The High Five: The Seven Kingdoms at war and Floridians band together

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This week, we’re eagerly awaiting the return of “Game of Thrones,” where some alliances come together like Floridians at the beach and others break off like the Larsen C ice shelf. Here are five of this week’s top searches, with data from Google News Lab.

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My search has just begun

The Great War is here, and ahead of the “Game of Thrones” season seven premiere, fans are getting ready for the episodes to come (some context: for the weeks leading up to their final seasons, “Game of Thrones” was searched 300% more than “Breaking Bad,” and 1000% more than “Mad Men”). GoT’s most searched creatures are “dragons,” “direwolves” and “three-eyed raven,” and Jon Snow was the most searched character, followed by Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons. And of last night, the internet is fired up about another queen, Mother of Twins.

In queso you hadn’t heard…

Chipotle introduced a new cheese dip this week, making “queso” a more popular search term than other dips, like hummus and guacamole. Cheese lovers turned to Google to scoop up answers to their questions, including “Is Chipotle queso gluten free?” and “Is Chipotle queso good?” For those who prefer homemade queso, the top searched queso recipes this week were white queso, queso fundido, queso fresco and chili con queso.

Humanity at its finest

In Panama City, 80 Florida beachgoers banded together to save a drowning family in a rip current, leading people to search for “human chain Panama city beach.” Search interest in rip currents currents swells every July with related questions like, “what to do in a riptide” and “how to spot a riptide.”

Chilling news

This week a trillion ton iceberg separated from the Larsen C Ice shelf in Antarctica, forming one of the largest icebergs ever recorded. Top searched questions include, “Where will Larsen C go?” and “What will happen when Larsen C raises sea levels?” This great frozen schism caused search interest  in “climate change” to spike by 195 percent, reaching its highest point this month.

Let’s take a selfie

… said a monkey. And now a federal appeals court in California is expected to rule whether that monkey can sue over the rights to its selfie. It’s bananas! Even with all the hype about the selfie-taking monkey this week, “dog selfie” was still a more popular search term than “monkey selfie.”

July 15th 2017 Search

Reserve with Google: Summer bookin’, happens so fast

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Whether you’re headed to a backyard barbecue or an all-day beach party, Google is here to help you get ready. Starting today, you can book appointments at spas and salons across the U.S. on Google. So that fresh haircut or palm tree-green mani is only a couple taps away.

To get started, find your favorite salon or spa on Google Maps or Search and look for the “book” button on the business listing. You can also visit the Reserve with Google site to browse recommendations for businesses you never knew were just around the corner.  

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This feature is made possible through partnerships with the top scheduling providers you might already use, including Genbook, SalonRunner, Rosy, Yocale and WellnessLiving. And soon we’ll be adding many more, including Booksy, Envision, MyTime, Schedulicity, Setmore, Shore, SimpleSpa, SuperSalon and TimeTrade.  

You can already book fitness classes with Google right from Search and Maps–and you can expect to find more types of bookable services in the future–so look forward to even more help crossing things off your to-do list.

July 13th 2017 Search

Keep up with the Tour—or create your own—with Search and Maps

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The 104th edition of cycling’s most famous Grand Tour is well underway, with nearly 200 riders from around the world racing through 3,540 kilometers of the French countryside for the coveted yellow jersey. We’ve made a few tune-ups to Google Search to help you keep up with every stage of the Tour. And if the grueling mountain climbs inspire rather than intimidate you, hit the road on your own two wheels with Google Maps biking directions as your guide.

Now globally on the Google app for Android and iOS and the mobile web, when you search for Tour de France (or a similar query) on Google, you’ll see detailed information about the race and athletes as well as see the latest news stories. Most notably, you’ll also see the current standings of the race, which show jersey holders along with stage-by-stage results. As an added bonus, you’ll also have access to real-time update posts from the Tour de France directly in the search results.

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Not everyone has the chance to make that triumphant roll down the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Lucky for us mere mortals, Google Maps makes it easy to find the best bike routes to let our inner cyclist shine—or just get from point A to point B.

To get bike directions on Google Maps, just enter your destination and tap on the bike icon. We give route suggestions based on the availability of dedicated bike trails in the area, and when possible we prioritize those routes. In case you’re not aiming to be “King of the Mountains,” we factor in variables like hills as well as size of the road, availability of bike lanes, and number of turns.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to map out your own path, the bike layer will show color-coded routes according to their suitability for biking: dark green indicates a dedicated bike-only or multi-use trail; lighter green indicates a dedicated bike lane along a road; and a dotted green line indicates roads that don’t have bike lanes but tend to be more suitable for biking. To turn on the bike layer, tap the button above the compass icon and then tap the bike icon (on iOS) or open the main menu and then tap the bike icon (on Android).

Now grab your helmet, pump up your tires, and hit those hills!

July 13th 2017 Search

Connecting more Americans with jobs

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Whether you’re a student looking for a part-time job, an electrician seeking work closer to home, or a teacher moving to another state to be close to family, finding a job can be difficult. With job postings scattered across the web, newspapers and help wanted signs, it’s not always easy to find ones that are a good fit based on your unique needs and skills. As a result, many job seekers feel like they can’t find the job they’re looking for or apply to roles that aren’t the right fit. At the same time, 46 percent of U.S. employers face talent shortages and have issues filling open positions with the right candidate.

We have a long history of using our technology to connect people with crucial information. At I/O, we announced Google for Jobs, a company-wide initiative focused on helping both job seekers and employers, through deep collaboration with the job matching industry. This effort includes the Cloud Jobs API, announced last year, which provides access to Google’s machine learning capabilities to power smarter job search and recommendations within career sites, jobs boards, and other job matching sites and apps. Today, we’re taking the next step in the Google for Jobs initiative by putting the convenience and power of Search into the hands of job seekers. With this new experience, we aim to connect Americans to job opportunities across the U.S., so no matter who you are or what kind of job you’re looking for, you can find job postings that match your needs.

Find your next job, with Google

Starting today in English on desktop and mobile, when you search for “jobs near me,” “teaching jobs,” or similar job-seeking queries, you’ll see in-depth results that allow you to explore jobs from across the web. For many people, a job needs to satisfy some key criteria, like commute time, job specialties they’ve honed or the hours they have available to work. For many jobs, you’ll also see reviews and ratings of the employer from trusted sites, right alongside the job description, and if you’re signed in, for some jobs you’ll even see how long it would take to commute to the job from home. We’ll continue to add additional filters and information in the future. Looking for jobs is a personal and complex journey, and one that we’re trying to support in this new search experience.

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Searching for a job can take time. And keeping up with new jobs that are posted throughout the day can be impossible. Now, if you step away from your job search, you can pick up right where you left off and stay in the loop on opportunities that interest you. Just turn on alerts for your search to receive an email notification whenever new jobs arrive, keeping you up-to-date and on top of your job hunt.

We’re working with a number of organizations from across the industry to bring you the most comprehensive listing of jobs—including LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor and Facebook. This means you’ll see job postings from these sites and many others from across the web as soon as they’re posted. To ensure even more jobs are listed over time, we’re publishing open documentation for all jobs providers, from third-party platforms or direct employers, big or small, detailing how to make their job openings discoverable in this new feature.

People from all walks of life, experiences and backgrounds have undergone a job hunt at some point in their lives. Whether you’re a young adult looking for your first job, a veteran hoping to leverage your leadership experience in civilian life, or a parent looking for a job with better pay to support a growing family, we hope this new experience on Google will help make the job search simpler and more effective.

June 20th 2017 Search

Don’t Overlook Voice Search in Your Online Marketing Campaign

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The popularity of voice-activated smart assistants is gaining traction, especially with Apple hopping on the bandwagon with its Siri speaker due to be released soon. This is why businesses should include voice search in their online marketing campaign, rather than focus solely on text-based searches.

In fact, voice search marketing is described as the new norm, which would have been unheard of just five years ago. One major factor is the increasing efficiency of machine-learning technology in finding user patterns to anticipate their needs.

For instance, Amazon’s Alexa is billed to be capable of performing over 12,000 tasks, which is why it’s still the undisputed king in this increasingly competitive industry.

A Different Beast

In the past six months, 40% of users have tried voice commands in asking questions or searching for products and services. Analysts believe this number will only continue to rise until such time when people won’t even be able to imagine how they survived without voice-activated apps in the first place, similar to how they feel about mobile phones.

When it reaches this critical mass, Google will surely introduce an update to its algorithm that will take into account voice search in order to rank your page.

For marketers, this would be an entirely different beast altogether. Whereas text-related keyword searches are much easier to document, recording how many people are looking for “best pulled pork sandwiches, Lexington, KY” using voice search will be a tall feat.

This will really turn the search engine optimization dynamic—which is the direct result of years of honing and polishing—up on its head.

Better Results

Unlike text queries, voice search will yield more accurate results. It basically pulls down the curtains, allowing internet users to skip one step. Instead of searching for “pulled pork sandwiches,” they can just go ahead and order the food from the best restaurant based on customer and critic reviews.

Instead of searching for a particular song you can’t get out of your head, it may be possible in the future to hum the lyrics and the smart speaker will play the whole song for you. This brings convenience to a whole new level, unlike in text searches where you have to choose and phrase your words in a specific manner to get the most relevant results—and still having to go to that particular website to order food.

Here are some quick tips to cope with the changes from text to voice search marketing:

Mobile Optimization –  As voice search apps are gradually perfected, mobile optimization will become even more crucial. Website built with Flash will need to be redesigned and all websites will need to be responsive. Marketers will need to advise their clients of this major shift from traditional search to voice search. Another way to optimize the mobile experience is to make sure that their sites load fast. There’s no faster way to lose customers than a website that takes forever to display.

Snippets – In voice searches, snippets are short descriptions about the company or the brand. This gives the users a little bit of information before they move along or move forward. Using traditional SEO techniques, you will need to optimize so you end up high on the search engine results page for snippets.

Long-Tail KeywordsVoice search is different from text search in the sense that internet users will often talk normally as they would in a conversation, as opposed to using key phrases or keywords when they type on Google. This is where long-tail keywords are crucial because you can still reach your target market even with this major shift in the way people do their search.  

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June 8th 2017 Online Marketing, Search

Google Announces Launch of Native Chrome Ad Blocker

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Search engine giant Google is flexing its muscles once again as it releases an ad blocker that could have far bigger ramifications than just getting rid of pop-up ads.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP for Ads and Commerce, announced the Google Chrome Ad Blocker on Thursday in a blog post. He mentioned that some people find pop-up ads annoying and intrusive, which leads them to block all ads, to the detriment of legitimate publishers or content creators out there who consider ads as their lifeblood.

Google is an active member of Coalition for Better Ads, which recently issued a set of standards for the industry in order to improve ad content for consumers.

The new update provides two new major additions:

  • First is the Ad Experience Report, which helps websites better understand the benchmarks set by the coalition. It also provides tips on how to get rid of the annoying ads.
  • Second is the Funding Choices, which allows marketers to reach out to visitors using the ad blocker to enable their own ads.

As for Chrome, Google will employ the ads standard by default. “We plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018,” Ramaswamy wrote.

The company is already dominating the online ad space, with 49% of the digital revenue. Facebook, meanwhile, cornered 40% of the market. The others are left to scour for scraps from the remaining 11%.

This new tool will only make Google more powerful, since it will wean itself from third-party software like AdBlock Plus by adopting a built-in filtering tool. Ultimately, this will translate to more revenue for the company.

Rich Sutton, chief revenue officer of Trusted Media Brands, said that the main purpose may be to help consumers control their ad consumption. This will pose an additional challenge for marketers to delve into the minds of consumers instead of relying on technological solutions.

With Google’s eyes always trained on what the coalition thinks is a bad ad, Sutton said marketers are hard-pressed to come up with fresh ideas that will engage consumers in a more organic way.

Tapad SVP for Product Preethy Vaidyanathan, meanwhile, said the ad blocker will give the power to dictate what ads consumers see back to Google. And because this tool will be installed by default, those who want to bypass the system will have to pay a premium.

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June 7th 2017 Search

Google Expands User Search With ‘Personal’ Tab

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Google has rolled out a new feature in their search engine portal, allowing users to track their own online footprints.

Dubbed “Personal,” the new feature will expand the user’s search to include the whole Google portfolio. So if you have an account with Gmail, Google+, or saved a photo or video on the cloud, chances are you can find them by filtering your search further.

Accessing Google Personal is quite straightforward. You just have to type your query in the search box like you ordinarily would. After the results are shown, you can scroll to the top right to find “More,” and click on the drop-down list where you can find “Personal.” You can then access your own online history.

If you search for “Kentucky” for instance, any photos, clips, or references you have made using that word will turn up in the search results page. Even your email messages that contain that particular keyword are extracted and laid out for you.

Of course, you need to be logged in to your account to do this. The message, “Only you can see these results,” is right there for you to read after accessing this feature.

Google has not really formally announced the launch of this feature. But it seems like it’s going to a be a staple in the search box. However, it’s not available for Android or iOS, although analysts think that it’s only a matter of time before you can use the feature on mobile platforms. It also doesn’t support Google Drive for now.

Google Personal is another way for the search engine company to data mine your personal information, which makes it easier for targeted ads to find you. This seems to be in line with the announcement of the company during the I/O conference for the Google Lens.

The lens converts information search from text to visual. By training the camera on an object, the user will be able to find the species of an unknown insect, for instance. They can also read up on the reviews or menu of a restaurant when they focus their camera on the establishment before going in. It’s supposed to be equipped with machine-learning that allows you to translate menus written in a foreign language.

In the same vein, Google Personal will allow users to relinquish more information about their search patterns, preferences, and biases. Again, privacy issues are being called to question, although the company seems to be simply testing the waters at this point.

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June 2nd 2017 Google, Search

Google Lens Creates Buzz After Making Bold Promises at I/O Keynote

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The Google Lens ended up overshadowing the recent I/O Keynote when it was first introduced by the American tech company.

However, there’s a good reason why it stole the show, considering that the new update has huge potential in changing the present augmented reality landscape.

According to the company, the technology utilizes machine-learning to classify objects in the real world that are viewed through the user’s phone camera. In addition, it also has the capability to analyze and interpret the objects with the end objective of anticipating what it is the user intends to do.

Google Lens can even automatically connect to a Wi-Fi router using optical character recognition for the username and password. The user can also read reviews of the restaurant in a pinch with the use of this new feature.

Google CEO Sunda Pichai said during the conference, “All of Google was built because we started understanding text and web pages. So the fact that computers can understand images and videos has profound implications for our core mission.”

The Google Lens will become part of the update for Google Photos and for the Android smart assistant in the future. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available for commercial release.

The potential of this new update should not be underestimated as it will change the way people use the search box and mobile devices. Instead of going to Google Search to type their queries, Google Lens will exploit visual media to narrow down the relevant results. It will also make use of the calendar, camera, and other native apps to provide info.

Voice search allows the user to skip typing on the search box, but one of its problems has been accuracy. Google Lens, in theory, won’t have such issues. Using the camera will allow the user to identify the type of chair or its manufacturer, for example. Once the technology is perfected, the user can then ask Google Assistant to order the same product online.

Google Lens will also have real-world applications that would be invaluable in bridging the language divide. Facebook is working on its machine-learning to hone its translator code in the platform, but Google’s AI may take it one step further.

For instance, instead of copy-pasting the words or sentences that need to be translated, the user will just point the mobile phone’s camera toward the text, and if Google follows through with its promise, you should get the translation results in a snap.

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May 23rd 2017 Search, Technology

Blog Searches on Google Get Rich Results

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Google has a new look for blog searches. Searches for blogs now return carousels and rich lists of popular blogs.

The new feature which appears in mobile and desktop searches show rich results for queries about blog topics, like “cooking blogs” or “tech blogs.”

This is the carousel look for a cooking blogs search:

Here is the rich list style for a fashion blog search:

The rich results seem like a helpful feature for users wanting to find new content. For blogs, the feature may not be quite as useful. Clicking on the blog logos does not take the user directly to the blog but opens a search query for the blog name. With the extra step, this feature may not be a huge new traffic driver for blogs. It will at least increase visibility for blogs that make it in the rich results.

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April 19th 2017 Search, Social Media

Google Image Search Takes On Pinterest

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Google recently launched “Similar Items,” a rich product feature for Google Image Search. The new feature enables users to browse and shop inspirational fashion photography and find product information about items they’re interested in.

Similar Items is an obvious competitor to Pinterest and users will find the feature familiar. Using machine vision technology, the Similar Items feature identifies products in lifestyle images and displays matching products to the user.

Similar Items currently supports handbags, sunglasses and shoes and will expand to other apparel and home & garden categories in the coming months. Google says that, “Finding price and availability information was one of the top Image Search feature requests from our users.”

The feature is currently available on mobile web and the Android search app globally and expansion to more platforms is planned this year.

Want to get your products listed? To make your products eligible for Similar items, make sure to add and maintain schema.org product metadata on your pages. The schema.org/Product markup helps Google find product offerings on the web and give users an at-a-glance summary of product info.

To ensure that your products are eligible to appear in Similar items:

– Ensure that the product offerings on your pages have schema.org product markup, including an image reference. Products with name, image, price & currency, and availability meta-data on their host page are eligible for Similar items
– Test your pages with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to verify that the product markup is formatted correctly
– See your images on image search by issuing the query “site:yourdomain.com.” For results with valid product markup, you may see product information appear once you tap on the images from your site. It can take up to a week for Googlebot to recrawl your website.

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April 14th 2017 Search, Social Media