google
Despite the popularity of Android, in recent times, Google has been under serious scrutiny for abusing its position of power. The European Union has accused Google of distorting search results and favouring Google shopping over other, cheaper services available. These actions are believed to be a breach of EU antitrust rules; as well as likely changes to Google’s search algorithm and a large fine, many users may also turn to other search engines due to the mistrust generated by distorted search results.
Whilst mistrust of Google will no doubt play some part in the rise of Bing, Microsoft and Bing have are currently in re-birth mode and have developed an integration strategy that could help them to surpass Google.
The Bing Integration Strategy
Bing is currently the default search tool for Xbox, Windows, Windows phone, and Microsoft Office, however, with Windows 10 due to be released this year, Bing is due to be fully integrated, with the introduction of Windows desktop assistant Cortana and a desktop Bing search bar that will be present at all times.
Microsoft have estimated that more than a billion retail consumers are ready to upgrade to Windows 10 and in doing so, they will be switching to a new operating system where Bing is integrated and more accessible than ever before. Through Cortana, Windows 10 users can activate Bing voice search at any time, simply by saying “Hey, Cortana” and then making a search query. This takes away the need for having to open a separate window.
As well as Cortana, Windows 10 will also introduce a desktop search bar that is also powered by Bing and is embedded on screens at all times. Through reducing the amount of clicks that users will need to make and by making Bing search more convenient than ever before, Microsoft believe that they will stand a strong chance of helping users to break the habit of having to type in Google.com for all of their search needs. In many cases, users will be indifferent towards altering their basic desktop settings, so Bing stands a good chance of remaining the default search engine. With two separate direct Bing search functions on the desktop, most users are likely to choose one simply for ease of use.
Plans for the Bing Search Engine
With the world moving at such a fast pace, internet users will always look to find the quickest way to perform any task, so by making Bing ever present, Microsoft have given Bing a very realistic chance of taking Google’s crown for desktop search. Bing also has a number of other plans for its search engine, including introducing advanced real-time search functionality. This means that as search is completed in real-time, with a choice of contextual information overlays appearing, with the potential to reduce the need for typing if Bing chooses the right search query for the user. If the Bing desktop search bar is able to pick up the right contextual information when a user begins to type a search query, increasing numbers of users will make the switch from opening a browser to make a search.
With a combination of advanced real-time search functionality and plans to take over the desktop world, Bing may well cement themselves into the big leagues of search for a long time to come.
If you wish for your website to become more widely visible on all of the major search engines, including Google and Bing, give the SEO it Right team a call on 0121 308 0219 to find out more.
2013 was a year that saw numerous events that had a massive impact on SEO and online marketing as a whole. In the past, SEO was essentially about two things; keywords and links. However, this led to large amounts of keyword saturation and link building, not to mention, quite a considerable amount of attempts to game against the system, using what we call ‘black hat’ SEO techniques. Over the past year, Google has made some major algorithm changes that have changed the direction of SEO and online marketing as a whole.
September 2013 was a big month for online marketing, with two major changes to search putting nails in the coffin of the keyword salesman:
First of all, Google switched to https:// privacy settings, meaning that all ever increasing amounts of keyword search queries would show up as ‘Not Provided’ in Analytics. This means that although anyone who uses Google to search for keywords or phrases that might lead to your website can still do so, however, you do not have access to this data. Whilst keyword search data is no longer available for organic search, in a further effort by Google to protect their Adwords revenue, keyword data continues to be available for paid search.
Secondly, Google surprised everyone by announcing the release of a brand new algorithm with no warning. Many argue that Hummingbird will prove to be the biggest change in Google’s algorithm since the beginning. The main purpose of Hummingbird is to allow Google to be able to interpret much more ‘conversational’, semantic language, understanding the intent of a search rather than just recognising short keywords.
The introduction of Hummingbird could be linked with the ever increasing popularity of mobile search. Many people prefer to use voice search on their mobile devices, talking directly into the handset to find what they need. We have started to search questions, not keywords. This means that people are less likely to use short-tail keywords, and are instead likely to search using full sentences that are more familiar to our everyday speech.
Hummingbird plays a big part in changing the way that SEO and online marketing is sold. The future of SEO is no longer based on keywords, but how keywords form a relationship to the intent of a targeted search. Whereas in the past, many in the online marketing community could get away with keyword stuffing to a certain level, the introduction of Hummingbird brings about the importance of online marketers producing more quality, detailed, long form articles that are designed to answer long-tail search phrases.
It could be argued that we are yet to fully see the real extent of Hummingbird’s impact online marketing, however, with search engines adapting to the way that we are now using long-tailed and question-like search queries, Hummingbird has undoubtedly set the stage for a future that is centred on mobile search. Online marketers must therefore adapt their strategies away from short keywords and push out more and more semantic-influenced content in order to capture more traffic. In 2014, we can only expect to see the increasing impact of Hummingbird.
There is currently a lot of chatter on this – has your site been affected? Keep your eyes on your traffic in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to see whether the suspected update has had an impact on your site. You can read more HERE at the SEO round table.
Very Useful video produced by Google for new start-up companies venturing into the world of on-line marketing. Maile Joined Google in 2005, Maile works closely with Google’s Search and Webmaster Tools teams as a Developer Programs Tech Lead. Her goal is to support and advocate on behalf of all site owners.
Take a look: