This week we learned more about the impact of Google’s mobile interstitials penalty, Google has a commanding lead of the mobile search market share, updates were made to local search, and Bing released a couple of updates for both paid and organic search.
Full details about each of this past week’s top stories are included in this week’s SEO and SEM news roundup.
Impact of Google’s Mobile Interstitials Penalty
It has been a month since Google rolled out its penalty against mobile interstitials, also referred to as intrusive pop-ups. A big deal was made of it at the time, but just how great has the impact been thus far? Well, it would be fair to say there has not been much impact at all.
Glenn Gabe has been monitoring the impact of the alleged penalty since it was introduced on January 10, 2017. According to his findings, publishers that have refused to remove intrusive pop-ups are hardly seeing any negative impact. If you’re noticing a lack of pop-ups on mobile pages that you land on from search results, it’s mainly due to cautious publishers heeding Google’s warning to remove them.
Although there has been no noticeable impact as of yet, it doesn’t mean there won’t be down the road. Site owners still displaying mobile interstitials are taking a huge risk right now, which may be worth the reward for the time being. Mobile interstitials are known to have high conversion rates. Keep in mind if and when Google rolls out the penalty on a larger scale, those site owners may end up seeing their mobile rankings plummet. Proceed at your own risk — our recommendation is always to comply with Google’s best practices.
Google Absolutely Crushing Mobile Search
Speaking of Google and mobile search — it should come as no surprise that Google is the undisputed leader. What may come as a surprise is exactly how much mobile search market share Google has compared to its competitors.
According to the latest data from comScore and StatCounter, Google commands a whopping 95% of mobile search market share. Comparatively, Google holds 64% of US desktop search market share. When it comes to mobile, Google has virtually no competition. Here is chart from StatCounter to put it in perspective.
Get Review Stars on Google With Just 3 Reviews
When it comes to local search, there’s no denying how powerful review stars can be. When deciding to go with one business over another, the deciding factor could be a 5-star review average vs. a 4-star review average. Now it has become easier than ever to obtain those review stars in Google’s local 3-pack.
Previously, a business was required to have at least 5 reviews on Google before an average star rating was displayed. Local search watchdog Mike Blumenthal has discovered evidence Google lowered the threshold to 3 stars. That’s right, with just 3 reviews Google will display stars in your business listing.
This could be either good news or bad news. If your first 3 reviews are positive it will be reflected in your average star rating. Alternatively, if your first three reviews are mixed and/or negative, it could be a detriment to your business. Our advice? Always leave customers with something good to say and you should have nothing to worry about.
Real-time Recommendations and Commute Info on Google Maps for Android
In further mobile and local search news this week, Google has updated the Google Maps app for Android. Swiping up from anywhere in the app will bring up a screen with 3 tabs: places, driving, and transit.
Tapping on the places tab will reveal a set of recommendations for everyday places near you such as restaurants, gas stations, ATMs, and more. Here’s what it looks like in action:
If you have your home and work addresses saved to Google, tapping on the driving tab will give you real-time ETAs and traffic conditions from wherever you are. If you commute via public transit, tapping on the transit tab will recommend the ideal bus or train to take, as well as ETAs for when you’ll arrive at home or work.
Google Search Console Alerts for Site Updates
If your site is verified with Google Search Console, which it should be, you may have received an email this past week recommending site updates. Specifically, if you’re running either WordPress or Joomla, Google Search Console will be recommending you update to the latest versions (if you haven’t already). If your site(s) are fully up-to-date, then you have nothing to worry about. If not, then the simple solution is updating to the latest versions of either WordPress or Joomla. It’s a security best practice to update your CMS (Content Management System) as often as possible, but as always, be sure to make a backup copy of your site first!
Advanced Weather Reports on Bing
The next time you go to check the weather online, you may want to do it on Bing. An update this week sees the desktop version of Bing displaying visually rich, hour-to-hour forecasts. Type in a search like “how is the weather in New York” and you’ll get a card that looks like this:
In addition, Bing has an update specifically for the snow lovers out there. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, you can type in a search like “[name of favorite resort] + conditions” and Bing will provide information on snow surface conditions, snow depth, past and predicted snowfall, weather forecast, links to live webcams, and latest status of the lifts and trails in the ski resort.
Narrow Down Audience Targeting With Bing Ads
Bing Ads has introduced the ability to exclude specific audiences from your remarketing advertising campaigns. If there are irrelevant audiences you definitely don’t want to advertise to, you can now prevent remarketing ads from being served to them.
To add excluded audiences, you simply follow the same steps you would when creating targeting associations:
- Start from either “Create Association” in the Audience tab or “Associate with Remarketing Lists” in the Ad groups tab.
- Select the ad group you want to associate with remarketing lists and then select add exclusions.
- Select the remarketing lists you want to target and/or exclude from the selected ad group. Click Save to complete the setup.
That’s all there is to it. Bing says the update has already started rolling out, and will be available to everyone within the next few weeks.
Wrapping it Up
Being the undisputed king of mobile search in the US has not stopped Google from innovating in that area. There has been little impact from the mobile interstitials penalty introduced last month, but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Checking the weather on Bing is now a more engaging and interactive experience, and Bing Ads is allowing advertisers to exclude audiences from advertising campaigns.
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