Five most important search marketing news stories of the week

Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week we have Facebook, Amazon and Meerkat all trying something new.

Spoiler alert: respectively, being Craigslist, banning reviews, not existing anymore.

But first, let’s check in with the Big G…

Google’s first SERP now displays fewer organic results

Page one of Google search now displays fewer organic results (around 8.5 links instead of the 10 it used to traditionally show) according to new research from Searchmetrics.

Nearly every search query now includes at least one example of boxed out content such as app suggestions, videos, images, integrated Twitter cards etc on the first page.

There are also significant differences between Google’s smartphone and desktop results, with 34% of desktop results including at least one images box compared with only 14.4% for smartphones.

Facebook targets eBay, Craigslist with Marketplace

This week saw the launch of Facebook Marketplace, “a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.”

facebook marketplace

As reported by Al Roberts, through Marketplace, sellers can post the details and photos of the items that they’re looking to sell, and buyers can search for items for sale near them or in a specific location.

A search function is available, and there are a number of filters offered, including category and price.

Amazon now forbids incentivized reviews

Amazon announced an update to its community guidelines that will put an end to incentivized reviews for products other than books.

According to Chee Chew, Amazon’s VP of Customer Experience:

“Our community guidelines have always prohibited compensation for reviews, with an exception – reviewers could post a review in exchange for a free or discounted product as long as they disclosed that fact. These so-called ‘incentivized reviews’ make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon, and when done carefully, they can be helpful to customers by providing a foundation of reviews for new or less well-known products.”

As Al Roberts points out however, Amazon will continue to permit authors and book publishers to provide advance review copies of new books, which is a standard industry practice.

And for those not selling books, it will allow incentivized reviews through its Amazon Vine program.

Remember Meerkat? Too late!

Less than two years after its launch, Meerkat is no longer with us.

Last week, the company behind it, Life On Air, pulled the Meerkat app from the App Store, as it focuses on its newest app, Houseparty, which as the name hints, offers multi-person video chat.

As Al Roberts reports, despite protestations otherwise, it’s clear that Facebook Live and Twitter’s live app Periscope are to blame for the pivot.

Google cracks down on fraudulent plumbers and locksmiths

Google is rolling out an advanced verification process specific to plumbers and locksmiths.

As Matt Southern reported for SEJ this week, all locksmiths and plumbers currently verified will have to go through the new verification process. Failure to do so before November 1 will result in the loss of verification and the removal from Google Maps.

Why locksmiths and plumbers? Well apparently the ‘locksmith scam’ is a prevalent method for ripping people off, using Google My Business as bait.

Here’s how it works, courtesy of SEJ:

After being locked out of one’s home and not knowing what to do, a quick Google search brings up a list of local locksmiths.

  • Google returns AdWords ads and Google My Business listings for locksmiths promising cheap or inexpensive service rates.
  • Calling one of these bargain locksmiths actually routes you to an offshore call center, where they dispatch someone local to come to your door.
  • The locksmith shows up and, before trying any other options, immediately drills the lock open and slaps you with a large bill for the service.

Hmm. I don’t know why I just taught you that.

Related reading

A picture of the 'Springfield Shopper' newspaper from The Simpsons, bearing the headline "LOCAL MAN LOSES PANTS, LIFE"
A screenshot of visual search on Pinterest. On the left is a picture of a copper angle-poise lamp, with the words 'Visually similar results' above it. Down the right-hand side are a number of pins showing similar lamps.
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