For years, the only way to showcase your products within Google’s search results has been through paid shopping ad campaigns.

Though effective, these Shopping campaigns have grown increasingly competitive and more costly, despite more popular shopping sites like Amazon and Pinterest offering organic ways to promote your goods.

Now, Google is returning to its organic search roots with a new way to showcase clothes and other retail products in a specialized search results format for mobile users.

What Are Popular Products Listings?

 

The Popular Products section is designed to pull together relevant products for searches focused on shopping or retail.

As the company explains in the announcement:

“Starting today, you’ll begin to see clothes, shoes and accessories from across the web in one place on Search on your mobile device, so you can easily browse lots of different stores and brands at once.”

The search results in the section can also be further refined by style, department, and size, with each listing taking interested shoppers to a store’s website.

How To Get Your Products In The Popular Products Section

Though it takes a little bit of specialized work, the process of including your products is relatively easy for most website managers.

Firstly, retailers start the process by uploading their products into Google’s Merchant Center – a free tool available for all retailers. Additionally, you can increase the chances of your products being included by including structured markup data in your product listings.

As Google says:

“Just as we don’t charge sites to be part of the Google Search index, participating retailers appear in this new feature for free. Retailers can learn more about what types of products are eligible to appear in this shopping experience on Search.” 

Since the launch of Siri (and arguably much longer), everyone has fantasized of the day when we would all be using voice assistants for nearly every task in our day-to-day lives. Based on the latest statistics from the past year, that day has come.

From Alexa to smart home appliances, modern consumers are finding themselves speaking to their devices more and more every day.

Of course, we haven’t quite hit the point where voice search has become as completely ubiquitous as using our smartphones for online tasks, but 2019 certainly marked a year when voice search devices went from a novelty to an everyday tool.

Voice Search is The Second Choice for Mobile Search

Remember how I said using voice assistants isn’t quite as common as using the mobile browsers on our smartphones? It isn’t far behind.

Data from early 2019 gathered by Perficient Digital show that voice search is the number two choice for making mobile searches, even above the built-in search box on most devices.

  1. Mobile browser
  2. Voice search
  3. Phone’s search box/window
  4. Search app
  5. Text a friend

Almost Half of People Use Voice Search

Similar findings in July from Adobe showed that nearly half of all consumers reported using voice search for “general web searches”.

Notably, the vast majority of respondents (85%) say they use their voice search tools directly from their smartphone, while only 39% reported using smart speakers.

Quick Answers are the Main Use For Voice Search

Out of all the ways people use their smartphones, the leading motivations are largely focused on taking immediate actionespecially with regards to shopping:

  1. Searching for a quick fact — 68%
  2. Asking for directions — 65%
  3. Searching for a business — 47%
  4. Researching a product or service — 44%t
  5. Making a shopping list — 39%

At Least 50 Million Homes Have Smart Speakers

Trying to project exactly how many smart speakers are in U.S. homes has been notoriously tricky. Some estimates have estimated that there were more than 118 million smart speakers in American homes, but others have suggested the real number could be much lower.

Still, nearly every analyst agrees that people tend to buy multiple smart speakers. This puts the estimate for the total number of homes with smart speakers much closer to 58 million.

Amazon Leads in Smart Speakers

When it comes to which smart speakers people are putting around their homes, Amazon is consistently in the lead, with around 75% of the U.S. market. In just Q3 of 2019, the company reportedly shipped at least three times as many smart speakers as Google – its closest competitor.

Siri and Google Assistant Are The Main Virtual Assistants

Meanwhile, since Amazon does not offer a smartphone, Apple and Siri largely dominate the field when it comes to using smart assistants on phones.

A report from Microsoft in April showed that both companies were neck-and-neck in smart assistant usage, followed by Alexa. Microsoft’s own Cortana came in fourth, only followed by “Other”.

The Takeaway

Smaller businesses have largely stayed away from optimizing specifically for voice search. After the tremendous growth in 2019, however, this is likely to change. Not only are a large number of consumers regularly using voice assistants, they are using them specifically to find and purchase products as soon as possible.

Facebook’s dominance of the internet continues, as reports say the company owns 4 of the 5 most downloaded apps in the world this year.

App Annie’s year-end report shows that Facebook helped drive a worldwide record for app downloads with 120 billion apps downloaded between iOS and Android in 2019 – a 5% year-over-year increase.

According to App Annie’s data, the top 5 app downloads of the year are:

  1. Facebook Messenger
  2. Facebook
  3. WhatsApp Messenger
  4. TikTok
  5. Instagram

10 Top Downloaded Apps in 2019

TikTok is the only app in the top 5 not owned by Facebook.

Breakout Apps

In addition to the top app downloads over the past year, App Annie also detailed the top “breakout apps” which showed the largest growth in downloads between 2018 and 2019. While most are still relative unknowns, they could potentially be chart-toppers in the near future.

  1. Likee
  2. Noizz
  3. Helo
  4. Hago
  5. YouTube Music

Top 10 Breakout Apps of 2019

Based on the its current estimations, App Annie believes 2020 is posed to be even more lucrative for app downloads and consumer spend. Excluding games, the report predicts spending to reach more than $30 billion in the coming year.

If there is anything that has remained true about online marketing over the past decade, it is that online marketing is always changing. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that Google makes around 9 changes to their search engine algorithm every day.

To stay ahead of the curve, businesses can’t just understand where online marketing and SEO is today. They have to be able to look forward to predict the next wave of updates they can expect in the coming months and years.

With that in mind, I wanted to spend some time today talking about some of the biggest trends you can expect to see in 2020 and beyond:

1) Snippets Become The New “Number 1 on Google”

For years, Google has been using Featured Snippets to highlight quick information that may answer your query without ever having to click on a search result. You can see these when you search for recipes, look for lyrics to your favorite songs, or ask questions with relatively simple answers like “How big is the sun?”

Brands have long avoided targeting these snippets which typically appear above all other search results, believing that they reduce the chance of a person clicking onto their website or otherwise converting. However, growing evidence suggests snippets actually drive higher click-through rates and engagement by quickly establishing a single site as the authority.

Over the next year, the competition for these snippets is likely to continue rising, making them the next big fight for search engine results dominance.

2) Mobile Really Comes First

We’ve been talking about this moment for years. We officially use our smartphones and tablets to access the internet more desktop devices.

As such, Google has announced that its ‘Mobile-First Index” would become its primary search index. That means Google is now looking at the mobile version of your site before it ever considers the desktop version when ranking search results.

With this in mind, having a stripped-down mobile version of your site or not having a mobile site is no longer a viable option if you want to succeed online.

Site speed will also continue to be a major ranking factor because of its importance when accessing sites on the go from mobile devices.

3) Visual Search Gets Serious

Visual search has existed as a novelty in online marketing for some time now, slowly improving with each iteration. Now, we are reaching the point where visual search is becoming a major player in search.

While we don’t have statistics from Google Lens or Bing’s Visual Search, Pinterest’s Lens has been a revealing foray into the viability of visual search.

Within a single year of launch, Pinterest Lens was receiving more than 600 million visual search queries every month. This September, the company announced the tool was able to identify over 2.5 billion unique objects within the fashion and home industries.

With this in mind, it is easy to imagine a day in the near future when people regularly find it easier to snap a quick picture than come up with a precise text query when trying to find a specific item online.

4) Voice Search

Speaking of convenience, people are quickly turning to their Alexas, Echos, Siris, and Dots for their casual search needs – whether it is checking the weather or quickly ordering a product.

Out of all the coming changes, this may have the largest effect on how brands optimize their websites and content. This is because voice queries tend to be almost completely different than the types of queries we make when typing into a browser form.

With some estimates suggesting voice search could account for nearly half of all searches by the end of 2020, brands will have to begin optimizing for more conversational “long-tail” search queries and the unique capabilities of voice assistants.

5) Video Rules The Content Landscape

This is another online marketing trend that has been growing for years, but shows absolutely no signs of slowing down in the coming years.

The simple truth is that videos are more engaging than almost any other form of media, providing both audio and visual information in a quickly consumable package. Thanks to faster internet speeds and improved search indexing, they have also been an increasingly effective tool for sharing your content and driving actual engagement.

To give you an idea, some statistics suggest that videos can increase engagement by more than 80% compared to sharing the same information in simple text or audio clips.

Despite this, many brands have still avoided investing in video marketing because they believe it is inherently expensive or ineffective in local markets. Ironically, most users say they often enjoy videos shot using “authentic” methods like shooting selfie-style using a smartphone as much or more than slickly produced commercial videos.

 

Waiting for the “next big thing” to blow up before you jump in is a surefire way to always be a step behind your competition online. You don’t have to invest in every whim or indulgence of the digital marketing landscape, but focusing on these five surefire trends is sure to have you starting 2020 at the head of the pack.

App ads on Google’s ad network will soon be eligible to appear in some very high-profile places as the ad platform is expanding app ads to both Google’s Discover feed and within YouTube apps. 

Currently, app ads are shown across a wide variety of apps in Google’s display network, as well as the Play Store, Google search results, and in select areas of YouTube. 

With the latest announcement, however, these ads will soon be appearing in a few more areas which could be highly rewarding to advertisers. 

Google Discover

 

Starting this week, app campaigns running in the US will automatically be eligible to appear within users’ Discover feeds when they are identified as being potentially interested in your app. 

Currently, Google says the Discover feed (formerly known as just the Google Feed) connects more than 800 million people with targeted content every month. 

Over the next few months, similar ads within the Discover feed will also be available to those in Malaysia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and Indonesia. The company also said it hopes to make the app ads available to all markets before the end of the year. 

YouTube 

In the same announcement, Google revealed that app ads are now eligible to appear at the top of search results from YouTube’s mobile app. Within the next month, app ads will also start appearing as in-stream video ads while viewing other YouTube videos 

Along with these announcements, Google says it is exploring the possibility of allowing ads to also display ads while loading content for users:

“Our new app open ad format allows you to show ads to your users as they wait for your app to load. Designed to seamlessly integrate with your app’s branding, this format gives you new ways to earn revenue while creating a good user experience. Reach out to your account manager to get started with this format in alpha.”

This week, Google announced it will begin adding new websites to its mobile-first index by default beginning July 1. However, older sites that have yet to be added to the mobile-first index will still be exempt until they are updated to be mobile-friendly.

In the announcement, Google explained that “mobile-first indexing will be enabled by default for all new, previously unknown to Google Search, websites starting July 1, 2019. It’s fantastic to see that new websites are now generally showing users – and search engines – the same content on both mobile and desktop devices.”

While new sites will be moved to the mobile-first index, older sites which have not been added will not be migrated over yet.

“For older websites, we’ll continue monitoring and evaluating pages for their readiness for mobile first indexing and will notify them through Search Console once they’re seen as being ready,” as the announcement said.

No Notifications

Google has been notifying site owners when their site has been migrated to the mobile-first index through Search Console notifications. However, this will not be the case for new sites that are added to the index by default.

“Since the default state for new websites will be mobile-first indexing, there’s no need to send a notification,” Google stated.

What is the mobile-first index?

Google’s mobile-first index is the search engines primary way of cataloging sites across the internet. Launched a few years ago, the mobile-first index analyses the mobile version of a page first and uses that information to rank web pages. Although it started small, the index has become Google’s primary search engine index with more than 50% of what is indexed by Google being added to the mobile-first index.

The news adds even more motivation to new site creators and business owners to ensure they provide a smooth experience with the same content on both desktop and mobile when the site is launched. Not only will many of your customers likely visit your site through mobile devices, but how mobile-friendly your site is will directly affect your search engine ranking.

Pinterest is making it easier for brands and consumers to connect with a number of new tools aimed at getting more products in front of interested viewers.

“Shop a Brand”

The company announced a slew of new updates designed to improve personalized results for users and make browsing products and brands better than ever.

“These updates help retailers get in front of customers who are looking for related products, and Pinners to see items that match their unique style and taste,” the company said in its announcement. 

Personalized Recommendations

Here’s the quick breakdown of all the new features:

  • Shop a brand: “A new dedicated section from retailers is starting to roll out beneath Product Pins. You’ll soon be able to dive into a brand’s catalog by clicking ‘more from [brand]’.”
  • Personalized shopping recommendations: “Alongside style, home, beauty and DIY boards, you’ll see in-stock ideas related to what you’ve been saving, to match your style. Just click ‘more ideas’ then the shopping tag to start shopping ideas picked for you. Tap + to quickly add the Pin to your board, or click the Pin to go straight to checkout on the retailer’s site. “
  • Catalogs: “Brands can now upload their full catalog to Pinterest and easily turn their products into dynamic Product Pins, which means more shoppable Pins across Pinterest. A new dashboard allows businesses to organize their feed so their products can be discovered and purchased by Pinners.”
  • Shopping Ads: “We’re making Shopping Ads available to all businesses through our self-serve tool Ads Manager. Once products are on Pinterest, brands can easily promote items from their existing product feed with Shopping Ads.”
  • Shopping search: “With more in-stock Product Pins, there are more products to search. Just search for a product like ‘midi skirt’, ‘men’s watches’ or ‘outdoor furniture’ and shopping results appear on the top of home feed. To start shopping, click ‘see more’.”

This month, Google announced that more than half of all web pages in its search results around the globe are being pulled from its mobile-first index.

That means that the majority of pages being shown in Google’s search results were crawled, indexed, and ranked based on the mobile version of that page. As such, it marks a huge turning point for the increasing mobile-emphasis in web design and optimization.

What exactly is mobile-first indexing?

Over the past two years, Google has established a second, distinct index which prioritizes mobile pages and search results. This came as more than half of all search results were originating from mobile devices, rather than desktop computers.

Gradually, Google has expanded this index with the intent of eventually making it the primary search index.

With the launch of this index, Google also changed how it approached website indexing. Rather than defaulting to the desktop version of a page to assess its optimization and search value, the search engine began indexing mobile pages over their desktop counterpart. Thus, Google began its process of “mobile-first indexing.”

Is your site in Google’s mobile index?

If your site has been added to Google’s mobile-first index, you will likely have been notified within Google Search Console. Simply check your messages to see if your site has been migrated over.

If your site has not been migrated over, there is a chance that Google is having issues viewing the mobile version of your site, has found significant discrepancies between the mobile and desktop versions of your site, or has decided your mobile version is not up to snuff.

You should probably take the time to review the mobile version of your site to ensure it is properly optimized and laid out for Google’s search crawlers. You should also ensure that both versions of your site are largely similar, as Google prefers websites with parity across devices.

Instagram has released a set of new features aimed to encourage better engagement and participation with followers, especially when live streaming or creating Stories.

Countdowns

 

Do you have a big event, announcement, or live stream coming up? Now you can highlight it with an interactive countdown sticker in your Instagram Stories.

Once you’ve created the countdown and set the time limit, you can easily insert it in all your stories to remind your audience about important events or promotions. You can also use the stickers to raise awareness of a limited-time offer that is expiring soon.

Followers who see the countdown can also choose to follow it, which will ensure they receive a notification when the countdown is over.

Question Stickers

One of the biggest ways people like to use Instagram’s live videos is to answer viewer questions. The only problem is this can get a bit hard to follow when you have lots of viewers asking questions back to back. It can also be hard for new viewers to know what question is being answered.

Now, viewers can create and share question stickers during live streams to make it easy for everyone to stay on the same page.

The stickers are easily browsable for streamers to pick from. Once chosen, the question will be shown at the bottom of the screen so that viewers know what question you are answering. You can see an example below:

Both of these features are now available for both iOS and Android users. However, broadcasting live videos is only available currently on iOS. Android users can still view the streams and share questions.

A new survey shows just how prominent voice search is becoming in the journey from shopping to purchase.

According to the latest survey from Chatmeter, approximately 90% of smartphone owners say they use their device’s virtual assistant. More importantly, a large group of those are specifically using voice search to look for local business information.

Approximately 40% of smartphone users specifically say they “use voice search to ask for directions, an address, or business hours for a nearby location.” Additionally, more than a quarter of consumers say their “number one use for their voice device is to find a local restaurant, show, or business.”

This reinforces recent statements from prominent figures in the world of search, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who said: “local mobile searches are growing faster than just mobile searches overall, and have increased by almost 50% in the last year.”

One of the biggest uses for virtual assistants is also making in-person purchases or to visit new businesses, with almost 90% of users saying they turn to virtual assistants for driving directions.

While the rise of voice search will likely have huge ramifications for how we understand and optimize for online searching, these findings actually reinforce the importance of optimizing local listings on both desktop and mobile devices.

For example, a business’s Google My Business listing is responsible for providing all of these types of information, including giving directions, facilitating phone calls, and providing business hours.

Google My Business is already an essential part of establishing your business within your local industry and finding new customers nearby. Now, it is also becoming a necessity for helping voice search users find your business when they are ready to take action.