Nearly every major search engine had big news this week as Google rolled out an update affecting ads on mobile pages, major shakeups occurred at Yahoo, and Bing has completely revamped its local search listings. In addition, changes are coming to Google’s mobile search ads in February, Google Maps and Uber are more interconnected than ever, and an old Google search command has been retired.
Details about all of these top stories are included in this week’s SEO news roundup.
Google Rolls Out a Penalty for Mobile Interstitials
Isn’t it frustrating to conduct a mobile search and click on a webpage only to have the content blocked by a pop-over ad? Google thinks so too. Those types of ads are called interstitials, and Google has rolled out a penalty this week devaluing pages in mobile search which contain “obtrusive” interstitials.
Here are a few examples of what Google is targeting exactly:
Going forward, pages containing the types of ads you see above will be devalued in mobile search. Being devalued does not mean the same as being de-indexed. The pages will still be included in mobile search, just at significantly lower positions than they were before.
Mobile interstitials are not being penalized across the board, only those which cover up a significant amount of content. They may still be used going forward, but not as aggressively as they have been until now. As far as desktop ads go there is no change, Google is only targeting obtrusive interstitials on mobile pages.
Yahoo Changes Name to ‘Altaba’ as CEO Marissa Mayer Steps Down
Major shakeups were announced regarding Yahoo last week in lieu of its impending sale to Verizon. Verizon is set to acquire the majority of Yahoo’s assets, leaving behind a holding company which is renaming itself to “Altaba”. Altaba will own nothing more than a bit of stock, while Yahoo’s search engine, mail, blogs, and other web services will live on under Verizon.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has left the board of directors, but is expected to find a new role once Verizon’s acquisition is complete. Verizon’s exact plans for what it’s going to do with Yahoo’s assets are not known at this time. There is an earnings call later this month where more details are expected to be announced.
Bing’s Local Search Results Become More Google-Like
Bing has quietly rolled out an all-new look for its local search results, which can best be described as “more Google-like”. One of the most significant new additions is the popular times section on the right-hand side, which is something Google first introduced to local search back in November. Bing is getting foot traffic data from Foursquare checkins — integration with Foursquare also allows Bing to display a section including Foursquare tips for the business being searched for. You can see a number of screenshots from Jennifer Slegg at The SEM Post, or you can conduct some local searches in Bing on your own desktop browser.
Google to Automatically Add Call Extensions to Mobile Search Ads
Call extensions have been available in Google AdWords for some time now, but not all advertisers are taking advantage. Call extensions are pretty much what they sound like — a phone number appended to mobile search ads which users can tap on to make an immediate phone call to a business.
Starting February 6th, call extensions will be automatically included in applicable mobile search ads. If the ad links to a landing page which prominently features a phone number, Google will take the liberty of appending that phone number to the ad as a call extension. Google sees this as doing a favor for AdWords users, but it’s possible not all advertisers will see it the same way.
If for whatever reason you do not want call extensions automatically included in your mobile ads, you will have to opt-out manually. That can be done by following these steps:
- Navigate to the Ad extensions tab
- Select “View: Automated extensions report”
- Scroll down to “Automated extension options (advanced)”, then click on “Edit”
- Select the option that says “Do not use specific automated extensions for this account”
If “bring on the call extensions!” is how you see it, then just sit back and wait for the change to roll out on February 6th.
Google Retires the “Link:” Operator in Search
Whether or not you were aware of it, there used to be a command in Google search that would return a list of backlinks pointing to a specific URL. For example, searching for “link:pamannmarketing.com” would have returned a list of links pointing to our site. It was confirmed this week the link operator has been retired, and Google’s official recommendation is to now use the Links to Your Site report within Search Console. If you want to find links pointing to a site you do not own, well, there are a number of third-party tools out there that can help you with that.
Use Google Maps to Book Your Next Uber Ride
Uber has been integrated with Google Maps for some time now, but never more so than after this week’s update. While using Google Maps on iOS and Android, you can not only search for an Uber ride to your desired destination, you can book and pay for the ride as well. You don’t even need to have the Uber app installed on your phone, Google Maps can handle it all. It will also pull up information about your destination while you’re en route, which is something Uber isn’t capable of. So the next time you need to look up how to get somewhere, you can hit the road and be on your way even faster with Google Maps.
Google penalizes mobile pages with obtrusive interstitials, the future of Yahoo is uncertain, Bing doubles-down on local, call extensions are being automatically added to AdWords ads, the old link operator is dead, and you can now hail a ride with Uber using Google Maps.
All this and it’s just the second week into 2017! As always, we’ll continue to keep you caught up as the year goes on.