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The Search News Round Up: Blekko Launches Tablet Engine, Yahoo! Site Link Extensions for PPC, Baidu Trials Facial Recognition Search, Google Adds Videos to Local Results, and more.

Kat Cole

Another week filled with plenty of search related news once again confirms the SEO industry is one which is ever-evolving, challenging, and always interesting as a result. This week’s round up features six stories, so let’s skip the more formal introduction and crack on (no egg pun intended) with explaining the details of each…

Blekko launches new tablet search engine ‘izik’

2010-born web search company Blekko has long stated its engine provides “better” results than market share-ruling Google. It now appears Blekko is attempting to encroach on Google’s mobile search dominance with its new engine izik, designed specifically for tablet users.

Although Google has been making efforts to improve its search facility for mobile device users, Google Search on tablets currently appears almost identical to that seen through desktops. izik not only presents search query results in a visual way complimentary to the tablet format, but also sorts results in a helpful ‘federated’ (read as categorised) view.

While Izik can be used through desktop machines, Blekko contends it is best experienced on tablets. It will be interesting to see whether or not izik will prove popular, and whether SEO engineers will be forced to make efforts to ensure the sites they maintain have prevalence within the SERPs of this new engine.

izik results for the query ‘Fresh Egg SEO’
izik results for the query ‘Fresh Egg SEO’ (desktop access). Click to enlarge.

Yahoo! adds site link extensions to its paid offering

Yahoo! is finally allowing up to six additional site link extensions to be included in advertisements purchased through its paid search service, Yahoo! Search Marketing. Google has long offered multiple site extensions within its own PPC ads, and so this announcement is long overdue.

This development should provide additional value to those employing paid Yahoo! ads, since increased clickthroughs could result. Trial runs conducted by the engine with multi-channel lighting retailer Lamps Plusand comparison site eHealthInsurance have shown a 10% clickthrough increase as a result of the newly added extensions.

Baidu trials facial recognition search

Chinese web services company Baidu is currently testing a facial recognition-based search engine, Shitu. Working similarly to Google’s Image Search, users can search using the URL of a specific image (denoting a face), or can upload an image directly. The results returned for successful recognition searches include additional images of that same person, and basic information about the person depicted.

Reports so far have indicated Shitu works well for famous, well-known faces but, unsurprisingly, not so well for lesser-known individuals. Should the flaws be ironed out, Shitu could potentially make it easier for someone to find all the social media profiles of one person quickly, and with ease. This would be convenient for some, but perhaps worrying for those who would prefer to keep a low profile online.

Has Google added video inclusion in local results?

On Tuesday 08 January Mike Blumenthal, of small design, hosting and marketing firm, Blumenthals.com, announced he had been alerted to the fact that SEO engineer and friend Plamen Barzev had recently spotted the inclusion of a video within Google Local SERPs. The listing in question was for Tamsberg Plumbing LLC, based in South Carolina, and included a video from the company’s homepage.

Screenshot of Tamsberg Plumbing LLC in Local results.
Screenshot of Tamsberg Plumbing LLC in Local results. Click to enlarge. Image credit: blumenthals.com

It is currently unknown whether Google is testing this feature for wide rollout at a later date, though this is speculated. The inclusion of video in Local Search rich snippets could also increase the number of clickthroughs to a site.

Bitly announces social data APIs

Earlier this week, URL shortening and bookmarking service Bitly, announced on its blog it has just launched a new set of ‘Social Data APIs’. These APIs allow users to search for the current top stories being shared across the Bit.ly URL network, in real time.

The new APIs comprise three main functions: 

  • True Realtime Search allows users to search for hot topics in specific niches through queries (‘travel’, for example), and/or a preferred geographical area

  • The ‘Bursts API’ provides a graph depicting ‘Attention Spikes, without any search needing to be conducted. Instead, these spikes indicate the subjects currently receiving an influx of attention, contradictory to levels usually expected

Example of Bitly Attention Spikes.
Example of Bitly Attention Spikes. Click image to enlarge. Image credit: searchengineland.com

  • Bitly will also provide metadata about URLs, based on the keywords, topics, content, language and geographical relevance of pages.

Bitly’s new APIs could allow the development of useful social media tools which would aid the production of content relating to the most popular topics/media at any given time. This is important to those working in digital marketing, since a site covering a story ‘first’ can receive an upsurge in traffic.

Phone support for Google Local (US) verification issues

The before-mentioned Mike Blumenthal’s second announcement of the week detailed how Google is now offering phone support for businesses experiencing issues with verifying their Google Maps listing.

Those seeking help for this issue need to complete this troubleshooter form. If the issue is not resolved after following several recommended steps, Google will request a name and number in its supplementary ‘Talk to a Specialist’ form. Once entered, the phone should ring within 60 seconds, and a representative will try to help and solve the problem.

This will prevent frustration for many, and should help Google Maps to become an even more authoritative information source, since more businesses will be confirmed.



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