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Google is kicking off October – which just so happens to be Cybersecurity Awareness Month – by announcing three new ways for users to hide or delete their personal activity data when using Google products like Maps, YouTube, and Google Assistant. 

Incognito Mode For Maps

Incognito mode has been allowing people to browse the web while preventing data from being saved to their Google account or computer since 2008. Earlier this year, the company expanded the feature to YouTube, and soon it will be coming to Maps.

Once it is live, you’ll be able to quickly toggle incognito mode on and off by selecting it in the menu that appears when choosing accounts.

 

 

While the feature is coming to Android within the month, the company could only say it would be coming to iOS “soon”. 

Auto-Delete YouTube History

Google is also introducing a way for users to automatically delete their YouTube activity after a set amount of time. Specifically, you can select to keep data for 3 months, 18 months, or until you manually clear your history. 

A similar feature was introduced earlier this year for users’ location history and web activity and is expected to launch for YouTube this month. 

Managing Google Assistant Data

The search engine has introduced a way for people to control their Google Assistant activity using simple voice commands. 

For example, users could ask the Assistant to clear their history for the last week by saying “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week.”

 

This will be available to all Google Assistant users next week.

Wish you could put personalized messages into search results? Until now, the only way for you to get a specific message out to people finding your business was to send out tweets popular enough to get included or to publish paid search ads.

That’s all changing now, though. Google released a new feature this week called Google Posts for all businesses with a Google My Business Listing. With Google Posts, you can finally share your message on search results without the costs of ads or hit-and-miss nature of social media.

Any time you share a Post, it will appear in search results and Google Maps pages that include your business listing. The message will initially be just a small snippet, but searchers can expand it with a single tap to read more.

There are potentially limitless ways businesses can take advantage of the new feature. Specifically, Google suggests getting started by updating customers with information about new sales, upcoming events, and new product launches to build excitement.

In addition to your customized message, you can also include photos and custom calls-to-action to encourage making a reservation, signing-up for your newsletter, or linking to your latest special offer.

Google Posts are already available to any business with a verified Google My Business account. You can get started sharing your messages and customizing your listings now from any desktop, iOS, or Android device.

Google is increasing its efforts to combat fraud on its search network with new verification processes aimed at weeding out scammers and con artists.

According to an email sent to several of Google’s biggest contributors, the company is testing an advanced verification process in San Diego aimed at stomping out a growing scheme in the locksmith and plumbing industries.

All locksmiths and plumbers currently verified on Google will have to go through the new verification process. If you don’t do so before November, Google will un-verify your listing and remove you from Google Maps.

New applicants hoping to be verified on Google will also have to go through the process, which Google promises is simple. Companies will go through a series of questions from Google and complete an application with a third-party verification company. In total, the entire process should take approximately two weeks to get verified.

You can find out more about the new advanced verification process being tested for locksmiths and plumbers around San Diego in the new Google My Business help article.

Now, you might be wondering why Google is targeting locksmiths and plumbers when there are so many fraudulent businesses online. This is because one of the quickest growing online scams is being conducted by people presenting themselves as locksmiths.

The scam goes like this:

  • A person is locked out of their home and turns to Google to look up local locksmiths
  • They are shown AdWords ads and Google My Business listings for businesses promising cheap and reliable services.
  • When they call one of these ads or listings, they are actually directed to an offshore call center who dispatches a local representative to your home.
  • The “locksmith” arrives and immediately chooses to drill open the lock, leaving the person with a huge bill.
  • Instead of a cheap service you are stuck with excessive costs and a busted lock.

The scam has gotten so prevalent it has even been detailed in the New York Times. A simple search for “locksmith scam” shows just how many people have already been affected by it. Similar scams have since started popping up in other home improvement sectors like plumbing and roofing, which is likely why the new process is extended to plumbers in San Diego as well.

Google is hoping the new verification process should weed out the fraudulent actors populating its search results. Currently, it is hard to predict just how effective it will be. But, if Google sees positive results you can expect to see the system roll-out to the rest of the country in the not-too-distant future.

Google-Maps-being-offline-doesnt-mean-being-lost-300x252Last night, Google Maps released massively revamped quality guidelines for local pages which could have a heavy impact on businesses who don’t ensure their pages conform. Jade Wang from Google shared the news in the Google Forums stating:

We’ve updated and clarified our quality guidelines for local pages. Please read the new version here, and, as always, feel free to contact our support team with any specific questions about your account.

You can see a screenshot of the old guidelines here courtesy of Barry Schwartz, but the most important revisions to the guidelines are highlighted below:

  • Descriptors of any sort are NOT allowed
  • Categories should be the more specific category and NOT the overarching, general category
  • Increased name and category consistency amongst multi location chains
  • Two or more brands at the same location must pick one name
  • If Different departments are to have their own page they must have unique categories
  • Practitioner’s pages, in multi-location practices should have their name only and not the name of the practice
  • Solo Practitioners only can use the format of Practice: Practitioner
  • Virtual Offices are NOT allowed unless staffed.

Many aren’t taking the update seriously as Google Maps local pages are far too often neglected, but the updated rules may be a sign that Google intends to clean up the mess in the near future. It is always better to be proactive than to find yourself smacked with a penalty.

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Google has been making some big changes to help businesses increase their visibility on Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ by connecting business information across all of Google’s services. Google is calling the interconnected service Google My Business, which is set to be a one-stop shop which will allow users to access all their applications in one place.

The service will help deal with duplicate entries across Google products by asking users to entire their information one initial time, then populating it into all of Google’s services at once. TechCrunch also reported that “owners can post news events, photos, and other updates they want shared with customers” in an apparent bid to rival Facebook.

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Once you’re signed in and Google has guided you through a tour of the platform, you’ll see a screen that houses your basic information that will appear on Google+, Google Places, and Google Search. From now on, you’ll be able to update business information such as store hours, phone number, or your website URL in one easy to access location.

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Beyond that page, you’ll be given access to the the really meaty parts of the update. From one screen, you’ll have control of your Google+ profile, from which you can share new text, photos, links, and events. You can also explore Insights, which will help you analyze your visibility, engagement, and audience. This screen also lets you manage your reviews, quickly access your Google Analytics dashboard, and even start a Hangout with the click of a button.

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Notably, this update has already gotten a mobile launch on Android, and it appears the iOS version of Google My Business will be released n the near future.

Google My Business makes it easier than ever for small businesses to take control of their own online presence and helps level the playing ground so that any company can benefit from being online. You don’t have to be a well-established brand to make yourself visible online.

local-businessBusiness owners have more reason than ever to claim their Google+ business pages, because Google has finally decided to connect business pages with local listings on Google Maps.

The change allows business owners to have a more coherent presence across the web as well as improve the ability of searchers to find them. The process connects your current page to Google Maps and applies the business information, including the business address, the Google Maps reviews, business hours and more from to your page.

A large number of businesses have more than one Google+ page listed in their Google+ manager page, so this will also help clean up the clutter by combining at least two of these pages.

Google explains in detail how to connect your Google+ business page to your Google Maps verified listing on the help page, as well as instructions for creating a local page if you have yet to add your business to Google.

Pages that are newly connected to maps will display the name and verification badge from the former local page, as well as showing the business information such as hours of operation and phone numbers. The pages will also show reviews from the former local page, but will not show prior owner responses to local reviews.

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

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.

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.

 

Today Google’s made a major change in Google Places (known to many as Google Maps).  The 7-box is no longer a separate entity, but is now merged with the full organic results.  This is a game-changer for SEO.

Read more

Not really much more to say than that. I found a post on his blog from not too long ago, and it cracked me up.  Even people outside of internet marketing might find it worth checking out.