Happy New Year from the Catalyst Team! Before we fully close out 2013, let’s recap the top Internet stories of December.
- Google updated Knowledge Graph to feature information on cars. Now when a user searches for a specific vehicle, it shows more information on the right sidebar as well as all related searches in the image carousel above the SERP. Below is a screenshot of the new change from Search Engine Land.
- Google Webmaster Tools now features a smartphone-dedicated section that includes crawling errors that Google finds on mobile such as server errors, 404s, faulty redirects and blocked URLs.
- Google targeted two link networks, penalizing both Algo Rank and Backlinks.com. Matt Cutts said that there are multiple networks also affected and “Google has been rolling up a few” in this target.
- Google is testing a new SERP user experience where images from the page appear directly in the search results (similar to rich snippets).
- At the same time, Matt Cutts confirmed that Google has reduced rich snippets displayed on the search engine results page by 15%. At Pubcon, Cutts explained that the reason behind this is that low quality sites are taking advantage of rich snippets in order to rank higher, so Google has started to closely vet the sites using the tactic.
- Bing substantially beefed up its alternative to Google’s Knowledge Graph, Satori. It now includes much more information and multimedia, such as Ted Talks, audio files to famous speeches and national anthems, university rankings, scientific topic explanations and snapshots of historical events. Check out this Bing blog post which highlights all the updates to Bing’s graph and includes specific examples.
- Bing rolled out “Bing Ads Express” – an automated PPC solution for small businesses similar to Google’s AdWords Express. This feature allows small business to put their Bing PPC campaigns on auto-pilot which is poised to become a huge timesaver for these companies.
- Yahoo! added two more startups to its 2013 list of purchases. The first is SkyPhrase would help the engine with natural search. Yahoo! is also hoping to improve its live streaming capabilities with its second acquisition of Evntlive – an online platform for streaming live concerts.
- Google AdWords added new columns to video advertising reporting on how TrueView ads are performing. Advertisers will now be able to have a deeper insight on how viewers engage with the ads as well as the actions they take such as clicking to watch more videos, sharing the video or subscribing to the channel. AdWords is also rolling out new columns to segment earned results specifically by views, view rates, subscribers, playlists, likes and shares. Check out this video explaining how exactly “Earned Actions” work in AdWords:
- Although originally expected before end of 2013, YouTube is delaying its subscription music service to the first quarter of 2014. We’ll keep an eye on this and let you know as soon as it comes out!
- Facebook has updated its algorithm to improve how the updates are being populated in its News Feed. Now, the social network will display high-quality content higher, which is a great development and the one that users would definitely appreciate.
- As expected, Facebook began to test auto-playing video ad unites directly into the user’s feed. To make this experience less annoying though, Facebook will play the ads silently unless you enable the sound by clicking or tapping on the video. If you’re interested and end up clicking on the video, it will then open up in full screen.
- Facebook acquired SportStream, a social startup that aggregates social chatter and updates in a personalized feed for sports fans. While Facebook’s plan with this acquisition is still not clear, we think that the social network wants to compete in real-time conversation around major events, something that Twitter is now dominating.
- After Facebook was unsuccessful in purchasing Snapchat, it introduced its own photo messaging capability on Instagram by launching “Instagram Direct.” This latest update enables users to send Instagram photos to specific people and was positively received by instagrammers.
- Twitter launched retargeting advertising product, Tailored Audiences, where advertisers can display promoted tweets to segments defined by data external to Twitter.
- The company also announced ad targeting based on “broad match” keywords, at least when it comes to two words that express a certain sentiment. For example, in a blog post announcing the news, Twitter used the example “love coffee” which would also reach keywords such as “luv coffee” and “love latte.”
- Twitter brought Promoted Accounts to mobile devices. Promoted Accounts is an ad unit introduced to desktop back in 2010. Unlike how they appear on a desktop, the mobile version will be featured directly into a user’s timeline.
- Twitter also announced that their conversion tracking capabilities are now available globally to all advertisers. This tag captures users who engage with a promoted tweet via clicking, expanding, retweeting, replying, favoring, or following as well as those that just view the ad.
- Twitter users can now send images via Direct Messaging via Desktop and mobile app. In the new app, Twitter moved Direct Messages to the bottom toolbar in an effort to draw more traffic to the portal. Direct Messaging hasn’t been a big focus for Twitter so I have to wonder if there is a new DM type ad unit is coming soon.
- Twitter’s Vine is rolling out vanity URLs for all profiles. While those with verified Twitter’s will be the first to gain access, it should be rolling out to all users soon.
- Google introduced the first ad unit for Google+ called +Post ads. This unit highlights a picture, video, or hangout and repurposes them into an ad across the Google Display Network. Below is a video from Google on how Toyota has used this unit thus far.
- Check out our Thoughts Page that has our latest publications, blog posts and featured articles including:
- Social Media Marketing: Go Beyond Facebook & Twitter! By Clayburn Griffin
- Mission ImposSERPble 2: User Intent & Click Through Rates by Andrew Martineau
- Analytics: A Beginner’s Guide To Data Visualization by Benjamin Spiegel
- Influencer Marketing: How Google Will Change The Game by Dan Cristo
- The Next Wave in Shopper Marketing: Micro-Location in the Retail Space by Benjamin Spiegel
- New Coffee with Catalyst videos featuring Director of Paid Search, Lisa Hunter, and Director of Organic Search, Ben Spiegel, discussing the top changes of 2013 and their outlook on 2014.
- Sign Up for the Catalyst Must-Have Digital Insights e-Newsletter for the latest thought leadership, industry updates, and Catalyst news.
- Catalyst is Hiring! We have open positions in each of our offices. Be sure to check out our Careers Page for the latest open positions.
Have any questions about any of the above stories or think we missed something? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, be sure to check back in early February for our January monthly recap!