Google, which has long trumpeted its philosophy of doing no evil when it comes to advertising, surprised many with its confirmation that it is testing huge banner ads for branded queries. In 2005, Google promised banner ads would never come to the web. Right now, the ads only apply for about 30 advertisers.
Researchers at USC have found that Google has dramatically increased the number of servers servicing its queries around the world, from under 200 to more than 1,400. This is significant not only in the complexity and expense of the technical work performed, but also the timeline in which it was done – only 10 months.
Google has introduced a self-service tool for businesses to create graphical promotions that will display to (mostly mobile) customers based on their location and search terms. The program, called Google Offers, can also reach potential customers by displaying these ads within Google Maps. The Offers program is designed to target high-intent shoppers, and help direct them to a local business for an immediate transaction.
Google is not updating PageRank (the button in the Google Toolbar that displays a numeric score, showing how highly ranked your website is) any more this year, leading to speculation that it is on the way out.
The only Google algorithm change for October appears to be a small update to Penguin (2.1) released on October 4th. None of your websites appear to have experienced any negative effects from it.
In statements this month, Google engineer Matt Cutts made clear that larger websites do not automatically rank better with Google because of their largeness. According to Cutts, larger websites will “naturally get more traffic because each of those individual pages can also rank for their own set of search queries, increasing the overall opportunity for sites to gain visitors. Again, just having the number of pages doesn't give you a boost though. It might give you a few more opportunities, but normally the only reason you get that opportunity is because we see more links to your website so we are willing to crawl a little bit deeper and find more pages to index.” Read into that what you will.
Debate within the SEO community on the impacts to Google’s August Hummingbird update continue, with general agreement that Hummingbird:
· affected broad search terms far more than long tailed search terms
· signals a shift from keywords to topics, driven by Google’s understanding of what your website is actually about (Knowledge Graph)
· coincided in timing with “keyword not provided” to signal that keywords alone are no longer enough
· represents a broader shift towards semantic connections and synonyms in driving ranking
A good resource for reading up on impacts is included below.
Google rolled out major revisions to the Mobile experience for Google Shopping this month. Many of you participate in the Google Shopping program, so this change is meaningful – mobile users represent 24% of your visitors, on average. These changes affect the way Mobile ads look through Shopping, and also show nearby merchants as well as their stock availability. These are tied into a business’ Google+ page, and integrate with hours, directions and reviews. The management of Shopping campaigns has also been revised this month, allowing you to segment (and bid) your feed data by category.
Google released new Terms of Service, which are set to go into effect on November 11. Among the changes - shared endorsements - which means unless a person opts out, Google can use their photo, reviews and recommendations in merchant advertisements. Advertisers can elect to use Shared Endorsements in their campaigns, or not. Being able to show customers a friend from within their personal network endorsing a business could be a very powerful tool for advertisers.
Read Part 1 of the SimplePart October Update.