Joe Meloni

Google celebrated the one-year anniversary of Google+, the company’s social network, at Google I/O, its developers conference, in San Francisco this week.

While the majority of the platform’s first year of existence has been spent watching Google describe milestones and release new features without much enthusiasm from users, Google announced at its conference that more than 250 million people have registered accounts with the site. However, both those looking to the site for personal use and social media marketing have heard similar announcements from the company without much happening in the way of activity.

Brafton highlighted Google’s announcement in reporting that the company also rolled out Google+ Events, which allows users to plan parties and other gatherings via Google+ that sync with their Google calendars. Moreover, attendees can share images on individual event pages. Again, adding new features is important for Google as it looks to make Google+ more popular, but something else will have to give for anything to come of the network.

Mobile was a major of focus of the event with announcements ranging from a new Android iteration to a Google+ app for tablets. Moreover, Google also rolled new apps for iOS users in the form of Chrome for the iPhone and iPad. Marketers focusing on mobile search and Google SEO should view this as another push to ensure that their website content is entirely accessible to mobile users. As with other mobile Chrome apps, the tool allows users to sync their Chrome preferences across devices. This makes favorite pages, web history and recent searches available to users across platforms. Brafton reported that the move will be especially interesting for Google, as it has faced scrutiny in the past for consolidating its services too aggressively.

Still, most of Google’s products are in wide use, including search, Gmail or the Android OS, and adding new users every day. The success of these services has translated into mobile, and the company is moving further toward unifying them on smartphones and tablets with new Android search tools. Brafton highlighted the new features in reporting that mobile search on Google will no longer take users directly to SERPs. When Android-powered smartphone owners upgrade to Jelly Bean, their default mobile search results will come in the form of an „information card“ that provides data relevant to their physical locations and other preferences. While navigating to a SERP is pretty easy for these users, Google is looking to provide the most relevant information instantly through its information cards, which are essentially personalized SERPs.

All of Google’s dedication to mobile came at a great time this week, as Pew released a poll that signals the growth of internet access from smartphones and tablets. According to the company, more than half of all American mobile phone owners access the mobile web with their devices. This signals, more or less, that the smartphone is now the default mobile device for a majority of Americans.

Brafton noted that 60 percent of the respondents who access the mobile web said that they use it as least as often as they do on desktop or laptop devices. Furthermore, 31 percent said they turn to the mobile web more often. Whether it’s through search or another medium, consumers are using smartphones to find quick information and fill gaps in access time.

Despite the plethora of news coming from Google I/O and the mobile industry, content marketing and social received attention from Google as well. On its Google+ Developers blog, the company detailed a new feature for the +1 tool that will allow users to see other content on a site that has been +1’d by people.

Companies pairing social with content marketing will likely receive a lift in their efforts to make Google+ a viable option for their businesses. Brafton reported that the feature will always show users content from the same domain, which will keep users navigating through the same site instead of directing them elsewhere. For marketers, the feature can help keep site visitors‘ attention and guide prospects closer to conversion, while users benefit in that they’ll learn of articles and other content those in their Circles enjoyed.

For marketers, new additions from Google are certainly welcome as they look to increase capability and visibility for their companies. To help marketers make more informed decisions related to their campaigns, Google made an addition to its Web Analytics suite. The Entrance Tab will help marketers see which pages are attracting users to their content.

Brafton reported that the utility of the tool is widespread for web marketers. Analytics users can adjust site content, whether it’s headline structure or other aspects of these pages, to methods that are driving prospects to enter then navigate the site. Whether the headline or page title is shared on a social platform or discovered through search, frequent site visitors from similarly structured content means companies should produce more of it.

Making mobile search and analytics better were not all Google was up to this week, as Nathan Sauser, a blogger, discovered a Google survey on a SERP. The feature sought to gauge the overall effectiveness of the results delivered to the user, in terms of their relevance and the satisfaction with the delivered content.

Brafton highlighted that Sauser’s report indicates a need for marketers to develop content of the highest quality to meet reader standards. Users‘ thoughts will inevitably be applied to future search updates, and focusing on delivering relevant information in engaging formats will help organizations drive better interactions with prospects, while also helping them avoid any problems with search updates.

One such update came on Monday when Google announced the rollout of Panda 3.8. The algorithm’s latest iteration, like most this year, was a minor shift that affected less than 1 percent of search queries. Google announced the release through its Twitter page as it often has this year.

Brafton reported that Google’s Tweet included a link to a year-old blog post that detailed the best practices marketers can adopt to avoid issues related Panda. As has been the case since Panda hit the web about 16 months ago, high-quality, engaging website content will always be the answer to SEO success.

It wasn’t all Google news this week, though, as Bing presented an interesting new tool for marketers. The ability for those using Bing’s Webmaster Tools to disavow links they consider to be from low-quality or otherwise problematic sites is a major step in control for marketers. Inbound links are a key component of search rankings, as frequent linking from high-quality sites helps a company improve its standing. However, links from low-quality sites, which have often been associated with webspam and linking schemes, are negatives for any search campaigns. Brafton reported that these links, though sometimes part of black hat paid SEO efforts, are sometimes added by spam sites without the knowledge of the marketer. As such, offering them the ability to disavow these inbound links will them own their search presence more effectively.

Ensuring that search standing is not impacted by third parties is increasingly important for ecommerce companies, as activity continues to grow in the sector. A.T. Kearney reported that more consumers are researching and buying products online. Inevitably, many land on these sites through search engines. Once they start browsing a site, however, they’re becoming increasingly selective in terms of the companies they buy from. Brafton reported that 88 percent of consumers said they are frequently put off by sites that are difficult to navigate. Moreover, 96 percent said the ability to find specific items easily is a major factor whether they buy from companies.

With the July 4 holiday rolling around, companies using content marketing have a strong opportunity to target consumer interests in the annual celebration of the nation’s founding. In the past, Brafton has highlighted a number of events that marketers have leveraged to provide an element of timeliness to their website content. While creating an article or blog post related to the event can help a site receive some new traffic, it’s important to be certain that’s entirely relevant to your website and industry. And, if some can’t find the right tie-in for Independence Day, well, at least they get to enjoy a day off.

Happy (almost) Fourth of July!