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#ThinkSearch January Wrap Up Search Highlights

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We are only just entering the second month of 2018 but we have already seen lots of new changes and updates across the digital industry. To keep you up to date, we have put together some of the key highlights across SEO, PPC and Digital Content in our #ThinkSearch January wrap up.

Snippets growing but traffic falling

With a steady rise in home smart speakers and voice recognition being used more and more frequently (Okay Google…), the way people are searching online is changing to some extent. Because of this, we are seeing the popularity of the ‘featured snippet’ rise.

These are often what devices draw from when processing a voice query. So, it’s no surprise to see that there has been a steady rise in snippets in recent years.  In fact, a recent study conducted by Stone Temple Consulting revealed that there were snippets for roughly 30 percent of 1.4 million tested queries.

Theoretically speaking, as the trend continues, more and more pages will need featured snippets to get noticed. If this is true, this could change the standard approach to SEO and content creation.   

However, as always, it’s not quite as simple as that. Whilst the top spot is still highly desirable from an SEO perspective, they are having less of an impact in terms of generating traffic from Google.  Featured snippets, instant answers and interactive knowledge panels have led to roughly 23 percent less traffic from Google to other sites, according to research conducted by SEO expert Rand Fishkin.

This could be due to the fact that voice queries tend to be direct questions. In fact, a large amount of the snippets and knowledge boxes found on Google are simply responses to queries.  Once a question is answered, rarely does the user feel obliged to take things further.  

Have you noticed a rise in featured snippets?Ok Google voice search

Snapchat updates deep links and adds more in-depth analytics

Advertisers on Snapchat have been able to add deep links to their posts for around a year now, allowing people to swipe up and view a specific page.  Snapchat will now automatically create these deep links so advertisers don’t have to. They will automatically open the brand’s app is installed on the user’s phone. If the brand’s app isn’t installed, the user will be redirected to the Apple or Google app stores.  

More great news for brands and advertisers. Snapchat will also allow companies to see how many app installs their ads generate over time, broken down into one, seven and 28 day statistics. Snapchat’s Snap Ads tool will even offer in-app event tracking so advertisers and brands can see how people who installed their app really use it. They can also measure things like signups and purchases.

Snapchat deep links

One in three people used a social network in 2017

According to the latest estimated figures from eMarketer, an incredible 2.48 billion people worldwide used a social network of some kind last year, which works out at about one in three.  What’s more, mobile phones are the most-used devices for accessing social media. 82.5% of social network users accessing via a mobile phone at least once a month in 2017.

The most-used social network in the world is Facebook, with more than 1.54 billion people using the site at least once a month last year. Instagram was another popular choice, with almost 594 million regular users in 2017. Making up around 24% of all total social network users globally, the majority of users are from North America and Western Europe.

Social network use in 2017

Google fights fake news

Talk of fake news is still very much ongoing, we have even mentioned it in our November #ThinkSearch wrapup, so you know it’s important. Well, Google has been responding to immense pressure to help combat the spread of fake or otherwise unreliable news articles.  They have already gone so far as to ban publishers who promote fake news ads.

How does this affect SEO?

They are tweaking their algorithm to help reduce the spread of “non-authoritative-information” as well as adding handy fact-check tags.  This would mean that lots of inbound links or keywords would not be enough to see news articles rise through the ranks on Google. They would also have to appear relevant and backed up by a certain degree of authority.  

On a similar note, Bing has been working hard to inject a sense of balance to their news search feature. Using new AI and machine learning, when users search for news Bing will not only be able to understand and categorise the words to find related content, but also interpret political stance.  

They plan to use this to provide a range of different news articles from different perspectives to burst the “filter bubble” that currently exists with most search engines.

Facebook’s algorithm change means you should pay more attention to your PPC strategy

In January, Mark Zuckerberg announced in a post that Facebook will be changing its focus:

“From focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” In other words, you can say hello to more posts from your friends and family, which should make for more enjoyable scrolling.

Hopefully, this will also help to combat the plague that is fake news. The flipside is that it is becoming easier to get lost in the crowd. Facebook will give less organic weighting to posts from pages, and businesses should expect to see their reach decrease. All the more reason to have a solid strategy for paid content promotion if you’re serious about hitting your reach goals.

You can read more about the implications of this change, and what you can do about it, in a recent blog post by our Senior Paid Media Account Manager, Mark King.

January search highlights

Instagram’s advertising platform is on the rise

Instagram has quickly risen to become the top choice of paid content platforms, according to a new report from Cowen analysts. From a survey conducted on 50 American ad buyers, a whopping 96% of respondents had a preference for Instagram Stories for advertisements. Snapchat took a hit and made up the small minority.

With the New Year in full swing, we can already see that it is becoming more difficult to achieve high engagement without actively optimising your Instagram marketing strategy.  With such a huge following (an estimated 600 million people worldwide used Instagram at least once a month last year) and the increasing importance of visual marketing, the app is living up to its huge marketing potential.

Instagram ad budgets are predicted to increase in 2018 and 2019, according to the Cowen survey.

Businesses can choose to advertise on Instagram with photos, videos or the increasingly popular and engaging Instagram Stories. You might be best not to ignore carousel ads either, where users can swipe to view more photos or videos in a carousel-style format.

If you’re a bit confused about which PPC or social channel is right for your business, make sure you arm yourself with knowledge about all of your options to help you decide.

Instagram advertising updates

In other news: Amazon Go opens its first physical store  

A few days ago, the very first Amazon Go store opened in Seattle, USA. With no checkouts or cashiers, the Amazon Go store works through a mixture of sensors, an app on your smartphone and your Amazon account.  

Simply scan a QR code on arrival, pick up a few items and exit. When you leave the store, your card will be charged and you’ll receive a receipt in the app, it’s that simple!

Although there are some critics who think the seamlessness of the store is too good to be true, the Amazon Go store is being heralded as a crucial moment that will impact the future of retail.

Do you have any search highlights from January? Comment below or tweet us at @ithinkmedia – we would love to hear your thoughts!

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