New Search Engine Rewards and Changes
Merry Christmas! I’m Paul Steinbrueck and welcome to OurChurch.Com’s monthly SEO Update for December 2015, keeping you up to date on what’s happening in the world of search and how it affects you.
We’ve got news concerning the 3 biggest search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo – plus info on how you can get rewards for searching and reviews.
1) Yahoo Partnerships Create Confusion for Advertisers
It seems like almost every month we have news concerning Yahoo partnering with another search engine. 6 months ago, they announced a new deal with Microsoft’s Bing, in which Bing would supply at least half Yahoo’s desktop searches. Then last month we told you about an agreement Yahoo reached with Google to supply some of its search results, pending government approval. Plus Yahoo has its own advertising platform it’s trying to get advertisers to use.
All of this has led to a lot of confusion for advertisers and some are choosing not to use Yahoo’s ad platform because of the extra time it would take to manage ads on a 3rd platform. Instead they’re hoping Yahoo displays the ads they already have running on Google and Bing.
This is significant because the worse Yahoo does in search, the less competition there is in search marketing, and less competition means less motivation for Google and Bing to make things better for users.
Speaking of less motivation to make things better for users…
2) Where Are the Search Listings?
A couple of years ago the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (or FTC), called out search engines for a decline in compliance with the rule that search engines have to clearly distinguish ads from organic search results. Well, media reporter Ginny Marvin recently pointed out, instead of becoming more compliant, search engines have actually moved in the opposite direction making it even harder to distinguish which items on the page are ads from which are actual search results. Yahoo is the least clear, with Google and Bing not far beyond.
Meanwhile, Google continues to take up more real estate on the search results pages with ads, leaving less space for organic results. The latest changes are in the results they show mobile users, where they’ve added a 3rd text ad above the organic results. They have also made the product listing ads dramatically larger. Now if you search Google on your phone for a product, the product ads are so large they are the only thing you see unless you scroll down.
These changes have been great for Google and its stock holders, contributing to a 30% growth in mobile ad revenue this year, but not so good for people who are looking for search results or organizations who want to connect with people searching. Makes me wonder if eventually Google is going to discontinue organic results entirely and just show us ads.
3) Google Updates Quality Raters Guide
In its effort to continuously improve its search results, Google has a group of quality testers that manually test and rate the sites that come up in its search results. Google gives these testers a privately held “quality raters guide” that explains what the raters are to look for and how to judge the quality of the results.
The guide doesn’t affect search rankings directly, but it gives us clues as to what Google is emphasizing and what types of sites Google considers lower quality and wants to push down in the search results.
Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post reports that Google has updated its quality raters guide. Not surprising, the guide focuses heavily on mobile, rating sites that are not mobile friendly poorly. Other things that it rates poorly are outdated content, pages with lots of ads, and pages with poorly written or scraped content.
In other words, it’s another hint that sites need to be mobile-friendly and updated regularly.
Speaking of mobile-friendly…
4) Bing Launches Mobile Friendly Test Tool
Google began factoring mobile-friendliness into its search rankings back in April, and along with that provided a tool so website owners could test the mobile-friendliness of their website. Bing has been talking about doing the same thing for months. Recently they launched their mobile-friendly testing tool. Still no word from Bing as to when it will factor mobile-friendliness into its search rankings, but it’s guaranteed to happen eventually, so it’s good to test your website and make any adjustments now rather than wait until they launch it and find your site has been penalized.
5) New Search Rewards
Finally, everyone likes to get gifts, especially this time of year, right?
Well, Google has launched a new rewards program for people who post reviews of local businesses. The more reviews a person posts, the bigger the rewards earned. With enough reviews you can be recognized by Google as a “Local Guide” which can give you additional credibility and visibility, which could be good for your business or organization.
Meanwhile, Bing has expanded its rewards program giving users points for searching, reading articles, and doing other on Bing and other Microsoft sites. Points can be redeemed for gift cards or donated to charity.
That is all for this month’s update.
Remember, we live in this internet age, so it’s important that you stay strong in the search engines so you can achieve your mission online. We here at OurChurch.Com are here to help you do that, so if we can answer any questions for you or do anything else to help you improve your search engines and achieve your mission online, please give us a call or send us an email.
Thanks for watching and have a Merry Christmas!