Social Media Roundup | January 2019

Welcome back to the Fusion blog for 2019!

If anyone thought this year would be any different in the world of social media, three words quickly teamed up to prove otherwise. We’ll give you a hint. The first is ‘vegan’. And the third is ‘rolls’.

Read on for baked goods and more in our brand new round-up of the most buzzworthy social activations of the last month.

Huddersfield Town announces surprising new manager

Back in December, Huddersfield Town football club parted ways with their manager, David Wagner.

The club had been linked heavily with German coach Jan Siewert, when a keenly-eyed Sky Sports news team thought they spotted him in the crowd when Huddersfield played Manchester City. Unfortunately for the reporter, he quickly discovered that it wasn’t Jan Siewert; it was City fan ‘Martin from Wakefield’ instead!

A lot was made of the encounter on social media, which cameras caught in full. And Huddersfield got in on the act when announcing Siewert’s appointment, involving Wakefield’s finest in the content creation and beginning their video with Martin sat at Siewert’s desk in the manager’s office.

The Huddersfield Town coat labelled ‘MFW’ – Martin from Wakefield – is a nice touch too!

https://twitter.com/htafcdotcom/status/1087379049230594049

Greggs cooks up a storm for #veganuary

Greggs’ reputation for social media antics doesn’t need much introduction.

They made headlines in 2017 with their controversial nativity scene, exchanging the baby Jesus for Gregg’s sausage roll. But that furore pales in comparison to their latest media frenzy – which, ironically, results from something far less controversial.

At first, all Greggs did was announce the launch of their very own vegan sausage roll, coinciding with the start of Veganuary.

https://twitter.com/GreggsOfficial/status/1080403000722710528

Like a finely-grilled panini, things really heated up once the Internet began engaging. And Greggs handled the naysayers masterfully, despatching a barrage of fiery tweets that caused a good chuckle from the social crowd:

The campaign marked a masterclass in social media marketing, from the standards of creative, to community management.

Netflix brings Bandersnatch to social

January was a superb month for streaming giants Netflix, with a range of titles receiving massive pop culture interest and acclaim, from Roma, to FYRE, to Sex Education.

Another title that captured the Internet’s imagination was Bandersnatch, the interactive choose-your-own-adventure style film from the creators of Black Mirror.

Not just content with enormous success on-screen, the Netflix digital team also brought the Bandersnatch concept to life on Twitter via Twitter Polls, giving their online audience the chance for an adventure of their own.

And it continues! Head to Twitter to see how the whole story unfolded. It’s a neat way of bringing your fans an engaging experience – and utilising Twitter’s functionality in an unconventional yet stimulating way.

And the winner of the Super Bowl is… MoonPie!

We’ve written before (and at length) about US confectionary brand MoonPie’s seemingly-subversive-but-actually-hyper-intelligent use of social media. And in recent weeks, they’ve served up fresh headlines in the ad industry following a series of activations on the night of this year’s Super Bowl (and we’re aware that it wasn’t technically in January, but we’re going to cash in on our artistic license and talk about it anyway).

Last year, MoonPie didn’t run any ads in the Super Bowl per se. Instead, they posted images on social media containing scripts that would have been in their ads. And these were all about as usual and conformist as you’d expect:

This year, MoonPie took their subversive Super Bowl ads approach a step further, by turning their scripts of the year before into full one-minute video ads. You can enjoy them below:

This received acclaim from leading industry press, including a spot in AdWeek, and enormous engagements from avid Twitter users from across the galaxy.

Come back next month for more social media stories and highlights!

 

Fusion Natural Edge Nominated for Northern Digital Award

Prolific North’s Northern Digital Awards 2019 will take place on the 31st January and here at Fusion HQ we’re delighted to have been nominated for ‘Search Agency of the Year’ for the second time.

We’ve also been recognised for our unique SEO software, Natural Edge, which has been nominated for ‘Best Digital Tool or Software’, and we couldn’t be more proud of the recognition that Natural Edge has received.

We thought it might be a good idea to explain a little more about our Natural Edge software and how it is helping give our clients a competitive edge in an increasingly competitive SEO marketplace.

Background

As an SEO team, a key part of our day-to-day activity is keeping our clients ahead of the curve in organic search – and outranking their competitors. If a prospective customer searches for a cycling related keyword, for example, then we’d want our bike retailing client to be among the first to appear, with high visibility in all the right places.

Several years ago, we sought out SEO software that would be able to assist with doing this – for ourselves and our clients.  It needed to be adaptable to algorithmic changes (like the increasing prominence of localised search), flexible from a pricing point-of-view, and offer clear reporting metrics that clients could use to inform the KPIs they set and the ROI of our services.

However, the tools we looked into didn’t meet our clients’ needs. Ranking software would only give you your keyword position without considering how much traffic you would gain, for example. It might only benchmark a small set of competitors, or keywords would be looked at in isolation rather than holistically, missing out on larger insights that can truly drive a strategy forward.

Instead of spending big on little return, we invested in proprietary technology of our own, building a highly adaptable and cost-effective suite that could tailor bespoke solutions for our clients’ needs – giving them the Natural Edge required in order to shine.

What can Natural Edge do?

Natural Edge was nominated for the award on the basis of its versatility and the range of benefits it offers to its users – and our clients. However, here are just some of the highlights:

  • See the bigger picture

It’s easy to become obsessed with individual keywords.

Natural Edge identifies every site ranked on the first page for each relevant keyword in each location, and uses our proprietary algorithm to calculate how much traffic a site will earn from its positions. Natural Edge collates all of this data and presents a league table ordered by the highest traffic drivers, so that results are easy to understand and analyse.

  • Identify true competition

Competitors in search are very different to competitors in daily business life. In fact, the majority of brands are competing with companies they’d be incredibly surprised by.

Natural Edge benchmarks clients against anyone who ranks on the first page for specified keywords in every location they have presence. Finding out who you’re up against has never been clearer.

This provides a range of opportunities for growth, from identifying high priority keywords to target, inspiring new content ideas and analysing competitor backlinks to spot potential partners.

  • Understand what drives competitor visibility

While some sites rank for dozens of long-tail keywords, others rank highly for a couple of high volume phrases.

Natural Edge tells you how competitors have built their market share, allowing you to flesh out your digital strategy with key industry insights.

  • Understand local performance

Natural Edge offers highly localised insights, highlighting the composition of organic search results by identifying the number of localised and map results generated at a keyword level. A client can enter their locations into Natural Edge, thereby identifying generic keywords that create local results, and identify share of voice and individual keyword rankings for each of those locations.

Why we’re so proud to be up for nomination

At Fusion, we’ve been working with award-winning retail clients for over twenty years, delivering exceptional service with demonstrated ROI whilst using best-in-class innovation to create unique solutions to today’s digital problems.

Natural Edge is just one example of how our team’s outside-the-box thinking, and we’re beyond chuffed that our hard work and expertise is being acknowledged by one of the region’s leading authorities in the field.

Greatest of all, however, is the fact that it’s a testament to our team’s quality and ability, as a cutting-edge independent agency producing award-nominated software, and investing in genuinely pioneering solutions to achieve our clients’ goals.

Interested in what our services can do for you? Get in touch with the Fusion team today at hello@fusionunlimited.co.uk or learn more about Fusion Natural Edge here.

Social Media Market Updates: November 2018

As usual, social’s lately been a hotbed of activity, with engaging new campaigns spanning industries from fast food to sportswear.

Read on as we look at some of the most noteworthy campaigns from recent weeks, and discuss their strengths, weaknesses and the impact they’ve had on their respective brands.

KFC cooks up a storm on social

Earlier in the year, fast food giant KFC ran a fairly bold marketing campaign across social and print to apologise for a nationwide shortage of chicken:

In recent weeks, however, Colonel Sanders has been at it again – this time around to let customers know about his brand new fries, with idiosyncratic gusto.

Social’s been an indispensable element of the news’ delivery, which has taken place through innovatively engaging with a series of negative historic tweets complaining about the company’s chips – some from as long ago as 2014.

While some tweets have simply been replied to, others have been promoted far and wide across the nation’s timelines with paid advertising spend:

Though the campaign has met a fairly mixed response, with some users demonstrating a little weariness after being overwhelmed by chip-related messaging, it’s safe to say that the majority of Twitter users are now aware of KFC’s revamped fries. And to that end, it must be said that the Colonel’s served up his plans to perfection.

Nike scores a wonder goal on social with Kaepernick partnership

They’re one of the biggest brands in the world, with an iconic heritage of best-in-class ads, so it’s little surprise that Nike was able to use social media masterfully to announce its newest brand ambassador: Colin Kaepernick.

Nike made the announcement by retweeting a post initially made by Kaepernick, featuring the iconic Just Do It branding and the high standards of copywriting that Nike’s ads are famous for, which was also replicated on Instagram:

Its results were revelatory. The tweet received close to 1,000,000 likes, and the Instagram post proved a personal best for Nike in terms of engagement, gaining the brand gain more than 170,000 new followers. And between the two, Nike received more than five million mentions on social media in just three days, which isn’t a bad return in the slightest!

Significantly for brands, Nike’s social success also transformed into sales. As part of the sponsorship, Nike has produced Kaepernick merchandise, which sold out within a mere matter of hours, as Nike’s stock prices flourished to a sky-high $83.49.

It’s always great to see brands utilising social to its best potential, creating content that shines and converting that engagement into commercial excellence. We’re intrigued to see what Nike delivers next!

Burberry climbs out of the saddle and into social

Of late, fashion brand Burberry has made a range of changes to increase its desirability to contemporary shoppers.

Firstly, it dispensed with its classic logo, exchanging its knight on horseback for a modern new strapline of ‘London, England’ and brandishing its heritage with a sleek new look.

More interestingly, however, is that the company’s announced a new strategy for promoting new inventory to the industry, which is that it’ll launch new products directly from its Instagram feed.

As part of this, products will be purchasable directly from social streams, thanks to elements like Instagram Shopping which make social more viable than ever before for e-commerce businesses. Meanwhile, functionality like Instagram TV will be used to advertise products in innovative new ways.

The high esteem in which a brand like Burberry holds Instagram is a testament to the channel’s credibility and opportunity, and we’re excited to see whether other brands follow suit moving forwards!

Join us next month for more social news from the team!

SEO MARKET UPDATES: OCTOBER 2018

Join Fusion’s SEO team as they round up last month’s major industry updates.

GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE ADDS NEW INSIGHTS TO SERPS

Many SEOs, including ourselves, started noticing at the start of October that Google was now providing us with a glimpse into our Google Search Console data when searching for a keyword.

Google Search Console Data in SERPs

This window will only appear if you are logged into Google Search Console and have a property that ranks for the keyword. If multiple properties rank for the same keyword, a drop-down menu will become available to allow users to switch between properties. There is also an option to ‘see ways to improve’ a keywords ranking, although, the same two suggestions will appear for every keyword:

  1. Compare this query to your overall data
  2. Find out how to use this information to make changes to your site so that you can increase your chances to show up for the queries that you care about.

IS DYNAMIC RENDERING GOOGLE’S SOLUTION TO READING JAVASCRIPT?

As an answer to search engines difficulty with reading JavaScript, Google believes that dynamic rendering could be the answer for some sites, and released a guide on how to implement this.

Although Google confirms that dynamic rendering is not the full answer to this problem, they recommend this as a workaround solution for public JavaScript-generated content that changes rapidly, or JavaScript that uses features not currently supported by crawlers:

Dynamic rendering will allow sites to deliver a static HTML to a crawler, so they can index the page’s information, while still displaying a JavaScript-heavy page to users, in order for them to experience the page as intended.

GOOGLE’S OCTOBER ALGORITHM REVIEW

Although we saw unstable fluctuations in average rankings, one of Google’s daily algorithm updates saw a much larger spike in fluctuations than on any other day. On 17th October the fluctuations had an impact across all industries according to SEO tracker tools. The only industries which seem to have been affected the least are sports, news and art & entertainment. The law & government, jobs & education and finance categories were affected the most, with other categories not far behind.

Google have said that their algorithm is constantly refreshing and that due to the large amount of updates that take place, they are unable to provide information on what changes have been made each day. As Google have not released a statement on what caused these fluctuations, we are unable to see the cause of this. Daily fluctuations were seen across October and we will possibly see this throughout December too.

GOOGLE SHUTS DOWN GOOGLE+

Google announced on 8th October that they will be closing Google+ over a 10 month period to give users full opportunity to transition, with an aim to close the site by the end of August 2019.

Released in 2011, Google+ was Google’s answer to social media, after dominating the search engine market in the early 2000’s, taking over the online video industry in 2006, and surpassing Internet Explorer as the top web browser in 2012.

However, poor uptake by users has led Google to pull the plug on Plus. And so social won’t be an area that Google will compete in.

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS ANNOUNCES NEW PRODUCTS FEATURE

Spotted by an SEO and posted on Twitter, Google has released a product collection and product menu on selected Google My Business accounts. This feature replaces the services menu and will allow users to add a product collection, along with products within the collection.

Google is yet to release any documentation providing more information on this feature or when it will be released from beta.

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS RELEASES NEW MIGRATION TOOL & BRANDED INSIGHTS

Announced on 22nd October via Twitter, Google’s new migration tool will allow users with organisation accounts to easily migrate locations from a personal account into the organisation account.

Users have the option to remove the transferred locations from the personal account or keep the locations on both the personal and organisation account, Google recommends that locations are removed from the personal account and the personal account is added to the organisation account in order for the account the view the properties for the best experience. Other information on the organisation account migration tool includes:

  • Locations from several personal accounts can be added to the organisation account.
  • Users who opt to keep locations available on both the personal and organisation accounts, when a property is added on the personal account, this will not also be added to the organisation account.
  • Location transfer requests will only work for transferring locations from a personal to an organisation account, users will not be able to transfer locations between organisation accounts.

Google has also implemented the ability to see branded searches within the Google My Business insights. Branded searches will be classed differently to direct searches (a customer directly searching for the business’ name) and will display within the chart of the dashboard.

GOOGLE MAPS ALLOWS USERS TO CONNECT WITH BUSINESSES BY FOLLOWING THEM

Google announced on the 24th October via their blog, ‘The Keyword’, that users will be able to follow businesses within the Google Maps app in order to receive updates which will be displayed within a ‘For You’ tab in the app.

Businesses that are not yet open will also be able to connect with users before their open date. The business’ profile can be visible to users up to three months in advance of opening. This can be used to tease the opening date, make users aware of any opening events or keep people updated on the types of products or services soon to be provided.

NEW BOOK AND SCHEDULE BUTTONS INTRODUCED TO LOCAL GOOGLE RESULTS

Google has expanded on giving mobile users access to call a company from the local pack listings and has implemented ‘book’ and ‘schedule’ buttons which allow users to book or schedule a service within the ‘Reserve with Google’ platform.

Google has a full list of booking software companies that work with ‘Reserve with Google’ along with a list of companies they will soon be working with.

PUBLIC TESTING STARTS FOR GOOGLE ASSISTANT’S DUPLEX TECHNOLOGY

After Google’s incredible unveiling of Google Duplex, a new artificial intelligence to be implemented within Google Assistant that can converse with businesses on behalf of the user in order to accomplish tasks such as book a table at a restaurant or make an appointment at a hairdressers, Google has released a blog post confirming that they will begin public testing for Google Pixel users at restaurants within New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area.

We’re more than intrigued to see how this develops in the future!

Social Media Market Updates: October 2018

Though Instagram’s starred in marketing news repeatedly in recent weeks, with a host of updates that we covered in our last blog post, there have also been significant changes on many of the Internet’s other leading social media channels.

Read on as we round up several of the biggest social platform updates in recent weeks, with analysis of its impact on the industry.

Facebook cracks down on sensationalist headlines – and you won’t BELIEVE the reasons why!

Well, actually, the reasons why probably won’t shock you. In fact, this is exactly the type of rhetorical grandiosity that Facebook’s looking to crack down on with its new ad policy, which is set to penalise click-bait ads which sensationalise their content or omit meaningful details in order to manipulatively improve click-through-rate, Marketing Land reports.

Facebook’s stance follows a new policy announcement in May 2017, that they would be implementing steps to minimise the impact – and reach – of disruptive, malicious or sensationalist posts.

As an indication of the new policy in action, Facebook has already removed more than eight-hundred pages in recent weeks that consistently misled users with overly-dramatic and disingenuous headlines.

While the vast majority of these pages were political in kind, the policy change will have ramifications for digital marketers, who’ll need to ensure that their posts aren’t withholding key information purely to bait site sessions out of users. And though we certainly won’t be posting this to social with the promise that it’ll change your understanding of the industry FOREVER, we hope you’ll get something out of it, anyway.

Pinterest revamps Ads Manager for the first time since 2016

In recent years, Pinterest has slowly but surely picked up the pace as a content curation channel of choice for aesthetically-minded users the world over.

To capitalise on its audience’s size and its unprecedented reach, the channel has updated its ads system for the first time in two years – in fact, since its inception – with the addition of a host of new features that make it a more viable option for marketers than ever before.

To kick things off, Pinterest has given its Ads Manager a considerable overhaul. A campaign set-up wizard is now available to help users create and optimise campaigns – which will be particularly beneficial to first-time marketers exploring the channel’s merits to their brands. Optimisation options include setting campaign goals, choosing specific audience targeting, and determining the exact Pins that are to be promoted within the feed or search results.

Complementing this, they’ve also brought in more comprehensive reporting elements with a snazzy new reporting dashboard, making ROI easier to monitor – and, thus, deliver – and allowing advertisers to vary campaigns in a more flexible and intuitive way.

Pinterest has also redesigned its Shoppable Pins, introducing reactive stock controls and dynamic pricing, and allowed greater numbers of pins to use the shopping bag feature, which lets users click-through directly from the Pinterest Shoppable ad to the checkout on the native site. For e-commerce brands in particular, this is something to be sure to look into.

We’re always interested to see new channels taking strides to allow users to more easily see and purchase the products they love. In coming months, we’re keen to see how the channel develops!

New research finds ways of using social media to proactively monitor mental health

Healthy social media usage has been frequently in the news in recent months, with several channels taking steps to increase and safeguard its users’ well-being, such as Instagram’s introduction of an anti-bully filter to its ‘You’re all caught up’ indicator, encouraging users to be mindful of listlessly scrolling through photos they’ve already seen.

In a new and intriguing development, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania – and the World Well-Being Project – have created an algorithm that’s able to trawl through users’ Facebook posts and, from their choice of language and manner of expression, identify whether they could be at risk of any mental health problems.

Johannes Eichstaedt, WWBP founder, explained in interview that ‘Social media data contain markers akin to the genome.

With surprisingly similar methods to those used in genomics, we can comb social media data to find these markers.

Depression appears to be something quite detectable in this way; it really changes people’s use of social media in a way that something like skin disease or diabetes doesn’t.

The hope is that one day, these screening systems can be integrated into systems of care’.

If social could unobtrusively keep an eye out for its users’ mental well-being, then this is just another way that channels could take strides to look after the health of users online.

Twitter takes steps to make its rules’ enforcement clearer

Currently, when you report a tweet, what happens next is a little unclear. You aren’t notified if the tweet – or the tweeter – is penalised, and the tweets remain visible in your feed, despite the fact you’ve shown you think it shouldn’t be there.

Twitter’s acknowledged the issue and, in response, is introducing new measures that will make it much more apparent when they’re taking action, and why they’re doing so.

Moving forward, when Twitter deletes a reported tweet, they’ll indicate it on the user’s timeline by showing a warning in place of the now-removed message. This will include a link through to the Twitter rules, explaining how the removed content violated terms of service:

Additionally, any tweet you report – regardless of whether Twitter takes action or not – will also be hidden from your timeline and replaced with a placeholder:

It’s interesting to see Twitter taking greater strides to improve its transparency, and we wonder whether this will roll out onto other channels in the future.

That’s all for this month, folks! We’ll be back next month with a round-up of all the most significant changes on social.

Instagram Market Updates: Recent Updates and Changes Coming Soon

September saw some significant updates arrive on Instagram.

Though many of the changes focus on improving the experience of regular Instagram users, there’re also several changes of note to help marketers and businesses perform – and convert – on the channel.

Let’s have a look at some of the key changes, as well as what we can expect to arrive on the channel in the near future.

Recent updates

Convert from Stories with product tagging

Instagram Product Tag for Stories

One of the most significant updates on the channel is the introduction of product tagging in Story posts.

This’ll work similarly to product tagging on regular IG posts. Businesses can directly link a URL to the product that appears on their stories, and users can then click on the tag to be re-directed to the product landing page.

This functionality creates an easy buying experience for the user, and a brand new avenue for businesses to gain sales with vivid creative content. It’s just another sign of Instagram becoming a highly viable choice for marketing!

GIFs slide into the DMs

GIFs in direct messaging Instagram GIFs in Instagram DM

When direct messaging, users can now choose from a selection of trending GIFs.

Simply type a word or phrase that is relevant to the GIF you wish to send and suitable options will appear.

Alternatively, users can click on the mysterious ‘random’ button for an Instagram generated GIF, passing the creative baton over to the algorithm…

New nametags let you connect with friends more easily than ever

Instagram name tags

In an effort to put more users in touch with each other, you can now create an Instagram nametag, which works a little like a business card. Simply scan another user’s and you’ll follow them!

This new feature is particularly handy when meeting someone new as you can easily exchange details and follow each other with a simple scan. It’s an incredibly intuitive new addition to the app’s UX.

What’s next?

As well as new updates, there are also plenty of Instagram changes in the works.  Let’s have a look at a few of the things that’re keeping the Instagram team so busy:

Shopping channels arrive in Explore

shopping box in Instagram explore

You will soon be seeing a shopping box in the explore section of Instagram. It will potentially put more e-commerce businesses in touch with relevant users. It will also allow users to explore and gain inspiration from exciting, unfamiliar brands.

Instagram takes stand against bullying

Instagram bullying comment filter

A few months ago, Instagram introduced a bullying comment filter which proactively hides and detects negative comments from feeds, profiles and the explore feature.

The bullying comment filter allows users to customise their blocking preferences or leave it to Instagram to automatically filter offensive comments out.

Instagram will now be applying this feature to comments on live videos.

Tag followers in Videos

Instagram has confirmed that soon you will be able to tag followers in videos, similarly to how you would in photos.

Connecting Students

Instagram connecting students

The social network has announced that they are working towards making it easier for students studying at the same institution to connect via the social network. This is currently being tested at select universities the USA.

This feature will allow users to add their university details – including graduation year, course and any teams/societies they were part of. Instagram will then create a University directory that can be filtered by year, making it easy for current and alumni students to connect and message each other.

This is something that’s long been a part of the Facebook experience, so it’s cool to see it arrive on the Gram, too.

Channel bids #goodbye to #hashtags

According to a TechCrunch report Instagram is considering disabling hashtags from captions in an attempt to limit the heavy use of hashtags within the post caption, resulting in the text being incredibly hard to read. Instead, there would be a ‘add hashtags’ option under the caption composer, keeping any hashtags and text separate.

Geo-Restriction for posts and stories

 

 

Instagram is testing a geo-restriction feature which will allow users to restrict their posts and stories to selected countries, rather than being universally available. Marketers will be able to choose what countries they wish to show or hide their content to.

Now that you are officially clued up on the latest Instagram features – stay tuned for the latest digital marketing updates that can drive your website and sales.

Fusion appointed by Scotts & Co

Fusion Unlimited is delighted to announce its appointment by Scotts & Co, the owners of the nationwide multi-channel retail businesses Scotts of Stow, Bloom and SkimGuard.

Scotts & Co has been a market leader in mail order trading for many years. The group sought to match its offline success with its online performance and work with a specialist agency to develop a comprehensive multi-channel strategy and best-in-class CRM program.

Scotts invited Fusion to pitch, where our paid performance team quickly demonstrated its expertise in the field. We were appointed to begin our work soon after.

‘After meeting with many providers, Fusion Unlimited were quickly identified as the partner to develop our PPC channels’, said Scotts’ Digital Marketing Manager Barry Kirley.

‘They were quick to understand our requirements and need to maintain a suitable return on advertising spend while expanding and nurturing our existing campaigns’.

Mark Curtis, Fusion’s Managing Director, said: ‘Scotts & Co is a national leader in mail order retail, and we are delighted to be working with them to grow their online marketing channels’.

‘The Fusion team pride ourselves on our meticulous approach to meeting performance targets, and our proven track record of working with many of the UK’s best-known brands. Scotts is a great match for our team’s reputation as experts in multi-channel retail’.

Fusion Unlimited is a specialist digital agency, with over twenty years’ experience of working with many of the UK’s biggest household names.

Paid Media News Roundup

AdWords – Notes

Those who have made the switch to the new AdWords interface may have noticed they can now add notes to campaign and ad group-level graphs. If you are yet to make the switch, or see the option, it is revealed when hovering over a point on the graph, as seen below.

Notes offer a centralised place to document any important changes and, through doing so, allow you to build a comprehensive picture of your account over time. Perhaps more important, however, is the much needed respite they offer to those who have grown tired of rifling through external documents, emails, or the change history for the date of a change or perhaps a promotion; wholly unwelcome tasks that I will certainly be glad to see the back of.

AdWords – Parallel Tracking

In a bid to improve landing-page times, and mobile web experiences, Google will, from the end of October this year, require parallel tracking on all accounts.

Parallel tracking seeks to overcome the problem of tracking codes slowing down landing pages, by essentially splitting the landing page and the tracking. Users can then be sent straight to the landing page, whilst the tracking is sent to an ad click measurement server. This stops users waiting for any redirects to load.

While parallel tracking is currently optional, early adoption could allow you to speed up your site’s load time, setting you aside from those who choose not to make the switch. The importance of this is furthered by the fact that from the end of this month, mobile speed will start being factored into your quality score.

DoubleClick – Digital Audio Ad Inventory

As the number of people who use music streaming services continues to grow, it is only to be expected that so too will the ways for advertisers to reach them. The latest platform to support the programmatic buying of audio ads is DoubleClick Bid Manager, whose advertisers can now reach audiences on Google Play Music, Spotify, Soundcloud and TuneIn.

Developments like these offer an exciting opportunity for advertisers to begin building a picture of how to engage with their audience through audio ads. The challenge going forward, and one that will only be compounded as more exchanges begin to offer audio ads and more advertisers begin to experiment with them, will be to engage with users in a relevant, non-intrusive way. As such, early insights will be a valuable way to stay ahead of the competition.

Google Sheets – AdWords Add-On

Google recently launched into beta an AdWords add-on for Google sheets, allowing users to create reports that can be run from, and downloaded to, a Google sheet – similar to the Google Analytics add-on. This allows users to create custom reports that are easy to update and can be easily shared, without writing scripts or investing in third-party software.

Unfortunately, the add-on is still lacking a few reports, such as shopping, and, unlike the Analytics add-on, a script, or many third-party solutions, does not allow you to schedule your reports.

Although it is not currently possible to automate every aspect of reporting through the add-on, it is certainly a step in the right direction and will be a useful tool once the other reports and a scheduling feature have been added.

How will partner categories’ removal affect marketers?

Just over a month ago now, Facebook announced that they’d be removing their third-party partner categories feature from Business Manager. The decision follows recent concerns surrounding Facebook’s handling of user data, and allows the company to demonstrate its commitment to increasing the transparency of their data-related activity.

The timeline

Facebook rolled out the changes over a fourteen day period:

  • From May 11th, marketers in the UK were unable to select partner categories’ data in their campaign creation
  • From May 25th, Facebook no longer delivered partner categories built on audiences from the UK, Germany and France, and disallowed campaigns from serving third party data to UK audiences

Remaining targeting options

We imagine marketers will be beginning to place much more emphasis on first party data and custom audiences will play a much greater role in social targeting strategies, from re-targeting website visitors to uploading CRM.

Creating lookalike audiences from campaigns that are already using third party data remains an option for marketers to consider. This gives companies a chance to identify audiences with similar behaviours and interests to the third party data audiences whose data they’re using currently. The benefit of this is that audiences will be classed as first party and will be available for use in future campaigns.

Of course, there is still the opportunity for marketers to use Facebook’s range of detailed targeting options such as demographic, interest and behaviour targeting.

Overall

Though the shutdown of third-party partner categories marks a significant restructuring of the social media marketing landscape, we see it primarily as a positive; it ensures far greater protection of online data, and the remaining targeting options are more than sufficient for generating successful marketing campaigns.

We’re keen to see how marketers continue evolving to these changes as they happen and will be sure to cover any future updates of this kind on the Fusion blog!

SEO Market Updates: April 2018

Broad core Google algorithm update

Google confirmed via the Google SearchLiaison Twitter account that a broad algorithm update went out in the month of April:

This follows on from another broad update that went in last month. Google followed up this tweet by saying that there is no way to fix pages that may have lost performance from this update, but to instead keep on building good content.

The fluctuations from the update in search results lasted more than 10 days, appearing to begin on 17 April. Because this was a core update, it was not given an identifiable name and does not appear to target anything in particular.

Google replaces pagination with a “More results” button on mobile

Google have launched a change to their pagination on iOS and Android devices. Next and previous buttons have been replaced with a single “More results” button.

Instead of taking the user to a new page, the new feature loads the next set of results directly below the current set. When ads are loaded, these get inserted where the top of the next page would previously have been.

There have been mixed reactions to this change. Some SEOs said that this new functionality gives a poor user experience, while others said that it could make it more likely that users will make it to the second set of results than previously.

Google My Business adds lists of services

Google My Business has added a new feature within the management interface that allows some listing owners to create a list of their services for each map listing.

This was announced in mid-April on the Google My Business Help forums. It is available in addition to the food menu editor that is available for restaurants.

The service menu can be created and edited from the Google My Business dashboard. The menu must be created in sections and items can contain a name, price and description.

Editing the service menu in the Google My Business dashboard interface.

SEO Market Updates: March 2018

Google rolling out mobile-first indexing to more sites

Google has confirmed in a blog post that they have begun migrating sites that follow mobile best practices over to mobile-first indexing.

Some sites are now beginning to receive notifications in their Google Search Console properties that the site has been migrated:

Mobile-first indexing enabled notification in Google Search Console.

Google said that sites with content that doesn’t follow mobile best practice need not worry about this change, but also recommended that they begin to make their content mobile-friendly.

Google core update in early March

Our rank tracking tools detected very high volatility in the search engine results from 2 March to 10 March. Here’s what that looked like in SEMrush:

SEMrush graph of core Google algorithm update in early March.

There was a lot of chatter on the SEO forums during this time from webmasters that saw drastic changes in their traffic. Google confirmed that this was a core algorithm update on 12 March:

Google have not provided a name with which to reference this update.

Captions added to Google Images, taken from page titles

Google has added captions to their image results on mobile. The captions reflect the title of the page from which the image is sourced.

The new captions on Google Image Search.

The caption also contains the site’s domain. The caption previously contained only the domain. Adding the title gives the image more context; it also means that page titles have become even more important than before.

Bing adds support for JSON-LD schema

Bing confirmed to John Henshaw on Twitter that they now support parsing of JSON-LD schema metadata. Search Engine Land also received confirmation of the support.

Google has supported JSON-LD for the past 2 years and has recommended it for most of this time. Previously, Bing has only supported Microdata and RDFa.

Bing said that they are in the process of updating their schema verification in Bing Webmaster Tools to reflect this change.

SEO Market Updates: February 2018

Google Chrome to display “Not Secure” warning for non-HTTPS sites starting July 2018

Over the past few years, movements have been started to make the web more secure. Most recently, Google announced that they would begin to mark sites that are using insecure HTTP connections as “Not Secure” via a label in the address bar in the Chrome browser.

Pages with password fields served over HTTPS are already marked as “Not Secure”, but starting July 2018, all HTTP will be labeled. Install your security certificates now!

Possible major Google algorithm update

click for full size

SEMrush Sensor and other SERP tracking tools were showing high volatility in the search results around 20 February, leading many to believe that this was another major Google algorithm update. However, discussion in search forums leaves a general uncertainty over what this update might be targeting.

Google responded to comment with the usual statement that they make multiple minor updates every week.

“View image” and “Search by image” removed from Google Images

In the past month, Google has removed the “View image” and “search by image” button from image search results. This is in response to a new partnership between stock image provider Getty Images and Google, after Getty Images complained that they may be losing revenue since searchers are able to access images directly from search results, without ever visiting the site.

It’s now intended that searchers should view the image in the context of the site from which it originates, however, the response to these changes from Google Images users was generally negative.

Google now displays multiple featured snippets for broad search queries

Featured snippets on Google usually appear as a single box of text, a list or a table at the top of some search results pages, before the organic results; this is known as position 0. A featured snippet may appear when a page directly answers the searcher’s question.

Google has updated the display of featured snippets, so now 2 or more may be shown when the question is broad or could be answered in multiple ways. Google clarified in an article on their blog that this is to provide more “comprehensive” results. For site owners, this means even more opportunities to appear in a featured snippet.

SEO Market Updates: January 2018

New Google Search Console rolls out for more sites

Google have now opened up access for the new beta version of Google Search Console to all users.

The new interface comes with a number of improvements to user experience, as well as some new reports such as the Index Coverage report.

Until now, access to the new Search Console has been limited to a select number of beta testers. However, it was reported by SearchEngineLand on 22 January that it had become accessible to everyone.

There are still a number of bugs and some of the reports are missing while they are reconstructed. The old version will remain accessible alongside the new one for the forseeable future.

Page speed to become a mobile search ranking factor

Google announced on 17 January that they will be making updates to mobile search, meaning that mobile page speed will become a ranking factor. It is now more important than ever to audit your site and work on ensuring fast delivery of content.

The “Speed Update”, as Google called it, will come into effect in July 2018 and affect the ranking position the slowest pages in search results. This update demonstrates Google’s ongoing push for developers to deliver a better user experience.

Google also provided some tools that can be used to measure page performance, which included their own Lighthouse report and the recently updated PageSpeed Insights.

Google updates causing fluctuation throughout January

December saw a number of algorithm updates to Google search results, some of which were even confirmed by Google themselves. Updates have continued into January as webmasters reported changes in site traffic on forums; some positive, some negative.

Reports came in especially around 15 January, with search monitoring tools all showing high volatility around this date. Nothing regarding this has been confirmed by Google, but we are monitoring closely to see if anything changes.

103% increase in smart speaker sales

Adobe Digital Insights reported after their study on voice search that smart speaker sales increased 103% in Q4 2017 vs 2016. Smart speakers were very popular gifts for the recent festive season.

Voice assistant technology is improving daily and more companies are releasing new products to compete in this market. Research data reported on by SearchEngineLand shows that Google Home has now sold 44 million units in total, accounting for 40% of smart speaker sales over the holiday period.

There’s no better time than now to aim for position 0 in search results, with the majority of voice search answers coming from sites in this position.

 

SEO Market Updates: November 2017

Product card extensions

Google are trialling a new panel for product name searches, which includes a wealth of product information like critic and user reviews, shopping ads, videos, and stockist locations.

This answers several common user queries immediately without a second search.

However, it may also mean that promoting product pages organically for these searches is more difficult, as they are pushed down the page by this panel.

Mid-November Google update

Search position tracking tools were displaying high levels of fluctuation throughout November, especially on the 15th.

Some webmasters reported lots of movement with their sites; others none at all. Analysis showed that affected sites had lots of ads and thin content.

Google have not commented on this volatility.

Knowledge panel in local pack

For brands with physical locations and a knowledge graph entry, Google may now combine them when searching for the brand name.

The new display includes a list of map locations, as before, now headed with the brand name, logo and a follow button for Google Posts.

The About tab lists all the knowledge graph information, including the website link and  description from Wikipedia.

Google increases snippet length

Google have updated their SERP displays, increasing the average length of descriptive snippets shown under the links.

A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that this change was “to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches”.

It would not be necessary to update meta descriptions, however, as these longer snippets are often generated from the content in the body of the page.

SEO Market Updates: October 2017

Mobile-first index out for some sites

Webmaster Analyst Gary Illyes recently told a conference audience that Google’s mobile-first indexing has begun rolling out for “a few sites”.

Google is classifying sites based on how similar the mobile version is to the desktop version. Sites that have 100% similar versions are more likely to switch first.

Google can test the changes by rolling out to just a few sites first before the full switch next year.

Google testing blue “Instant” label

Google is testing a new label for AMP results, showing “Instant” in a blue colour instead of “AMP” in grey.

This could be a welcome change, as the average searcher may not understand the meaning of AMP or why the result is tagged as such.

We have also seen tests of the tag using only the AMP icon without accompanying text.

Book online from local listings

Google has started displaying a “Book online” button for eligible businesses in the US that have set the feature up in Google My Business.

The button integrates with 15 external booking providers and can help searchers book with a company in under 1 minute.

We hope to see this feature rolled out to other businesses in more countries soon.

Google ceases using country domains

Using Google’s country-specific domains no longer returns results for that location.

Instead, the users actual location is used, regardless of the domain used to conduct the search. Google say that this is to provide “the most useful information”.

This change affects search on both mobile and desktop. You can still change the country for the results from the preferences page.

SEO Market Updates: September 2017

Possible algorithm update on 16 September

There is a possibility, though unconfirmed, that Google pushed a major algorithm update on 16 September.

Search Engine Roundtable published observations of forum chatter around traffic changes, some down over 20%.

There were also clear signs of volatility on the SERP trackers. Google have not made a statement as to what caused this.

Apple devices use Google again

Apple will switch back to using Google for web search within Siri on iOS and Spotlight on Mac.

Search features on Apple devices were changed to use Bing back in 2014. Google and Apple have recently made an estimated $3 billion deal, but this may be separate from that.

While there is an option to change the default search engine used by the Safari address bar, users cannot change Siri’s search engine.

Google local pack “website mentions”

Google is beginning to display a label on local business listings where the business’ website mentions a specific phrase from the user’s search query.

The label is displayed underneath the business information and reads: “Their website mentions [phrase]”.

It was not previously thought that content played a part in local ranking, though this proves that Google can understand if site content is relevant to a business listing’s information.

Edit Google My Business listings on SERPs

Google have added a new feature which allows users who are logged into Google My Business to edit their listings directly from the search results.

Business owners can now manage the main display options when their local listing is displayed in search. This can be triggered by searching for the business name.

SEO Market Updates: August 2017

Chrome to show “not secure” warnings

Google has sent notifications to Search Console property owners with sites using insecure HTTP regarding plans to display a “Not Secure” warning in the address bar on pages with input fields.

This is the beginning of a long term push to increase web security by persuading sites to use the secure HTTPS protocol.

Google My Business action URL update

Google has expanded support for “action URLs” within local listings set up using Google My Business.

More business types can now set up additional URLs for online orders, reservations and appointments, which are then displayed within the listing in Maps and search.

This will make it easier for potential customers to carry out common actions with a business.

“Product” label in Google Images

Following last month’s expansion of the display of structured data in Google Image results, thumbnails which contain product information now carry a label on mobile.

At first glance, these appear like ads; however, they are instead triggered by valid Product schema markup on the target page.

Google may End support for site name

There is evidence to suggest that Google may soon cease displaying custom site names within search results.

The site name could be set up for a site by using the WebSite schema markup. The documentation for the search feature has, however, been removed from Google’s developer docs site, suggesting a change in support.

There is not yet an official comment on whether this feature has or will be removed.

July Campaigns Round-up

July proved to be a busy month on the football pitch: the England women’s team demonstrated superb quality throughout the European Cup, defeating France for the first time in forty-three years to reach the quarter finals, before losing 3-0 to a clinical Netherlands side in the semis, whilst various high profile moves have consistently dominated the headlines.

Lest we get too carried away, last month was busy for content, too: some campaigns gloriously hit the back of the net, whilst others variably missed the mark. Join us for post-match highlights of last month’s campaign activity and trends!

Converse goes back to school

Amidst the new trailers for the second season of Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown, one of the show’s star actresses, has been making headlines all of her own, teaming up with Converse for a quirky back to school campaign titled ‘First Day Feels’:

Big Spaceship, the agency behind the campaign, converted the video into a range of GIFs, to be shared by leading relevant publications such as Buzzfeed and Teen Vogue.

Converse win feels boom success GIF

It’s a neat example of a brand creating compelling content by combining with a key influencer who bears enormous appeal to target audience.

Converse reaction crying upset cry GIF

Simultaneously, with her performance as Eleven fresh in our memories, Bobby Brown creates a great link between the brand and the Stranger Things series – a show that perfectly hits the retro notes that Converse are looking to replicate.

Whilst Tourism Ireland heads to Westeros

For years, vast parts of HBO’s iconic series Game of Thrones have been shot in Ireland. To commemorate the launch of season seven, Tourism Ireland immortalised the exploits of the series’ characters in a gigantic artwork based on the Bayeux Tapestry. At a colossal seventy-seven metres long, it’s actually seven metres longer than the original!

The artwork is available online in all its glory. The physical original is on show in Belfast’s Ulster Museum.

Football gets creative with transfer announcements

As cheques matching the GDP of small countries continue changing hands, the world’s leading football teams have decided to replicate their investment on the pitch with their creative endeavours off of it, producing imaginative, weird and wonderful videos to announce their new signings’ arrivals.

In particularly dramatically notes, Sevilla announced the return of their former captain Jesus Navas:

Whilst last month, Chelsea humorously revealed the signing of AS Roma’s Antonio Rüdiger:

https://twitter.com/ChelseaFC/status/884064814150111233

Of all teams contesting for creative premiership, however, AS Roma look set to clinch the metaphorical title, passing deftly to absurdity in their surreal announcements of Başakşehir midfielder Cengiz Ünder and Manchester City full-back Viktor Kolarov.

For Ünder, Roma’s fancy announcement video parodies the concept of YouTube highlights reels:

https://twitter.com/ASRomaEN/status/886495642968838144

For Kolarov, Roma’s fancy announcement video parodies the concept of, well, fancy announcement videos:

https://twitter.com/ASRomaEN/status/888873801831727104

Airbnb and Audi link up for Bayern Munich giveaway

As one of the world’s leading companies, it makes sense that Airbnb’s campaigns should rank amongst the best. Recently, we covered Airbnb’s partnership with a Chicago gallery that enabled guests to sleep in a real life envisioning of a Van Gogh painting.

Last month, Airbnb partnered with Audi to promote the Audi Cup, a football tournament based in Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena, lacing up their imagination and offering one lucky family the chance to sleep for a night on the stadium’s pitch, as the guest of FC Bayern defender, Jerome Boateng.

The prize was a holistic Audi and Bayern experience: a driverless Audi A7 collected the winners from the airport and drove them to the stadium, where they were introduced to the Bayern Munich players and given VIP seats for Bayern’s match against Liverpool. After the match, they were able to catch up with Bayern player Jérôme Boateng, one of the world’s best footballers, before getting a good night’s sleep on the green!

Like Converse and Bobby Brown, Audi and Airbnb’s partnership benefitted both brands considerably, especially with football thrown (or rather, kicked) into the mix: both Audi and Airbnb capitalised on promotional opportunities, where their combined contributions strengthened the overall campaign’s effect all the more.

With that, it’s auf Wiedersehn from us! Come back next month for all of August’s content news!

SEO Market Updates: July 2017

Google switching off instant search

Google are removing the Instant Search feature after 7 years.

Launching in 2010, Google Instant Search served search results to users as they typed their query in the search field.

Google have said that they will be removing this in order to make desktop search more similar to mobile search which does not have this feature.

Google images showing more structured data

Recently Google Image Search has begun showing additional information when viewing individual image results.

This expanded recently to products, showing price and availability when certain items were searched for.

This has now expanded further to videos (showing a watch button) and recipes (showing ingredients, time and yield).

New Google SOS Alerts feature

There is a new Google feature which displays important information about an event which poses a threat to life.

The SOS alerts appear for relevant search queries and display top stories, maps of the affected location, emergency phone numbers and websites.

The data comes from well know response agencies and will provide important information to those in dangerous areas.

Messaging within Google My Business

Google is beginning to roll out a new feature for Google My Business users in the US which allows searchers to message the business directly from search results.

After setting up the service, messages can be received and responded to by the GMB manager via their phone.

Google’s Allo messaging app can be used to simplify this process.

SEO Market Updates: June 2017

Google Posts now available on GMB

Google Posts is now accessible for all businesses using Google My Business.

Updates shared on Google Posts will appear as part of the business’ map result, as well as in the web search results.

Previously, the Google Posts service was only available to presidential candidates for the American election, then later to a handful of small businesses.

Major Google Algorithm update

Tracking tools were showing high volatility in the search results near the end of June, indicating that a major Google update was likely.

RankRanger and SEMrush, amongst others, were showing high amounts of fluctuation for the sites they track, beginning on or around 25 June.

Google spokespeople have not confirmed or denied that any update occurred and there is little information on what this may be targeting.

EU Issues Google with a €2.4B fine

The EU has levelled a €2.4 billion fine against Google for it’s Shopping search, claiming that they have abused their power.

This is the conclusion of a decade-long case claiming that Google favours its own content in search results, harming competitors.

The search giant now has 90 days to offer an “equal treatment” solution or risk more fines.

Improvements to hotel search

Google has been gradually improving its hotel search with new features recently.

The updated layout now features a price range slider, a new layout with price labelling and the full number of hotels within the current view.

It is thought that these updates will help Google to compete with dedicated hotel search engines like Hotels.com and Expedia.

Google Launches Google Posts

To a mix of excitement and surprise, Google have launched their new Google Posts feature, allowing all Google My Business customers to microblog directly onto the search results stream, enabling brands to reach their audience with unprecedented ease.

The Google Posts interface was first trialled in January 2016, in the build-up to the US election: Google gave electoral candidates the chance to summarise their responses to pressing political concerns in posts of up to 14,400 characters, and then made those responses visible on relevant search queries.  Searching for issue X, for instance, would show you the stances of politicians Y and Z towards it.

A year and a half later, Google has completely reimagined the tool and expanded its availability, now enabling all businesses to post content directly to the search feed.

Brands’ posts will be visible for up to seven days before they disappear, exhibited in a scrollable carousel that rotates up to ten posts at a time, in a move that encourages businesses to keep their content fresh and vibrant.

Like Facebook and Twitter, posts can be brought to life with images and photography, although the interface doesn’t currently support GIFs or video. There’s a 300 words limit; only the first 100 characters will appear immediately in the Knowledge Panel, encouraging brands to balance creativity and concision when delivering their message.

There’re various ways that posts can be made more actionable: they can be created as ‘events’, causing the content to display for the event’s duration as defined by the user, or they can be rounded off with a call to action, be it a link for users to follow for more information, or an ‘add to cart’ functionality for quick and easy purchasing.

The whole of the interface is superbly tailored for mobile use; it’s clear that mobile search lies at the heart of Google’s bold philosophy and plans for the future.

It ties in beautifully to the company’s ever-expanding focus on local search, empowering small businesses by giving them an even greater opportunity to spread the word of their services through curated content.

Google Posts equally presents a brilliant opportunity to larger multi-location brands, allowing for the publication of bespoke content relating to each store locality.

If there’s going to be an exciting event or a brilliant promotion running in your Leeds’ store, for example, you’ll be able to use Google Posts to advertise it specifically on the Leeds store’s GMB page.

It’s very new, and there’s certainly scope for several of the interface’s features to be improved, such as widening the list of available calls to action and broadening the reach of the Insights module, providing greater information for analysis.

Needless to say, Google Posts is an exciting direction for Google to be heading in, opening another channel for the creation and promotion of content, and one that brands would be wise to think about, too!

SEO Market Updates: May 2017

Week-long Google Update

A number of our reporting tools were showing dramatic changes for sites for a week in the middle of May.

Google spokespeople mention that they make regular updates which cause rankings to fluctuate. However, in cases like this, there is often a specific target for which they are attempting to improve the algorithm.

You can find out more on this extended algorithm update on Search Engine Roundtable.

Updated Hotel Review Features

Google have upgraded the features available in the reviews for hotels in the local listings.

Users can now see specific rating averages from different types of guests. It is also possible to filter the reviews to show only those from third-party sites like Expedia.com and Hotels.com.

Hotels have had some special functionality for a while in the ability to book and see pricing directly from the listings on Google.

Bing Introduces Business Chatbots

Microsoft is beginning to roll out automatic chatbots to local businesses. These are available to restaurants only initially and when activated they can be accessed through search Bing search results.

The chatbots use information available through Bing Places to answer the questions, otherwise referring to the business’ phone number. They will work with both Facebook Messenger and Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant.

Highlights in Local Google Listings

Some locations on Google are beginning to show highlights in their listings on mobile. These are specific perks for visiting consumers.

Examples of highlights shown include “quiet”, “good for kids”, “casual”, “good for groups”, “bar games”, “great cocktails” and “on critics’ lists”.

The data to display these highlights likely comes from responses to questions answered through the Local Guides programme.

Google is Now an Art Expert

Google has updated their Maps and Search functionality to provide more information about works of art and where they are housed.

Search results now display specific details about the artwork and the artist(s) and when the art was created.

In Maps, you can now take a virtual tour of art museums. Google have used visual recognition software to scan the walls, so each artwork is labeled with useful annotations.

SEO Market Updates: April 2017

Google Fact Check Now in Search Results

Google’s fact check schema markup, introduced during the 2016 US elections, is now out in core search and News results.

Google said: “When you conduct a search on Google that returns an authoritative result containing fact checks for one or more public claims, you will see that information clearly on the search results page.”

Any publisher can include the relevant markup on the page but Google will only display it for what it deems to be “authoritative” sources.

Google Test “Suggested Clip” for Video

A new Google feature was seen this month involving the video featured snippets.

For how-to queries, Google may suggest a portion of a video, recognising which section of the video contains the answer to the question. Clicking on the link takes you to the appropriate timestamp.

This feature cannot be replicated consistently, suggesting it is just a test.

Style Ideas and Similar Items in Image Search

Google image search results on mobile and in the Android app now display “similar items” for relevant searches.

Similar items will be displayed for a few types of products that contain Product schema markup on site. This currently only applies handbags, sunglasses and shoes, but the list will be expanding soon.

There is also an upcoming Style Ideas panel which will show similar products for certain clothing searches.

Google Owl Promotes Authoritative Content

A new Google update named Project Owl is designed to promote content with more authority.

This will be specifically beneficial around queries that could show offensive or misleading pages.

This also goes hand in hand with new feedback forms implemented for autocomplete and featured snippets.

“Best” Filter in Maps Pack

Google is beginning to filter the map results for local queries containing the words “best”, “outstanding”, “great”, etc.

When one of these searches is conducted, the 3 map locations are filtered to show only those with a 4-star rating.

This now makes reviews an even more important part of physical business’ local strategy.

15% of Google searches are unique

According to an announcement from Google, 15% of searches conducted by users daily are new and have never been searched before.

Google says that collectively it handles over 2 trillion searches per year in statistics released by them.

This reaffirmation comes after their announcement to provide more legitimate sources with Project Owl.

Google maps reminds you where you parked

Google Maps on Android and iOS can now remind you where you park your car when you set it manually upon arrival at a destination.

On adding the reminder, it is also possible to include a note and a reminder when your meter is close to running out.

Maps on iOS is already capable of automatically setting a parking location when disconnecting from USB audio or bluetooth in a new location.

SEO Market Updates: March 2017

Google’s “Fred” update disrupts SEO

An unconfirmed Google update on March 8 saw a number of sites fluctuate dramatically in rankings.

The name was coined after Google’s Gary Illyes jokingly suggested that this and all future updates should be called Fred.

Further analysis by data-collection company Sistrix identified that this update may be penalising sites with ad-heavy, low-quality content.

Google gives recommendations on SEO hiring

Google has created a new video on hiring a search engine optimisation service.

The video features Google employee Maile Ohye offering realistic advice on what to look for in an SEO service and how to sort the reliable companies from those that offer the impossible.

New podcast structured data type

Google has recently added the ability to display rich results for podcasts and their episodes in search results.

By including the appropriate markup on the podcast’s website, episode information and an embedded player can be shown directly in the SERPs.

This currently only applies to searches conducted on the Google Search app v6.5 and higher and Google Home, though support will be extending in the near future.

Google Posts program opens in US and Brazil

Google Posts is a new way for companies to pass information directly to Google. These posts then show up for relevant search queries.

The program was originally only available to a small handful of users, including the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns. It is now being opened up to more organisations, including museums, cinemas, musicians and sports groups.

Hacked sites increased 32% in 2016

In Google’s recently published State of Website Security 2016 report, they outlined that the number of hacked sites increased 32% in 2016 compared to 2015.

This is an incentive for more webmasters to verify their sites in Google Search Console, as the platform is able to provide email notifications if the site has been compromised.

Google also documented 3 common types of hacks and how to recover from these.

SEO Market Updates: February 2017

Google Phantom algorithm update on February 7

Data collected from a number of sites shows significant ranking movements both up and down which could have been caused by an algorithm update.

Google, however, have not confirmed or denied any algorithm change. There is speculation that Google is experimenting with improvements in evaluating large pages.

Based on the data that has been analysed, there is a high chance that this change is related to content quality.

Web directory DMOZ closing down

The DMOZ web directory has announce that it will be shutting down as of 14 March 2017.

Web directories existed as a way of manually categorising pages on the web before search engines became commonplace. DMOZ launched in 1998.

In the past, Google would occasionally use meta descriptions from DMOZ when the page’s description was not appropriate.

Google Assistant coming to more phones

Google Assistant, the artificial-intelligence powered successor to Google’s voice search facility, will soon be coming to smartphones running Android 6.0 and 7.0.

While many voice search users will not see a huge difference in the new service, Google Assistant aspires to be more conversational than simple query input.

In a recent survey, 60% of voice search users wanted more direct answers instead of links to third parties.

45% of top search results are HTTPS

Mozcast is now showing that 45% of top 10 Google search results are using HTTPS.

Dr. Pete from Moz projected that 50% of the results will be HTTPS by June 2017.

With HTTPS taking over, it is more important than ever that sites which remain on the unsecure HTTP protocol make the switch in order to compete in organic search.

Fusion Unlimited Nominated for Four Northern Digital Awards

Northern Digital Awards Shortlist Badge

Rounding off an excellent year for Fusion Unlimited, we are delighted to have received four nominations for this year’s Northern Digital Awards including Large Digital Agency of the Year.

Presented on the evening of Thursday the 26th of January at New Dock Hall in Leeds’ Royal Armouries, the Northern Digital Awards celebrate the region’s most significant achievements in digital marketing, with a panel of judges who rank among the industry’s biggest names.

The Large Digital Marketing Agency of the year award is for those agencies who, in the judges’ opinion “have produced fantastic results and made a positive contribution to the industry. The judges will be looking not only at levels of business obtained but also for examples of the standard of work delivered for their clients”.

For our work with Your Move on a hyper-local PPC campaign that specifically tailors marketing activity to the areas in which Your Move operates, we’ve been nominated for the Northern Digital Award for Best PPC Campaign.

Elsewhere, our successes with in-house software development have seen us receive two nominations for Best Digital Tool or Software: Fusion Feed Catalyst intelligently and dynamically aligns paid search and marketing activity to correlate with clients’ varying stock, pricing and promotional campaigns, while Natural Edge enables our clients to gain a bespoke insight into their SEO performance at a regional and retail location level & identify strategies accordingly to drive improved SEO visibility.

With our ‘Retail Marketing campaign of the year at the Online Retail Awards and 5 nominations at the National Search Awards, this has been a year to remember for our clients and all the team here at Fusion!

Fusion Nominated for 3 UK Search Awards

Uk Search Shortlist

We’re delighted to share that Fusion Unlimited has been shortlisted for three awards at this November’s UK Search Awards, for our work across PPC, content marketing, and proprietary software development.

Our creation of a bespoke, hyper-local PPC campaign for Your Move and Reeds Rains has been shortlisted in the Best Local Campaign category. In the Best Use of Content Marketing category, we’ve been nominated for our execution of “The Ultimate UK Camping Guide” campaign alongside Halfords. Last but by no means least, our fresh from the lab Feed Catalyst tool is in contention for the title of Best Search Software Tool.

Now in its 6th year, the UK Search Awards is one of the most renowned celebrations of PPC, SEO, and Content Marketing work in the UK, spanning 28 categories and attracting hundreds of entries each year.

We’re proud to have been recognised for our hard work and innovation, and look forward to seeing if we can bring the awards home on the evening!

 

 

SEO Market Updates: September 2016

Google’s Penguin Algorithm now runs in Real-time

On September 23, Google announced that it’s Penguin filter, designed to devalue sites using link spam as a way to skew results in their favour, will be updating in real time. Previously this filter was only updated periodically, and sites penalised by it would remain penalised even if their status improved.

With real-time updates, however, Penguin is more granular, affecting only spammy areas of a given site, rather than the entire thing. It also releases pages upon the next crawl of the site if they have changed for the better.

Google Begins to show more AMP results

Google will now begin to show AMP-supported results inside of the standard organic results, as well as in the top stories, which have been displayed since February.

Large non-news companies including eBay and Shopify are now beginning to adopt the technology, which aims to provide content with 4x the speed and 10x less data usage.

While there has been no confirmation of a ranking boost for using AMP, Google is showing a label next to pages that support AMP technology.

Google adds new “science Datasets” Rich Data Schema

Last month Google introduced a new schema for marking up scientific data to be used to in rich snippets within search results. The schema can be used to display the additional metadata about the scientific information, including the author, source and license.

The types of format relevant to this markup could be:

  • a table or a CSV file with some data;
  • a file in a proprietary format that contains data;
  • a collection of files that together constitute some meaningful dataset;
  • a structured object with data in some other format that you might want to load into a special tool for processing;
  • images capturing the data

Google Updates Penguin Algorithm

Last Friday Google confirmed the fourth major update of its Penguin algorithm, “Penguin 4.0”. The news comes nearly two years after the previous update, Penguin 3.0, which on release in late October 2014 affected around 1% of UK/US search results.

Alongside the update Google has announced that Penguin is now part of its core algorithm, effectively meaning that Penguin 4.0 is the last update webmasters will see.

What is Penguin?

First launched in April 2012, Penguin is designed to stop websites seen to be using “spammy” techniques from appearing in Google’s search results. The algorithm looks to identify and penalise sites using “bad links”, which have been bought or acquired in an attempt to boost ranking positions.

Sites caught out by Penguin typically see a sharp drop in ranking positions, with recovery only a possibility after a number of steps have been taken to remove links seen as toxic.

Even after these steps have been taken, a site might not see recovery until the next refresh of the Penguin algorithm. As Penguin has traditionally been refreshed manually, many site owners have faced a long wait for improvements to be seen.

However, with Penguin 4.0 come two important changes.

Penguin 4.0 runs in real time

As part of the core algorithm, Google has said that Penguin will now run on a real time basis, in contrast to the manual refreshes typical of previous updates. This means that if a site is affected by the algorithm, and efforts are made to rectify any issues, then recovery of rankings should take place fairly quickly; basically, as soon as a site is re-crawled and re-indexed.

As Penguin is effectively now running constantly, Google’s Gary Illyes has stated that the company is “not going to comment on future refreshes”. Although not the end of Penguin, this marks the end of the algorithm as most webmasters have come to know it.

Penguin 4.0 is granular

Previously, the Penguin algorithm affected sites in a blanket way; even if only one page had one “bad link”, the whole site could be penalised.

Now, Google has said that Penguin “devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site”. Rather than a whole site being negatively affected, Penguin will now look to penalise on a page by page, or folder by folder basis. This means that whilst some pages, sections, or folders may receive penalties, others will not be affected.

Google has yet to confirm whether the Penguin 4.0 has been fully rolled out, with many predicting that the full update is likely to take place over a few weeks. Although webmasters could pre-empt any negative effects by performing a link detox, it’s positive for webmasters to know that any sites penalised will no longer face a long and frustrating road to recovery.

SEO Market Updates: May 2016

Voice search reporting may be coming to Search Analytics report

Hints from Google seem to indicate that voice query reporting will feature in the Google Search Console’s Search analytic report, although the company has remained vague on when that might be.

John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, announced that Google is searching for ways to display voice queries to webmasters via the Google Search Console. Mueller explained that Google are looking for ways to divide up whether people search via voice or keyboard in the Search Analytics report. According to John, Google are seeking to “make it easier to pull out what people have used to search on voice and what people are using by typing. Similar to how we have desktop and mobile set up separately.”

John went on further, to explain that because voice searches are usually done with long sentences, Google Search Analytics may not detect the search volume for the topic and group it together it with less-common keywords. John explained they are still debating internally what the best way to circumvent this issue is.

Search Analytics report gets update

The way in which Google calculates impressions and clicks in the Search Analytics report within the Google Search Console has been updated. Google posted the following on their ‘data anomalies’ page:

We refined our standards for calculating clicks and impressions. As a result, you may see a change in the click, impression, and CTR values in the Search Analytics report. A significant part of this change will affect website properties with associated mobile app properties. Specifically, it involves accounting for clicks and impressions only to the associated application property rather than to the website.

In your Search Analytics report you will see a line saying ‘update’. This is in reference to the new metrics which will come into use as of the 26th of April. John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, explained: “Other changes include how we count links shown in the Knowledge Panel, in various Rich Snippets, and in the local results in Search (which are now all counted as URL impressions).”

While most users noticed no change in their Search Analytics report, Google suggested that mobile users might notice the largest difference.

Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm boost rolls out

Google has released their latest algorithm, which is designed to provide a ranking boost for mobile-optimised websites in the search results.

Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, took to Twitter to make the announcement of the second version of the mobile-favouring algorithm. Google had previously hinted they would boost the algorithm back in March.

Google’s stated intentions with the update are to “increase the effect of the [mobile-friendly] ranking signal.” Additionally, the company has said any sites which are already mobile-friendly needn’t worry, and won’t be affected by the update.

The mobile algorithm is a page-by-page signal, which is the reason the update has taken some time to roll out fully, as Google has to asses each page separately. This means the impact of the update can take time to materialise.

One concerned Tweeter asked John Mueller if this update meant “mobilegeddon”. “No, not really. :)” came the reply.

Google expands featured snippets

Google has begun to use extended feature snippets for certain queries. Featured snippets are the information displayed at the top of a search, before any site results. This information is displayed when Google is able to collect information that it is confident can answer your query immediately.

Now, Google has extended this feature, with ‘related topics’ appearing below lengthened snippets. The related topics contain a brief explanation and links to other Google queries.

Fusion SEO Market Updates: April 2016

Google issues new mobile friendly warnings

A month after Google boosted the mobile-friendly algorithm, Google have changed the way in which they inform site owners if their website is not optimised for mobile users.

When a site owner searches for their own website on their mobile phone, if it’s not optimised, the result for the site will include a small notice above the meta description saying, “Your page is not mobile-friendly”. The message a hyperlink, and when clicked, will take users through a Google help page with more information about mobile-friendliness. For all other users searching for the website, no such message will be displayed.

Google’s John Mueller has confirmed that the feature is an experiment to see how mobile friendliness can be boosted across the internet.

Sites penalised for free product review links

In the first week of April, Google issued penalties to websites found to be hosting “unnatural outbound links”. Issued by the Google manual actions team, the penalties are aimed at websites linking to other sites with the aim of manipulating Google rankings.

Several days after issuing the penalties, it emerged that the unnatural link building in question was specifically in relation to free product reviews featured by bloggers, in exchange for links.

Following Google’s guidelines issued several weeks earlier advising bloggers to disclose free product and ‘nofollow’ their links, Google has now acted on its warning, and sent out manual actions to those sites that did not comply.

Google sent 4 million messages about search spam last year

Google has announced it’s latest development in it’s bid to clean up search results.

Over 2015, Google explained that they noticed a 180% increase in websites being hacked since 2014, as well as the number of websites with sparse, low quality content increasing. In order to counter this, Google unveiled their hack spam algorithm late last year. By sending out 4.3 million manual notices to website owners and webmasters, Google were able to clean up “the vast majority” of the issues stated.

Google saw a 33% increase in the total number of sites going through the reconsideration process, which shows the importance of verifying your website in the Google Search Console, which allows you to receive alerts when Google finds issues with your website.
Additionally, Google received over 400,000 spam reports submitted by users, and was able to act on a whopping 65% of them, thanks to over 200 Hangouts aired to help webmasters.

Fusion SEO Market Updates: March 2016

Google reveals top 3 ranking signals

Last year Google stated that it considers RankBrain – it’s machine learning technology – to be the third most important search ranking factor. Whilst this information led to much speculation about what exactly RankBrain is and does, many were more concerned with another question; if RankBrain is only the third most important signal, then what are the other two?

Until last month, this wasn’t information that Google seemed ready to divulge, even after repeated questioning. However, in Q&A with Google’s Search Quality team, the top two signals were finally revealed; links, and content.

This information doesn’t exactly come as a huge surprise; Google has driven in the importance of “quality content” and linkbuilding for years.

Plus, given that RankBrain isn’t so much a signal as a system that uses signals, and that links and content are influenced by a number factors, this is just the latest in Google’s long list of vague announcements.

Google updates search quality guidelines

Google has released another version of it’s search quality rater guidelines, less than 6 months after the release of the previous document.

The documents don’t appear to be too different from those released back in November 2015, with many sections remaining unchanged, and others receiving only slight tweaks.

However, a number of areas appear to have been de-emphasised. Supplementary Content, the potential negative or positive effects of which have been explored in previous documents , now receives much less attention.

On the other hand, areas such as local search – now termed “Visit-in-person” in the updated guidelines – have been emphasised and redrafted. Mobile also receives more attention, with more illustrations of high and poor quality search activity using Mobile search as an example.

Other sections have been completely cut, leading some to believe that Google no longer requires human evaluation of these factors, relying solely on algorithmic evaluation. If anything, the revision of the guidelines so soon after the previous release also illustrates the constantly evolving nature of natural search.

My Business ranking factors documented

Google has updated it’s help section on improving local rankings, vastly expanding on the previous document with a number of more in depth pieces of advice.

Whilst much of this appears to be common sense – ensure your business is verified, make sure to post accurate opening hours, respond to reviews, add photos of your business – it’s good to have what Google considers important for local business search in writing in one place.

The section frequently mentions and stresses the importance of three factors when creating My Business listings; relevance, distance, and prominence. A listing has relevance if it closely matches the terms users are searching for. Distance refers to how close a listing is from the terms users are searching for; e.g. are users searching for a different location than that stated in the listing? Prominence relates to how well known a business is, and takes into account existing offsite information such as reviews and articles and how these can positively affect local rankings.

Fusion SEO Market Updates: February 2016

Feb - Market Updates

Google updates AdWords, stalls Search Analytics

Donkeys

Last month, Google made major changes to the way ads are displayed page, with the removal of right hand side results from the right side of SERPs. Instead, a block of four Ads will be displayed at the top of the search results, followed by a further block at the bottom of the pages. It’s currently stated that the four AdWords block will only appear for “highly commercial queries” (e.g. “new car”, “home insurance”).

This means that in many instances organic listings will be pushed below the fold, with many speculating that this could lead to a lowered click through rate for natural search results.

Although there has been speculation as to how the Google ad changes will affect paid search, as of yet there has been fairly little comment on the changes from an SEO perspective. Alongside this, as Google’s Search Analytics report is currently stalled on February 23rd – coincidentally, around the time of the update – an independent analysis of the effect the changes could have on organic click through rate cannot yet take place.

Changes made to Knowledge Box

Platypus Knowledge

As of February 2016, the Knowledge Graph boxes that appear in Google’s SERPs can be manually updated by an of the account associated with the graph.

Previously, the information in knowledge box results was largely taken from structured data and schema mark-up on relevant websites. For example, if a business wanted its phone number, location, or social profiles to be displayed within its knowledge graph, this information would need to be included within the site’s schema mark-up.

With the recent update, “official representatives” of the company, person, or website associated with the knowledge graph can now “suggest a change” to the graph. However, this does not make schema redundant, and having valid and rich structured data is still important.

Although it’s not guaranteed that suggested changes will actually take place, the update gives a further degree of power to webmasters or account owners in ensuring that their site is visible in the SERPs.

Accelerated Mobile Pages now live

AMP

After being trialed in a mobile demo site, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages are now showing as live in mobile results for all users.

Initially announced by Google in October 2015, the Accelerated Mobile Pages project is designed to help boost page speed, cut load times, and result in a faster mobile search experience.

The open source initiative is currently backed by around 6000 developers, with thousands of sites currently signed up to show AMPs.

At the time of writing, Google has declined to comment on whether accelerated mobile pages are likely to receive a ranking boost. However, when asked about AMP and natural search, Google’s David Besbris reiterated that page speed and load time are both relevant ranking factors. This hints that at some point in the future, Accelerated Mobile Pages could be treated preferentially in comparison to regular pages.

Study shows outbound links could affect rankings

In January, Google’s John Mueller stated that outbound links are not used as a ranking signal.

However, the results of a recent study suggest that this might not be the case. To test Google’s claims, US based SEO agency Reboot Online conducted an experiment to find whether outbound links really do have no effect on rankings.

Reboot created 10 new web pages, each containing similar but not identical copy. Each page contained a control nonsense keyword – Phylandocic – that before the experiment resulted in 0 search results. 5 of the 10 webpages linked out to high authority sites like the University of Oxford, and 5 contained no outbound links.

Once the webpages had been crawled, a search for Phylandocic resulted in the 10 webpages being displayed in the SERPs. It was found that the top 5 webpages were those that linked out externally, whereas the bottom 5 were those that had no links whatsoever.

Whilst the conditions of the experiment were by no means natural, the results seems to indicate that linking externally could in fact have some benefit to a site, going against Google’s recent comments.

Fusion SEO Market Updates: January 2016

Jan 16 - Search Update

Google core search algorithm updated

In mid January Google confirmed that an update to it’s core ranking algorithm had taken place.

Core Search

The news came after a number of webmasters reported significant ranking fluctuations, leading many to believe that the impending Penguin update was to blame.

On top of this, Google stated that it’s Panda algorithm, which is responsible for detecting poor quality or “spammy” content, is now incorporated within the it’s core search algorithm. However, it’s been made clear that Panda wasn’t refreshed within the recent core update.

Whilst details of the exact nature of the update are still thin on the ground, many of the ranking drops reported by webmasters occurred on sites that had thin or poor quality content; publisher websites were particularly hard hit.

With this in mind, and with the Penguin update set to drop soon, webmasters should be checking rankings regularly.

Title tags not a “primary ranking factor”

In a Google Q&A session last month, John Mueller stated that having title tags is not a “primary ranking factor” for a page.

Mueller’s initial statement was that title tags are not a “critical ranking factor”, which led many to assume that tags are not a ranking factor at all.

Title Tags

However, in a clarification Mueller said that “titles are important! They are important for SEO. They are used as a ranking factor”, but that specifically targeting a large number of keywords in a title tag is likely to have negligible benefit for the page. “It’s not worthwhile filling [title tags ] with keywords” as this won’t help a page rank, and can be bad for user experience.

Instead, Mueller stated that the main ranking signal on a page is the content, saying that “the actual content on the page” is a critical ranking signal, and that if a page has good content it could in theory rank without a title tag. Whilst this doesn’t mean that title tags have no importance, it’s perhaps a sign for webmasters to rethink how they’re using them.

Google updates webmaster guidelines

Checklist (resized)

Last month Google carried out quiet changes to it’s webmaster guidelines, the best practice document that acts as a “do’s and don’t’s” list for webmasters.

consisted of clarifications or minor edits to existing points, the new changes contain entirely new guidelines, with the removal of certain guidelines.

One of the most significant new additions is the recommendation that sites use HTTPS, with Google saying “If possible, secure your site’s connections with HTTPS”. Whilst this has been something Google has informally pushed for a while, the update makes having HTTPS a best practice requirement.

The updates now also include optimisation for mobile as an official guidelines, stating “Design your site for all device types and sizes, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones.”

Other additions relate to accessibility, and the use of content containing tabs, with Google saying that any important content that might be hidden by a tab should be made “visible by default”.

Outbound links not a ranking factor

Links

In a recent Google hangout, Google’s John Mueller cleared up the question whether linking out externally to high quality websites provides any benefit.

When asked if Google considers external links to other sites as a ranking factor, Mueller stated “external links to other sites, so links from your site to other people’s sites isn’t specifically a ranking factor”.

Whilst not commonly accepted as a ranking factor, external linking has been viewed by some SEO’s as something that could bring a small benefit to the linking site, in part due to the fact that inbound links do have a ranking benefit.

However, Mueller says that the only potential benefit of external links has is that they can “bring value to your content”.

Whilst this has been stated by Google before, this is perhaps the clearest answer we’ve had on the matter so far.

Instagram Set to Launch a New Advertising Interface

Instagram Set to Launch a New Advertising Interface

With over 300 million global users, and a user base consisting largely of high-income millennials, advertisers have long been waiting for the opportunity to advertise their visual content on Instagram. Thankfully, this is now becoming a reality for marketers of all sizes…

The benefit of advertising on Instagram

Everyone recognises the value of Instagram as a beautiful, visual hub which allows for real-time content sharing. However, what some may not realise is the potential of utilising the platform as part of a paid strategy.

With organic reach dropping, Facebook advertising has increasingly become an intrinsic element of social media planning – but recent results released by Instagram suggest that money would be well invested in this photo-sharing channel too. Instagram has reported a click-through rate of almost double that of Facebook for August, at 1.50%*. It would seem that this long awaited change will bring big profits for Facebook indeed…

Who can advertise on Instagram?

Previously, Instagram advertising favoured large companies with substantial advertising budgets – much to the dismay of many smaller businesses. The previous method of buying ads was also rather outdated, with ads purchased from Instagram’s sales team. However, Instagram ads are now being brought into the 21st century and will now be available through a new API as well as Facebook power editor.

Unsurprisingly, since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, the new system is set to be similar to the self-service format of Facebook advertising – allowing anyone to advertise their content on the platform, and have more control over the process. Automation should also help to reduce the costs associated and should present opportunity for both small and large scale businesses (and budgets!)

What do Instagram ads look like?

Instagram ads are available in standard Instagram formats; this includes a 612x612px square image, or a short 15 second video. Additionally, carousel adverts are available – mirroring the introduction of carousel ads in Facebook. According to Facebook, these are seeing great success from an ROI perspective, so are definitely worth exploring within Instagram too:

‘[Facebook] Advertisers have seen carousel link ads drive 30-50% lower cost-per-conversion and 20-30% lower cost-per-click than single-image link ads…’

Instagram ads appear within the feed, amongst other visual content shared by accounts that a given user follows. In order to ensure transparency, a ‘Sponsored’ icon appears in the top right-hand corner, along with your chosen call-to-action at the bottom. When clicked, this call to action takes the user to the URL specified when setting up the ad.

Targeting Instagram ads

As previously mentioned, there are many young and affluent individuals using Instagram – user demographics convey an ideal audience for many companies and marketers. Whilst this generalised overview paints a positive picture – as with any form of advertising – relevant, precise targeting can really help to optimise ad performance.

Up until now, limited targeting has been available on Instagram – allowing advertisers to specify an audience based on basic demographics including age, gender and country. However, the new system will now integrate with Facebook to provide more detailed user insights, enabling marketers to more accurately target their ads to a relevant audience. In turn, this ensures that users are exposed to content that is valuable to them; this is a win-win approach and helps to create greater value for both parties.

Monitoring performance

The Instagram Ads API will offer greater flexibility over every aspect of advertising within the platform – from scheduling, to targeting and optimisation. Arguably one of the most valuable aspects of the new system is the ability to access and analyse detailed campaign performance data. Again, this will be similar to the data displayed in Facebook Ads Manager and will allow advertisers to measure the success of their efforts.

When will it be available?

Whilst the date of when the API will become universally accessible remains unknown, the company are currently in an expansion phase. They are increasing the number of advertising partners that they work with in preparation for the wider launch.

It is also now possible to create adverts that appear on Instagram through Facebook Power Editor when using the Mobile App Installs or Clicks to Website objectives. In the coming weeks, we can’t wait to begin testing the performance of these ads across a number of clients…

 

*Source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/instagram-ads-exceed-facebook-click-140623223.html

Fusion SEO Market Updates: August 2015

August

Panda 4.2 update still in progress”

In July 2015, Google announced a “slow-rollout” of Panda, saying that the latest update would be continuous and occurring over a larger space of time than previously. For this reason, it was suggested that websites might not notice ranking increases or decreases immediately.

Panda 6

After a month of Panda 4.2, reports from webmasters have been mixed, with many sites as of yet seeing little to no influence.

Other webmasters have noticed short term ranking increases or decreases occurring over 1-2 week periods, only for a site to return to it’s pre-Panda standing. This has led to some to speculate as to whether the 4.2 update has been “reversed”.

However, it’s more likely that these ups and downs are simply due to the slower nature of the 4.2 refresh; in fact, Google warned that this rollout may result in ranking fluctuations. As such, webmasters shouldn’t accept any ranking changes attributed to Panda 4.2 as permanent, and should anticipate subsequent fluctuations as the refresh continues.

Going “mobile only” is fine

Websites only operating with a mobile versions, and without desktop, will not see adverse ranking effects, so says Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller.

This statement follows the mobile friendly update rolled out earlier in the year, after which not having a mobile friendly site could have a negative effect on a sites search rankings.

Muller states that “you definitely do not need a specific desktop website in addition to a mobile website”, so long as you“ make sure that desktop users can still see some [of your sites] content”.

This means that so long as sites optimised for mobiles and tablets are still usable on a desktop device, it isn’t a necessity for a separate desktop site to be created. However, a mobile site must still be properly optimised along Google’s outlines in order to rank well within mobile results.

Google clarifies position on soft 404 response codes

404 Error Small

It’s common knowledge that pages returning a 404 error code are not crawled by Google. In fact, Google even recommends to 404 pages that contain “bad links” pointing to them if these links can’t be removed.

However, it’s not widely known how Google treats so called “soft 404s”; pages that should be returning a 404 code, but actually return a 200 “ok” status code.

Recently, Google’s Gary Illyes and John Mueller both gave the similar responses when asked about soft 404s. Illyes said that soft 404 responses are treated like 404s, and thus pages where they occur are not indexed.

However, Mueller expanded on this a little, stating that whilst soft 404s aren’t indexed (and thus any links pointing to them have no influence on a sites ranking), Google first needs to work out that a page is a soft 404; something that Mueller states can be “difficult”. As such, before a soft 404 page is identified, it will be indexed, potentially carrying on equity –positive or negative – from links pointing to it. Once identified, as Mueller states that Google only indexes pages eliciting a 200 response, the soft 404 page will no longer be indexed.

Moz releases 2015 search ranking factors study

SEO software company Moz has released it’s annual search study, based on a survey of “over 150 leading search marketers” giving their “expert opinions on over 90 ranking factors”. Factors were rated on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being most influential and 1 being least.

Moz - Search Rankings 2015

The study shows that links remain a strong perceived ranking factor, with link features rated both 1st and 2nd highest by those surveyed. Keyword related factors were also rated as strong, coming in at 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th, whilst engagement was rated as the 5th most important ranking factor.

,p>Although the results are taken from a relatively small pool, they do serve to reinforce the importance that basic SEO factors can have on a sites ranking. Again, just because a factor is rated lower (e.g. social) doesn’t mean it’s influence is negligible; good rankings come from a range of these factors combined, rather than time invested solely in one area.

Google’s business model restructured

Alphabet - Business Model

On August 10th 2015, Google CEO Larry Page announced the formation of “Alphabet”, a public holding company for Google and it’s subsidiary businesses. Whilst Google will still be the largest business under the Alphabet umbrella, the restructure will result in a “slimmed down” and more streamlined Google. Following the restructure, Page will become CEO of Alphabet, with Google’s current Product Manager Sundar Pichai taking his place.

Alongside the creation of Alphabet, Google has received a brand update. The company has revealed a new logo and logo icons, and is slowly revealing updated search results pages. So far, there has been a large focus on mobile usability, mainly on Google’s own Android devices.

It’s unlikely that the restructure or re-branding process will have any direct SEO implications. However, the introduction of new usability features suggests that further prerequisites for mobile usability or schema mark-up could be implemented in future.

Image sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphabet_Inc.#/media/File:Alphabet_Chart-vector.svg

https://moz.com/search-ranking-factors

Fusion SEO Market Updates: July 2015

July - Market Updates

Google confirms Panda 4.2 now rolling out slowly

After months of speculation, Google have stated that as of 22nd July 2015, the Panda 4.2 update is now rolling out. Panda last updated around 10 months ago in September 2014, making this the longest gap between updates so far.

PANDA

The rollout means that sites penalized by the last update – which affects sites with “poor quality” content– should in theory be able to recover, providing they’ve made steps to stand in line with Google’s recommendations.
However, unlike previous updates, webmasters are unlikely to notice these changes immediately. That’s because Panda 4.2 is rolling out at a much slower rate than usual, meaning that any changes to rankings are likely to take place over a much longer period of time.

Speaking about the update, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller stated that Panda 4.2 is updating at a slower rate than normal due to “technical reasons” and an “internal issue”. With this in mind, it could take months for webmasters to see any positive or negative influence.

Webmasters warned for blocking JavaScript & CSS

CSS & JS - Search Console

Towards the end of July mass notifications were issued to webmasters through Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools), highlighting sites that appeared to be blocking CSS and JavaScript.

This follows Google’s October 2014 webmaster guidelines update, which warned that blocking CSS and JavaScript could result in “suboptimal rankings”. This is something the notification specifically states, before offering information on how to fix the issue.

Whist recommendations not to block JS and CSS may have been in place for a while, this is the first time that webmasters have been nudged en masse towards rectifying this.

However, webmasters in receipt of this notification shouldn’t worry, as it appears to be a widespread and often general warning. If you did receive this notification, the best course of action is to simply follow the steps within.

Google says all generic Top Level Domains treated the same

Globe

Back in 2014, the rules around generic Top Level Domains ( e.g. .com, .org) changed, essentially allowing for a whole new and unrestricted range to be created.

These changes brought on much speculation about how new gTDLs would be treated by Google, with many assuming that certain domains would receive preferential treatment. This was especially the case for geo specific gTLD’s (e.g. .london), which it was commonly assumed would rank higher in their respective locations.

However, in a recent Webmaster Central Blog Google’s John Mueller cleared up some misconceptions. As it turns out, the new gTLD’s are handled in the same way as the old gTLD’s, with Mueller stating that “our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs…. keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search”. This is the same for geo-specific TLD’s (although “there may be exceptions down the line”). However, Google does make an effort country code top-level domains (like .uk) to geo-target websites, but this is something that was already known.

Google summed up the rules around gTLD’s as “if you spot a domain name on a new TLD that you really like, you’re keen on using it for longer, and understand there’s no magical SEO bonus, then go for it ”.

Google clarifies position on asking for links

During July, a small post on the Portuguese Google webmaster blog attracted the attention of many in the SEO community, after it said that asking for links could result in a penalty for Google.

The translated post , with original emphasis, reads “let some advice to [sic] ensure you that you are not violating Google’s guidelines: do not buy, sell, exchange or ask for links”.

Linkbuilding has long been a standard procedure for SEO’s, and as such the implication that this practice inherently falls outside of Google guidelines was news to many.

However, Google later altered the post to read “do not buy sell, exchange or ask for links that may violate our linking webmaster guidelines”. So, asking for links and linkbuilding is not a violation of guidelines, so long as this is done in a manner Google approves of.

Fusion SEO Market Updates: June 2015

June 2015 - Market

Google says to expect Panda update soon

PANDA

At the start of the month, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes warned to expect a Panda update in the coming weeks. In typical Google fashion, Illyes was relatively vague in giving the exact timeframe of the expected update, being only as specific as “two to four weeks”.

Rather than an algorithm update, the most recent rollout is stated to just be a “data refresh”, meaning that sites hit by previous updates could potentially recover. However, this doesn’t mean that the refresh won’t have an impact on previously unaffected sites, and as always there is a risk of sites with poor quality content being hit.

At the time of writing – around 4 weeks since the announcement – signs of any update to the content quality update have yet to be noticed, meaning that the update could come at any time.

Google updates core search algorithm

In mid-June, webmasters reported seeing significant ranking changes, something of course first blamed on the expected Panda update. However, clarification from Google revealed that any ranking changes were most likely to be due to an update to the Core Search Algorithm, as the Panda updates had yet to take place.

Whilst Google regularly makes updates to its core search algorithms, it’s rare for these changes to have such a large effect on rankings. With this in mind, many have searched for other explanations for the ranking changes. One frequently cited influencing factor could be that Wikipedia –a number 1 search result – decided to change all its URL’s from HTTP to HTTPS. This could have affected the top 5 rankings for many searches, thus causing such a fluctuation in rankings across the board.

As always Google have been tight lipped, meaning that any explanations can only really be speculation.

Penalties now issued for improper schema implementation

Schema Penalty

Penalties issued as a result of May’s “Quality Update” have led to a reading between the lines of Google’s policies on structured data. In the aftermath of the update, some webmasters were given penalties relating to site schema; data used in order to show rich snippets, which can improve organic search visibility.

In March 2015, Google updated its policies on rich snippet markup, stating that this may only be placed on specific items and not whole pages or categories. However, either due to lack of awareness of the updated policy or misunderstanding of how to correctly implement markup, many sites were hit with warnings and penalties.

As such, to avoid penalties, it’s recommended that webmasters become au-fait with Google’s policies before implementing markup. Google also has a Structured Data Testing Tool, allowing developers to check whether markup is correctly implemented before making any real changes.

Google tests “slow to load” mobile results label

Slow to load label

This month, some mobile users have reported seeing “slow to load” labels in the mobile search results page. The labels – as seen in the right example – are designed to indicate to users that certain pages may take longer than average to load, or not load at all.

At the moment, the “slow to load” label is in testing, and as such not all users will be able to see them. A similar label was placed into testing back in February, indicating that some form of labelling for mobile devices is likely to be introduced fully at some stage.

However, there has been much speculation as to what exactly Google define as a “slow to load” page, and how this is determined. It isn’t known whether the labelling depends solely on the site or page itself, or whether the speed of an individual’s device or connection is taken into account. As such, some have expressed concerns that the labelling in its current form is arbitrary, giving little indication to webmasters on how to act to prevent a page or site being labelled.

Google reports spike in “near me” searches

Nearby search - June 2015

In the past year, searches with localised qualifiers have rapidly increased, Google recently reported.

In a post on the Inside AdWords blog, Google stated that queries with “nearby and “near me” qualifiers doubled, with around 80% of these searches coming from mobile. Google cited “heightened expectations for immediacy and relevance” for the increase, with a reported 4 out of 5 people stating they’d prefer search ads to be less generic, and specifically tailored to their city, post code, or immediate surroundings.

The information was released alongside details of a new ad format, specifically targeting “near me” searches. Google announced that from late May users searching in a “[business] near me” and “nearby [business]” format will be shown 3 or 4 different local business ads. Rather than containing simply copy, these ads will show buttons that allow users to find the location of, or directly call the business, as seen below.

Near Me - June 2015

Both directions and a call button have only previously been available on organic local business listings, with ads having only a call button; users will have had to click through to find out location details.

This comes off the back of November 2014’s location extensions update, which meant that users could potentially be shown 3 or 4 ads for different locations of the same business. However, with these latest changes, Google appear to be levelling the playing field somewhat, allowing for more businesses to achieve top of the page and above the fold ad space.

To view the statistics in full, and read more about the update, head over to the Inside AdWords blog.

Google Announce Custom Audience Targeting Feature

Custom Audience Targeting - Featured Image

Google has recently announced it has been in talks with advertisers about implementing a custom audience targeting function, which will run almost identically to Facebook’s custom audience tool and could be released as early as this year.

The way custom audience targeting works for Facebook is you, the advertiser, uploads a list of emails or phone numbers to Facebook and they will deliver your ads to those people if they are on Facebook with that email.
So how will custom audience targeting work for Google? Basically, exactly the same as it does for Facebook. Advertisers will be able to pass on lists of emails that they have acquired to Google, who will then be able to target these email addresses with tailored ads perfect for them. Google already has data on millions of email addresses as it owns one of the largest, if not the largest, email service in the world; Gmail (over 450million active users). Furthermore, Gmail asks for a secondary email when you first create your account.

Lookalike Audiences

The Facebook Custom Audiences also offers a Lookalike Audience function whereby it takes the data it has acquired from the Custom Audiences, such as what they have liked and followed, and uses this to create a lookalike audience which has similar qualities to the original custom audience.
Google does not have that same functionality that Facebook does with the likes and followers and whatnot, however, Google has something potentially much more precious from an advertiser’s perspective; the ability to infer user intent based on their searches, which you could argue is a lot more informative to marketers than Facebook’s social data.
Using this tool to its fullest you will no longer have to worry about your ads not reaching the right people, or the quality of the audience you are reaching, Google will make sure that they get there.

Importance of Email in Digital

When you log into anything nowadays, be it your Facebook or Twitter account, there is always one thing in common; you have to put in your Email. This means that your email is essentially your digital identity; without your email you do not exist online. You can find out a lot of things about a person based on what they use their email for and to marketers this could be very useful information.

Fusion SEO Market Updates: April 2015

SearchUpdateApril2015

Google finally rolls out mobile friendly update

On the 21st of April Google finally began to roll out its much anticipated mobile friendly update. Announced early on in the year, the exact nature and effect of the update has been heavily speculated about within the SEO community, with reported 4.7% of webmasters making changes to ensure that sites fit within Google’s requested parameters.

However, at the time of writing the update has had a far smaller impact than previously anticipated. As of the 1st of May, Google have said that the algorithm has fully rolled out in all of its data centres. However, the majority of webmasters have reported no big changes in mobile search results rankings, and those who’ve been tracking the update have seen no significant impact, as seen in the below graph from Moz.

April 2015 - MOZ Mobile Rankings

Google’s Gary Illyes stated that as many sites have not been re-indexed, they aren’t as of yet being affected by the new scores. This means it’s still possible for “unaffected” sites to be hit, and it’s still recommended that sites that are not yet mobile friendly be made so.

Google tests lightweight mobile results for slow connections

Google have continued their recent focus on mobile search results optimisation with the test of a “lightweight” display for mobiles with slow connections. Initially announced to simply effect mobile SERP’s, Google have now given webmasters the option to show a “toned down” version of their site to users on a slow connection. Whilst the lightweight version of the search results page is automatic, the option to strip out heavy images and files on a site will be down to webmasters to decide.

However, when tested on users in Indonesia, Google reported that sites that had opted in to lightweight display had a 4x faster load time, used 80% fewer bytes, and saw a 50% increase in mobile traffic – something surely likely to influence whether webmasters opt in.

Search Queries report being randomly replaced by Search Analytics in Webmaster Tools

At the beginning of the year, Google tested a new “Search Impact” report amongst a few select users, now renamed as “Search Analytics”. As well as the standard Search Impact features, the new report displays clicks, impressions, CTR and average search results position. On top of this, Search Analytics also allows for a comparison of these factors, broken down by specific queries, pages, devices, and country.

Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Zineb Ait Bahajji also commented that the report is “slow to catch up” at the moment, having only 90 days of data. However, this is expected to increase shortly. Whilst at the moment Search Analytics is only available to a random selection of users, it’s expected that at some point it will receive a full rollout and replace the Search Queries report.

Google begins replacing URL search result snippet with breadcrumb pathway

After a long period of testing, Google has finally started to replace site URL in the search results snippet with a site name and breadcrumb pathway. This update comes after years of beta testing and randomly selected rollouts, and is designed to “better reflect the names of websites”, Google has stated.

With this update, webmasters will be given the opportunity to better reflect site structure and content to users, and display a “real world” version of the site rather than a domain name. At the time of writing, this update has only affected mobile results in the U.S, but is expected to have a worldwide rollout in the near future.

In order to make sure these changes take place, webmasters will have to implement specific site name and breadcrumb schema within a sites source code.

Image Source: http://searchengineland.com/googles-mobile-friendly-algorithm-a-week-later-was-it-really-mobilegeddon-219893

Fusion SEO Market Updates: March 2015

SearchUpdateMarch2015

Google limits crawling of sites with response-times over 2 minutes

Whilst it’s well known that having a site with a slow server response and load time can have an effect on your search results rankings, exactly what Google classes as a “slow site” has been up for debate. However, in a recent Webmaster Help thread, John Mueller stated that if Googlebot takes “over 2 seconds to fetch a single URL”, this will affect how your site is crawled. If Google views a site as slow, it will limit the number of URL’s crawled on your site, affecting how well your site ranks.

Google give more details on upcoming mobile-friendly changes

Ahead of its release on the 21st of April, Google have clarified a number of points regarding the mobile-friendlyalgorithm. The roll-out is set to run over the course of a week in a real time, page by page basis. Real time means that a site may benefit from any mobile-friendly changes made as soon as Google picks up on these, and “page by page” means that only pages on a site that are mobile friendly will benefit, rather than the whole site. Again, Google stated the algorithm will run on a binary “yes/no” basis, meaning there are no in-betweens; Google classifies a page either as mobile friendly, or not. Google have also released details as to the scale of the algorithm, which is set to have a wider effect than both Penguin and Panda. Although set to only impact search rankings on mobile devices, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that ignoring Google’s mobile recommendations could result in dire consequences in the coming weeks.

Google set to penalise doorway pages

Sites that attempt to maximise their search results appearance with “doorway pages” are set to be hit by a new ranking adjustment, Google have announced. Doorway pages are pages specifically created to rank highly for certain search results, often containing little in depth or useful information and simply acting as a “doorway” to a site. As such, Google views doorway pages as leading to a bad user experience, and with these ranking adjustment updates, no longer wants to rank them. If your site currently has pages that could be classified as doorway pages, it’s likely you may see a ranking drop in the near future.

More than 80% of HTTPS URLs are not displayed in Google SERP’s

A recent webmaster trends analysis discovered that over 80% of HTTPS URLS are not currently being displayed in Google’s search results, instead appearing as HTTP. This is something Google puts down to webmaster configuration, with many webmasters not using HTTPS versions in sitemaps, rel-canonical, and rel-alternate-hreflang elements. This means that although a site is still indexed, it appears as HTTP. Google have previously suggested that they’d prefer sites to use the more secure HTTPS, always displaying this variant if possible and even affording a small ranking boost to sites that use this. Although the benefits might not be immediately visible, it’s worthwhile for webmasters to use and make visible HTTPS on eligible sites.

Fusion Unlimited Shortlisted In The 2015 PROLIFIC NORTH AWARDS

Prolific North Awards 2015

We’re excited to announce that Fusion Unlimited have been shortlisted as best SEO & PPC Agency in the PROLIFIC NORTH AWARDS 2015.

This year, the third annual Prolific North Awards will celebrate industry excellence and highlight and reward outstanding campaigns and exceptional talent in the creative and media industries across the North of the UK.

The 2015 award ceremony has attracted over 700 of the north’s leading creative and media professionals.

Winners will be announced at the award ceremony on Thursday 30th April at The Point, Lancashire County Cricket Club.

We’re  delighted to have been nominated for best SEO and PPC agency category and look forward to another awards night!

Fusion SEO Market Updates: February 2015

SearchUpdateFeb15

Google to start favouring mobile friendly sites in search
results page

Google has revealed a significant expansion of the effect “mobile-friendliness” gives sites within the search engine results page. Announced in a Webmaster Central blog, the changes are set to take place from April 21st. Sites that are deemed mobile-friendly will automatically be ranked higher in the device search results page than sites will low mobile usability. The algorithm changes are likely to significantly affect the mobile search results rankings, meaning that sites currently viewed as “unfriendly” should attempt to make changes before the algorithm comes into action in April. Read our in depth analysis of the changes here.

Google labels slow loading pages in SERPs

Users have recently reported spotting red “slow” labels in the mobile search results snippets of slow loading sites. These labels will warn users in advance before clicking on a site that the page may load slowly. Although Google has considered page loading speed when determining ranking factors since 2010, labelling pages for speed is something not previously noticed. However, based on the testing and introduction of the mobile friendly label last year, it’s possible this feature may turn out to be more than just an experiment.

Google tests new look mobile search results interface

Google may have just rolled out a new look mobile search results interface. Owners of iOS and Android devices have reported seeing a coloured line separator in the search results, rather than the typical grey line, as seen in the two examples below. The exact reason for the alternation is not yet known, and for some this might not seem like a huge change. However, it’s likely that this is a feature designed to increase mobile-usability, reflecting the increasing importance Google has placed on this area in the past few months.

Google test live chat functionality in knowledge graph results

Google have recently tested a “live chat” tool within the search results of local businesses. Displayed within the knowledge graph local box, the feature shows whether someone from the business is available to chat. When the feature is clicked a Google Chat/Google Hangouts page opens, allowing users and potential customers to chat with an employee. Some have expressed concern that the feature may have the capacity to affect CTR, and thus have a negative impact on SEO. For example, a potential customer may not need to click through onto the site of the business, as their query has been answered offsite through the live chat function. However, as this option is currently only in testing mode, these concerns are only speculative.

 

Fusion SEO Market Updates: January 2015

Search Update

Google starts sending “mobile-usability” warnings to webmasters

Following on from last year’s increased emphasis on mobile usability, Google has reportedly begun sending out warnings to webmasters of “mobile-unfriendly” websites. The warnings, sent out en-masse via Webmaster Tools and email, warn webmasters to fix mobile usability issues on the affected sites in question. Specific problems or affected pages are not listed within the warning message, and webcasters must download a detailed report to see these. This is yet another move from google to increase the mobile-usability of sites, and although not explicitly stated, a suggestion that an algorithm change may be in the pipeline.

Google can now crawl and index locale-adaptive webpages

Websites that automatically change their content depending on the location of visitors can now be crawled by Google, according to an announcement made last month. In a post on the Webmaster Central blog, it was stated that sites that have the capacity to change their language depending on visitor location/language settings will now be crawled and indexed, something that google has previously found difficult; in the past, Googlebot would only see the U.S English language version of locale-adaptive webpages. However, Google is still recommending that webmasters wanting to show their site is locale-adaptive continue to use the suggested rel=alternate hreflang annotations, to help Googlebot recognise that sites are locale-adaptive.

Mobile sites blocking Google now visible in search results

Google has announced that sites that are blocking Google’s crawlers will be made visible within the mobile search results page. Users will be able to tell a site is attempting to block Google by the information in the search results snippet, which will specify the reason why the text is unable to be displayed (as seen in the below example). This has been a feature on desktops searches since back in 2012, but will now apply to all uncrawlable mobile sites, even if the desktop version is crawlable. Sites blocking Google mobile from accessing JavaScript, CSS, or image files for mobile usability purposes will be made visible, representing another push for webmasters to make their sites mobile friendly.

Social profiles for brands now visible in Google’s knowledge graph results

Google has started to display social profiles other than in the knowledge graph results of certain brands. Although a link to Google+ has previously been displayed for brands, the knowledge graph now displays icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Myspace. This feature has been previously available, but only for “personalities” and celebrities. Brands and companies wishing to have their social profiles visible in the knowledge graph will need to apply a new mark-up to their sites.

Image Sources:
http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2015/01/google-blocked-snippet-mobile.png

Fusion Unlimited nominated for 2 Northern Digital Awards 2015!

Northern digital

We are are very excited to announce that Fusion Unlimited have been nominated for 2 awards at the Northern Digital Awards 2015, in the competitive categories;

Best SEO Campaign for Ronseal and Best Digital Marketing Campaign – Finance for NatWest.

The Northern Digital Awards recognise the very best in digital marketing campaigns and talent in the North as well as reward websites across a number of sectors to reflect the ever-expanding online world that we trade and communicate in.

The ceremony will be hosted at the Royal Armouries in Leeds on the 22nd January 2015, and we are really looking forward to a great night with our clients and let’s hope we come back with a couple of shiny new awards to add to our collection!

How Longer Journeys To Sale Are Driving Up Marketing Costs

Maze

In response to an emerging trend amongst our clients we have done some in-depth research into changes in buyer behaviour over the last 12 months. This identified a significant increase in the volume of site visits customers are making before their eventual purchase, and this has major repercussions on marketing costs and strategy.

The key findings were that 80% of clients are seeing an increase in the length of the path to purchase, with journeys of 12 visits or more seeing the biggest growth at 85%.

This potentially leads to increased marketing costs, as you could be paying more times to get the same visitor back to your site in order to convert them. Businesses need to respond by developing a considered strategy for both reducing traffic costs for returning visitors and removing as many reasons as possible for users to leave your site before committing to purchase.

Head over to Econsultancy to read the full article on our research and recommendations for how clients should be responding to this little discussed trend.

 

Updated stats from Q4 2015

We revisited this analysis to see how things have changed in the last 18 months, and the results are quite surprising.

Only 40% of clients showed an increase in path to purchase between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015, with journeys of 12 visits or more up just 16%.

So have increases in journey length slowed?

It’s difficult to say, as we looking at increasingly disjointed data. Over the entire period from Q1 2013 to Q4 2015 desktop traffic dropped from an average of 70% of total traffic across the clients analysed to just 40%. So with cross-device measurement still not nailed in Google Analytics we are effectively looking at 3 silos of traffic across desktop, tablet and mobile. How many visits are really going on behind each of these segments?

With device fragmentation increasing but journey to conversion relatively static according to the data it certainly appears that journeys must be getting longer in the real world. One thing is certainly clear – the need for reliable cross-device tracking has never been greater.

How the Google Venice Algorithm Changes Your Local Search Strategy

How the Google Venice Algorithm changes your local search strategy

Google recently announced around 40 algorithm changes that have taken place during February 2012, or are about to be rolled out. Whilst most SEOs attention was drawn to the “link evaluation” point, and the fact that Google may soon make big changes to how they evaluate the characteristics of links to judge the content of a destination URL, it’s the roll out of an algorithm called “Google Venice” which has caught our attention today.

The “Google Venice” algorithm update focuses on local results. Historically, a generic keyword search e.g. for “fitted kitchens”, would most likely return a Google Places map result with some local listings, alongside some generic non-local standard organic results. However, we are now seeing many generic searches that generate a Places map result and generic results, as well as featuring some local results in the main organic listings.

Google uses a number of methods to detect where a user is based – most notably, the user can set their default location in their search preferences, and Google will also look at IP address and to some degree past search history.

This is big news on two fronts. First of all, there’s a clear advantage for businesses with a local physical presence to gain visibility for generic phrases amongst searchers in their area.

Secondly, bigger nationwide companies who have strong visibility for generic phrases despite not having a physical presence in the searcher’s area will most likely lose visibility, at the expense of local businesses.

Any business with physical and online presence must consider this as part of their search strategy if they weren’t before, at a local SME level as well as national multi-store retailers. Our recommendation would be to first identify searches relevant to your product and service which may trigger the Venice algorithm, and to ensure that on-page optimisation elements target those products/service combined with location. For businesses in one location this will most likely be your homepage, whilst multi-store businesses should scale this across individual location pages. The big challenge for multi-store businesses will then be tracking results for multiple phrases across multiple geographic areas, and it remains to be seen how effective standard off-site SEO practises will be in improving Venice results.