Google held its annual I/O developer conference last week which means — lots of Google news to cover! The search giant introduced new search technology rolling out now, and new search technology being built for the future. Between those announcements, Google was also busy making changes to AdWords, AdSense, and Analytics. Lastly, there’s a new easter egg in Bing that outdoor enthusiasts may appreciate.
More details about all of these top stories are included in this week’s SEO and SEM news roundup.
Search from Your Smartphone’s Camera with Google Lens
One of the most interesting and important new technologies introduced at Google I/O is one called Google Lens. It’s not yet ready to be released to the public, but Google CEO Sundar Pichai gave a demo of some of the key features. Google Lens brings the power of Google’s search engine to a camera’s smartphone.
Pichai demoed how you could take a picture of a flower, and Google Lens could tell you all about what type of flower it is. Other examples included connecting to WiFi by taking a picture of the name and password, translating a restaurant menu, and getting info about an event by taking a picture of the marquee.
The plans are for Google Lens to become available through Google Assistant and Google Photos. No timeframe was given for its release, but this is definitely something worth keeping an eye on. Google Lens could be a very big part of the future of search.
Google Assistant Now Available on iOS
Speaking of Google Assistant, iOS users can now see what all the hype is about. At Google I/O, not only did the company announce its virtual assistant would be coming to iOS but it was immediately made available in the App Store. If you search for it, you can download it right now.
Why would you want to? Well, it’s arguably smarter than Siri in a lot of ways. Since it’s powered by Google and its machine learning algorithms, it can answer questions more intelligently and learn more about its users. You can also communicate with Google Assistant via both voice and text, whereas Siri only responds to voice commands.
Siri has the advantage of being integrated into the iOS operating system, so with the latest hardware you can just say “Hey Siri” and start issuing commands. That’s not ever going to change. To access Google Assistant on iOS you’ll have to manually open the app every single time. At least now iPhone owners can see what Android owners have been using for the past few months.
Google For Jobs: A New Jobs Search Engine
Another new technology in the works is Google for Jobs, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a search engine for jobs that aims to more effectively connect job seekers with the right employers, and vice versa. Google CEO Sundar Picahi explained how there’s a need to address talent shortages, which is the motivation behind developing Google for Jobs.
Google’s machine learning and AI technologies will be utilized to better understand how job titles are related to each other. That means if you enter a generic term like “marketing”, Google for Jobs could understand that job titles such as “SEO”, “PPC manager”, and “content strategist” are all related even though they don’t include “marketing” in the title.
Instead of competing with other job search services, Google will be partnering with them. It’s unclear how exactly this will work, but we’ll find out when Google for Jobs rolls out in the coming weeks.
AMP Pages Now Load Twice As Fast From Google Search
Google dedicated some time at I/O to announce that AMP pages now load twice as fast when you click on them from Google Search. The company says the speed gains are a result of server-side rendering, and reducing the bandwidth usage from images by 50% without reducing quality.
AMP technology is gaining momentum, as Google announced there are now 2 billion AMP sites on the web across 900,000 domains. While there’s no specific search ranking benefit directly related to AMP, we do know Google likes fast loading pages. However, we wouldn’t recommend rushing into AMP’ing up your pages unless it makes sense for your site and its content.
For more information about Accelerated Mobile Pages, please see our recent article which explains everything you need to know about AMP.
Google Analytics Improves AMP Reporting
In other AMP-related news, Google Analytics has made an improvement to how it reports on visitors to AMP pages. More specifically, Google Analytics will now unify users across AMP and non-AMP pages. Google says this will improve user analysis, while providing a more accurate understanding of how users are engaging with a website across the two page formats. These changes should be fully rolled out across all Google Analytics accounts over the next few weeks.
Google AdWords Now Reporting on Historical Quality Score Data
Those who love data and numbers are likely to appreciate this week’s developments, as Google rolled out another reporting update but this time it’s related to AdWords. For the first time, Google is allowing advertisers to view their historical Quality Score data. Now you can see how your score has changed over a period of time.
This data will be available via four new columns: “Qual. Score (hist.),” “Landing page exper. (hist.),” “Ad relevance (hist.)” and “Exp. CTR (hist.).” New data is also available for keywords. Now in the keywords tab you’ll be able to add optional new columns such as “Exp. CTR,” “Ad Relevance” and “Landing Page Exper.”
Google AdWords Introduces Conversion Import Scheduling
Another Google AdWords update was introduced recently, and this one builds off of one of AdWords’ more advanced features. If you own a business with a physical location, AdWords has the ability to track offline conversions. An offline conversion is tracked when someone clicks on an ad, doesn’t immediately convert online, but later makes a purchase in the physical store.
Offline conversion data can be imported into AdWords along with your online conversion data, and now Google is offering the ability to schedule the uploads of your offline conversions. So if you’re routinely uploading offline conversion data into AdWords, now you set these uploads to occur automatically. For more information on how to do that, see the AdWords help document.
Google AdSense Policy Changes
Some websites drive search traffic to their site with the intention of selling products or services. Others drive search traffic to their site with the goal of earning money from ad clicks. If you monetize your content with ads, there’s a good chance you’re an AdSense publisher. If that’s the case, then there are some policy changes you need to know about.
First off, Google can now remove AdSense ads from individual pages. Previously, if a web page was in violation of Google’s AdSense policies then the company would strip ads from the entire site. Now, Google will remove ads only from offending pages.
Second, Google has a new AdSense policy center. Previously, if you were in violation of AdSense policies then Google would take action without even explaining exactly why. Now if a publisher is in violation of AdSense policies and has ads removed, they can find out in the new policy center what they did wrong and how they can fix the problem. It’s like Search Console for AdSense.
New Bing Easter Egg: Hiking & Biking Trails
After going through all these serious Google developments we’ll leave you with a fun little easter egg Bing added recently. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast like me, you may appreciate a new feature in Bing which helps you search for biking and hiking trails. Now you can type in commands like “hiking trails near me” or “hiking trails in New Jersey”, you’ll get a carousel like the one below.
As you can see in the screenshot, you can filter the trails by difficulty, length, and rating. You can also switch from hiking trails to biking trails, depending on what you prefer. This is a pretty cool easter egg which helps Bing differentiate itself from Google.
Wrapping it Up
There’s certainly a lot to digest after this past week. Here’s what you should keep in mind as the key takeaways:
- Google Lens could play a significant role in the future of online search.
- iPhone users can now use Google Assistant, which could lead to a rise in voice search and conversational queries.
- AdWords advertisers can now see how Quality Score data has changed over time.
- AdSense advertisers can now expect more transparency from Google going forward.
- AMP pages from Google search now load twice as fast. Something to consider if you were on the fence about adopting the technology.
- To learn more about Accelerated Mobile Pages, please see our recent explain article which catches you up with everything you need to know about AMP.