Google travel tools for mobile user

Making travel arrangements on a mobile device just got easier through Google’s features to improve filtering of hotel searches, and new alerts for airfare.  These will be seen first in the US – then internationally.

Google offers new hotel search filters, deal labels and airline price tracking, Greg Sterling, (Jul 12)

Of interest: “Google has said that mobile visits to travel sites now represent 40 percent of total travel traffic. Responding to this shift in consumer behavior.”

My Activity at Google

There may be some advantages to being able to see your activity on all the Google properties – and on pages that serve up Google ads. This would especially be the case if you are researching a topic across media and need to keep a trail. Or you need to confirm something you found earlier.

Google’s new My Activity page lets you see all your Google history in one place, Napier Lopez, The Next Web (June 28)

Nonetheless, it’s a bit scary to realize that Google could track all activity rather than just web search and therefore deliver more ads. But it might also be true that the ads will be better directed. “Mainly, you can control which kind of ads show up everywhere, across various devices and websites.”

You can find this through “My Account” – or go directly to https://myactivity.google.com/

RankBrain update

Gary Illyes from Google talked with Danny Sullivan at the SMX conference about Google’s search operation, ranking methods, points of interest to SEO masters. Barry Schwartz summarized the points in . Key takeaways from the Google AMA: RankBrain, Panda, Penguin, bots & more.

RankBrain is of greatest interest. It is Google’s application of machine learning to improve its understanding of the query and ranking of results. Danny Sullivan explains in
Google uses RankBrain for every search, impacts rankings of “lots” of them (June 23)

… what we’ve understood about RankBrain: it seems largely used as a query refinement tool. Google seems to be using it now for every search to better understand what that search is about. After that, another aspect of RankBrain might influence what results actually appear and in what order, but not always.

Your privacy settings at Google

Google has made it easier to review the information that Google displays about you – and for you to change the detail.

Search on your name to see a small knowledge panel with the profile information and a button to update the profile. Also sign into your Google accound and click on your name in upper right to get to a full page in reasonably clear English on Google’s policy, and to My Account where you can easily turn public into private.

Googling yourself will soon lead to personal privacy controls, Michael Liedtke, AP via Globe and Mail (Jun 2)

Google Patents for Display

Search today is less about keywords and more about entities as is made clear (again) in this examination by Barbara Starr of Google patents.
Structured Data & The SERPs: What Google’s Patents Tell Us About Ranking In Universal Search (Search Engine Land, May 29)

Google packs into search results knowledge panels, answers, images. Much of this derives from use of structured data and identification of entities involved. One patent quoted notes that, “In some implementations, search results are retrieved from a data structure. In some implementations, the data structure also contains data regarding relationships between topics, links, contextual information, and other information related to the search results that the system may use to determine the ranking metrics.”

Starr describes with examples four entity-specific metrics. “The patent provides strong evidence that semantic web technology is being used as background context for the definitions of the metrics and the environment in which they are framed.”

Lastly, we learn that thare are “different algorithms for different screen areas”; ie., different displays for different devices.

Google’s Quality Ratings

Google has quality raters – actual people who look at search results and rate quality. Their guidebook has been updated to give more emphasis, says Jennifer Slegg, to emphsize local, and expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness. Slegg provides a detailed account of the 146 pages in Updated Google Quality Rater Guidelines: No More Supplementary Content, Emphasis on E-A-T, The SEM Post (April 4)

EU vs Google

The European Union seems to have it in for Google. Now it seems to want to tax Google (and other search engines) for using snippets to link to articles. Why? How could a snippet be a copyright violation?

 
“Google tax” on snippets under serious consideration by European Commission, Arstechnica (Mar 24)

The European Commission also says that the consultation is “part of its work to update EU copyright rules for the digital age.” It’s hard to see how an attack on the basic building block of the Web—the hyperlink—can be construed as a way of updating copyright to make it fit for the Internet.

Google SERP and text ads

Your eyes and memory aren’t playing tricks – Google has changed the display of text ads and organic search results. The reason – to make Google desktop look more like mobile. (And exactly why is that desired?)

On February 19 Google began rolling out changes to its desktop search results, expanding the vertical real estate given to paid search results and eliminating right-rail ads.

What the Google Desktop SERP Update Means for Organic Search, ALexis Sanders, Merkle (Mar 24)

  • no text ads in right panel
  • four text ads at top of page – before organic results (which was why you ran the search)
  • “product listing ad packs” when relevant will be in right panel
  • knowledge panels – still on the right
  • three text ads at bottom of page
  • will be fewer text ads in total – dropping from 11 to 7 – this was the good news.