Hello April, and hello to the top internet marketing news stories of March 2013. February brought some important news to search marketers including Google enhanced ads, the Marissa Mayer controversy, and more social ads opportunities on Facebook and Twitter. In the end, core search activity rose overall, with the use Bing and Google increasing slightly, mostly at the expense of Yahoo dropping half a percent.
- It wouldn’t be a Google update without mentioning Panda. The big news this month is that Matt Cutts has said future updates would no longer be an abrupt change but rather roll out over a series of days. Because of this, Google will no longer confirm officially if an update has hit, however, it is believed that the Panda update went live March 15th.
- Enhanced Campaigns, announced earlier this year, has added new sitelinks and ad extensions. Some of the changes include call extension updates, scheduling, phone call conversions, call-only options, varied phone number by keyword, reporting, and sitelink extension updates.
- Google announced that it will no longer be allowing phone numbers in PPC ads, forcing advertisers to use the call extension.
- Product listing ads are now showing on smartphones if the advertiser is already using Google’s enhanced campaigns.
- Google maps also got some cool updates, including 360 degree images from the highest mountain peaks. The mobile app was upgraded to add local icons, Google contacts integration, and more countries.
- Google now has a help center with step-by-step instructions and videos to assist sites that have been hacked and received an alert notifying as such in bouncing back.
- After not functioning for over a year, Google has opted to discontinue the block site feature on the SERP. To block sites in the future, Google says to use the Personal Blocklist Chrome Extension.
- Users are seeing some updates to Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. First, Universal Analytics, launched in beta last October, is now available for all users. This will help site owners better track site visitors across multiple platforms, devices and touchpoints. Webmaster Tools improved the verification reporting and process. Site owners can now see all verified users as well as the method they used to achieve that status. This also allows admins to remove verified users only by removing the verification method.
- It seems like Google has been testing changes to its search engine results page. On desktop, it seems like they are using larger text on green URLs. In addition, users can “search within” certain sites and sort images into only .gifs. On tablets, users are seeing a totally different light blue link with orange URL. Check out the sample below from Search Engine Land.
- Bing has continued to upgrade its services to attract more users. On the webmaster side, Bing released a new tool to inform Bing of a site move. This covers moving from within the same domain name as well as to a different domain name.
- Bing also announced its support for HTML5 pushState as a way to implement SEO friendly AJAX sites.
- On the search user experience side, Bing added additional search filter options to sort results based on time periods.
- Taking another step forward in building an enhanced knowledge graph, Bing expanded its Snapshot experience with the expansion of Satori.
- Some Bing tests have also surfaced in March. The first is a confidential employee-only video that surfaced showing Bing’s new voice system, which is twice as fast as the current system. The second is the emergence of subjectship instead of authorship in search results. Similar to Google’s insertion of the image of an article’s author in the SERP, Bing has been testing images of the subjects instead, even when the subject is a person.
- Marissa Mayer made several big changes to Yahoo’s product offerings, shutting down seven products: Yahoo Clues, App Search, Blackberry App, Yahoo Avatars, Yahoo Sports IQ, Message boards, and the Yahoo Updates API. These will be discontinued in the beginning of April.
- In March it was announced that Yahoo will acquire Jybe, which is a “personalized recommendation company founded with the vision to help people find the things they love to do based on what’s trending in their social circles”. While Yahoo’s exact plan is unclear, there is definitely room for growth into social search.
- Building on changes such as Graph Search, Facebook made additional changes to the user interface. These changes included an enhanced news feed with larger photos, and different ways to browse friend groups, allowing users to perform more narrow searches on music, photos and games.
- In addition, an updated Facebook timeline was released, featuring a single column feed with likes and interests featured on the left hand side.
- Facebook began to introduce replies to specific comments and currently testing a post button on all pages.
- Rumors have it that Facebook will be introducing hashtags, which have been obviously successful on Twitter and Google+.
- A new feature for Facebook Pages allows brands to target users for status updates that don’t appear on their brand pages. These targeted posts won’t appear on a brand page, but rather a specific subset of a user’s newsfeeds.
- As expected, Facebook analytics has started passing keyword data within referral strings.
- On March 21st, Twitter turned 7 years old, and announced that they have more than 200 million active users and 400 million tweets sent every year. Check out Twitter’s celebratory YouTube video for more stats.
- Speaking of videos, Twitter’s GIF-like looping video platform Vine, which allows users to embed videos in their tweets, was announced.
- Twitter introduced new targeting features and more detailed analytics for small business and advertisers. Businesses can now target users that follow a specific @username as well as choose from a list of 350 categories. In addition, advertisers can target specific platforms and devices.
- Google+ focused on improving the user experience related to images. Users can now use animated GIFs as their profile picture, something usually prohibited on social networks.
- In addition, Google+ added photo editing and filter functionality to its mobile application.
- Other new features enabled easier content sharing and easier community management right from the mobile application.
- Kicking off March, YouTube rolled out its new design, One Channel, which simplifies the previous multiple layouts YouTube offered to provide one clear view that looks better on all browsers and devices.
- According to their blog, YouTube hit one billion monthly users. What does this look like? Well they told us in their blog:
- Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube.
- Monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly ten Super Bowl audiences.
- If YouTube were a country, we’d be the third largest in the world after China and India.
- PSY and Madonna would have to repeat their Madison Square Garden performance in front of a packed house 200,000 more times. That’s a lot of Gangnam Style!
- Lastly, YouTube searches are now available on Google Trends, allowing marketers to explore trends on popular YouTube-related search queries.
- According to LinkedIn, 5.7 billion professionally-oriented searches were done last year, which led them to introduce new internal search features, including auto-complete, suggested searches, a smarter query intent algorithm, advanced search and automated alerts. More information on “Smarter LinkedIn Search can be seen here:
- Pinterest unveiled their new brand makeover with a cleaner design and new features. These new features allow for new ways to discover pins via “Pins from the same source” and “People who pinned this also pinned.” The new look can be found on the Pinterest Blog.
- Pinterest also introduced an analytics platform in March allowing site owners to track engagement on their boards.
What’s new at Catalyst?
- Catalyst had two speakers at SES NY. Dan Cristo, Director of SEO Innovation, spoke about Activating the Social Search Dynamic and Clayburn Griffin, Organic Search Director, spoke about Facebook Graph Search.
- Dan Cristo had an article titled “Social SEO Insights for the new Age of Search” published on Search Engine Journal.
- Clayburn Griffin was featured on Website Magazine’s article “2013: Social SEO Required.”
- Jason Corrigan, Organic Search Manager, published two articles this month. The first, “Twitter’s Vine App Will Make Social SEO Campaigns More Awesome,” was posted on Search Engine Journal, and the second, “How User-Generated Content Powers Better social SEO Results,” was published on Social Media Explorer.
- Andrea Caruso, Organic Search Manager, published an article on Smart Insights titled, The Importance of Engagement in Social SEO.”
- Matt Proctor, Organic Search Manager, wrote an article for Content Marketing Institute, “Creating Compelling Content using Social Media: 4 Steps.”
- Ben Spiegel, Director of Organic Search, wrote an article titled “Optimizing Videos for Search: a Complete Guide” that was featured on ClickZ. In addition, Ben will be speaking at Interactivity Digital this May. Check out their Q&A interview with Ben.