Ready for some SEO news? Things have been moving just a little as the year gets into motion.
Here’s what happened this week in SEO.
Google Maps updates for both iOS and Android
Google has released updates for the Maps app on both iOS and Android that are based on time data. The Android maps update will display parking difficulty information about your destination using icons from easy to medium to limited. The ratings are based on historical parking data.
The parking difficulty feature is only available in 25 metropolitan areas in the US so far: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington DC. Just update your Google Maps in the Google Play Store to get the parking difficulty feature.
The iOS update to Google Maps is an integration with the Popular Times feature that offers real-time insight into how busy a location is when you search it. Although “Live” Popular Times have been available since November in web search, this is first time they are present on iOS. The data on specific locations’ foot traffic comes through mobile phones’ anonymous location data and shows average time spent in the location and how busy the place is currently.
The Popular Times graph “live” data is only available in metropolitan areas for heavily trafficked locations at the moment. To use these new features, just get the latest iOS update.
Facebook changes how it identifies what’s trending
On January 25, Facebook announced three changes to the way its trending topics section works. First, algorithmically selected headlines will now appear in the Trending section based on a combination of factors including links to the story, overall engagement of the publisher, and article engagement. This means trending stories won’t be automated.
Second, the Trending section will focus on topic popularity, based on both how much engagement and how many publications have published on the same topic, to identify trending topics faster. This will replace Facebook’s past approach which looked for high engagement alone. Finally, there is no more personalization of trending topics; everyone in the same geographic area will see the same topics.
Google bad ads report
On January 25, Google released its bad ads report for 2016. Beginning in November of 2016, Google reviewed 540 sites total, took action against 340 of them, and permanently banned 200 for promoting misrepresentative content. This is the first fake news section in Google’s bad ads report.
Google Adwords also removed 1.7 billion ads in 2016 for violating its policies—more than twice as many bad ads as they removed in 2015. After banning payday loan ads in July 2016, Google has removed more than 5 million of them. Google also removed 80 million ads in 2016 for deceiving, misleading, and shocking users; 68 million ads for healthcare violations, up from 12.5 million in 2015; and 17 million ads for illegal gambling violations.
In 2016, Google disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking mobile ads, and removed 7 million ads for intentionally trying to trick their detection systems. Google Ad words also penalized more than 75,000 “bad sites,” which have bad ads pointing to them.
Quarterly Paid Search Trends report from iProspect
Digital marketing agency iProspect called 2016 “the year of efficient growth” in its recent quarterly Paid Search Trends report. According to the report, click volume rose and cost per click (CPC) went down; impressions rose 19 percent, and clicks were up 15 percent; and click-through rates (CTRs) remained steady compared to 2015 for the first three quarters of the year, and then fell in Q4 thanks to increased holiday competition, CTR 3 percent overall.
iProspect reports that mobile ad clicks surpassed desktop clicks for the first time in 2016, with mobile devices garnering 52 percent of clicks. Biggest affects on Q4 performance were from two trends iProspect believes will continue in 2017: a 26 percent year-over-year CPC increase on mobile ads and a 41 percent spend increase in Shopping ad CPCs.
Possible Google update
On January 24, SEO Roundtable reported that the previous 24 hours of chatter about ranking and traffic changes from Google on the WebmasterWorld thread experienced an upswing and seemed to indicate a possible update.
This was further suggested by updates to many of the tracking tools. However, Barry Schwartz reported that he thought the update was either fairly minor or was just starting.