This past week Search Engine Land held its SMX Advanced conference, which featured a number of Google executives. That means we learned a number of intricate details about how Google’s search algorithms work – thanks to the questions asked by SEOs in attendance. Google has released a simple website building tool, which means there are now fewer excuses for businesses not to have their own website.
Google has updated its Local Guides program, which now features more rewards and more levels. Bing also made some headlines this week with a couple of updates to Bing Ads. More details about each of these top stories are included in this week’s SEO & SEM news roundup.
Google’s New Website Builder
Google has released a simple, single-page website builder that has been designed with small businesses in mind. The tool is free and allows business owners to create a website in minutes using the information contained in their Google My Business (GMB) listing.
If you don’t yet have a GMB listing, you will need to claim one before being able to use this tool. You can get started by visiting this page and following the prompts. Google will automatically create a single-page site and fill it in with information in your GMB listing.
From there you can customize the look of your site with a variety of different templates, as well as add additional text and photos. You can also select a custom domain name for an additional fee. After the site has been published, updating it is as simple as updating your GMB listing. Any edits you make within GMB will be automatically applied to your site.
Google’s website builder is not perfect by any means. Not only is it limited to one page, but it lacks many elements we believe to be essential to any search engine optimized website. However, it is arguably better than nothing. It could be a decent placeholder until you’re able to get a proper website built for your business.
Despite the limitations of its website builder, Google’s continued investments in GMB have brought the platform miles ahead of what it once was. Learn more about what you can do with GMB in our guide to Google My Business tips and tricks.
How Strong is Google’s Page Speed Ranking Signal?
Google is not shy about letting the world know that it believes web pages should load faster. In fact, the company has even gone as far as to include page speed as one of the many ranking signals in its search algorithm. But just how strong is that ranking signal anyway?
At SMX Advanced, Google’s Gary Illyes stated it is a minor ranking signal. It’s not strong enough to significantly elevate sites in search rankings just because they load fast. Rather, it’s more of a “tie breaker.” That means if all else was equal between two similar sites, but one loaded faster than the other, the site with faster page speed would rank higher in search results.
Hat tip to Jennifer Slegg for sharing this information.
Featured Snippet Data Not Coming to Search Console
When asking Google a question, it’s likely you’ve encountered Featured Snippets before. A Featured Snippet is the box that appears at the top of search results containing a summary of the answer, followed by a link to the full piece of content where the information was pulled from. If you’re fortunate enough to have one of your pages act as a Featured Snippet in Google’s search results, don’t expect to see any analytics data in Search Console anytime soon.
Again, it was Google’s Gary Illyes who revealed this information during his keynote at SMX Advanced. He also stated Google could release data about Featured Snippets if it wanted to, but higher ups within the company have vetoed the idea.
Google Updates Its Local Guides Program
When it comes to local search results, Google relies heavily on the assistance of real people to provide information and verify that it’s accurate. Google incentivizes people to do this through a program called Local Guides. A Local Guide is someone who provides information to Google in exchange for points. Though earning points users can level up in the program and unlock rewards.
Google has updated the Local Guides program with more levels and more rewards. The level cap has been raised from 4 to 10, and users can begin earning rewards as early as level 2. After reaching level 2, Local Guides receive access to new product features and occasional perks from Google. Levels 4-10 can redeem a free three-month Google Play Music subscription and 75% off a rental in the Google Play Movie store. For each new level achieved, users receive a badge to show off their progress. To learn more, and/or sign up to be a Local Guide, visit this page.
Opt Out of Displaying Bing Ads on Desktop
More and more people are thinking mobile-first these days, including advertisers. In fact, some advertisers may want to ignore desktop users altogether because they’re not their target audience. That’s why Bing Ads has rolled out the ability to opt out of displaying ads on desktop. Advertisers can completely opt out of displaying ads on desktop by setting the bid adjustment to -100%.
Bing Ads Rolls Out New Targeting Abilities
Bing Ads is piloting two new features that may help more advertisers reach their ideal customers. Bing has rolled out curated remarketing lists, called In-Market Audiences, containing individuals with purchase intent for particular categories. Bing Ads customers can assign In-Market Audience lists to ad groups so their ads are shown to people who are ready to buy. This is a time-saving alternative to creating your own remarketing lists.
Another new targeting ability has been rolled out, but you need to be using Adobe Audience Manager as your data platform manager (DMP) in order to use it. If that’s the case, then you can connect your DMP to Bing’s new Custom Audiences feature and import your audience segments into Bing Ads.
Google Wins 2017 Top Brand Awards
For the second year in a row, Google finds itself at the top of the BrandZ global rankings list. Google beat fierce competition from the likes of Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook. Rankings were determined by research company Kantar Millward Brown, which has ranked the companies based on overall brand value. Why did Google top the list? Well, it could be any number of reasons. In addition to being the world’s leading search engine, Google has also released Google Home, a new Pixel phone, a virtual assistant, and made advancements in self-driving cars all in the span of one year.
Wrapping it Up
Google has released a bare-bones, yet easy to use website builder. We learned Google’s page speed ranking signal will not necessarily propel your site to the top of search results. Google will not be releasing analytics data for Featured Snippets anytime soon, if ever. The Local Guides program has been updated. Bing Ads has new targeting features. Lastly, Google is the world’s top brand for a second consecutive year.