This week Google rolled out an algorithm change aimed at improving the quality of search results. A surprising amount of Google’s page one results are HTTPS pages. There’s new insights available for Bing Shopping Campaigns. Also in paid search news, a report was released revealing search ads accounted for almost half of all digital ad revenue in 2016. Lastly, Google made an adjustment to local reviews which may be of interest to frequent travelers.
Details about each of these top stories are included in this week’s SEO & SEM news roundup.
Google Changes Ranking Signals to Demote Fake News
Google made a series of announcements regarding the efforts it’s taking to get fake news out of search results. The most severe measure is adjusting its ranking signals to demote whatever Google identifies as fake news.
The company didn’t provide much more information on the types of content it’s going after. It makes sense not to provide too much information — fake news publishers could then use it to their advantage.
Google admits fake news is the company’s biggest search quality issue right now. While there has been progress made so far, Google is hoping these efforts turn into long-term change.
If you’re a publisher — as long as you’re publishing quality content, citing your sources, not sensationalizing headlines, etc. — we doubt you have anything to worry about.
In addition to changing its ranking signals, Google says it will also provide more direct feedback tools for searchers. Now there will be options to flag content within Google Autocomplete or within Featured Snippets.
Lastly, Google is promising greater transparency as it goes forward with fighting the fake news problem. The company is kicking off this new era of transparency with a Help Center document on Autocomplete, and an updated How Search Works site.
48% of Page One Results are HTTPS
According to a report from Moz, 48% of pages found on the first page of Google search results are HTTPS. That number gradually increased from 30% just 9 months ago.
Is this due to the mild ranking benefit for HTTPS sites? Probably not, according to Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz. The growth can most likely be attributed to a gradual adoption of HTTPS rather than algorithm updates.
If this increase was due to algorithm updates, there would be spikes and jumps in the data. However, this increase is more gradual. Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz goes on to predict the number of HTTPS results on the front page of Google could reach 65% by the end of 2017.
With the number of HTTPS sites on the web growing, people inevitably start to wonder if Google will adjust its ranking signal for HTTPS sites. The company has confirmed it has no plans to do so.
Should You Go HTTPS?
Going HTTPS purely for the minor rankings benefit is generally up to the individual, whether or not it’s worth their time and money. You also have to consider the risks that come with making any kind of sitewide change.
It’s worth going HTTPS if your site collects sensitive information, such as passwords or credit cards. Pretty soon Chrome will start marking non-HTTPS pages as non-secure if they ask for password or credit card information.
If you’re starting a site from scratch, there’s almost no reason not to go HTTPS. Security certificates can be obtained for relatively cheap, and there’s no risk involved since you’re starting with a clean slate.
New Insights for Bing Shopping Campaigns
Bing Shopping Campaigns will now let you look at search term reports at a product level, so you can see exactly which queries triggered specific products.
These new insights are useful in a variety of ways. You may find products aren’t showing up for their intended queries. You may also find additional audiences for your products based on what’s contained in the keyword data.Previously, search term reports were only offered at the campaign, ad group, and keyword levels.
Search Ads Account for 48% of Digital Ad Revenue
Almost half of all digital ad revenue in 2016 came from search advertising, according to a report from iab. To put that in dollar amounts — search ads accounted for $35.0 billion in revenue in 2016, which is from $29.5 billion in 2015.
The bulk of the increase came from mobile ad revenue, which could be due to advertisers running more mobile ads in general. Mobile ads accounted for 51% of digital ads is 2016.
As more searches are being conducted on mobile versus desktop, it makes sense for advertisers to shift their spending to mobile. As spending changes, it’s a good sign that advertisers are investing more into search ads than they were previously.
Google Will Now Automatically Translate Local Reviews
This piece of news may be of interest to those who either live abroad or travel a lot. Google local reviews will now be automatically displayed in whichever language you have set on your device.
This will occur only when searching via the Search or Maps app. Using a mobile or desktop search browser will still return reviews in other languages by default. When a translated review appears in search results, the original review will appear underneath it.
Wrapping it Up
Google is going so far as to change its algorithm to fight off fake news. Almost half the websites we see on the front page of Google every day are HTTPS. Bing Shopping Campaigns can now tell you which queries led to which products. Lastly, Google is going to begin translating local reviews in search results.
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