Google Search Console rolled out several enhancements this month to its Search Analytics report. As revealed back at the Google I/O event, a new option under "Search Appearance" lets users view rich results, so site owners can see any rich snippets from structured data as well as rich cards that appear in Google search results. In addition, a new option under the "Queries" drop down lets users compare data for two different search queries; similar comparison options are also available to compare pages, countries and search types.
Google released a new Mobile-Friendly Test that lets you test how well your site performs across devices. The upgraded tool scores a web page for mobile-friendliness and can send a report with specific recommendations by email, something which the previous version could not do.
Webmasters are getting more help detecting when their site has been hacked. Microsoft Bing this month refined its malware warnings within Bing Webmaster Tools to more specifically identify the problem found (beyond just "malware"). In addition, Google announced that Google Analytics now gives compromised site alerts to notify site owners that a third-party may have hacked their website for spam that violates Webmaster Guidelines.
There's a new Google Research office in Switzerland. Located in Zurich, which Google says is already the home of Google's largest engineering office outside the U.S., the Google Research, Europe office will focus on machine intelligence and perception as well as natural language processing. (In other words, it's a research center for RankBrain, which Google recently confirmed as its third most important ranking factor, behind content and links.)
The Google Keyword Planner has been changed. The tool no longer reports search volume counts for each variation of a word separately. Instead, the search volume represents an aggregate of search counts for all close variants of a keyword. For example, "SEO" and "search engine optimization" now show the same search volume, representing the total. In addition, Google confirmed that setting up an active AdWords campaign is not required for people to use the Keyword Planner (keyword research tool). This came into question because of an error message that many people have gotten; however, it's just a technical glitch.
Google AdWords shopping campaigns will be able to target searchers based on an uploaded customer email list, a feature known as Customer Match for Shopping. Though scheduled to roll out later this summer, advertisers can sign up now to participate in the beta.
Local ads can now appear just above the local 3-pack listings and map, which gives these new ads prominent visibility in Google SERPs.
Google AdWords has been spotted testing click to SMS or text ads, in which a searcher could press a "Text" icon to contact an advertiser in the user's preferred messaging platform.
Google has decided to change the "Ad" tag to green throughout its search results. Also, Google may show a new green "DEAL" badge on hotel listings and ads, both in the local 3-pack and Local Finder map results page, if the hotel's room rate is priced substantially lower than other nearby hotels' prices or lower than its usual rate.
Instagram announced business-friendly changes coming soon including business profiles, analytics and the ability to boost a post. A Contact button on business profiles let users view a business's email address, phone number, text message and/or directions.
Facebook Messenger announced 1,200 redesigned emojis that "better reflect the world we live in" with skin tone options and many new designs.
Next month, Instagram will release a See Translation button next to captions, comments and profile bios written in a different language (based on the user's language setting).
Apple announced at WWDC (Worldwide Developer's Conference) that a faster and smarter Siri, the iPhone's search assistant, will come to Mac computers in the next operating system update (macOS, formerly OS X). Voice search will also be available to third-party app developers such as Lyft and Uber to bring voice-activated functionality to apps. Other announcements include: Apple Maps is getting upgraded to add calendar and local business information (similar to Google Maps); Apple Pay will be available to use to complete shopping transactions on a Mac computer; Apple Photos will get improved facial recognition and more Google Photos-type features; and big enhancements are coming for Apple's iMessage feature on iPhones and iPads, allowing Snapchat-style invisible ink or handwritten message text, animated faces instead of emojis, and the ability for third-party developers to include features of their apps within text messages.
Snapchat has more daily active users than Twitter, with 150 million compared to Twitter's less than 140 million, according to a Bloomberg report. While its growing user base may attract more brands, Snapchat launched an update that hopes to increase publisher and advertiser interest. Users can now subscribe to a Discover publisher's channel to see stories in their Recent Updates section. In addition, the Discover tab was redesigned to showcase publisher content mixed in with Live Stories (user-created strings of photos or videos) in a new tile-like design.
The average pay for search and digital marketing professionals has risen 16 percent since 2013, according to a new SEMPO survey.
Bing Ads are expanding in size to match the longer text ad formats coming soon based on Google AdWords' recent announcements. Bing's blog announcement said it would support Expanded Text Ads that have two 30-character headlines and 80 characters for the text message. Advertisers will be able to use the same ads for both platforms and even import ads from Google into Bing Ads.
Bing Ads is also rolling out Shared Budgets, a way for all campaigns or subcampaigns in an account to share a single maximum spend budget.
Facebook announced it will soon update its news feed algorithm to feature posts from friends and family more prominently. Facebook also published its News Feed Values, basically revealing the factors that guide its algorithm. Since the social network has seen a 15 percent decline in personal posts, Facebook is trying to encourage users to share more about their personal lives.
Facebook has been testing a tweet-like "Hide From Your Timeline" post type that enables a message to appear only in the News Feed, not in the user's Timeline. By basically disappearing after it scrolls down the News Feed, the new message type resembles tweets on Twitter.
Facebook announced features that represent a huge step forward for advertisers wanting to tie together in-store sales with ad clicks. An upcoming Offline Conversions API will let marketers work directly with Facebook or with third parties such as Square, IBM, Invoca, Lightspeed, LiveRamp, Marketo or Index to compare their internal customer data with Facebook's Ads Reporting tab and accurately measure the ROI of ads. In addition, ads can add location info, business hours and a map to help shoppers visit the advertiser's nearest physical store; this feature is available now within Facebook's Local Awareness ads.
Some big enhancements to Facebook Live video were announced last week at VidCon: two-person broadcasts (from remote locations); prescheduling the time a broadcast will go live so that notifications can be sent in advance; and a waiting room where viewers can hang out before a broadcast starts.
Not to be outdone by competitors like Periscope and Facebook Live, YouTube launched the ability to broadcast live video directly from its mobile app. Subscriber notifications and autosaving of livestream videos to the user's channel are built in.
Shoppers choose to start searching on Amazon more often than Google. According to a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, 38 percent of shopping searches begin on Amazon, compared to 35 percent on Google, with “variety of products” cited as the No. 1 reason.
Pinterest wants to become more of a shopping destination, too. To better compete with Amazon and Google, Pinterest launched a shopping cart and announced new features including artificial intelligence-powered product searches and merchant profiles. In addition, “computer vision” will enable users to click to identify items within an image.
Microsoft will roll out the Windows 10 Anniversary Update on August 2. The upgrade will be free for users currently running Windows 10, which launched in July 2015; however, after July 29, upgrading from an earlier Windows version will come with a $119 price tag. The new edition includes Windows Ink, Cortana improvements, Edge browser extensions, a reorganized Start menu and more.
Emojis continue to grow up. Last year, Oxford named an emoji its Word of the Year. Now, Twitter will allow advertisers to target emojis as keywords for Twitter ads.
A U.S. federal court has upheld the Net Neutrality rules enacted by the Federal Communications Commission in Feb. 2015. Celebrating the ruling, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tweeted, "A victory for consumers & innovators! Court upholds Open Internet Order. No blocking, throttling or fast lanes online. #netneutrality"