Welcome to the Weekly SEM Rundown, where I recap the past week’s major SEM news and provide insights.

The news for each week is broken up between:

SEO (search engine optimization)

Google releases impressive Q2 financial results.
Google Alphabet posted their expected financial results for the second quarter of this year and it is impressive. The announced revenue was $21.5 billion which is a 21 percent increase over last year. Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said that revenue growth was driven “primarily by mobile search” as well as from video and programmatic efforts.

Google Search Console bug assigning all traffic to desktop.
The bug has since been corrected but it may have affected your reported web traffic during July 29 – Aug 1, 2016.

Google confirms Penguin update will eventually roll out.
During the week’s Google hangout, John Mueller confirmed that Google will be rolling out its Penguin update. He did not, however, provide a release date. SEOs have been expecting it since this December. We will have to wait a bit longer.

Google updates its iOS app for better listening
Last week Google rolled out an update to its iOS app. The update included a number of improvements. The app will now be better able to hear voice searches in noisy environments. The app now also saves recently visited pages and there is a new forward button that allows the users to moev back and forth between pages. Results for hotels now include info about hotel WiFi, pool, gym and laundry services. Lastly, gas station results now may display gas prices.

Google posted a Q&A for News Publishers moving from HTTP to HTTPS
Google posted some of the more common questions news publishers may have on making the transition from HTTP to HTTPS. You can also respond to the post with your own follow-up questions.

Google implementing HTTP Strict Transport Security Migration (HSTS).
Google announced they will be implementing HSTS for Google.com. HSTS is a stricter form of a 301 redirect that forces anyone attempting to visit HTTP to go to HTTPS. Google still has some work to do before full implementation.

Google Chrome for iOS supports AMP pages.
Google’s chrome browser for iOS now supports Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Articles that support AMP will be have a lightning bolt icon and the initials “AMP” added to their search result in the Top Stories section. AMP was introduced by Google nearly a year ago.

Yahoo is testing a new search interface.
In the test, Yahoo has moved its search box to the right side of the page and added a dropdown menu with different options including: “News”, “Mail”, and “Tumblr”.

Google adding social icons in Local Knowledge Graph.
Spotted by Ryan Scollon, Google has added social icon links in a Profiles section at the bottom of Local Knowledge Graphs.

Baidu growth begins to slow.
Baidu is the largest search engine in China with an 80 percent market share. According to their Q2 earnings report, while still profitable, net income for the company was down by 34 percent compared to the last period. Their stock share dropped from $166 per share to $157 per share after the earnings report was released. However, unless the Chinese government allows Google into the country, Baidu’s future is all but certain.

Yandex reports 30 percent revenue increase over last year.
In its second quarter 2016 report Yandex announced $280.7 million in Revenue. While this $280 million is tiny compared to revenues of competitors like Google, it still represents a 30 percent increase over the same quarter last year. Yandex’s market share in Russia also remained about the same dropping from 57.6 percent in Q1 to 57.0%

Amazon revenue grow by 31 percent over last year.
Amazon released its Q2 2016 earnings report. The company reported $30.4 billion for the quarter which represents a 31 percent increase over the same period last year. A large source of their increase was the launch of Amazon Prime in Indian where Amazon is the most visited e-commerce site and the most downloaded mobile shopping app. Amazon also had its biggest day ever this past Amazon Prime Day.

Samsung gains market share over Apple in smart phone market.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) released a report providing the market share for the major Smartphone vendors. Apple volume was down 15 percent while Samsung gained six percent. The decline for Apple came primarily from economic weakness in China where sales were off the most. The decline can also be attributed to high-quality, lower-cost smartphones being sold by competitors. The iPhone continues to be become less differentiated than competing models.

Google treats expired product pages as soft 404s.
During a Google Hangout John Mueller explained that Google may treat product pages that no don’t allow you to purchase a product (due to unavailability), as soft 404s. The pages will be reported as 404s in the Google Search Console. If Google has identified the page as a soft 404, any redirect you setup will not count as a link signal.

Google does not dilute PageRank in redirects.
Google’s Gary Illyes tweeted that any type of 3xx redirect (302, 302, etc.) does not lose PageRank along the chain. This apparently is not something new, but five years ago these redirects did cause a loss in PageRank. Many SEOs are refusing to believe Gary, but John Mueller has also confirmed the claim several times.

Google does not penalize sites with emojis in their snippets.
In a Google hangout, John Mueller stated that Google does not penalize websites that use emojis in their snippets. Instead they just filter out the emojis before displaying site snippets. Google had tested showing emojis in their search results. They later abandoned the idea.

Google adds email alerts for when your name is searched.
Google has added a new “Stay in the loop” feature to their Search Results. When you search your own name you should see a “Stay in the loop” call-out that links to a Google Alerts page with your name filled out in the alert. This alerts feature has existed for a long time, but Google has created a clear call-out in vanity searches.

Updating backlinks after domain change not critical.
During last week’s Google Hangout John Mueller said that updating backlinks to your site after a domain change is recommended. However, if you fail to do so there won’t be “any critical loss”. It is still best practice to update your backlinks, if anything, for a better user experience.

Don’t bother with nofollow in your navigation links.
Some SEOs will use nofollow on less valuable internal links of very large websites to help ensure Google properly crawls the most important pages. This practice is even applied to navigations. During a Google hangout John Mueller explained that Google has no problem crawling site navigations, even if there are hundreds of links. There is no need for SEOS to bother with the nofollow tactic in their nav.


PPC (pay-per-click) ADVERTISING

Adwords ads three new cross-device conversion reports.
Google will be adding three new cross-device conversion reports: devices, assisting devices and device paths.
  > Devices will see how much cross-device activity is happening in an Adwords account.
  > Assisting Devices inform users of device bid adjustments by learning how often different devices assisted conversions on other devices.
  > Device Paths examine the top conversion paths for customers using 2+ devices.
These new reports help advertisers see user activity across the full conversion path. Google allows advertisers to select one of six attribution models: last click, first click, linear, time decay and data-driven. The different models take cross-device data into account and help assign credit to each stop along the conversion path. There is a best practices guide for choosing the right attribution model.  These new reports will be rolled out in the coming weeks and will be found in Attribution under the Tools tab.

Google releases Adwords Editor version 11.5
Google announced version 11.5 of their Adwords Editor which will support expanded text ads. The update also includes the ability to create and edit Mobile App engagement ads as well as create and edit structured snippets at scale.

Google restated their 33 character best practice for ETA headlines.
Advertisers have been noticing that some of their expanded text ad (ETA) headlines are being truncated in search results. This is because the display in search is based off pixels while the ad text is measured in characters in Adwords. Google suggested keeping your headlines to under 33 characters to avoid truncation. However, remember that a ‘w’ uses more pixels than an ‘I’ so write your ads appropriately.



Bing adds Judy’s Book reviews and Zomato to its local search results.
When user’s do a local business search for both restaurants and regular stores Bing now displays a section for Judy’s Book reviews. The option to see Judy’s book review is displayed as a tab below the normal Yelp reviews. While Judy’s book has fed reviews to Bing for some time, it did not have a prominent call out position in the local listing. Bing had also previously added Foursquare tips as another tab in the local results box. Zomato on these local listings provides reference information.

Google adds multi-stop option to Google Maps iOS app.
Google has added the capability for iOS users of their app to add multiple stops between destinations. This was an expected update as they had previously rolled it out for the Android version of the app.

YP introduces new location data offering called “Audience Cartography”.
Audience Cartography (AC) is built primarily for mobile display and in-app advertising. AC incorporates local search intent data and a mix of other signals for improved audience targeting. The location history and search data of users are combined for audience identification and segment creation. The insights provided by the tool are meant to make it possible for marketers to refine targeting efforts across multiple media channels in real time. YP claims the tool should result in more effective mobile marketing campaigns and greater online-to-offline conversions.

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