The Search News Round Up: Google Image Search Revamp, Panda 24, Search Share Changes, Adwords Features and Bugs

After last week’s coup for Bing and Facebook, this week sees a return to the Google-dominated status quo of search news. It’s a week of routine updates and a promising overhaul, so let’s get you all up to speed.

Google image search’s new image

While Google always seems to be tweaking the presentation of its text search, changes to the other pillars of their search offering tend to be a little more infrequent, though they tend to be a little more dramatic. This change to Google’s image search capability removes one of the more frustrating elements of image search. Instead of clicking through to an intermediate page between the results and the destination, a preview of the image along with its metadata will be displayed on the results page.

Google image search for eggs in January 2013

The need for appropriate metadata written in full will therefore be greater than ever. Additionally, Google promises better load times and higher clickthrough rates, thanks to the elimination of an iframe and an increase from two to four clickable targets (a clickable domain name and a “view original image” button have been added).

Google Panda 24

There is now a Google Panda update for every hour of the day, an observation we’ll make to prove how routine the search giant’s quality conscious algorithm updates have become. Google confirmed the update via its official twitter account on 22 January, claiming that 1.2% of English queries will have been affected. The only other thing to note is that we appear to have currently settled into a program of monthly updates: Updates 22 and 23 were confirmed on 21 November and December respectively, whereas previous updates were rather more haphazard.

Google’s UK search share dips to 88%

While formidable, Google UK’s search share has been showing a slight downward trend in the last year, now sitting at its lowest level since 2007: 88.35% in December 2012, a subtle but still significant fall from shares of 91.15% in December 2011. Both Bing and Yahoo saw minor gains, and it’ll be interesting to see whether Bing can push even further beyond its 4.99% share recorded in January, thanks to the newly introduced Facebook Graph Search.

Adwords features, intentional and otherwise

Back in September, Google rolled out its ‘Adwords scripts’ facility, allowing the JavaScript coding of programs that could tweak Adwords accounts. You can now, for instance, create tools which allow you to update your keywords in bulk, or pull a range of statistics from the account for external use.

This month’s updates to this service allow you to use Adwords scripts to create ad groups, as well as create, remove, filter and list with the labels already supported in the interface. Greater Analytics integration allows access to the bounce rate, average time on site and average page views columns. For code examples, head over to Google’s own blog on the subject.

Meanwhile, Google has come clean on a bug which affects some users. In certain cases, conversions from Google Analytics – primarily engagement-based goals like page depth and time on site – are not properly imported into AdWords. This is bad news for anyone using Google’s own automated bidding tools, as they were likely to be bidding low on competitive terms because AdWords erroneously believes they result in poor conversion rates.