Google is experimenting with a new way to help people find you in search results. Limited to India for now, the search engine is rolling out new ‘people cards’ which let individuals highlight details about themselves including your website, social profiles, and other relevant sites in one spot. 

Anyone who has ever tried to make a name for themselves knows search engines struggle when it comes to finding individual people – especially if they aren’t a household name like Taylor Swift. 

Now, Google is trying to tackle this problem with a virtual business card:

“Today, we are solving these challenges with a new feature called people cards. It’s like a virtual visiting card, where you can highlight your existing website or social profiles you want people to visit, plus other information about yourself that you want others to know.”

The cards were created with entrepreneurs, performers, influencers, and freelancers in mind and allow for a small amount of customization including a short blurb and contact links. 

Google People Card Gif

When viewed, the cards initially display a person’s name, profession, and location. When tapped or clicked, it expands into a full card complete with links. 

When multiple people with the same name appear in a search result, the individuals will appear alongside each other, allowing you to select the person you are looking for.  

How Creating a People Card Works

While they are not available in the U.S. or U.K. yet, some have found workarounds using VPN services to create a People Card for themself. If you decide to do this, you should know the cards will still only appear to searchers within India until the cards are expanded internationally. 

If you still wish to create a card and can make the VPN process work (results have been mixed according to Twitter users), the process is relatively simple. 

  1. Make sure you’re signed into the Google account you want linked to your People Card. 
  2. Search for your name or query “add me to Search.”
  3. After clicking “add me to Search” on the prompt, you’ll be taken to a page where you can provide a range of details including:
    • The image from your Google account
    • A personal description
    • A website link
    • Links to social profiles
    • Your phone number
    • Your email address

While you can pick and choose which details you want to provide, Google says “the more information you provide, the easier it is for people to find you.”

The only exception is your phone number, which is required for authenticating your card. Users can choose to keep this information hidden from their card, however. 

How Google Will Vet The Cards

Accompanying the rollout of these cards (and potentially explaining the limited size of the test), Google says it is launching a number of strict quality control measures to ensure the cards are reliable:

“Our goal with Search is to always make sure people can find helpful and reliable information, so we have a variety of protections and controls in place to maintain the quality of information on people cards.”

For now, there is no mention of when People Cards could be arriving in America. Based on the excitement from many, though, it feels safe to say you can expect to see something similar stateside sooner rather than later.

Twitter is introducing a new way to tweet using just your voice – called simply Voice Tweets.

The company announced this week that voice tweets will soon be among the many different ways you can tweet, such as using photos, videos, and regular text. 

“Over the years, photos, videos, gifs, and extra characters have allowed you to add your own flair and personality to your conversations. But sometimes 280 characters aren’t enough and some conversational nuances are lost in translation.

So starting today, we’re testing a new feature that will add a more human touch to the way we use Twitter – your very own voice.”

To start, the feature is limited to a small number of people using the Twitter app on iOS devices, though it will be rolling out to all iOS devices in the coming weeks.

While those with Android devices and those on desktop computers are left out of being able to create voice tweets for now, everyone can still see and listen to voice tweets that appear in their feed.

How To Post a Voice Tweet

If you have been given access to voice tweets, you will notice a small icon resembling an audio wavelength next to the camera icon when composing a tweet. 

If you tap that icon, you will be presented with a screen showing your profile photo and a record button. Just tap that button to get started recording. 

Voice tweets are limited to 140 seconds of audio in each clip, though the company mentioned that you can keep talking and have your audio automatically split into a thread of multiple voice tweets. 

Once shared, your voice tweet will appear in other people’s feeds with a tappable image that will begin playing your audio in a docked window at the bottom of the screen. 

There’s a lot that can be left unsaid or uninterpreted using text, so we hope voice Tweeting will create a more human experience for listeners and storytellers alike.

Whether it’s #storytime about your encounter with wild geese in your neighborhood, a journalist sharing breaking news, or a first-hand account from a protest, we hope voice Tweeting gives you the ability to share your perspectives quickly and easily with your voice.”

If you’ve ever doubted the power of search engine optimization, just look at the events playing out surrounding the recently released movie Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). 

After the film significantly under-performed on its opening weekend, Warner Bros. has decided to revise the name to the simpler Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey for better SEO.

As the company explained to The Verge this week, the new title places the popular character’s name at the front of the title instead of hiding it towards the end. The idea behind is a “search expansion for ticket sites” to make the title easier to find for movie-goers who may be less familiar with the Birds of Prey title.

Attentive watchers noticed the change occurring three days after the film’s release across numerous ticket sites.

Did SEO Tank Birds of Prey?

It is too early to really tell how big of an impact the change will really have to the movie’s success. There is some evidence that Google and other major search engines were already surfacing information about the movie and ticket availability when just searching “Harley Quinn” before the change took effect.

Image Source: George Nguyen/Search Engine Land

The revision could actually cause more confusion, as many details about the movie – such as its YouTube trailer – still show the original movie title.

However, the power of SEO and branding can’t be ignored. Studies have shown that more than half of consumers only click on brands they are familiar with within search results. It is also hard to gauge exactly how many potential film goers were turned away or frustrated by irrelevant search results before the change took place.

Either way, the events following the release of Birds of Prey provide a real-world example of how SEO and branding affect the viability of even the biggest products.

Pinterest is launching a new tool called Pinterest Trends which will help you see what the hottest search terms have been over the past 12 months, along with info showing when the search terms peaked.

As the company announced, the new feature is in beta, but began rolling out earlier this week.

How Trends Can Help Your Marketing

Marketers and brands have been relying on Google Trends for years to track what the most popular search terms over time, especially surrounding seasonal events. Although Pinterest’s version of this feature doesn’t seek to reinvent the wheel, it does provide another set of compelling data which could be particularly useful for businesses in the fields Pinterest tends to cater to – such as cooking, decorating, fashion, and self-care.

As Pinterest continues to grow into one of the most dominant social platforms available, insights like this will be useful for brands looking to plan their campaigns ahead of time.

The company said as much when describing their goals with the tool:

“Pinterest Trends will help brands get deeper insights into planning behaviors on the platform, and allow  them to allocate budgets to campaigns during various planning stages. It will also validate assumptions about emerging trends, refine search queries with the aid of auto-complete suggestions, and help advertisers find a list of keywords to include or avoid while planning media campaigns.”

For example, the company says that Tastemade and Albertsons were given early access to the tool and have both used the data to create successful boards and campaigns on the site.

Twitter wants to help you plan out your marketing for the year with a new, free calendar with tips and ideas for your 2019 marketing strategies.

The calendar identifies the biggest, most hotly anticipated events of the year so you can plan your marketing ahead of time.

Additionally, Twitter provides some extra motivation to tweet during these big events with an estimate of the number of Tweet impressions each event is expected to draw.

The calendar doesn’t just highlight the obvious holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s day, either. It includes niche holidays such as Talk Like a Pirate Day, major sporting events like the March Madness final game, and cultural events like Coachella.

No matter what industry you are in, you are bound to find exciting opportunities to make your mark somewhere among the major and minor events.

For example, running accessory brands may plan their marketing around some of the major marathons included on the calendar – like the Boston Marathon which is predicted to drive an estimated 73 million tweet impressions.

Meanwhile, bars or restaurants may be more interested in taking advantage of the quickly approaching National Pizza Day on February 9th and National Margarita Day on February 22th, which are estimated to inspire 34 million and 14 million tweet impressions respectively.

View and download Twitter’s 2019 Marketing Calendar here.

Twitter is trying to bring back the good old days when you could explore your feed chronologically.

The social platform announced it has changed how the option to “Show the best Tweets first” function, removing the “In case you missed it” and recommended Tweets from people users aren’t following.

By stripping all this away, it leaves users with a pure, reverse-chronological feed from people they are following.

“We’ve learned that when showing the best Tweets first, people find Twitter more relevant and useful. However, we’ve heard feedback from people who at times prefer to see the most recent Tweets,” reads the company’s statement. “Our goal with the timeline is to balance showing you the most recent Tweets with the best Tweets you’re likely to care about, but we don’t always get this balance right.”

Since the release of the default algorithmic feed in early 2016, many users have been relying on workarounds to access their feed in a chronological way. Unfortunately for those users, Twitter has recently been limiting the amount of access available to third-party developers, restricting the possibility for plug-ins or automated tools for accessing a chronological timeline.

That led to the past few days when things reached something of a boiling point. A trick to get the algorithmic feed from user Emma Kinema went viral with more than 15,000 retweets and almost 40,000 likes.

While Twitter says it has been working on this update for some time, the tweet helped underscore the demand for a simple way to access a chronological feed without all the “curated” content that Twitter had been including.

The change to how the “Show best Tweets first” option works is a temporary solution according to the company, which maintains that many users still prefer the algorithmic feed. In the meantime, it is working on a more accessible way to easily switch back and forth between “Tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest Tweets.”

The company says it will launch within a few weeks.

Hashtag YouTube

Hashtags are coming to YouTube. The video platform has begun displaying hashtags on videos to help users search and discover other videos on similar topics.

The hashtags appear on any video that has been optimized with the tags in web browsers and the YouTube Android app. So far, the hashtags are not being shown in the iOS app.

Up to three hashtags can be shown in blue text above videos’ titles and can be clicked on to open a search containing related videos.

Hashtags can be used to conduct manual searches for any video containing that hashtag, even if it is just in the video description. Hashtags can also be included in video titles.

There are a few restrictions on how hashtags can be used on YouTube, most of which are common sense. YouTube’s policies explicitly prohibit using hashtags to promote harassment or hate speech, as well as to mislead people about content.

Additionally, the platform discourages users from over-tagging their videos, which would be defined as using 15 or more tags on a single video.

Breaking these rules could lead to a variety of punishments depending on how severe the infraction is or whether someone has committed a previous offense. These could include having your hashtags be ignored, videos being removed from search results, or a video being removed from YouTube altogether.

For now, using hashtags to search provides pretty limited search results. But, I expect that will change as creators begin to optimize their channels.

It seems like everybody these days is going crazy about fidget spinners, especially teens. Well, you can save yourself a few dollars – if you haven’t already bought one. These “spinners” are now just a search away, thanks to Google’s latest Easter egg.

By searching “spinner”, you can play with a virtual version of the fidget spinners that are everywhere.

Technically, there are two different spinners available. There’s the classic spinner that’s become so ubiquitous it is getting banned in schools, as well as one with up to 20 spinning numbers. Aside from Dungeons and Dragons players who forgot their 20-sided dice, I’m not totally sure who that’s supposed to be for.

Fidget Spinner

Google’s fidget spinner functions pretty much exactly as you would expect. You can swipe either direction to send it spinning, or just tap the convenient “spin” button to watch the thing go. It will match however fast you spin it and stop when you tap.

Number Spinner

Unlike the fidget spinner, this option is more like something you’d see on a game show. You swipe to send it spinning, and it eventually comes to a stop on a specific number. You can choose to customize the wheel with between 2 and 20 numbers, making it a sort of limited number generator.

Whether you love or hate spinners, there’s no denying how popular they are. Once Google puts you in the search results, you know you’ve made it!

Google’s decision to constantly make their search results more personalized for every user has often been criticized for veering into the “invasion of privacy” area from time to time. Its latest experiment takes that to the extreme, with a whole new tab devoted just to you.

The search engine now allows you to filter search results for your personal information collected from Google’s apps, including Gmail, Photos, and Calendar.

The new experiment can be found for most users by clicking “More” on the search results page, which will drop down a list of search options. Click “Personal” and you’ll find only information directly related to yourself, such as events you have in your calendar or recent emails.

Most of this isn’t too eye-raising. It could even be useful in the right circumstances. Where it starts to get weird is when you search for pictures. The personal search feature finds photos that are not necessarily on the device you’re using. It also finds pictures based on the content, even when you haven’t labeled the picture.

To give you an example, I’ve taken a lot of photos of my cat on my phone. I’ve never labeled any of them as being of my cat or shared them to my computer. But, when I search “cat” within the results, I am shown my collection of pictures of my cat Magnitude.

Like this picture

The tool can also be used to find photos of people you know on your phone, as Kevin Murnane reports for Forbes.

Unsurprisingly, the “Personal” search results tab also includes ads at the bottom of the page. Reports vary between one and three ads on any personal page.

Since it is just an experiment, there is no telling whether the feature is around to stay. It first appeared a few days ago, but went offline for a period before reappearing today. It has only been spotted on Chrome for desktop devices, but it could be rolled out to other devices at some point. It could also be removed entirely, if people respond negatively to having Google snooping through their emails.

Year in Search

Google has finally released its annual year in search list, breaking down the biggest stories and searches of the past year. As usual, it is broken down into several categories and countries, making it easy to see what was trending in 2016 in your area or around the world.

Google’s Top 10 Worldwide searches of 2016:

  1. Pokémon Go
  2. iPhone 7
  3. Donald Trump
  4. Prince
  5. Powerball
  6. David Bowie
  7. Deadpool
  8. Olympics
  9. Slither.io
  10. Suicide Squad

The top searches for the US are almost identical, except for a few changes. “Powerball” bounces up to the top slot, because it can only be played in America. Meanwhile, “iPhone” slides entirely off the list.

Google’s Top 10 US Searches of 2016:

  1. Powerball
  2. Prince
  3. Hurricane Matthew
  4. Pokemon Go
  5. Slither.io
  6. Olympics
  7. David Bowie
  8. Trump
  9. Election
  10. Hillary Clinton

While the iPhone 7 didn’t make the top US searches, it does lead the worldwide top tech searches of the past year. Apple also dominates 3 of the top 4 searches for consumer technology. Considering its recent reveal, it is also somewhat surprising to see the Nintendo Switch also makes the list at number 9.

Google’s Top 10 Consumer Tech Searches Worldwide:

  1. iPhone 7
  2. Freedom 251
  3. iPhone SE
  4. iPhone 6S
  5. Google Pixel
  6. Samsung Galaxy S7
  7. iPhone 7 Plus
  8. Note 7
  9. Nintendo Switch
  10. Samsung J7

Of course, there are plenty more interesting categories in Google’s Year in Search 2016 to look through including beers, fashion designers, GIFs and much more. Check out the lists for yourself.