In mid-June, Google representative John Mueller confirmed an algorithm update was rolling out that was not Panda- or Penguin-related.
Google mobile search results can now include more types of content in a carousel format, according to an announcement on Google+. Users can swipe left and right to see results such as "Pinterest pins, Vines, Houzz idea books or Food Network recipes" in addition to news publisher's content.
In AdWords news, Google announced several improvements to mobile PLAs (product listing ads), including expandable shopping ads to show more product details, a new design for "top-rated" or "best" product searches, new product review cards to answer search queries with "reviews" or "recommendations," more local inventory ads, and new Google Now in-store cards. In addition, the long-anticipated buy button has arrived, but it's actually a "Buy on Google" message; this Purchase On Google feature is initially available on iOS and Android mobile devices.
Innovative messages have been spotted in Google Shopping as Google seems to be testing ways to add value to its product listing ads (PLAs). Text messages such as "Great price," "Value alert" and "Percent off" have appeared, sometimes in place of another element such as review stars. In addition, snippets of reviews that Google has gathered from many review sources have been showing up in product knowledge panels (which Google calls "product card units"). Clicks on the reviews snippets leading to the advertiser's site are billed the same as any click in the product information.
Within Google search results, a new type of answer box shows quotes by famous people if you search for a name and the word "quotes" after it. Google does not cite or link to sources for these quotations.
Knowledge Graph panels in Google search results no longer show a brand's most recent Google+ post, eliminating a previous advantage of being active on the Google+ platform for brands. Google made this change "to provide consistency", since Google+ posts can show up within the main search results along with tweets and other social media posts.
Google has started issuing manual penalties to websites for having spammy structured markup, schema markup that seems manipulative because it's applied to invisible text or irrelevant content, for example.
Google rep Gary Illyes announced that Google's documentation on breadcrumb schema markup has been updated (reportedly in response to many requests) to explain how to implement markup on sites with multiple breadcrumb paths.
When Wikipedia made the move to secure all its sites as https, its typically first-page search rankings shifted (some up, some down).
Google is fighting several battles internationally. In Europe, the search engine is complying with Europe's right-to-be-forgotten ruling, delisting links in the local, European search results for people whose requests meet the criteria set up by the EU Court of Justice. However, France has ordered Google to remove the delisted search results from all Google properties (including Google.com), not just its French subdomain. France's data protection authority, CNIL, may impose sanctions on Google if the search engine does not comply within 15 days. Meanwhile, a court in Canada has denied Google's appeal of a ruling that would force Google to remove Canadian RTBF listings globally, as well.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a right to be forgotten bill that is broader than its European forerunner. Russia's law puts the responsibility on search engines to find all the links where an erasure request applies. The dominant search engine in Russia, Yandex, had protested the proposed bill by saying it was "much less well thought through" than the EU's and would unconstitutionally restrict people's ability to access reliable information. Revisions were made to the bill such as giving search engines 10 days, rather than 3, to comply with an RTBF request, and adding some criteria for approving requests. Russia's RTBF bill will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.
Google announced that it will honor requests to remove from search results revenge porn, which refers to nude or sexually explicit photos posted without the subject's consent. Here's a link to the request form.
The U.S.-based consumer-protection group Consumer Watchdog has filed a petition with the FCC to enact "right to be forgotten" style laws in the U.S. The petition argues that RTBF is feasible because Google is already doing it in Europe, and that the principles underlying RTBF already exist in other areas of U.S. law and should be extended to search results.
The European Court of Human Rights has settled an appeal of the Delfi AS v. Astonia case by deciding that news websites can be held liable for unlawful content (such as hate speech) in user-generated comments. This ruling has troubling implications for freedom of expression in Europe.
To celebrate Google Earth's 10-year anniversary, Google released a new Voyager layer for Google Earth to share images collected by the Voyager space probes. Desktop users with the Google Earth app and updated Chrome extension can view five new sections: Street View, Earth View, 3D cities, satellite imagery updates, and a highlight tour of your choice of Voyager images.
Facebook is expanding its News Feed algorithms to account for other user-interest indicators beyond likes, comments and shares. Video rankings will take into account whether audio and full screen are activated. For other types of content, Facebook has added time spent on stories as a ranking factor.
Facebook ad billing is changing. Likes, shares and comments no longer count as "clicks" in Facebook's cost-per-click billing; instead, advertisers will be charged only for user actions like click-throughs to another site, installs and other calls to action. Secondly, for video ads, the company is trying out a new cost-per-view option that charges only if a video ad is viewed for 10 seconds (the normal time to qualify as a view is 3 seconds). The new 10-second payment option is being auctioned as part of a global test for big-brand advertisers.
Authorship is alive and well, at least on Facebook. Articles shared on Facebook can now show the name of the author and publisher in a linked byline beneath the story preview (of a link post). Users can jump to the writer's page or profile and potentially follow them. Publishers need to implement the author (or publisher) meta tag on their websites to take advantage of this new Facebook feature, although Yoast explains that Facebook author tags have been in the Yoast SEO plug-in for WordPress since Facebook first started supporting them two years ago.
Microsoft has redesigned Bing video search to offer larger thumbnails and a cleaner, larger view than competitor YouTube.
Microsoft has decided to stop handling its own display advertising sales in the coming weeks. Display ads on mobile, video, etc. will be provided by AOL (in the nine biggest market countries) and by AppNexus (in the rest of the world). Microsoft VP Rik van der Kooi stated that the company's commitment to search is "very deep," asserting that Bing represents a multibillion-dollar business that is already "sustainable and standalone."
Twitter will increase its 140-character limit to 10,000 characters for direct messages, which are private. This change will especially benefit companies and others who use DMs for back-and-forth customer service.
Twitter now provides campaign insights for advertisers to see aggregate demographic data about the people their ads reached vs. engaged, and then apply filters to better target their ad audience.
Twitter announced it is testing products and places collections, which could be the start of ecommerce on Twitter. You can see these collections by visiting the Twitter pages of a select group of brands and influencers who have curated posts and content. To access the new feature on iOS or Android, you must update your Twitter app.
To show more people the best of Twitter, the company is planning to release Project Lightning, a new feature that will curate currently trending event-based collections of tweets, images and videos and show them to logged-in and logged-out users across a number of syndicated platforms as well as on the Twitter app.
To "accelerate Twitter's internal machine learning efforts," the company has acquired machine-learning technology firm Whetlab. Twitter's specific plans have not been disclosed; however, recent job listings show that Twitter plans to bolster its artificial intelligence capabilities by building a new Twitter Cortex team that will "build, scale and maintain the backbone of our online learning systems."
Twitter is trying to open doors to Cuba to give Cubans access to the microblogging service via text message on mobile phones. Internet service remains slow in the country and reaches only an estimated five percent of the population.
Yelp has started outing businesses for review fraud. The review site now shows the incriminating evidence within a business's profile if they were "caught red-handed" trying to compensate someone for writing a review.
Apple posted a job listing looking for editors for Apple News, which leads many to think that the new app will rely on human editors to find and curate news stories.
Pinterest began rolling out its promised Buyable Pins in the Pinterest app, initially for iPhone and iPad. The new feature enables people to buy products directly in the app. Pinterest does not take a cut of the purchase transactions, and is counting on retailers' wanting to promote their Buyable Pins through ads.
Yoast announced a new free plug-in for WordPress called Yoast Comment Hacks, which bundles five previously separate modules all aimed at improving the comment system in a WordPress site.
The newly available .sucks top-level domain attracted at least 3,400 early registrants (at about $2,500 per domain), including many big brands and celebrities. The TLD is now open to the public.
Yahoo has been spotted displaying Google search results in Yahoo Search. The company confirmed it is testing other providers besides Bing, something that is allowed under Yahoo's recently renegotiated contract with Microsoft.
New Java installs will set Yahoo as the user's search engine and home page by default because Yahoo signed a three-year agreement with Oracle that is aimed at increasing Yahoo's user base.