This week’s internet marketing news headlines were full of Google+ reviews, as Google’s social network became available to more users. There were also indications that mobile search and content are becoming core to the buying process, as well as signs of Facebook marketing’s continued value to brands.
While most of the week’s search chatter revolved around Google, Bing generated buzz when it was announced that Microsoft’s search engine will field the English-language searches for Baidu, China’s biggest search engine. International marketers might keep this in mind as it means optimizing for Bing will likely help them reach English-speaking Chinese audiences.
Another Bing development that generated buzz this week is the company’s new lasso search for the iPad. The tool allows users to simply circle key phrases within articles they are reading to open a new page with search results for the circled term. The tool lets iPad users search without typing. This feature coincides with new data indicating that the iPad now accounts for 1 percent of all internet time.
Any tools that simplify the mobile search process might be of interest to marketers because, as Brafton reported, new data indicates that mobile marketing is increasingly important to the buying process. Content marketers should note that mobile emails have the greatest impact on purchase decisions.
In other news, searchers may have noticed something was missing from Google this week – the Google Realtime search feature is down. The company explains that it removed this service, which was fueled primarily by Twitter updates, because its contract with the microblogging site expired. A similar real time, chatter-based search tool is said to be in the works, and it will likely be centered on updates to Google’s own social network, Google+.
Brafton reported last week that Google had launched its own social network, and this week, the buzz surrounding Google+ continued as more users gained access to the site. Google executives have expressed satisfaction with the levels of buzz and early adoption surrounding the product, which should signal to marketers that the site may be a viable Facebook competitor.
Of course, brands are not yet counted among the early Google+ users. While some marketers have started Google+ profiles for their companies, these branded profiles are not be supported by Google and will be discontinued later this month. Instead, brands are being asked to wait for Google+ Pages for businesses, which are rumored to be launching soon.
Google explains that it is not yet supporting branded pages because it wants to get the consumer experience down pat first. The discontinuation of existing Google+ brand profiles will coincide with the company’s push to make users profiles public. Users will be required to add at least their gender and full name to their public accounts.
While news of the public component of all Google profiles is being met with mixed reviews by users (and potential users), for marketers, it means that +1 demographics will be easily accessible. Actually, this is something that marketers likely knew before Google’s explanation of public profiles; as Brafton reported last week, Google’s new social analytics include demographic reporting for users who hit the +1 button on businesses’ content pages.
Of course, +1 analytics will only be valuable to sites that include the +1 button on their sites – and this may be a smaller share of sites than expected. As Brafton reported, 51 percent of sites have yet to add social plugins. Conversations point toward the rise of social search and the possibility that +1 will become a ranking signal, which means social plugins might be critical to social sharing and SEO.
Of course, Likes are already SEO factors for logged in Bing searchers, and Facebook is working hard to fight back against Google+. The company announced new group chat and Skype-powered video chat features this week, which compete with Google+’s well-received Hangouts feature.
Additionally, the Skype/Facebook announcement suggests that Bing and Facebook are strengthening their alliance – Microsoft owns the video conferencing service.
Between potentially stronger Facebook/ Bing search integration and Google+’s implications for Google search, marketers should consider that social content might increasingly impact their search performance. (In addition to getting links from shared content for SEO, writing social-friendly content is also valuable because new data indicates it is key to brand engagement.)
On another SEO note, Google released webmaster notifications this week warning webmasters when their sites appeared to have too many spammy links pointing to their sites. The idea is that this discourages marketers from buying paid links and encourages greater investment in quality content that will attract merit-based links.
Many businesses already plan to invest more heavily in content marketing. As Brafton reported, marketers cite content marketing as a lead generation priority this year. In a Focus survey, nearly half of marketers (47 percent) said online content would be this year’s top investment.
Next week, marketers might expect the competition between Facebook and Google+ to continue and more news about the SEO implications of Google’s new social network. Stay tuned!