Google announced a new keyword tool named the Keyword Planner.
The tool can be found under the Tools & Analysis tab when you are logged into your Google AdWords account. The tool combines the benefits of the Keyword Tool and the Traffic Estimator into an integrated workflow. The tool basically lets you find new keyword and ad group ideas, get performance estimates for them to find the bids and budgets, and then add them to your campaigns.
Google kicked off its annual developers conference, Google I/O, on Wednesday, with a keynote lasting nearly four hours. It’s always expected that Google will make a bunch of announcements at these events, and they certainly did. This year’s hasn’t been the sexiest Google I/O full of new gadgets and big new services, but it has focused a great deal on developers, and isn’t that supposed to be the point anyway?
Which new Google feature are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.
We’re not going to get into all the announcements here. You can follow this page to see all of that. I do, however, want to draw attention to some of the things Google has announced that have implications specifically for businesses. It’s worth noting that a lot of Google’s announcements came in blog posts, rather than in the keynote.
One of the biggest announcements to come out the event was a complete overhaul of Google Maps. This was expected thanks to a leak last week, and then another one earlier this week, but it is still a huge deal, as Google Maps is one of the company’s most popular products. It also plays a major role in how people find businesses using Google from the desktop, tablets, and from mobile devices. Google actually announced revamps for each of these devices as well.
The new Google Maps for Android smartphones and iPhones is coming this summer, and will include a new Zagat experience, with Zagat badges appearing in the interface, as well as Google Offers integration. If you find Starbucks, for example, you can see an offer from them, and save it for later or use it.
There is also a new five point rating scale across Google Maps for mobile and desktop.
With the new tablet interface, Google will point users to businesses and destinations by categories with a new discovery feature called “Explore”.
With the new desktop Maps experience, Google highlights things it thinks matter to users. “And the more you interact with the map, the better it gets,” says Google. “When you set your Home and Work locations, star favorite places, write reviews and share with friends, Google Maps will build even more useful maps with recommendations for places you might enjoy.”
“In addition to a customized map, we’ve also made it easier to uncover the best local gems,” the company says. “Search results are labeled directly on the map with brief place descriptions and icons that highlight business categories and other useful information – like restaurants that are recommended by your Google+ friends. Info cards provide helpful information such as business hours, and ratings and reviews so you can quickly decide where to eat, drink and play.”
The interface also allows people to zoom in right into indoor imagery, where available.
More on the new Maps here.
Changes to how Google does search are always of interest to businesses, because it’s the top way people find them. There’s not necessarily a lot in the way of SEO news coming out of Google I/O (though there was certainly plenty from Matt Cutts earlier this week), but you should still be aware of the search announcements that were made.
The biggest thing is that Google is bringing the conversational search that Android and iOS users have been enjoying to the desktop via Chrome. Soon, users will simply be able to talk to Google when they want to know something, and Google will talk back. Google SVP Amit Singhal discusses this on the Inside Search Blog:
People communicate with each other by conversation, not by typing keywords — and we’ve been hard at work to make Google understand and answer your questions more like people do. Already, you can tap a mic, talk to Google in a more natural way and get responses spoken back to you on Android, iPhone, and iPad devices.
Today, we previewed what this conversational experience will look like in Chrome on your desktops and laptops. Soon, you’ll be able to just say, hands-free, “OK Google, will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?” and get a spoken answer. Then, you’ll be able to continue the conversation and just follow up with “how far is it from here?” if you care about the drive or “how about Monterey?” if you want to check weather somewhere else, and get Google to tell you the answer.
He also announced improvements to Google’s Knowledge Graph, including newly supported languages, and the ability to provide answers to what it thinks will be your next questions.
Singhal explains, “You’ll also get smarter answers to questions like ‘what’s the population of Canada?’ Not only will Google answer that question, but you also get an answer to the next few follow-up questions people often ask. In a single card, you’ll see how Canada’s population changed over time — and a comparison with California and Australia.”
Finally, Google Now got some new cards, and the ability for users to set reminders. More on all of this here.
While not part of the Google I/O announcements, Matt Cutts also made another announcementvia Twitter. He said, “It’s safe to assume webspam will continue to tackle link networks that violate” Google’s quality guidelines, and that they just took action on thousands of linkselers in a “paid-link-that-passes-PageRank” network.
YouTube Gets New Ecommerce Feature
Also not part of the keynote announcements, Google announced a feature for YouTube, which could prove to be a pretty big deal in ecommerce. They’re now letting businesses include “Buy Now” buttons on their YouTube channels, so users can purchase products through various retailers.
“Every day, millions of people turn to YouTube for advice, from learning how to do the perfect smokey eye to trying out a new recipe for mashed potatoes,” says Danielle Tomassini from the Google Shopper team. “People are using YouTube not just for entertainment, but to learn a new skill, find more information, and shop for products. This presents a unique opportunity for consumer goods brands to reach shoppers in the moment and provide them with an easy way to go from watching a video to purchasing the product.”
The new offering comes in the form of a new channel gadget, and lets users shop for products from various retailers from the comfort of the YouTube channel they’re already browsing.
“This new channel gadget will enable shoppers to seamlessly move from browsing how-to videos and featured products to finding which retailers carry them, check availability, compare prices and make a purchase, all with fewer clicks than today,” says Tomassini.
Google has launched the gadget with Unilever to highlight hair products from TRESemmé.
Curiously, the offering is not part of the Google Shopping ecosystem Google has created, but rather utilizes GloTo.
More about this here.
Google Wallet And Gmail
There are a lot of interesting things happening with Google Wallet.
For one, there’s a new API that could have a huge impact on converting mobile sales. According to Google, 97% of mobile shoppers abandon their shopping carts. This is mostly due to all of the hoops they have to go through to complete the process (like filling out big forms). The Instant Buy API makes the process much faster and easier.
“The Instant Buy API is designed for merchants and developers selling physical goods and services, who already have a payment processor and are looking to simplify the checkout experience for their customers,” says Prakash Hariramani, Senior Product Manager for Google Wallet. “Developers selling digital goods within their apps will continue to use Google Play In-app Billing, which offers full payment processing capability, including support for carrier billing and gift cards.”
Google has also introduced the ability to send money with Google Wallet through Gmail. They’ve basically added the functionality to send money as an attachment.
And speaking of Gmail, Google is adding quick actions to let people RSVP, check-in and leave reviews right from their inboxes. Buttons will appear next to certain types of messages, and people can take actions without even having to open the email. Businesses can add custom actions to their emails.
Google announced the Google Wallet Objects API to let businesses connect loyalty programs, offers, etc. to Google Wallet.
“Consumers want access to all of their loyalty cards, offers, and more on their smartphone,” says Group Product Manager Pali Bhat. “An average household has 18 loyalty cards but use less than half of these cards regularly because of the inconvenience. And the same goes for tickets, membership cards and other items.”
Users will be able to save loyalty programs, offers, etc. directly to their Google Wallet, and businesses will be able to showcase their brands, acquire users and engage them through instant loyalty sign-up, real time updates and offers.
“With Google’s location services, your users get timely notifications about their saved Wallet objects,” notes Bhat. “Additionally, with a simple upgrade path to Google Offers, you can distribute your offers across Google properties — including Adwords, the Google Display Network and Google Maps for Mobile — and benefit from Google’s targeting capabilities.”
They also announced that more phones – Samsung Galaxy S4 (Sprint), HTC One (Sprint) & Samsung Galaxy Note II (Sprint & US Cellular) – get the Google Wallet app.
Google+ has received a total of 41 new features, and a general redesign, and it could present some new opportunities and challenges in getting your content seen in Google’s growing social network. Included is a multi-column layout, bigger media, new animations, and a “related hashtags” feature:
“Suppose, for example, that you’re reading about your favorite sports team,” says Google SVP Vic Gundotra. “We’ll look at the post, determine what it’s about, and tag it accordingly. Behind the scenes, we’ll also identify and rank relevant conversations across the network. When you click on the related hashtag, we’ll flip the card, and let you browse related content inline.”
It looks like Google+ optimization could get more complex (as it certainly has with rival Facebook, not to mention Google’s crown jewel – search). More on the rest of the features here.
Google Cloud Platform
Google made some announcements about its Cloud Platform, including making Google Compute Engine available to all businesses and developers. It comes with sub-hour billing charges for instances in one-minute increments with a ten-minute minimum, so you don’t pay for minutes you don’t use.
“Shared-core instances provide smaller instance shapes for low-intensity workloads,” says Google’s Urs Hölzle. “Shared-core instances provide smaller instance shapes for low-intensity workloads. Advanced Routing features help you create gateways and VPN servers, and enable you to build applications that span your local network and Google’s cloud. Large persistent disks support up to 10 terabytes per volume, which translates to 10X the industry standard.”
The latest Google Webmaster video features Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts talking about what webmasters can expect to see in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google, particularly changes combating black hat web spam from many different angles in a variety of areas.
Here are nine search and SEO changes webmasters will likely see – although, as always, Cutts warns nothing is set in stone and it should be taken with a grain of salt.
1. Next Generation of Penguin – Penguin 2.0
This update is to try and target more black hat web spam. The new Penguin 2.0, which is the name Google uses internally for the next gen Penguin, will be much more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 and it will go deeper and have a larger impact than the original.
Many advertorials (a.k.a., native advertising) violate Google’s quality guidelines. More importantly, they should not flow PageRank.
Google is planning to be a lot stronger on their enforcement of these types of paid links and advertising, disguised as “advertorials”. Cutts did clarify there is nothing wrong with advertorials, simply that they don’t want them to be abused for PageRank and linking reasons. If you use advertorials, Cutts suggested that they should be clearly marked and obvious that it is paid advertising.
3. “Payday Loans” in .co.uk
Cutts mentioned that this is a problematic search, and there are others like it, so they are tackling it a couple of different ways. For those that play in that space, however, you’re out of luck since Cutts isn’t revealing exactly how they are dealing with it, just that it will be happening.
He said that they are targeting specific areas (another example he included was porn queries) that have traditionally been more spammy.
4. Devaluing Upstream Linking
Again, Cutts isn’t going into details about this, but they are working on making link buying less effective and have a couple ideas for detailed link analysis to tackle this issue.
5. Hacked Sites
They want to roll out a next generation of hacked detection, as well as being able to notify webmasters better. They would like to be able to point webmasters to more specific information, such as whether they are dealing with malware or a hacked site, and to hopefully clean it up.
If Google’s algorithms believe you or your site is an authority in a particular area, they want to make sure those sites rank a little bit higher than other sites.
They are looking for some additional signals for sites that are in the “gray area” or “border zone”, and looking for other signals that suggest the site truly is high quality, so it will help those sites who have been previously impacted by Panda.
8. Changes to Cluster of Results From the Same Site
If you’re doing deep searches in Google, and going back 5, 6 or more results pages deep, you can see the same site popping up with a cluster of results on those deep pages.
Google is looking into a change where once you have seen a cluster of results from the same site, you will be less likely to see more and more from that same site as you go deeper. Cutts mentioned this as being something that came specifically from user feedback.
9. More Information for Webmasters
Cutts said they want to be able to keep giving webmasters more specific and detailed information via webmaster tools. He mentions specifically example URLs to help webmasters diagnose problems on their site.
He believes that the changes will really make a difference with the quality of the search results, as well as impact the amount of spam that is showing up.
Cutts says if you are focused on high quality content, you don’t have much to worry about. But if you’re dabbling in the black hat arts, you might have a busy summer.