Google Pigeon Comes to the UK, the Need for Cross Device Advertising and More – Digital Marketing News

In this fortnight’s digital marketing news, we take a look at Google’s Pigeon update, Google’s new captcha feature, Bing removing phone numbers from adverts and Christmas device activations.

Google Pigeon Update Reaches UK

In July 2014 Google released a new algorithm update codenamed ‘Pigeon’ – you can find our original post on it here. This update only affected the US at the time; however the update has now crossed the borders and is rolling out over the UK, Canada & Australia.

Google released the update to provide more accurate and relevant local search results as a suspected move away from favouring more traditional SEO ranking signals such as domain authority, backlinks, keywords etc.

This update will likely only affect the way local ‘pack result’ listings and map results will appear (see images below) with hints that the seven pack results will be reduced to just three.

There is debate weather this is still being rolled out in the UK, with some local SEO experts reporting significant changes in pack results, and some not noticing any change at all. A debate on this topic can be found here.

Fresh Egg ran some quick tests by searching for different services in the Worthing area, providing some interesting results. Some searches gave seven pack results, while others returned three or even six pack results. This gives a clear indication that the update is beginning to take effect, and we can expect to see further changes as the roll out continues:

Electricians in search for the term 'Electricians in Worthing'

 Vets in Worthing search for the term 'Vets in Worthing'


Coffee Shops in Worthing search for the term 'Coffee Shops in Worthing'

This update should help local businesses gain more relevant organic visibility with the update possibly helping to stop big brand domination in the SERPs.

From a user perspective this will hopefully provide more relevant and useful results. In order to get the best from this update webmaster should double check their business’s location details are correct and consistent across all platforms. 

Google Releases New Captcha System

In December 2014, Google revealed its new CAPTCHA system, asking for proof that a user is not a robot through an improved and more efficient experience.

The purpose of a CAPTCHA system is to stop automated scripts, often used for spam, from accessing websites. As these scripts and robots have become more sophisticated, CAPTCHA’s have had to also adapt. Google has gone back to the drawing board to create a CAPTCHA that is simple and efficient to use – one that means you’ll never have to fill out a CAPTCHA again.

The new system is named No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA, and serves the same purpose as the previous CAPTCHA where the user was asked to type distorted letters into a field. However, this new API enables a user to confirm they are a human by simply ticking a checkbox stating ‘I’m not a robot’:

Google reCAPTCHA

Companies such as Snapchat, WordPress, and others, have reported great results using this new system, with 60%-80% of their traffic not having to solve a CAPTCHA.

It’s thought that Google is using a pre-screening process that evaluates user behaviour to distinguish between robots and humans, with anyone deemed suspicious made to pass a more complex test. The factors used in this pre-screening process are a guarded secret – understandably, as there are concerns that such information could help spammers break the system.

It’s possible to decline this update; however, the end product of this new reCAPTCHA is that it offers less text deciphering for a user, increased security and, ultimately, a better experience on the web.

Bing Is following in Google’s Footsteps: No more phone numbers in PPC Ad copy

According to a Search Engine Land blog post, Bing will soon follow in Google’s footsteps and prevent advertisers from putting phone numbers in their ad copy. Google made this decision back in April 2013 when it put an end to PPC advertisers entering phone numbers into their AdWords ad copy.

Since April 2013 Google AdWords has used call extensions that enable advertisers to publish their phone number as an extension to their ad. This came with an additional cost to a standard CPC, as opposed to the free phone call advertising that was available prior to April 2013.

On 6 January 2015, Bing announced a similar change. Bing is initially making these changes in the UK, US, Taiwan and Hong Kong. However, it’s believed that the change will expand to other markets in ‘the near future’.

Bing is allowing any existing ads containing phone numbers in the copy to continue until June 2015 and any new campaigns starting February 2015 won’t be permitted to include phone numbers in ad copy.

As of February 2015, Bing will expect advertisers to use call extensions and location extensions in their ad copy on the Bing Network.

Cross Device Advertising is a Must!

In the United States, recent reports have shown that about 90% of households have at least three devices that are connected to the internet. This is a percentage that is growing.

This is something that advertisers need to take into account and highlights how cross-device advertising is of growing importance.

As part of this Search Engine Land has learned that households that engage with multiple devices during the course of a single day are more receptive to advertising. This means that advertisers that aren’t using a cross-device strategy are missing.

For example, users may view an ad on their desktop and then go onto their mobile app to continue with the purchase or vice versa.

The article also states that "over 40 percent of mobile households also use PCs, and those households contribute nearly 70 percent of mobile household’s overall click volume". It also found that there's only a short interval between searches on different devices - through its analysis the company saw that "45 percent of PC searches followed by mobile happen within just an hour".

Households already have multiple internet-connected devices, and the number of devices is going to continue to grow. Advertisers need to adopt the cross-device strategy to ensure that they are reaching their customers.

Top 5 Device Activations by Manufacturer

Christmas Day saw the highest number of new device activations and app installs ever according to Flurry who analysed the 600,000 Christmas Day app downloads.

Flurry Figures

Apple accounted for 51% of new device activations worldwide, with Samsung far below in second place with only 18%, and Nokia in third place with 6%.

Bringing this into perspective, for each Samsung device activated, Apple saw 2.9 device activations. This shows that Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus have been extremely popular In the electronics industry this year.

On Christmas Day in the US, Flurry tracked a 250% increase in app downloads compared with the average daily figures from the first three weeks of December.

Flurry Figures

Last year was another record year for app developers, and as we don’t see any signs of the momentum stopping, it is just another sign of the continued growth of mobile and the need to consider the SEO implications across the web.

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