The madness of Black Friday has passed (by the way, please share the best and most notable Black Friday deals you have encountered this year) and now everyone is preparing for the Christmas and New Year holidays. And Google is no stranger to that. We can see how the search giant is preparing for the festive season with #SmallThanks to small businesses, richer product knowledge panels for mobile and a more comprehensive and advanced functionality in AdWords.
With the year coming to its end, this is also the time to draw some conclusions and look at some data to make sure that you enter the next year more informed and data-driven. Thus, we can see an unprecedented amount of important research being released - scroll down to see what trends dominated this Black Friday, and what caused a pretty high number of Google accounts’ hijacking.
Oh, and since the New Year is all about leaving old stuff behind and entering it with a new feel, Google Maps, Flights, and Google Analytics for Firebase are shaking the dust off their shoulders and celebrating the New Year with new looks. Check it all out below!
GOOGLE SEARCH NEWS
Black Friday Search Query Trends Research
Yes, this has already happened - twice as many people searched for “Black Friday ads” as those who needed a “turkey recipe” from Google. This is one of the findings of a recent research by Thinkwithgoogle that looked at trends that surrounded all the Black Friday buzz.
According to Google, the number of search queries for Black Friday has increased by up to 80% since 2014, and thematic Black Friday videos views have gone up 120%. In 2016, the number of mobile search queries for “Black Friday” peaked right on Thanksgiving. The majority of queries has to do with learning about the best time to shop during all the sales, yet the most popular searches were coming from bargain-seekers who were wondering - “Cyber Monday or/vs. Black Friday”.
And, if you are curious about products that were at the top for Black Friday bargain-seekers, you can read our research on the Top 2017 Black Friday Deals.
Google Pushes Content Parity with AMP Pages
Google continues to improve user experience with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), as AMP adopters are sometimes “guilty” of publishing two versions of their content - one for the AMP page, and the other one for the canonical page not based on AMP. Webmasters often create AMP pages as a teaser for the original content, which contradicts the nature of the AMP Project, which was originally designed as a way for users to consume valuable web content but with a faster loading speed.
Here is an example of a teaser AMP page:
Thus, starting Feb 1, 2018, Google’s policy will demand that an AMP page is in relative parity with the canonical page and includes all the “critical content”. Otherwise, your AMP page will not be considered as a worthy candidate for all the AMP perks, i.e., search features like top stories, carousel, and so on. You should check out your Google Search Console for any notifications about such issues. That said, Google emphasized once again that AMP is not a ranking signal.
Richer Product Knowledge Panel on Mobile
With the holiday season upon us, along with a tougher competition for pre-holidays internet shopping buzz, providing users with all the relevant information about products is essential. So, Google updated its product-oriented knowledge panel on mobile search. The changes concern both the appearance - blue color, new carousel format - and the content of the panel. Users will now be able to see product reviews, detailed descriptions, videos, and, shopping ads within one place - the Knowledge Panel. The scale and geography of the updates are still unclear.
Research on the Causes of Google Accounts’ Hijacking
Holidays are holidays, but security concerns remain at the forefront of Google’s attention. Therefore, Google cooperated with the University of California, Berkeley to conduct some research, with Google user account as a case study, that studied all the ways in which hackers managed to take over user accounts.
The results indicated that 250,000 Google user accounts are being hijacked every week. Google and Berkeley tracked black markets for 12 months and found out that more than 788,000 credentials were stolen via keylogging,12 million were hacked via phishing, and 3,3 billion logins and passwords were taken due to third-party breaches.
Google intends to use the data from the research to improve detections and blocking of hijacking attempts. If you want to learn more about the research, you can find the full report at Research at Google.
Google Joins the Trust Project to Bring More Credibility to Web Content
Only a person that has been far away from Earth has not heard about fake news. Search and tech giants are taking the issue of online news transparency very seriously. Thus, Google, Facebook, Bing, and Twitter have joined the Trust Project, that aims to bring more credibility and transparency to web content - be it a news article or a shopping ad. The key parts of the project are «Trust Indicators» - icons that display the news publisher’s ethics, standards, journalists, and practices. These icons will appear right next to articles within Google, Facebook, Bing, and Twitter.
How does the Trust Project decide which indicator it should assign to each publisher? The “Trust Indicators” are guided by eight indicators, negotiated by the leading 75 news organizations.
To learn more about the “Trust Indicators”, check out Barry Schwartz’s SEO recap.
Job-Seeking With Google Made Easier
Having analyzed plenty of feedback from job-seekers who already engage with the Google’s job feature, Google rolled out a couple of updates. Like it or hate it, salary is one of the main factors for applying for one job or another, yet many employers are playing it safe and don’t disclose the salary. Thus, the main novelty has to do with displaying salaries for each vacancy mentioned on Google or a rough estimate if the employer does not mention a specific amount. Other updates include enhanced location filtering and the ability to save jobs you are interested in.
Currently, the job-seeking with Google option is only available in the US.
GOOGLE ADS NEWS
Google AdWords Updates
Inspired by the coming holiday season and in the move to push advertisers to use the new AdWords interface, Google AdWords is introducing new features that should help you create the best, paid advertising campaign you can:
Promotion extensions: You can now add deals and special offers to your existing ads without the need to create new ones. This is particularly handy around the holidays when people are more prone to be pickier with all the deals available on the market. You can only access the feature within the new AdWords interface.
Ad variations: Have you ever wondered how much your ads’ click-through-rates might change if you used “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Xmas”? Well, now you don’t have to wonder anymore, as AdWords’ new feature will help you test thousands of your ads in just a few clicks, and change your entire ad groups according to the results you see. Once again, the feature is available for those who are already enjoying the new AdWords experience.
Custom intent audiences for Google Display Network will help you reach those shoppers who are looking for a particular deal you offer. This is “purchase intent”, at a high level. The feature allows you to create custom audience groups with the highest purchase intent based on keywords that you target.
Opportunities page will help you increase the efficiency of your ad campaigns. The page includes information about all the new features, actionable recommendations, and insights on how to optimize your bids, budgets, ads, and keywords to enhance the overall performance of your ad campaigns.
GOOGLE TOOLS NEWS
#SmallThanks Transforms Small Business Customers into Brand Advocates
Google has launched a new project - the #SmallThanks Hub, which is completely dedicated to serving small businesses. The project is a free Google initiative to help small businesses leverage digital channels to their advantage. #SmallThanks Hub provides you with customized marketing materials - posters, Social Media posts, prints, stickers, and so on - that are based on your online reviews. All you have to do is search for your brand name on the site, and if the search giant spots any customer-produced greetings towards your business, it will automatically generate all the content you may need. People trust fellow users more than they trust your marketing team, so this seems like a great holiday gift to small business from Google, and from you to your loyal customers.
You can sign up for #SmallThanks Hub for free, yet the service is so far only available in the US.
Google Flights Redesigned
Google has completely changed its Flights interface, along with adding new features to its functionality.
Here is how it looked before:
And here is what it looks like now:
The new design is currently in beta and is intended to facilitate the flight search and reservation process. So far, the new look is in preview only.
Source: Google Travel
A Fresh Look for Google Maps
The state of permanence is not a common state for Google and one of Google’s key services - Google Maps - is getting a new look with a fresher design.
There is a new interface, different colors, category icons, and a different navigation system - these are all features of the new Google Maps which engages more than 1 billion users.
Here is the new look:
All the places that belong to one category - cafe, museum, gas station - will be designated with a certain color. For instance, the “Food & Drink” category will be identified with an orange icon, “Shopping” - with blue, “Health” - with pink, and so on.
All the Google Maps changes will be fully rolled within the upcoming weeks to all of the products that are related to the service - Assistant, Search, Earth и Android Auto, аlong with other apps and websites that use Google Maps API.
Source: Google Maps Gets a New Look
A New Design of Google Analytics for Firebase
Google Analytics for Firebase, an instrument that allows tracking user engagement with mobile apps, is getting a new look and some new functionality.
The new design looks more consistent with the recent redesign of Google Analytics. Apart from a more familiar look, the tool will also now provide more real-time data, so developers will have more timely and interactive information to track their app’s performance. Google Analytics for Firebase also includes a new Stability Card with data from Firebase Crash Reporting and Firebase Crashlytics. The card will display the number (in percentage) of users who haven’t witnessed any app bugs/crushes. Another novelty has to do with the Latest Release report that allows you to monitor adoption and stability of the app after merely few hours post-release.
After all the excitement of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, we can already feel the preparations for another holiday season. Our Google News Digest goes live every two weeks, which means we only have a couple of left this year; make sure to stay tuned to make sure that you aren’t missing anything significant. Especially since December is the time when people and companies draw conclusions and directions for the upcoming year! And, for any SEO and digital marketing professionals, knowing about Google updates, news, tweaks, and trends are of paramount importance.
And don’t forget to give me a shout in the comments if you spot anything unusual, interesting and worthy of mentioning in the next digest!