Source: YouTube

Source: YouTube

March Madness is upon us and everyone is getting into the spirit, including Bing. The search engine has launched their smart answers in the search results for March Madness and other related searches to see brackets, scores, and predictions.

Users get three options above the normal search results for the basketball tournament. The default view shows the current bracket results, but users can also build their own brackets and see Bing’s predicted outcome. On top of all of this, Bing also offers the schedules and teams playing in the competition.

Below you can see a screenshot of the default view for bracket results, which expands by clicking on the down arrow or the results button:

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If you choose to view Bing’s predictions, the window gets even bigger. Barry Schwartz captured a large screenshot, which you can click to enlarge:

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Bing said:

Now that the bracket has officially been announced, our data scientists are in the lab, working tirelessly to perfect their models so our smarter bracket is powered by Bing Predicts and ready for you to access by Monday morning. Stay tuned for an updated analysis of the Bing smarter bracket on the Bing blog tomorrow.

BingLogo

As of January 1st, Bing is officially powering AOL’s search results as the result of a long-term deal made by the two companies in June of last year. Rick van der Kooi, Corporate VP of Microsoft Search Advertising announced the change, saying:

“Today, I am excited to share that as of Jan. 1, Bing powers AOL’s web, mobile, and tablet search, providing paid search ads and algorithmic organic search results to AOL’s properties worldwide.”

Van der Kooi also shared some interesting bits of information to help illustrate the scale of the partnership, including:

  • 1 in 5 searches happen on Bing.com
  • Bing also powers search results for the third largest search provider in the US (Yahoo)
  • With Bing now powering AOL searches, the engine now powers close to one-third of all US PC web searches.

The company looks to gain even more ground by acquiring the built-in audience from AOL, which is responsible for generating billions of search queries a year.

Unlike Bing’s deal with Yahoo, Bing’s will be powering 100% of AOL’s search results across all devices. In the Yahoo agreement, only 51% of Yahoo’s desktop search results are powered by Bing, with no support for mobile.

 AdWords In Store Visits

Today, Google announced their highly anticipated ‘Buy’ button with the unveiling of the new “Purchases on Google” feature, along with several other big upgrades.

Select retailers running mobile ads can now choose to include a ‘Buy on Google’ option that takes shoppers to a branded product page hosted by Google. From there, shoppers can finalize their purchase and save purchasing information for future use if you choose.

According to Google, this feature is only in the experimental early stages and is being limited to a small number of retailers.

Retailers who choose to use Purchases on Google will only have to pay for clicks on the shopping ads to the product page. They will also have the option to invite customers to join their mailing list during the transaction.

While Google will take responsibility for hosting product pages and providing security throughout the sale, it will be up to retailers to provide customer communication.

Along with the announcement of Purchases on Google, the company introduced a few more new features for AdWords:

  • Swipe to Reveal: When a user swipes on a Google ad carousel will show more information about the products, including price and availability.
  • Ratings and Reviews: Shopping ads with product ratings and reviews will now be shown if searchers use specific trigger words, such as “best”, ”reviews”, “recommendations”, etc.
  • Priority for Local Inventory Ads: LIA’s will now receive priority for local intent shopping queries.
  • App Deep-Linking: Ads from select retailers will now include links to view a product on their app.Today, Google announced their highly anticipated ‘Buy’ button with the unveiling of the new “Purchases on Google” feature, along with several other big upgrades.

If you’re a business owner who has decided to get serious about your company’s online presence and marketing, you’ve almost certainly heard about search engine optimization. Unfortunately to the uninitiated, SEO can seem impenetrable with its endless technical jargon and conflicting opinions from experts about exactly how to get the best online visibility. It can feel a lot like jumping in the deep end without learning how to swim first.

Search Engine Optimization doesn’t have to seem so intimidating however. There may be a lot to learn before you are an expert, but with just a few basic ideas you can drastically improve your business’s online profile.

This infographic from SEOHalt will help guide you through the basics of SEO and give you the vocabulary you need to really get an understanding of what search engine optimization is and how it affects online marketing efforts. Once you’ve got these ideas under your wing, you’ll be ready to dive into the deeper waters of SEO without having to worry you’ll drown.

 SEOBasics

SEO is an essential part of growing your business online, but it can often seem impossible to keep up with the constantly changing trends and policies. With the never-ending changes coming from Google and the other major search engines, you could drive yourself crazy trying to react to every single update.

Thankfully, a recent infographic from CJG Digital Marketing breaks down the most important trends and changes coming for SEO in 2015. With these tips, you won’t have to fight to keep up to date with the latest changes because you’ll be prepared before they even happen.

 Top-8-SEO-Trends-to-Watch-Out-this-2015

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Love her or hate her, chances are if you were searching for a celebrity this year using Bing, you were probably looking Kim Kardashian. Thanks to her highly publicized marriage to Kanye West and her “break the internet” magazine cover, Kardashian was the top searched for celebrity on Bing in 2014, topping a list of mostly female celebrities, according to Bing’s latest list of search trends.

Bing Trends compiles the most popular searches across 15 different categories every year, including everything from top news stories, athletes, and vacation destination searches. There is even a list of the top ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos shared online this year.

Keeping in line with past lists and similar findings from Google, the list of most searched for celebrities is absolutely dominated by women, with females taking eight of the 10 spots. Notably, the Kardashian family occupies more than one spot on the list as younger sister Kendall Jenner also makes an appearance on the list.

Top 10 Most Searched Celebrities

  1. Kim Kardashian
  2. Beyoncé
  3. Miley Cyrus
  4. Katy Perry
  5. Justin Bieber
  6. Joan River
  7. Jennifer Lopez
  8. Kendall Jenner
  9. Kaley Cuoco
  10. Robin Williams

The lists also covers the biggest events and news stories of the year. Capturing the most attention of the entire year was the World Cup, however numerous more serious world news stories such as the rise of ISIS and the protests in Ferguson also claim spots on the list.

Top 10 Most Searched News Stories

  1. World Cup
  2. Super Bowl
  3. Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet
  4. Winter Olympics
  5. The Rise of ISIS
  6. Ray Rice Controversy
  7. Shooting in Ferguson, Missouri
  8. Ebola Outbreak
  9. Brittany Maynard Death with Dignity Debate
  10. Ukraine Conflict

The top searched Musicians is also notably female-heavy, with Justin Bieber being the only male to hold a spot on the list. Other controversial figures also sit near the top, such as Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry. Of course, at the top of the list sits Beyoncé for another year.

Top 10 Most Searched Musicians

  1. Beyoncé
  2. Miley Cyrus
  3. Katy Perry
  4. Britney Spears
  5. Justin Bieber
  6. Jennifer Lopez
  7. Selena Gomez
  8. Taylor Swift
  9. Nicki Minaj
  10. Carrie Underwood

You can see the other findings for categories including “political movers & shakers” “most-searched athletes” and “celebrity births” on Bing Trends.

All week we try to keep you up to date with the most important SEM news across the web, but inevitably there are smaller stories that fall through the cracks. That’s why we compile all the most important news we missed this week all in one convenient place every Friday. After a quiet week before, nearly all of the major platforms have made announcements this week. Let’s start with Google and work our way down.

Google Starts Warning Searchers About Mobile URL Redirects

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Google has been warning webmasters about faulty mobile redirects for months, including suggesting they may one day start receiving penalties for sending mobile searchers to the front page of a site rather than the content relevant to their search. It appears Google has opted for another solution, which allows mobile searchers to decide if they want to proceed.

Google alerted webmasters this week that smartphone searchers will begin seeing warnings for sites with redirects that don’t take them where they want to go. An example of how these warnings will appear is above. On a Webmaster Central blog post, Google stated:

We’d like to spare users the frustration of landing on irrelevant pages and help webmasters fix the faulty redirects. Starting today in our English search results in the US, whenever we detect that smartphone users are redirected to a homepage instead of the page they asked for, we may note it below the result. If you wish to proceed to the page, you can click ‘Try Anyway.’

Google Adds World Cup Street View Tours and a Loch Ness Easter Egg

street-view-world-cup

Just a week before the World Cup kicks off, Google has added street view images that will allow users to tour all 12 stadiums that will be used for the tournament. Whether you want to stand in the middle of the field and do a little spin, or preview the view from the stands, you’ll be able to give a look from anywhere within the stadiums.

Google has also added significantly more images from Brazil’s painted streets and other sites across the country, but perhaps one of the most popular finds on Google Maps this week is an Easter Egg found far away from Brazil.

If you’d rather hunt legendary monsters than watch soccer, Google Maps is able to give you directions to Loch Ness. If that isn’t enough for you however, Google says you can always catch a ride on Nessy.

google-maps-loch-ness-monster-600x480

If you get directions from Fort Augustus to Urquhart Castle in Google Maps, you will get the option to travel via Loch Ness Monster. You just have to click on ‘Route Options’ and then choose ‘Fewer Transfers’ or ‘Less Walking.’ Though you have to wonder how no one has managed to get a picture of Nessy while hopping a ride down the Loch.

Bing Celebrates Its 5th Birthday With Some Memories

Bing turned five earlier this week, and to celebrate it has posted a retrospective of the last five years. Bing is also offering Bing Reward credit perks to any user who searches on the site before June 9th.

The retrospective covers all of the ways Bing’s appearance has changed over the past five years, but it also covers how it has worked to achieving its initial goals of leveraging semantic search, introducing new verticals, and generally expanding how search could function in our lives.

Bing Shows Off New Dynamic Carousel For Music Video Searches

bing-music-video-carousel

Bing has prided itself on being ahead of the curve in respect to music and music video searching and discovery, and its latest feature continues to expand on the functionality it previously offered for music video searches.

Bing has recognized that people search for music videos very differently than they do other video content. By exploring these changes in user behavior, Bing was able to determine that music video watchers wer significantly more likely to hang around and check out other content instead of moving on once they found the video they were looking for.

To give users easier access to all the music videos they may be interested, Bing has implemented instant access to an artist’s top hits as soon as you search only the artists name. Bing describe this as a dynamic carousel, because it allows you to open up songs and videos from teh carousel and play it within the same window. You will never have to keep going back and forth between choosing the video you want to watch and actually watching it.

The carousel also allows you to view all of an artist’s albums and watch the videos for those songs as well.

Pinterest Continues To Work Towards An Actual Ad Platform

Pinterest Promoted Pins DIY

Pinterest has made its intention to establish an ad platform for their social network very clear ever since it unveiled Promoted Pins. However, Pinterest is working slowly to guarantee that the ads shown on their platform won’t stick out or detract from the experience, and as such it has been very hands on and selective about who it allows to run ads.

Now, businesses of all types have been given access to a do-it-yourself Promoted Pins tool that allows them to promote their own pins to more people and increase visibility. Similar to most other social ad platforms, these will work on a cost-per-click basis through ads.pinterest.com.

Pinterest also announced they would be expanding the analytics tools offered to users, giving them more insight into who is clicking and re-Pinning your content. You can get more information from their announcement.

LinkedIn Joins The “Large Cover and Profile Photo” Club

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LinkedIn announced earlier this week it would be making a major design update to user profiles, which will feel very familiar to anyone who uses Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. Currently, the layout is only available to premium users, but LinkedIn says it will be available for all users after a short period. It isn’t entirely clear why LinkedIn would stagger the rollout of this layout change, but you can add it to the list of social media sites that are beginning to look very, very similar.

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.

topmoonsandplanets

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.

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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?

sports-authority-google-brand-banner-ad

You may remember the uproar from last October, when Google began experimenting with huge banner ads that ran across the top of branded search results. Many hailed them as the first sign of a completely branded search engine, while others weren’t as bothered by the large graphics appearing strictly on branded searches.

Either way, you shouldn’t expect to see the ads any longer. During a SMX West keynote discussion with Danny Sullivan, Google’s Armit Singhal declared the test to be over while saying that the test had failed.

Ginny Marvin suggests the test ads weren’t getting high enough click-through rates (CTR) to justify expanding or keeping around, but even Marvin admits CTR would be an odd metric to measure the success of the ads considering they acted more as a graphic introduction to brands you were searching for and didn’t include call-to-actions.

The test was very small in comparison to most Google tests, with only about 30 advertisers participating. Their banners were only shown on about 5 percent of search queries. Maybe Singhal or someone else from Google will explain how the tests were failures, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Most likely, the tests will just be forgotten like many other failed Google experiments.

However, if you missed the chance to catch some of these ads when they were appearing, or you are simply nostalgic for some nice branded banners, Marketing Land put together a slide show with many of the banners when they were still active, which you can view below.

Stop Sign

Thanks to the big brand-named algorithm updates, Google has definitely been at the forefront of the link building discussion recently, but obviously the other search engines have their own opinions as well.

As Search Engine Land reports, Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager for Bing, recently wrote a post on the Bing Webmaster Blog detailing the four worst link building techniques and why you shouldn’t do them.

Unsurprisingly, these link building strategies are largely in line with the methods Google has been fighting more publicly. Nonetheless, it is important to highlight the more spammy methods people are still using to try to boost their link profile.

  1. Blind Requests – Links aren’t something that should just be given out. Sending mass template emails to websites is about as spammy as you can get. The only people who will respond are those who won’t give you a quality link. Buying email lists to try to send out mass requests is an even bigger waste of funds that really won’t get you far, but could likely incur some penalties.
  2. Blog/Forum Comments – Some link builders will try to drop links almost randomly into blog comments and forum conversations, but these won’t improve your rankings a single bit. The search engines have been aware of the practice for some time now.
  3. Link Injection – This is a tactic used by spammers where sites are hacked and links are injected into content such as headers or footers. Some will even push links directly into the body content. Bing does encourage keeping your CMS software up to date and secure, but they also try to take precautions on their side against this tactic.
  4. Guest Blogging – This is one of the more controversial link building strategies because it isn’t explicitly bad. The problem is, if your focus with guest blogging is to build links, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Forrester explains, “if you’re going to guest blog, best to do it with the intention to buildyour brand, drive traffic, and create awareness. Doing it to bolster your SEO efforts is a #FAIL these days.”