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Conversational Search, Close Variant Matching, Like-gating and More – Digital Marketing News

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SEO engineer

It’s been a busy few weeks in digital marketing with updates from all the big players including Google, Bing, Facebook and Instagram. Read about updates on conversational search, close variant matching and like-gating in this fortnight’s Digital Marketing News Roundup.

Bing announce conversational search

Bing has upped its game by introducing conversational search. The feature is designed to help its users start a conversation with the search engine. Bing’s example is that of Barack Obama with the following conversation performed through searches:

Bing Homepage

User: who is the president of the united states
Bing: Barack Obama
User: who is his wife
Bing: Michelle Obama
User: how tall is she
Bing: 5 Feet 11 inches (1.90 meters)
User: who is her brother
Bing: Craig Robinson

This conversational search is quite a welcome feature and starts to emulate the functionality of Siri and Cortana. This feature doesn’t yet look like it is available outside of the US but it will be interesting to see how it pans out as conversational search becomes more integrated with a user’s search behaviour.

AdWords to make close variant matching a standard

AdWords Logo

Google’s AdWords will, from the end of September, add close variant matching to exact match and phrase match keywords as a standard. If advertisers have been opting out of this feature since its introduction in 2012 then there are a few actions Matt Lawson would suggest they take:

  • Prepare for additional volume
  • Stop routinely building variants into your keyword list
  • Account for traffic redirection
  • Just as before, know that queries are king
  • Don’t sweat that these changes will affect Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI)

Facebook to stop Pages from like-gating

Facebook Logo

Image source: Thenextweb.com

Facebook has become well-known for content being hidden behind a like-wall and thus forcing users to like a page to either enter a contest or see a particular piece of content. On 7 August, Facebook’s Software engineer Harshdeep Singh announced that this will now be in violation of Facebook’s guidelines:

You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app's Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

This is big news for Page admins who may often use this method for increasing the interactions and likes of their Facebook page. However, it also means that like counts are going to become less artificial. This is great news for Page admins – it means the fans they attract will be more genuine and interested, rather than faux-fans gained as a result of like-gating.

Instagram upgrades its advertising suite

Instagram’s advertising platform is still in its infancy and is still only available to select partners. However, it is still working hard to ensure the ad platform is perfect for when it is rolled out to a wider selection of advertisers. In fact Instagram has released three new features as part of the ad platform:

The new tools will help brands monitor their posts and campaigns by providing information on reach, impressions, and engagement. For example, an advertiser will now have access to a real-time campaign summary and data showing how their target audience is responding to each of their sponsored photos. Also, brand marketers will be able to better understand the best time of day to post a photo or video.

Instagram Advertising

This is great news for those advertising on the platform and is encouraging for users who may be concerned about the ads becoming too irrelevant or invasive.

Google has made 890 improvements in the past year

Amit Singhal

Google’s senior vice president Amit Singhal announced on Google+ that, in the last year, over 890 improvements to the search engine. Singhal also put together what he believes are the 10 biggest improvements the engine has made since 2004:

  • Autocomplete
  • Translations
  • Direction and traffic
  • Universal search
  • Mobile and new screens
  • Voice search
  • Actions
  • The Knowledge Graph
  • Info just for you
  • Answers before you have to ask

Read more about Google’s most important updates in the full post from Singhal.

Hints, tips and rumours

Google AdWords Incorporates Focused Bid Automation and Bulk Editing
What to Include (& Leave Off) Your Homepage
Google Penalizes Link Networks in Europe & Germany Over Weekend
Google Tests a New Local Knowledge Graph Interface
Over 100 New Streetside and 3D Cities Go Live on Bing Maps

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