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May 23 2017

22:27
AdWords gets Google Optimize & Google Surveys 360 integrations
22:03
New RLSA Strategies for Search Marketers
20:00
SearchCap: Google AdWords AMP, in-market audiences & Google black test
19:53
The big SMX Advanced preview
17:58
Google will automatically convert display ads to AMP, test AMP landing pages for Search
17:44
Voice, mobile & apps: Get the latest on Google’s search developments at SMX
17:00
Your family on Google
17:00
Chrome browser in enterprise: new admin bundle and Citrix support
17:00
Let’s jam—Jamboard is now available
16:13
Google is testing 11 variations of black links in search results
16:00
AI in the newsroom: What’s happening and what’s next?
14:54
Want more links? Be more likable.
14:42
Stop oversimplifying everything!
14:05
A vision for success: Taking LED glasses made in Korea to the world
13:00
Google is extending in-market audience targeting to Search campaigns
13:00
Powering ads and analytics with machine learning
10:00

Google Maps can be your travel guide this summer

The unofficial kick-off to summer is just around the corner. To give you some travel planning inspiration this year, we looked at historical Google Maps data to find the top trending places of the season throughout the U.S. Follow our summer lists below to head to the hot spots or avoid the crowds–the choice is yours. Already know where you’re going? Then create your own lists and share them with friends via your favorite messaging and social apps.

Drinks with a view

When the weather is warm, bars with outdoor patios, views of the water, rooftops, and creative cocktails draw the biggest crowds. This summer bars list is NYC-heavy so if you’re thinking about the Big Apple this summer–this one’s for you.

Education + entertainment = edutainment

Who says learning isn’t fun? Definitely not summer travelers. Whether you’re a parent trying to infuse education into summer break or a young adult squeezing in some culture between beach days, our edutainment list highlights the museums, aquariums, and zoos you can’t miss.

Summer grubbin’

Seeing the sights can work up an appetite and there’s an obvious formula for what makes a restaurant a good summer choice–seafood and waterfront seating (and bonus points if it’s an iconic location). Our restaurants list covers eateries from fast casual to seafood buffets to pizzerias that are sure to satisfy your appetite wherever you are.

Surf’s up

Summer isn’t complete until you’ve walked through the sand, soaked up the sun, and waded in the surf. This list of trending summer beaches includes the sandy shores of the Pacific, Atlantic and even the Great Lakes.

Places to go and things to see are only half of the summer equation–the company we keep is the other (maybe even better) half. This summer it’s easy to meet up with friends while on the go using Location Sharing in Google Maps. Here are a few more Google Maps features to help you navigate your summer without any headaches.

  • Save an area of the map for use while offline. Just download the region to your offline maps so when you don’t have Wi-Fi or ample data, you can still search for places, get directions, and use turn-by-turn navigation.

  • Reviews on Google Maps are automatically translated into your preferred language so when you’re looking for the perfect tapas place or sake bar, you can choose a spot with confidence when traveling internationally.

  • Know whether parking will be hard to find wherever you go with parking difficulty icons, and save where you parked on the map so you never forget where you left your car.

Take Google Maps with you this summer to find places to go and things to see, meet up with friends, and get where you’re going.


06:00

Android Pay says "Привет" to Russia

Stepping out for groceries or an afternoon coffee? You’ll no longer need to bring anything more than your phone. Starting today, Android Pay is available in Russia – which means you’ll be able to enjoy a simpler and more secure way to pay across all 11 time zones.

Android Pay lets you check out quickly and easily in some of your favorite stores and apps – gone are the days of fumbling for credit cards and counting cash. Get the Android Pay app from Google Play and add your eligible card to get started. When you’re ready to pay, just hold your phone near the payment terminal and wait for the checkmark to appear. You can also add all your loyalty cards to Android Pay so they’re easily accessible.

Where can I use Android Pay?

Whether you’re fueling your car, grabbing coffee with breakfast, buying groceries, or going to the cinema, you can use Android Pay anywhere that accepts contactless payments –just look for either of these logos when you’re ready to pay.

<!--image full width-->
Android Pay NFC

Thousands of your favorite places already accept Android Pay, including Magnit, Perekrestok, Starbucks, KFC and Rosneft. And with your loyalty cards saved in the Android Pay app, there’s no need to carry them around anymore.

<!--image full width-->
Select Merchants that accept Android Pay

Shopping in apps like Lamoda, OneTwoTrip, or Rambler-Kassa? Breeze through checkout with Android Pay. You’ll no longer have to enter your payment details every time –look for the Android Pay button and you can pay with a single tap. Here some of the apps that accept Android Pay now, with more coming soon!

<!--image full width-->
RU_in app

And if you’re an online merchant, we've teamed up with several processors to make it even easier for you to accept Android Pay in your apps and sites. Visit the Android Pay API developer site to learn more.

<!--image full width-->
Russian Processors

Getting started

To start using Android Pay, download the Android Pay app from Google Play. You’ll need to have Android KitKat 4.4 or higher on your phone. Then, add an eligible Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card from a supported bank, such as AK BARS, Alfa-Bank, B&N Bank, MTS Bank, Otkritie, Promsvyazbank, Raiffeisen Bank, Rocketbank, Russian Standard Bank, Russian Agricultural Bank, Sberbank, Tinkoff Bank, Tochka, VTB24 or Yandex.Money. Don’t see your bank on the list? Don’t worry. We’re always adding new partners, and we’ll let you know as soon as new banks come on board.

<!--image full width-->
Android Pay Russian Featured Banks

If you already have the Raiffeisen Bank, Sberbank, or Tinkoff Bank mobile apps, you can enable Android Pay from those banking apps without having to download Android Pay. Just tap the “Add to Android Pay” button to enable your card in Android Pay without entering your card information.

Because Android Pay doesn’t share your actual credit or debit card number with stores, it’s safer than using a plastic card. If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can use Find My Device to instantly lock your phone from anywhere, secure it with a new password, or wipe it clean of your personal information.

Ready to use Android Pay in stores? You’ll need to make sure your phone supports NFC. Thousands of phones do – and we’ve created a guide to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
<!--image full width-->
Russia OEMs

We’re thrilled to name Russia as our 11th country to adopt Android Pay, and we hope it’ll make your everyday purchases faster, easier, and a little more fun. Get the app now to enjoy the benefits of effortless checkout in apps, online, and at all your favorite places.

00:14

Lessons from 1,000 Voice Searches (on Google Home)

Posted by Dr-Pete

It's hardly surprising that Google Home is an extension of Google's search ecosystem. Home is attempting to answer more and more questions, drawing those answers from search results. There's an increasingly clear connection between Featured Snippets in search and voice answers.

For example, let's say a hedgehog wanders into your house and you naturally find yourself wondering what you should feed it. You might search for "What do hedgehogs eat?" On desktop, you'd see a Featured Snippet like the following:

Given that you're trying to wrangle a strange hedgehog, searching on your desktop may not be practical, so you ask Google Home: "Ok, Google — What do hedgehogs eat?" and hear the following:

Google Home leads with the attribution to Ark Wildlife (since a voice answer has no direct link), and then repeats a short version of the desktop snippet. The connection between the two answers is, I hope, obvious.

Anecdotally, this is a pattern we see often on Google Home, but how consistent is it? How does Google handle Featured Snippets in other formats (including lists and tables)? Are some questions answered wildly differently by Google Home compared to desktop search?

Methodology (10K --> 1K)

To find out the answer to these questions, I needed to start with a fairly large set of searches that were likely to generate answers in the form of Featured Snippets. My colleague Russ Jones pulled a set of roughly 10,000 popular searches beginning with question words (Who, What, Where, Why, When, How) from a third-party "clickstream" source (actual web activity from a very large set of users).

I ran those searches on desktop (automagically, of course) and found that just over half (53%) had Featured Snippets. As we've seen in other data sets, Google is clearly getting serious about direct answers.

The overall set of popular questions was dominated by "What?" and "How?" phrases:

Given the prevalence of "How to?" questions, I've broken them out in this chart. The purple bars show how many of these searches generated Featured Snippets. "How to?" questions were very likely to display a Featured Snippet, with other types of questions displaying them less than half of the time.

Of the roughly 5,300 searches in the full data set that had Featured Snippets, those snippets broke down into four types, as follows:

Text snippets — paragraph-based answers like the one at the top of this post — accounted for roughly two-thirds of all of the Featured Snippets in our original data set. List snippets accounted for just under one-third — these are bullet lists, like this one for "How to draw a dinosaur?":

Step 1 – Draw a small oval. Step 5 – Dinosaur! It's as simple as that.

Table snippets made up less than 2% of the Featured Snippets in our starting data set. These snippets contain a small amount of tabular data, like this search for "What generation am I?":

If you throw your money recklessly at your avocado toast habit instead of buying a house, you're probably a millennial (sorry, content marketing joke).

Finally, video snippets are a special class of Featured Snippet with a large video thumbnail and direct link (dominated by YouTube). Here's one for "Who is the spiciest memelord?":

I'm honestly not sure what commentary I can add to that result. Since there's currently no way for a video to appear on Google Home, we excluded video snippets from the rest of the study.

Google has also been testing some hybrid Featured Snippets. In some cases, for example, they attempt to extract a specific answer from the text, such as this answer for "When was 1984 written?" (Hint: the answer is not 1984):

For the purposes of this study, we treated these hybrids as text snippets. Given the concise answer at the top, these hybrids are well-suited to voice results.

From the 5.3K questions with snippets, I selected 1,000, excluding video but purposely including a disproportionate number of list and table types (to better see if and how those translated into voice).

Why only 1,000? Because, unlike desktop searches, there's no easy way to do this. Over the course of a couple of days, I had to run all of these voice searches manually on Google Home. It's possible that I went temporarily insane. At one point, I saw a spider on my Google Home staring back at me. Fearing that I was hallucinating, I took a picture and posted it on Twitter:

I was assured that the spider was, in point of fact, not a figment of my imagination. I'm still not sure about the half-hour when the spider sang me selections from the Hamilton soundtrack.

From snippets to voice answers

So, how many of the 1,000 searches yielded voice answers? The short answer is: 71%. Diving deeper, it turns out that this percentage is strongly dependent on the type of snippet:

Text snippets in our 1K data set yielded voice answers 87% of the time. List snippets dropped to just under half, and table snippets only generated voice answers one-third of the time. This makes sense — long lists and most tables are simply harder to translate into voice.

In the case of tables, some of these results were from different sites or in a different format. In other words, the search generated a Featured Snippet and a voice answer, but the voice answer was of a different type (text, for example) and attributed to a different source. Only 20% of Featured Snippets in table format generated voice answers that came from the same source.

From a search marketing standpoint, text snippets are going to generate a voice answer almost 9 out of 10 times. Optimizing for text/paragraph snippets is a good starting point for ranking on voice search and should generally be a win-win across devices.

Special: Knowledge Graph

What about the Featured Snippets that didn't generate voice answers? It turns out there was quite a variety of exceptions in play. One exception was answers that came directly from the Knowledge Graph on Google Home, without any attribution. For example, the question "What is the nuclear option?" produces this Featured Snippet (for me, at least) on desktop:

On Google Home, though, I get an unattributed answer that seems to come from the Knowledge Graph:

It's unclear why Google has chosen one over the other for voice in this particular case. Across the 1,000 keyword set, there were about 30 keywords where something similar happened.

Special: Device help

Google Home seems to translate some searches as device-specific help. For example, "How to change your name?" returns desktop results about legally changing your name as an individual. On Google Home, I get the following:

Other searches from our list that triggered device help include:

  • How to contact Google?
  • How to send a fax online?
  • What are you up to?

Special: Easter eggs

Google Home has some Easter eggs that seem unique to voice search. One of my personal favorites — the question "What is best in life?" — generates the following:

Here's a list of the other Easter eggs in our 1,000 phrase data set:

  • How many letters are in the alphabet?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What came first, the chicken or the egg?
  • What generation am I?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What would you do for a Klondike bar?
  • Where do babies come from?
  • Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
  • Where is my iPhone?
  • Where is Waldo?
  • Who is your daddy?

Easter eggs are a bit less predictable than device help. Generally speaking, though, both are rare and shouldn't dissuade you from trying to rank for Featured Snippets and voice answers.

Special: General confusion

In a handful of cases, Google simply didn't understand the question or couldn't answer the exact question. For example, I could not get Google to understand the question "What does MAGA mean?" The answer I got back (maybe it's my Midwestern accent?) was:

On second thought, maybe that's not entirely inaccurate.

One interesting case is when Google decides to answer a slightly different question. On desktop, if you search for "How to become a vampire?", you might see the following Featured Snippet:

On Google Home, I'm asked to clarify my intent:

I suspect both of these cases will improve over time, as voice recognition continues to advance and Google becomes better at surfacing answers.

Special: Recipe results

Back in April, Google launched a new set of recipe functions across search and Google Home. Many "How to?" questions related to cooking now generate something like this (the question I asked was "How to bake chicken breast?"):

You can opt to find a recipe on Google search and send it to your Google Home, or Google can simply pick a recipe for you. Either way, it will guide you through step-by-step instructions.

Special: Health conditions

A half-dozen or so health questions, from general questions to diseases, generated results like the following. This one is for the question "Why do we sneeze?":

This has no clear connection to desktop search results, and I'm not clear if it's a signal for future, expanded functionality. It seems to be of limited use right now.

Special: WikiHow

A handful of "How to?" questions triggered an unusual response. For example, if I ask Google Home "How to write a press release?" I get back:

If I say "yes," I'm taken directly to a wikiHow assistant that uses a different voice. The wikiHow answers are much longer than text-based Featured Snippets.

How should we adapt?

Voice search and voice appliances (including Google Assistant and Google Home) are evolving quickly right now, and it's hard to know where any of this will be in the next couple of years. From a search marketing standpoint, I don't think it makes sense to drop everything to invest in voice, but I do think we've reached a point where some forward momentum is prudent.

First, I highly recommend simply being aware of how your industry and your major keywords/questions "appear" on Google Home (or Google Assistant on your mobile device). Look at the recipe situation above — for 99%+ of the people reading this article, that's a novelty. If you're in the recipe space, though, it's game-changing, and it's likely a sign of more to come.

Second, I feel strongly that Featured Snippets are a win-win right now. Almost 90% of the text-only Featured Snippets we tracked yielded a voice answer. These snippets are also prominent on desktop and mobile searches. Featured Snippets are a great starting point for understanding the voice ecosystem and establishing your foothold.


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May 22 2017

20:00
SearchCap: Bing local bots, Yelp conversion & Google I/O recap
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