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Emoji’s have become an essential part of every day communication for many smartphone owners, and now they appear to be making their way to search engines. On Monday, Bing announced their search engine would now be capable of recognizing emojis and using them as a search term.

“With the explosion of mobile devices and the ubiquity of texting, it has become a shorthand language used by billions of us around the world,” wrote Nick Roberts, senior program manager at Bing Relevance & Intent, in a blog post. “We want you to be able to search the same way you communicate every day.”

Users can search for single emojis, or you can combine them in a mix of text and emoji as they are typically used in text messaging. Notably, Yahoo and Duck Duck Go are also capable of recognizing emojis, but Google is not.

You can see examples of what this looks like below:

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Bing is working hard to improve user safety. But rather than censoring or blocking sites that Bing deems to be a threat, the search engine is offering extra information so that users can make informed decisions and hopefully avoid sites that may have been compromised.

Bing announced the Bing Site Safety Page this week on the Bing Webmaster Blog. The safety page will show up on search results if Bing has identified a specific site as having a potential safety issue. This means users will receive a warning that a site might have problems and the webmasters will have added incentive to resolve the issues quickly.

Below you can see a screen shot of what the alert will look like and what the full Bing Site Safety Page looks like.

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The Bing Site Safety Page will include information such as how long the issue has existed and when the last scan took place. Webmasters will also have extended information about how to resolve the security issue within Bing Webmaster Tools.

The Bing Safety Page offers:

  • The reason the page is being marked as malicious, e.g. Malicious Javascript, DriveBy Attacks, Malware Network References, etc…
  • The date the infection was first detected
  • How often the URL has been scanned
  • The date the infection was most recently detected

Bing also said they planned on expanding the page further in the near future with more data such as:

  • The total number of URLs detected as malicious on the site
  • The types of malware found
  • The last date of suspicious activity
  • When the site was last scanned
  • Warning trigger rate/ coverage

For the longest time, online marketing was all about making yourself visible on search engines, with a heavy emphasis on Google. But, social media, smartphones, and the wide array of apps with their own search capabilities are beginning to take a chunk out of search engine traffic and marketers are going to have to expand their focus if they want to continue to be successful.

A new report from Shareaholic shows that all of the top five search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com, and AOL – have all seen a significant decline in search traffic since December of 2013.

The report used data from December 2013 through May 2014 to evaluate aggregate organic search traffic numbers from more than 300,000 publishers reaching an audience of more than 400 million monthly unique visitors. From that data, Shareaholic saw that Google’s search traffic fell 17 percent between last December and May of this year.

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Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com, and AOL saw even larger drops in traffic compared to Google, with Bing and Yahoo both experiencing 31 percent declines.

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Shareaholic also looked at engagement from each search engine and found that although Google accounts for 17 times more traffic than Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com, and AOL combined, their users are often less engaged. This suggests that while Google may still control the vast majority of search traffic, it’s users may not be as valuable as the other more engaged searchers from across other search engines.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

bing-2The most prominent figures in search engine marketing must get tired of hearing the same old fables and myths that seem to fill the SEM market. Even when well-known employees of search engines like Google’s Matt Cutts and Bing’s Duane Forrester give clear-cut answers to common questions about SEO, PPC, and social media, their answers tend to be met with skepticism and derision.

Of course, as employees of the search engines they represent, it is fair to be critical of public statements that Cutts and Forrester make, but the level of mistrust between SEO’s and major search engine employees tends to breed misinformation and myths which have to be regularly addressed.

This is why Matt Cutts regularly answers common questions in his Webmaster Help videos, but Forrester also frequently clears the air via the Bing Webmaster Blog. Forrester, Bing’s Senior Product Manager, recently took to the blog to give his own perspective on 10 of the most common questions in all of SEO. Let’s break down his responses together:

1. I need to rank #1

The main motivation for most businesses to hire professional SEO services is often to get to the top of rankings. Logic dictates (and studies back up) that sites appearing at the top of the rankings get the vast majority of traffic from search engines for queries. Unfortunately, as Duane points out, things have become vastly more complex. Search engines individualize rankings based on personal information such as location data and shopping habits, so the sites that appear in the top of your rankings may not be as high for someone else’s search.

On top of that, rankings are constantly fluctuating, so your time as king of the rankings won’t be as long lasting as you probably hoped. Duane also encourages site owners to not obsess over being on the first page as much, as click-through rates for top rankings on the second page often outperform click-through rates for lower positions on the first page.

2. My Title tag will save me

Title tags are quite important, but many overestimate the value of title tags in context of their other efforts on their site. A tag can help you perform better, but it can’t hide skipping all the other important steps of SEO. Often, bloggers will claim they must rely on title tags as many popular platforms don’t allow things like meta descriptions in their base code, but that argument is nullified by the number of plugins available that easily and quickly add them, as well as opening doors to many other aspects of SEO for you to play with. Treat your titles with care, but don’t invest all your care on just one spot.

3. Social is all I need

With the rise of social media, many brands have decided to forego their SEO efforts in favor of just engaging their users on a direct platform. This was likely brought about due to old SEO understandings where a concentrated effort on one aspect of your site was enough to boost rankings. However, things have changed quite drastically over the past few years. SEO is a holistic process now, where social, content, link strategies, optimization, and PPC all come into play together.

Forrester compares the process to making a quality seafood chowder. “Success depends on a complex mix of ingredients, freshness, and timing. One ingredient along won’t bring success, and yet without that one ingredient, you don’t have a chowder.”

4. Videos are all I need

People love online videos. Businesses love them because they are easier to produce than ever, while people love them because they can sit back and take in news or entertainment without having to parse long and complex article. But, they are far from a silver bullet. Videos also slow down page load times significantly, and search engines simply can’t understand them as well as written content. If you are going to lean heavily on videos for your marketing, Duane advises adding a transcript of the audio at the very least to benefit the search engines.

5. Buying ads helps my rankings

Matt Cutts devoted a sizable portion of one of his Webmaster Help videos recently to addressing this question once-and-for-all, but it should come as no surprise that some people just won’t listen. Duane is similarly blunt with disregarding the assumption ads can give you an inside lane to success on search engines. Quite simply, “no amount of ad buying will get you organically ranked higher […] The instant [an] engine starts determining ranking based on ads bought is the instant it loses credibility.”

6. I already make awesome content

You may be right, but you aren’t the best judge on the matter. You can have all the technical rules and standards of writing and grammar mastered, but if readers aren’t responding to your content then it needs improving. Grammar does play a big role in deciding how readers perceive you, but style, voice, and message can be even more important. You’ll know when you’re making great content that connects with visitors, because they will tell you.

7. Links are all that matter

I could devote dozens of pages to clarifying the current state of links in online marketing (and several others have), but the simplest description is that good links are still very valuable while bought, spammy, or otherwise improperly acquired links are more dangerous than ever. However, your site can’t succeed on the back of a good link profile alone. As Forrester explains, “links are part of the bigger picture. You want them, but you want them to feel natural. If an engine sees you growing [them] naturally, you’re rewarded with rankings. If they see you growing them unnaturally, you’re rewarded with penalties.”

8. Marking up my content will help it rank

No, there is no direct link to marking up content and better rankings. Marking up content helps search engines understand your content better, so it can be beneficial if you also have good content for the engine to parse. But, simply installing markup code doesn’t inherently boost rankings.

9. Usability is different than SEO

If we are arguing semantics, yes SEO and usability are different disciplines. As more time passes though, it can be hard to tell them apart. Both aim to improve a website for users, and a site with great technical SEO can still be penalized for poor usability such as slow load-times, buggy performance, or clear usability. What is the point of leading someone to your site if they can’t use it properly?

10. SEO is all I need

Doing only one thing doesn’t tend to lead to success. SEO sets the foundation for you to build upon, but it won’t get you where you want to go alone. However, anything you build without that foundation is likely to fall apart.

With the constant stream of news coming out of the online marketing industry, it can be hard to keep up with all the latest updates without missing some important information. That’s why we compile all the biggest stories you may have missed this week all in one convenient place every Friday. Let’s get started:

Facebook’s Premium Video Ads Could Cost $1 Million a Day

Facebook is attempting to walk the tight rope between monetizing through ads and not overwhelming users with constant advertisements in the news feed. But, as Facebook keeps introducing new ways to advertise on their platform, the ad space is quickly becoming crowded. New reports indicate Facebook may be attempting to manage the shifting balance between ads and user content by pricing “premium” advertising features well out of reach for smaller businesses.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the upcoming “Premium Video Ads”, set to launch in the next few months, will likely cost around $1 million per day, and will initially be limited to a small group of advertisers. If you have a subscription, you can read the full story from Wall Street Journal, but Martin Beck also summarizes the rumors at Marketing Land.

Facebook Announces New Upcoming Video Metrics

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On the topic of Facebook’s method of handling video content on their platform, the social media giant also announced new metrics within Page Insights and Ads Reporting will be coming soon. This way, Page owners will be more able to analyze how users are responding to their videos, and how they may be able to improve their content.

The new metrics include more detailed view counts that will show the total number of video views, as well as the number of individual people who have watched, measurements of audience retention through the length of the video, and a breakdown of the demographics engaging with video content. Facebook’s announcement says the metrics will be available for all paid and organic videos uploaded directly to Facebook Pages, and they will be gradually rolling out in the next few weeks.

Bing is Testing Search Results Without Underlined Links

Usually Bing tries to distinguish themselves from Google as much as possible, but several people have reported that Microsoft is testing search results without underlining hyperlinks. This comes just weeks after Google officially redesigned their own search results pages around larger links without underlining.

Bing is constantly testing small changes such as this to see what users respond to, but it is hard to not feel like this test is particularly inspired by Google’s recent moves. However, it is important to remember that Bing’s non-underlined links are just a test for the moment, and not a final widespread change. You can see the version of the search results without underlines being tested below.

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Google Says New Parents Perform Twice as Many Searches as Non-Parents

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A recent survey from Google’s Think Insights says that new and expecting parents perform 2.7 times the number of online searches as non-parents. The survey also says that 56 percent of maternity-related searches come from a mobile device.

According to Google’s analysis of the survey and their own data, they claim parents are trusting the internet more and more for child advice, as baby- and parent-related searches are on an upward trajectory. For a detailed breakdown of what Google says parents are searching for, head over to Think Insights’ report.

Google Maps Now Shows Uber Ride Options, Lane Navigation, and More

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Google Maps is in the process of rolling out several new features for the iPhone and Android app, including more detailed driving directions such as lane navigation which tells you if it is important to switch lanes to stay on the right path. Google Maps also announced integration with Uber, the burgeoning ride service which connects people in need of transportation with available drivers.

According to the announcement, those who already have the Uber app downloaded will be able to compare ride times against walking directions within Google Maps, so you always know what the most efficient transportation option is. Those are just two of several new features Google is unveiling, which are all further explained here.

 

With the constant stream of news coming out of the online marketing industry, it can be hard to keep up with all the latest updates without missing some important information. Below, we will go through all of the news from the week that we missed at the time.

Bing Tries To Predict The Winners of Your Favorite Reality Shows

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Bing is using search and social signals in their attempt to predict outcomes of public events, and they are showcasing the results of their test by estimating who will be moving onto further rounds in reality shows like The Voice, American Idol, and Dancing With the Stars. Bing isn’t using magic to see the future, but they are using measures of popularity to predict the results of some of the most popular shows in the country. While this could be a fun feature for fans of reality TV, there is also potential for Bing to expand their predictions to events and elections that have a more direct on the country in the future.

Google Lets You Subscribe to Trending Search Topics

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Google Trends has been a useful tool for discovering what people are searching for around the world. But, the service has always been somewhat isolated. You can consult the section to see what new artists, films, or memes are trending, but users have been left to keep up with the topics that interested them on their own. Now, Google Trends has added a new feature that lets you “Subscribe” to any search topic, Hot Searches for any country, or any U.S. monthly Top Chart. Google explains how subscribing functions in their announcement.

New Features are Headed to AdWords

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Last week, Search Engine Land teased that huge news was coming for AdWords by vaguely discussing what types of features you might be seeing in the future. All the features were announced on Tuesday and Larry Kim took the time to break down what each new feature does and how it can affect online advertisers. Find out what the new AdWords will be like in Kim’s article for Search Engine Journal.

More Than Half of Responsive Mobile Sites Have “Unacceptable” Load Times

Responsive design has been widely loved for its ability to unify user experience across multiple platforms and devices, and some web designers claim it even speeds up their work process by preventing them from having to design two separate sites. However, a new study suggests responsive design may have a significant weakness. Responsive design may provide a better and more cohesive user experience across platforms, but a new study says the majority of responsive sites load too slowly for mobile users who are likely to leave a page that doesn’t load within 5 seconds. Mobile web developer Trilibis evaluated 155 prominent responsive design websites, and their findings aren’t pretty.

Yahoo Tests A Google Knowledge Graph Doppelganger in Search Results

There are rumors swirling that Yahoo is considering rejuvenating their search engine to re-challenge Bing for the second most-popular search engine available. Their share of the search market suggests Yahoo will have to make some drastic changes to have any chance at their comeback in the search game, but the company has been testing some recent changes to their search engine that lend truth to the rumors. However, one of their tests also drew attention for looking questionably similar to Google’s Knowledge Graph. All Google Testing discovered the test and documented how to see the test for yourself, or you can just watch their video below.

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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.

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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.

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Bing Webmaster Tools

Big may not get all the praise and attention of Google, but they have been steadily growing their audience for years. They still have a ways to go in search traffic to be realistic competition for Google, but Bing has expanded their search abilities and community to the point where it is a mistake to completely neglect the search engine.

If you are a webmaster, chances are you already use Google’s Webmaster Tools, but it is shocking how many don’t bother to signup for a Bing’s Webmaster Tools at the same time. Just like Google’s tools, Bing’s Webmaster Tools make a huge variety of data available to you to help inform your SEO practices and identify any potential issues.

Most importantly, Bing’s Webmaster Tools are the primary line the search engine uses to communicate about issues with site owners.

If you’ve used Google Webmaster Tools, you probably already have a good idea of what you can accomplish with Bing’s and you can probably make your way around the tools on your own. But, if you’re new to webmaster tools or want to know all the cool things Bing’s Webmaster Tools can do, Simon Heseltine has shared a guide to the tools at Search Engine Watch. Get yourself familiar with the tool, then make sure you sign up. There is no reason you should be missing out on such a free, versatile and important set of tools for your website.

bingtimelineteddyrBing is quickly expanding their new timeline feature for celebrities and historical figures. Just a few weeks after premiering the feature for athletes participating in the Sochi Olympics, Bing has added the feature to searches for about half a million famous people.

If you haven’t seen the timeline feature, it is similar to Google’s Knowledge Graph, as both highlight important information on figures in a concise column. For example, the column includes standard information such as height, spouse, children, and parents. But, with the timeline feature, Bing also includes a chronological list of important events or dates in the life of the figure you searched for.

The timeline includes footnotes for all the major events, as well as listing the year they occurred. But, don’t expect to get those results for every celebrity. Bing says that in some cases where “you would be more interested in another type of information” about the celebrity, the timeline information won’t be shown in favor of more relevant data.

Search Engine Watch points out that this is most true for actors and singers. When you search for Prince, you won’t be shown a timeline. Instead, you will be shown information about his most popular sings, albums, and even romantic interests.

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If you use Bing and haven’t run into one of these timelines yet, just keep searching for celebrities or historically important people. Bing has made it clear the half a million celebrities with timeline featured are just the start of an even more robust search result system.

The biggest question this raises is whether the timeline will always be exclusive to celebrities, or whether Bing’s relationship with Klout may indicate an intention to expand their Klout-verified snapshots with features similar to timeline. Would you want searchers to be able to automatically see a timeline for you in a search engine?