This week: LinkedIn has a new targeting option, Google explains neural matching, and AMP for email has finally arrived.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
AMP for Email Is Here
Now you can create a rich user experience in email with AMP technology.
AMP email allows you to:
- Update content in real time
- Enable email readers to interact with content
- Accomplish tasks within the email application
Google is already rolling out AMP email support in Gmail. However, it’s expected to gain the support of all the popular email platforms eventually.
Businesses that tested AMP email during its beta period include:
Pinterest enabled users to view and add pins from within an email message. For practical purposes, the UI within the email looked just like the Pinterest UI you would see on the web or mobile app.
If you’d like to send your own AMP emails, you’ll have to register with Google.
Google Reveals How It Handled Webspam in 2018
This past week, Google released its annual webspam report that explains how the company dealt with backlink spam last year.
Google didn’t get too specific, though. According to the report, it “made a number of bad linking practices less effective for manipulative ranking.”
The company was undoubtedly able to learn about those “bad linking practices” by visiting any black hat site on the Internet. Plenty of folks on those forums brag out loud about how they like to manipulate the search engines.
Also, Google said that the best way to avoid getting penalized is to stop building links as a primary means of earning a better rank.
Here are some other highlights from the report:
- There was an 80% reduction on how webspam impacted search rankings
- Google received more than 180,000 reports of search spam
- Google took action on 64% of the processed search spam reports
Google Explains the Difference Between Neural Matching and RankBrain
There’s been quite a bit of chatter within the SEO community lately about neural matching in search results. The discussion got the attention of Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan.
As a result, Sullivan took to Twitter to explain the difference between neural matching and RankBrain. I’ll summarize what he said here.
For starters, neural matching is an AI-based system that’s designed to relate words to searches.
“For example, neural matching helps us understand that a search for ‘why does my TV look strange’ is related to the concept of ‘the soap opera effect,’” Sullivan explained. “We can then return pages about the soap opera effect, even if the exact words aren’t used…”
You can think of neural matching as a “super synonym” system or a thesaurus on steroids.
In September of last year, Google said that neural matching was used in 30% of all searches.
RankBrain, on the other hand relates pages to concepts. It’s helpful in returning the best search results when web pages don’t include the exact words in the query.
Like neural matching, RankBrain also uses AI. It just uses AI for a different purpose.
LinkedIn Allows Marketers to Target Lookalike Audiences
LinkedIn continues to ramp up its advertising game.
Now, you can run ads that target a lookalike audience within the platform.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a lookalike audience, it’s a group of people who share the traits of your ideal customer.
LinkedIn tracks characteristics of each of its users. That’s how it knows which people are best suited for a specific lookalike audience.
According to LinkedIn, you’ll enjoy the following benefits when you use lookalike audience targeting:
- High conversion rates – Find people who are likely to convert because they’re similar to folks who’ve already shown an interest in your business.
- Increased reach – Extend your advertising campaign to people you haven’t yet targeted.
- New customers – Earn more revenue with focused advertising to people who are searching for a business like yours.
LinkedIn also said that people who participated in the audience lookalike pilot program improved their reach by 5-10x.
Google Stopped Supporting rel=prev/next and Forgot to Tell Anyone
If you were relying on rel=prev/next for SEO purposes, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Google hasn’t supported it for years.
It’s understandable that you didn’t know about that, though. Google forgot to make any announcement about it.
“We apologize for any confusion,” Google said in a statement. “This was an oversight and something that we should have communicated proactively before taking down the documentation.”
If you’re unfamiliar with rel=prev/next, it’s markup that was once used to inform Google if a web page is part of a series of pages that all cover a related topic.
Google prefers everything on a single page these days.
If you still have that markup on your site, you don’t need to remove it. Other search engines might use it even if Google doesn’t.
Bing, for example, still uses rel=prev/next markup.
Survey: Google Home Users Have ‘Far Higher’ Satisfaction Than Alexa Owners
It looks like Google Home users are happier than Amazon Alexa users.
According to a survey by Kantar Worldpanel, Google Home owners do more with their digital assistants and have “far higher” satisfaction than people who own Amazon Echo/Alexa devices.
The study also shows that the most common use case for smart speakers is streaming music. That’s followed by a request for a weather report.
Google Home owners are more likely to make calls, check business hours, order groceries, and control devices than people who use Amazon products.
Most Google Home users are male (60%). Most Alexa owners are female (54%).
Also, 16% of Google Home users now rely less on their laptop or desktop computers after purchasing a smart speaker.
There are currently over 100 million smart speakers in U.S. homes. Amazon holds about 75% of the market share.
Google: Schema Isn’t Required for Featured Snippets
Confirmed: you don’t need schema markup to land in the coveted “Rank 0” spot.
This past week on Twitter, somebody asked Google’s John Mueller if schema is required for featured snippets.
Mueller replied: “No, it’s not necessary.”
In 2015, Google said that schema markup might help get your web page in featured snippets.
Shortly after that, though, Gary Illyes said that Google doesn’t rely on schema for featured snippets.
Bottom line: you can’t go wrong by including schema markup on your site. So it’s still probably a good idea.
Google Introduces New Features for Keyword Planner
The next time you log in to Keyword Planner, you’ll see an announcement about new features. There are quite a few of them:
- Grouped ideas – Associate several keywords with a single idea
- Monthly search detail update – See more detail about monthly trends and search volume
- Add to existing campaigns – Save new keywords to a campaign you’re already running
- New competition column – Check out ad competitiveness for a specific keyword
- Daily budget suggestions – Get assistance in budgeting when you add a new keyword
Reddit US Ad Revenues May Top $100 Million This Year
According to eMarketer, Reddit ad revenue could reach $119 million in 2019.
That number is expected to double by 2021.
“Reddit’s users are tech-savvy and highly engaged, making them attractive to advertisers,” said Monica Peart, eMarketer forecasting director. “A large portion are unique users, meaning they don’t use other social platforms. That means advertisers have the potential to reach new audiences in a highly targeted way.”
The so-called “front page of the Internet” has benefit from two recent innovations:
- Improvements to its ad platform
- A change in its user interface
Some people also think that Reddit is benefiting from social media users who are moving off of Facebook over privacy concerns. Reddit doesn’t force people to use their real names when creating an account.
Ahrefs Is Creating Its Own Search Engine
This past week, Ahrefs CEO Dmitry Gerasimenko announced that his company will create its own search engine.
Yes. Just like Google.
Gerasimenko said the Ahrefs search engine will reward content creators by showing links instead of scraped content in search results.
In other words, users will have to click a link and visit a site if they want the info they’re looking for. They won’t get it directly from the search results as they do with Google’s featured snippets.
Of course, that’s helpful to publishers. It isn’t necessarily helpful to users.
Gerasimenko also said that his search engine will offer a profit-sharing model that will benefit sites like Wikipedia.
This is a pretty big deal. Look for further announcements in the coming months.