Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from the world of search marketing and beyond.
And a happy 2017 to all of our Search Engine Watch readers! This week, we’ve got a health-conscious New Year’s update from Bing, a new AI-powered search engine which is transforming scientific research, and a look at why the fake information epidemic could be damaging to local search.
A new AI powered search engine is changing how neuroscientists do research
Google’s work in the realm of artificial intelligence and machine learning has succeeded in making web search more intuitive, effective and useful than it’s ever been before. But until now, the same couldn’t be said of scientific research.
That’s all changing with the development of a new, free search engine, Semantic Scholar. Adam Stetzer wrote for Search Engine Watch this week about how the AI-powered search engine is changing the way that neuroscientists do research, using data mining and natural language processing to truly understand the links between research – and what this means for similar search options like Google Scholar.
How Instagram became a powerhouse for social commerce
2016 was a busy year for Instagram, with more users, more brands, and a host of new improvements and features all joining the platform. In November, Instagram tested out a new shopping feature in a bid to woo ecommerce brands and give users a way to shop more visually.
This week, on Search Engine Watch’s sister site ClickZ, Tereza Litsa spoke to Olapic’s Paul Sabria about the steps that Instagram has taken to turn itself into a social commerce powerhouse, and what we can expect from the platform in 2017.
Bing rolls out health-conscious search updates in time for New Year’s resolutions
Bing has rolled out a health-focused update to its search platform just in time for everyone to turn over a leaf in the New Year.
In late November, we saw that Bing had launched a carousel of shopping flyers to promote deals in time for Black Friday. Now whenever you search for “workouts” or “exercises” on Bing, it will deliver a carousel of images which link to a wide variety of exercise options.
Users who search for information on yoga and pilates will also be rewarded with a carousel, and occasionally a how-to video on a specific pose at the top of search. Meanwhile, the Bing app has new updates aimed at making the food search experience “even richer”, including information on calorie counts and low-fat recipes.
Image: Bing blogs
Bing’s new updates are obviously aimed at providing more intuitive, quick answers to users’ search queries in the same way that Google already does with Quick Answers and featured snippets. While they might be on a smaller scale, the tie-in with different times of year such as Black Friday and New Year is a fun way to introduce these features and draw users’ attention to them through the things they are most likely to be searching for.
How the fake information epidemic will hurt local search in 2017
Headlines about the online fake news epidemic have been everywhere since the US Election, particularly if you follow news about publishing or social media. But Wesley Young, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Local Search Association, believes that this problem is set to get worse in 2017 – and that it will be damaging to local search in particular.
In a column for Search Engine Land, Young laid out how the issue of fake news and information can hurt marketers, along with eight ways that false information is currently being used which marketers should be aware of.
“As consumers search for information to help make purchase decisions, uncertainty about the veracity of the information they receive impacts the effectiveness of local search marketing. Online advertising already faces challenges gaining consumer trust, and the proliferation of fake content will only hurt it more. Worse, you may be spending money on advertising that no one ever sees, be competing in an unfair market, suffer from hits to your reputation or pay more than you should for marketing products or services.
Being aware of how false information is being used will help marketers avoid problems and identify when they may be affected, saving them from both headaches and wasted dollars.”
Google clarifies details of its mobile interstitials penalty
As part of Google’s ongoing efforts to improve the experience of browsing the mobile web, a penalty for sites which use annoying mobile interstitials – pop-ups which appear while a website is loading and cover the entire page – is due to take effect next week, beginning on 10th January.
The question of what kind of interstitials, exactly, will incur penalties has been the subject of considerable discussion amongst the SEO community. This week, Google provided some further clarification on the issue in the form of a tweet from Webmaster Trends Analyst John Wu.
He was responding to a query from Kristine Schachinger, technical SEO expert and founder of digital marketing agency The Vetters, about whether the penalty will only affect interstitials which appear when users are navigating from the search results page to a mobile site, or whether it will include interstitials which appear when navigating between pages of the same website.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) January 4, 2017
Schachinger further enquired as to whether the penalty would affect interstitials which appear between an AMP page and a regular site page, to which Mu replied,
“I haven’t seen an interstitial there, but that would be seen the same as site-page -> site-page.”
Key issues include making customers register before they checkout, concerns about security, and confusing checkout design.
According to The NPD Group, many retailers could struggle to make the entire holiday shopping season a successful one compared to 2015.
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