This week there was a significant change to Google search results that all marketers and SEOs should be aware of. In addition, Google has strengthened one of its ranking signals and put a stop to payday loan advertising on AdWords. There’s also a new keyboard out for iOS users that allows you to search Google right from your keypad. Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t wrap up all the drama surrounding Google’s black links this week.
Full details about each of these stories in this week’s SEO and inbound marketing news roundup.
Google SERPs Are Longer
Long story short (pun intended), the search engine results pages are getting longer as a result of having no right hand side bar ads. Google is running a test right now to try to fill up some of that space with longer page titles and descriptions for search snippets. Title tags have increased to 70 to 71 characters, which is a notable increase from the previous 50 to 60 characters that were allowed before.
It has been reported that meta descriptions have increased by 100 characters per line, and have been extended from 2 to 3 lines. That being said, Google is still trimming some of these descriptions to two lines or even one line at times. That means you may see anywhere from 160 character descriptions to 278 character descriptions when a full three line snippet is displayed.
While this is significant news, it’s also important to note that as far as we know it’s only a test, so we don’t exactly recommend basing your SEO strategy off of these numbers going forward (at least until we hear more information from Google itself). What’s also interesting to note is that the change reportedly went live on May 4th and has really gone unnoticed until now. Now that it has been noticed, search marketers have questions and hopefully Google will explain what’s going on soon.
Stronger Mobile Ranking Signals
Remember the mobile banking signal that Google launched last year nicknamed “Mobilegeddon”? Well Google has announced this week that it is strengthening that algorithm, which is really bad news if your site is not yet mobile friendly. There’s even fewer excuses not to be mobile friendly at this point, especially now that it is valued so highly in mobile search results.
If your site is mobile friendly, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. If you do not have a mobile friendly site, it would be a good idea to use Google Analytics to see how much mobile traffic you may be driving away as a result of this algorithm update. Chances are your mobile traffic will go down as a result of this update if your site is not responsive for mobile screens. Google still may surface the occasional non-mobile friendly page if it’s exactly what searchers are looking for, but those times are going to be few and far between.
No More Payday Loan Advertising on Adwords
Google is enforcing a new policy where it is no longer allowing payday loan advertising on AdWords. Google says ads and websites that promote dangerous payday loan offers will be restricted from advertising with AdWords.
More specifically, it will no longer allow ads for loans where the repayment is due within 60 days of the date of issue. In the United States, Google is also banning ads with an APR of 36% or higher.
Although they are not exactly payday loans, Google will now begin to restrict websites that offer payback periods of times less than 60 days. The idea is that the short repayment plus high interest rates can lead people to sink into unmanageable debt.
This change does not go into effect immediately which means payday loan sites will still have 60 days to make the content of their site and their offers compliant with Google’s new regulations if they wish to remain an advertiser.
New Google Gboard for iOS
Google has integrated search functionality into a third-party keyboard for iOS, aptly titled ‘Gboard’. Google’s new keyboard can be accessed from within any app as long as it’s the keyboard set to default. For the most part Google’s keyboard functions like any other keyboard you’ve probably used on iOS by now. The main difference is the Google logo on the top left-hand corner. Tapping on this button allows you to conduct a search just like you would on Google’s own homepage.
Since it can be used from within any app, you won’t even have to leave the app to view the search results. That means when you’re talking to a client and you need to look something up, like an address to a meeting, tap the Google button and then search for the address. When the address comes up in the search results, you can drag it into the message window and easily send the information to your colleague.
This could be a big deal for mobile search going forward. If more people start searching via the Gboard, Google may end up commanding more of the search market than it already does.
Google Turns Links Black
One of the most talked about pieces of news last week was the fact that Google changed the color of its links from blue to black. This threw search marketers up in arms demanding for the blue links back. We are not sure how long Google is going to be running the test for, but if you see black links at the moment and want to turn them blue again, simply download the app called Stylist for Chrome where you can change the stylesheet of just about any website including Google’s homepage.
Talk about a busy week in search. We have Google strengthening an algorithm, extending the length of titles and descriptions, banning payday loan advertising, and releasing a brand-new keyboard all in one week. This industry moves fast folks, which is why we try to keep you as informed as possible with our weekly updates. If you have any questions about this week’s developments please leave a comment below.