In recent weeks, Google has stolen the headlines with a series of announcements regarding its search algorithm. While the company released news of yet another minor update, Bing took the top spot in content marketing news for the first week of May with a complete redesign of its SERP.
In its blog, Bing detailed the adjustments aimed at simplifying the search results page. The resemblance between the new Bing SERPs and old Google SERPs seems to indicate a desire to bring search back a less complicated time. Bing has stripped a lot of the bells and whistles from its pages. Brafton reported that the company found that believes a lot of recent additions to Bing search, as well as other engines, have been viewed negatively by consumers. Photos, maps and relevant video content will still appear on its search results. However, excessive social data is all kept in one designated area to avoid overwhelming users.
Page layout also changed with the new Bing SERPs. Related searches shifted from the top left of the page to the bottom right, while local, image and other search options move to the top in a tabbed format rather than links on the left side. Bing said that it made these moves to make above the fold content more applicable to search results.
Bing’s new search result layout is in stark contract to Google SERPs, which heavily feature data from Google+ and include long lists of links to search filters alongside top results.
Bing says minor algorithmic changes accompany the new SERPs. Google, meanwhile, received some attention for a clandestine roll out of Panda 3.6.
On Thursday, Brafton reported that a Panda update hit on April 27, while most were focusing on the recent Penguin algorithm. Search Engine Land first reported the minor adjustment, which was the third in an eight-day span for Google. Panda 3.5 hit the web on April 19, while the initial Penguin algorithm struck on April 24.
Like most Google Panda updates in 2012, the latest iteration had minimal effect and appeared to be another minor data refresh. While most are waiting for one major update to come, there’s no timetable for the next Panda roll out with widespread effects.
SEO campaigns are being analyzed and processed by companies everywhere. However, all Google updates will likely have to do with site quality moving forward. Those with high-quality content that fosters a strong user experience are best positioned to maintain and build search visibility.
For companies hoping to analyze their keyword research more effectively, Google may have provided some help this week when it expanded query data in Google Analytics. As Brafton reported on Tuesday, marketers can now look at search queries that resulted in pageviews dating back 90 days rather than the previous setting of 35.
On its Webmaster Central blog, Google said that it has also adjusted its analytics suite to include data from the top 2,000 queries companies see hits from. While many will still see far fewer results keyword not provided, those with widespread search traffic will have greater access to the queries they are ranking on.
Businesses with content marketing campaigns in place and those hoping for a spot in Google News received some nvaluable insights as well this week with Google’s adjustments to page layout and freshness. Brafton reported that real-time updates will be a major focus of the Google News moving forward. Bringing the recently published articles and information related to a topic will help users for obvious reasons. Marketers can leverage the adjustment by publishing original, relevant content to their website that ties current events or an otherwise trending news topic to their brands.
News content marketing campaigns can be especially valuable for businesses hoping boost their web presence, as a Pew poll demonstrated news content is among the most popular types accessed on the web.
Brafton reported that 61 percent of respondents to the survey said that they access news content on daily basis. Many of these users access articles on multiple devices, further demonstrating the value of a strategy that targets desktop searchers as well as those using tablets and smartphones. As mobile web use becomes increasingly common and the devices more capable, the value of a mobile SEO strategy will only grow. Moreover, a frequently updated news content marketing campaign helps target the growing user base that has constant access to web updates.
A separate study from AYTM Market Research, further illustrated the role news content can play in marketing for a company. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they access news content and 51.8 percent said they read blog content every day. The value of content marketing is clear when these figures are compared to just 16 percent who pay attention to online display ads.
The week’s headlines also illustrate the power of news and other forms of updated website content as social fodder. Twitter announced this week that it has changed its Discover tool to focus more on content popular within a user’s timeline rather than content trending throughout the site. This will likely make social media marketing more effective, as it could help companies reach more relevant users when branded content is shared by followers.
Brafton highlighted one specific feature that will have strong value for businesses social media marketing campaigns. The View Tweets button now visible on the Discover page will allow users to see who has tweeted, retweeted and responded to others in relation to a piece of content. Businesses could can see how their content is driving engagement.
LinkedIn announced a similar move this week in terms of joining content and social media marketing. The professional connection network revealed the acquisition of SlideShare, a web content sharing platform, in hopes of providing both companies and users the ability to show off content they have created. For marketers, posting slideshows, white papers and other content that demonstrates niche authority could help lure potential employees as well as prospects directly through the social network, Brafton reported.
Social media marketing, in general, is an effective way for businesses to improve site traffic, conversions and visibility. However, Brafton reported this week that many companies are not effectively measuring their campaigns. The PulsePoint Group found that 27 percent of companies are relying on intuition to demonstrate the value of their social strategy, while 28 percent don’t measure their social campaigns at all.
As is the case with any form of marketing, companies need to know what’s working and what isn’t.
Looking ahead to next week, Google Penguin will reach the two-week mark come Thursday. At this point, the fallout from the algorithm has not been particularly well publicized, but we could see some more insight on the adjustment as it grows older. We’ll just have to wait and see.