Source: The Search Guru

Source: The Search Guru

Matt Cutts has been urging webmasters to use strong encryption measures on their sites for quite a while, and he has hinted that one day Google may start rewarding those sites in their search results. Google has remained mum on the issue entirely, but there are rumors swirling that Cutts is doubling down and pushing for an algorithm update that would favor secure sites within the company.

At the SMX West conference, Cutts explained why the search engine would benefit from favoring encrypted sites by saying that it would save Google a large amount of time when new security panics occur. According to Time magazine, Cutts is quoted saying, “We don’t have the time to maybe hold your hand and walk you through and show you exactly where it happened.”

It is unclear if these types of changes are likely to be made any time soon, as most sources seem very skeptical. But, in the wake of Heartbleed, one of the most widespread security exploits in history, now would be a reasonable time to increase security guidelines and protocols.

googleadwordsGoogle has been hinting that AdWords is up for a major overhaul, with tons of new features and tools. They have recently announced the big AdWords presentation will occur on April 22, as Jerry Dischler, VP of Product Management for AdWords speaks during a customer event. However, very few have been told what is going to be launched.

The only people with any idea of what is going to be unveiled later this month are Google and Search Engine Land, who got an exclusive early look at some of what is coming. Since Google obviously isn’t telling, your best chance of finding out before the April 22 event is to head over to Search Engine Land, where they are teasing all of the upcoming announcements.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In their ongoing quest to improve the quality of content filling users’ News Feeds, Facebook is implementing some extensive changes to their algorithm to cut out spam and pandering posts that are widely disliked by users.

Facebook was very open about their attempts to target spammy or manipulative users, but this is the largest attack on this type of posting so far. Previously, Facebook has combated pandering and spammy posts by limiting the organic reach of sites found to be too heavy-handed with calls to action.

According to Facebook, they are targeting publishers of Pages “that deliberately try and game News Feed to get more distribution than they normally would.” As such, they are punishing pages that:

  • Like-bait: Begging for users to like, comment, or share a post may seem like an innocent way to encourage activity on your page, but Facebook views it as a shameless attempt to expand post distribution. Facebook users are equally against like-baiting, as studies have shown that posts with similar calls to action receive less engagement and are viewed as being less relevant.
  • Frequently circulate content: Facebook says they have received frequent complaints about Pages that regularly re-run photos and videos that have already been popular on the network.
  • Post spammy links: The most transparently spammy practice on Facebook is to use inaccurate language or formatting to encourage clicks through to ad farms, low-quality content aggregators, or irrelevant content. Facebook is improving at identifying these types of posts, and they believe punishing misleading publishers will improve trust in the content spread over their site.

By now you may have heard the claims that internet traffic from smartphones and tablets will outpace traffic coming from desktop computers any day now, but yet a large amount of the internet isn’t optimized for mobile devices in any viable way. If you’ve ever wondered why, it is because many businesses don’t see the value of investing in mobile traffic, due to lack of information and misunderstandings of their audience and the market.

The question most businesses need answered isn’t “how much traffic is coming from mobile devices?” If we spent all the time that has been used answering that question every few months on instead answering “how valuable is all that mobile traffic” most businesses of every size would already have perfectly usable mobile websites.

It is true that the mobile market is constantly growng, but the most interesting data is how mobile internet users are doing online. Compared to desktop traffic, mobile users are exponentially more likely to take action. People tend to do in-depth research and general browsing on desktop systems, so each visitor you receive is as likely to politely look around and leave as they are to convert. In fact, they are statistically much more likely to not take action.

However, each study on the consumption behavior of smartphone users only shows that people are using their phones more and more to purchase or take action every day. The latest study from and Search Engine Watch says 80% of local searches coming from mobile phones lead to conversions.

There are a few industries that benefit the most from these conversions, as mobile searches for localized results tend to favor restaurant, auto service, and arts queries. You can read the whole breakdown of the report at Search Engine Watch, but if you are a local business owner who has been telling yourself that mobile websites only benefit major businesses you are likely selling yourself short.

The team from Neustar also created an infographic highlighting the results of the study, which can be seen below:


It appears we are currently in redesign season for most major search engines and social media platforms. Over the past month, Google and Bing have announced redesigns of their search results pages (Bing’s is still in testing, but has been confirmed). Meanwhile, Facebook rolled out the latest version of their site, and now Twitter has announced a new design for profile pages, complete with a slew of new features.

It seems obvious that one of the major motivators for the redesign was to improve organization of the site. Marketing Land recently conducted a study that found one of the biggest reasons for people to quit Twitter was the lack of sorting, filtering and media, which are all major focuses of the new layout.

Source: Marketing Land

Source: Marketing Land

The biggest and most notable change however, is the huge profile header that spans the full width of the screen. The huge header is easily the biggest visual change, but the most important updates all fall below. The new features allow users to pin Tweets to the top of the page, which is the first feature that allows users to break the chronological flow of their page ever. You can also filter the tweets you view by three categories:

  • Tweets
  • Tweets and Photos/Videos
  • Tweets & Replies

One of the last updates is a bit more subtle than the rest. Tweets with more engagement have gained more prominence on the screen as fonts get bigger based on activity. The Tweets getting the most attention get bigger, while less popular updates will continue to be shown at the normal font size.

Source: Marketing Land

Source: Marketing Land

The new profile design and functionality is currently limited to a small group of prominent users such as Weezer, Zac Efron, & Michelle Obama, but Twitter promises all users will have access in the “coming weeks.”

Responsive design is the popular title for a website designed to respond or adapt to users across multiple platforms. The idea is to make a responsively designed website equally as functional on your smartphone as it is on your desktop.

Of course, one way to make a website function properly on smartphones and desktops is to create a unique version of your site for each platform. What makes responsive design so special is its ability to take one site and make it work across devices, without the alternate versions.

With current estimates suggesting traffic from mobile devices may tie the numbers for desktop traffic, it is no mystery why it would be important for your brand to ensure your website is accessible and functional for everyone attempting to view it. Responsive design seems like the natural fit to solve this problem, and in many cases it is. But there are some drawbacks and problems you may need to be aware of before you start thinking responsive design is any kind of magic solution.

Tech Magnate created an infographic to explore the advantages and disadvantages of responsive design, as well as a guide for the common best practices used in the industry. If your business is online, but doesn’t have a site designed for a mobile experience, the infographic you see below can help you decipher whether responsive design is right for you.


Getting online is only half of the battle to actually expanding your brand via the internet. Once your website and profiles are all set up, you have to start leveraging them to interest and excite your audience. The only way to do this is by actually understand who you are trying to connect with and their habits.

A new study recently released by retail engagement firm Parago offers just that type of insight, as it explores how consumers research and buy across several product categories. The entire report can help you more deeply understand how people buy online and in-person.

Nathan Safran from Search Engine Land also took the study even further, by putting a magnifying glass onto the portion of the study that examined consumer behavior once the buyer is already in purchase mode.

There is a ton to be gained from the full report, and Safran’s work takes it a step further. The findings also break many of the misconceptions held by online marketers, especially when it comes to social media’s role in purchasing.

The graphic below breaks down where people prefer to look for certain types of goods, but it is just the tip of the iceberg contained in Parago’s report.

Source: Paradago

Source: Parago

It was difficult to trust most tech news early this week, as April Fools’ Day pranks went live across the web, and all sorts of joke announcements were published. But, now the laughter has died down and the employees at Google and Bing have returned to work. We’ve gathered up their latest changes and (real) announcements, so you can be caught up going into the weekend.

Bing Testing New SERPs Layout

Bing is ending the week by following Google’s most talked about recent change. Barry Schwartz and other prominent members of the SEO community began reporting that Bing is showing a new search results layout earlier today, but it currently appears to just be a test.

Bing Test Design

The new design changes the color of the logo from gray to the more familiar golden yellow, and the search button has been colored to match. Bing has also removed the gray background from the right side column. The interface is notably cleaned up, but overall the design won’t feel like as drastic of an update when it goes live as Google’s did.

Google Gets Another Privacy Fine From Europe

Not long ago, Google was forced to pay a 145,000 EUR (approximately $189,000) to Germany for privacy violations associated with their Street View program, a Reuters story reports the search engine has now been issued a fine in Italy. The roughly $1.4 million (1 million EUR) fine also related to Street View, though this time it appears to deal with a failure to clearly mark cars used for Italian street photography in 2010.

When announcing the fine, Italian authorities acknowledged that Google has already remedied the problem and is no longer in violation.

Google Adds More Apps To Its Index

Late last year, Google announced that they would begin allowing Android users to click on a Google result and open the page directly within an app, if it is already installed on the users smartphone. The first wave of apps being indexed by Google went live in December, and it would appear the test has been a success so far.

The search engine has now announced that they would be including 24 more apps in their indexing program. You can see which apps have been added in the image below.


Online video has reached a new level of importance in our lives over the past few years. YouTube is still the dominant service for free online video hosting and sharing, but several other platforms have taken YouTube’s lead and expanded on it in numerous ways.

Instagram and Vine have imposed limits on their video lengths to make them as sharable as possible, while Vimeo has focused its efforts on hosting primarily high-quality and visually stunning videos instead of the shaky cell-phone footage so prevalent on YouTube.

The question remains, which services do you invest your energy and resources into? If you are hoping to use the social video site to increase your brand’s visibility, you want to tailor the content you are creating to the platform most suited to your demographic.
You can get a complete breakdown of all of the major services in the infographic below.

The graphic was created by Russel Cooke, and explains what makes each service unique, as well as how each could benefit a business. If you know your market, you should be able to identify which service is most likely to connect you with your audience. From there, it’s just a matter of making content that will excite them.


It’s that time of year again. Today is April Fools’ Day, and following with tradition the internet has become littered with jokes and pranks that range from confusing, to mildly chuckle-worthy. We decided to collect the best of this year’s gags, but obviously there is no way to assemble every joke posted today. You’ll just have to use your best judgement before you believe anything else you read today.

Unsurprisingly, Google has numerous April Fools’ pranks spread across their apps and services, with varied results. Google Chrome announced Google Translate would now support Emoji, which is a cute idea that undoubtedly made quite a few people smile. It claims to be built into Chrome for Android and iOS, and the tool lets you, “Read all your favorite content using efficient and emotive illustrations, instead of cumbersome text.”

Of course, the announcement was accompanied by a YouTube video, as well as text examples that actually served as the inspiration.

AdSense also made an announcement on Google+ that their reporting system is going cosmic. With the new “Top planets and moons” reports, advertisers can gain insight on how their ads are faring throughout the solar system.

“With our recent discovery of the interplanetary IP address repository, you’ll have access to even more reports that can help you improve user engagement on your site,” the post proclaimed.


But,  Google’s most popular April Fools’ joke this year ended up going online before the holiday even arrive. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Google has kicked off the first ever Google Maps: Pokemon challenge. If you update Google Maps for Android or iPhone, you are able to follow in Ash’s footsteps and try to catch ’em all.

To get started, users tap on the search bar at the top of the screen, and tap the small icon labelled “Press Start” with a Pokeball beside it. You’ll be immediately transported to the Pokemon Lab, with the pocket monsters spread across the landscape. Users tap the Pokemon to catch them, and gradually fill the Pokedex while scouring the globe.

Of course, the title of Pokemon Master is too good to be true, so don’t expect an awesome job at Google for the effort.

Surprisingly, I can’t seem to find any official pranks from Twitter or Facebook. Usually they try to get in on the fun in some way. In fact, the biggest jokes on social media this year appear to either be Reddit’s announcement of ‘Headdit’ or Bill Clinton’s use of his Twitter account to parody Hillary Clinton’s infamous photo of her working aboard a military plane.


Clinton’s gag is pretty self-explanatory, but Headdit is another matter all together. Using your webcam, Reddit has made a system that maps your face onto Reddit’s mascot, the alien known as Snoo. It actually works, although it is a bit glitchy. You can ‘upnod’, ‘frownvote’ and even enable a cat mode when your felines show up on camera.

Did you find any other notable April Fools’ jokes this year?