Car insurance from Google advertised in Gmail

Google has an unfair advantage when pushing its own products. Take Google’s car insurance comparison tool as an example. Just recently, adverts for the tool have started to appear in GMail – at the top of the lists of emails in the Promotions folder.

This is a very prominent position, the advert appears as follows:

Google advertising its own products

Google advertising its own products

These positions are open to all advertisers, of course, for a fee…

It is only Google that can occupy this prime location for free.

The advert takes the reader of their GMail promotions to the car insurance comparison research tool. The following screenshot shows how the advert appears within GMail when clicked… notice the calls to action to share the tool with others, not simply use the comparison tool – but pass it on too.

CTAs for advert within GMail to encourage sharing

CTAs for advert within GMail to encourage sharing

What do you think about Google using GMail to its advantage in this way ?

Car insurance aggregators (such as Confused.com) must look closely at these types of adverts and fear the possible domination of the price comparison sector by Google one day.

OK Google – voice search hotword (beta)

If you haven’t already installed the Chrome extension for voice search, then do it!

This is the future of search and the reason Hummingbird will change the way we optimise sites for search. The results are no longer directly coupled to individual keywords, but rather to the sequence of the queries. Google connects the identifiable entities and makes sense of the relationships between queries in order to determine the most relevant sites to return in the mix.

The linking of a sequence of queries is makes it possible to determine the intent of a search query without the need for ‘caveman’ terms. Natural conversation is all that is required.

To add the Chrome extension, go here:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-voice-search-hotwo/bepbmhgboaologfdajaanbcjmnhjmhfn

The chrome extension for voice search

The chrome extension for voice search

To activate the extension, give it permission to use the microphone on your computer.

Then simply speak the search commands:

SERPs for a simple query

SERPs for a simple query

Google connects this previous voice search (What is the capital of France) with the subsequent search:

 

Hummingbird connecting queries

Hummingbird connecting queries

Notice that Google states it is ‘using the previous query’ and it also provides an option to undo the link.

Notice also, that the entire screen above the fold is taken up with Google extra info boxes – no organic search results are visible at all.

Google is able to provide the information sought without the visitor visiting any other site in this search journey…

 

 

Penguin 2.1 update – what has changed?

Matt cutts announced on twitter that the latest iteration of the Penguin algorithm was pushed live yesterday. He states this will affect around 1% of results seen.

Back in May, Matt released this video telling us what to expect in summer 2013 – looks like the domain clustering update effect and Panda ‘softening’ have combined in Penguin 2.1:

Early investigations suggest that the penguin 2.1 update has helped clean search results from having hundreds of deep links from the same domain – known as the clustering effect.

The reduction of clustering of search results seems most noticeable in the property sector where sites such as RightMove and Zoopla previously dominated results on pages two onwards for queries such as:

3 bed house for sale” – Page 1

3 bed house for sale” – Page 2

Following Penguin 2.1, the SERPs contain a maximum of two adjacent results from the same domain. This is much better for users than before and suggests Google has tackled the issue of deep linked pages and their relevance to the query.

The UK property sites have thousands of ‘deep’ pages all potentially appropriate to the search for a 3 bedroomed house, but the latest Penguin update has helped to stop nearly every single one of these deeper pages from being shown (as was the case before).

 

Two results per domain

Two results per domain

This has introduced a new problem for searches looking for variety in their search results, however!

Notice that the ‘network’ of news sites shown above are all based around a common template. Each result has the same boilerplate title, and page layout, yet they are all considered non-spam and perfectly relevant results to return in response to the ambiguous original query.

Templated site structure

Templated site structure

Templated site structure

Templated site structure

This suggests that duplication of site theme and structure is not harmful to being returned in search – so long as the content is sufficiently different. In this case, each site is dedicated to a local region, and each site from the network is shown.