SEO news is finally picking up a little bit, as the last seven days showed.
Here’s what happened this week in SEO.
Matt Cutts Officially Resigns from Google, Confirms He’s Staying Acting Administrator of the USDS
Matt Cutts, Google’s webspam team captain, officially confirmed that he will not return to Google. He resigned on December 31, 2016.
Originally Cutts took a three month leave of absence from Google in 2014 to work for the United States Digital Service (USDS) as the director of engineering. However, once he saw that his presence was having a real impact, he extended his leave. In May 2015 his Google job duties were taken over by a permanent replacement, although he confirmed that he was still on leave. Eventually, he made the decision to stay.
His decision is particularly timely in that Mikey Dickerson, the first USDS administrator, will be leaving the service because he is a political appointee for the outgoing Obama administration; he will therefore be gone today, January 20. Cutts will be taking Dickerson’s place.
The mission of the USDS is to use design and technology to improve the delivery of government services to the people. For example, the service works to improve how online platforms for government services work and seeks out high-level technology talent for public service positions.
Google Intrusive Interstitials Mobile Penalty Having Minimal Impact
According to Search Engine Roundtable, although a few sites have been hit with the Google mobile interstitial penalty since it started to roll out on January 10, very few appear to be getting hurt. SERoundtable speculates that this may be because the penalty is not yet rolled out, and that Google may yet be tweaking it so the full extent of its penalizing power has yet to be seen.
Google testing new local inventory ads look
Google is apparently testing a new look for local inventory ads (LIA) in order to monetize local queries using mobile devices. Search Engine Land says the new look seems to give shopping ad results in place of organic local pack results. Clicking on the results takes you to Google’s local inventory ad landing page.
Study reveals which search terms have the best and worst click-through rates
Search Engine Land reported on a new study from Seige Media shows that many search terms aren’t performing as well as you might imagine in terms of click-through rates (CTRs) from search engine results pages. The study listed the best 42 keyword terms and their average CTRs. In order to analyze the best terms, the study assessed the top 50 keyword stems to see which did and didn’t inspire clicks.
While some of these terms weren’t that surprising, like knowledge graph answers such as “definition” or “translation,” others were more puzzling. For example, “How To” only received a 52.89 percent CTR.
DuckDuckGo reaches 14 Million Single Day Search Milestone
On January 19, DuckDuckGo announced that it hit a milestone of 14 million searches in a single day. The company also said that the engine had been used for a combined total of 10 billion searches, 4 billion of which took place in December 2016. Search Engine Journal reported that last year at this same time DuckDuckGo’s daily average was hovering at around 8–9 million searches.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that distinguishes itself by being both transparent and a protector of user privacy. Every DuckDuckGo search is anonymous, in that the company does not save user data or track searches. It does, however, make its own data available to the public.
Bing Ad Extensions Scheduling Feature
The Bing ads team has announced that a new ad extension scheduling feature is available in all markets. The feature allows users to control when your extensions are delivered, so advertisers can manage ads more efficiently and time them to coincide with time-sensitive promotions, store hours, or other times that reduce wasted clicks.
The scheduling feature is rolling out globally for almost all Bing Ads extensions, including the app, call, callout, location, review, sitelink, and structured snippet extensions. Scheduling is not yet available in Bing Ads Editor, but will be available in Bing Ads Bulk Upload, Bing Ads API, and the Google Import function.
When your account has ad extension scheduling available, you’ll see it at the ad extension level. Look for a “Selected days and hours” section there, and then decide whether you’ll time your extensions based on your account’s time zone or yours. Then you’ll just set specific days and times.
Android Google App Will Save Searches if You Lose Your Connection
If you’re tired of losing your searches when you have intermittent Internet access, you’ll like Google’s latest updates to the Android app. Google will now return to your search results automatically if your search fails because of a poor connection—as soon as the connection is back. The app will also save the results as soon as they come back.
French Search Engine Qwant Thinks it Can Challenge Google
Qwant, a French search engine, believes that it can and will beat Google. The engine began in 2013, and now serves 21 million users in 30 countries each month. In the last year alone the company has seen 70 percent growth in monthly users. It Is now integrated with Firefox and will soon launch a mobile app.
Qwant, like DuckDuckGo, does not track user searches to save their data. To maintain this position and stay accountable it has made its source code available to third-party data protection agencies. The company’s position is that they want others to verify that they are not collecting user data.
Qwant offers more than 31 search categories including cars, health, images, jobs, music, news, social media, and video. It earns profits through its pay-per-click advertising and partnerships companies like eBay and TripAdvisor; however, spokespeople say Qwant will never lead searchers to specific services instead of a better search results for business reasons.
Although Qwant is growing at an impressive rate, it has numerous challenges to address. Only 12 percent of Qwant users access the engine via mobile devices, for example. Furthermore, Firefox is currently the only browser option that allows Qwant as the default search engine option.