google-adwordsThis past week Google made some important new changes to AdWords, including adjusting how ads in the top position will be displayed going forward. In addition, there’s a new feature in local search which may be useful next time you need to fill up your gas tank.

When recapping news related to SEO we can’t forget about other sources of organic inbound traffic, such as Facebook. That being said, Facebook has introduced a new publishing platform that could be a great addition to your content marketing efforts. Full details about each of these top stories in this week’s SEO news recap.

Google Changes How it Displays Ad Extensions

Google has adjusted its formula for how it displays Adwords ad extensions. Going forward, the visibility of an ad extension depends on both ad position and ad format. This means that ads in higher positions will be able to display more ad extensions than ads in lower positions. It also means that ads which do not make the top position will no longer be able to overshadow those above them by simply displaying more ad extensions.

This change can be a benefit to advertisers who work hard to optimize their campaigns for achieving the top position. If you have ad extensions set up and achieve the top ad position, it’s a lot more likely that those extensions will be displayed in search results on a regular basis.

Another small yet notable change is the fact that Google has changed the color of it’s (previously) yellow “Ad” tag to the color green. Now it blends in with the color of URLs in AdWords ads. For now this is just a test and may be reverted back depending on user and advertiser feedback.

Google Will Now Display Gas Prices in Local Search Results

Tired of taking a gamble on the nearest gas station and hoping it’s selling gas at a reasonable price? Now you can know exactly how much gas costs at the pumps nearest you thanks to an update to local search results.

Gas prices are starting to show up in the local three pack as well as in the knowledge panel which shows up for local searches. At this time it’s not known where Google is getting its data on gas prices, but popular third-party sites like Gas Buddy have been ruled out. This is yet another attempt by Google to provide local searchers with exactly what they want with one click.

So far, it has only been seen on Safari and Chrome for iPhone. On desktop it is also available for both Safari and Chrome. Since this is just a test feature at the moment, remember that your mileage may vary when it comes to receiving accurate gas prices.

Facebook Lets Everyone Publish Via Instant Articles

Facebook has introduced its own publishing platform which promises to load articles instantly on mobile devices. At first, the new platform was available to only select publishers. Now, it’s available to everyone.

Facebook says it’s publishers will be able to easily adapt to publishing via Instant Articles because it’s built on the same publishing tools already in use. Instant Articles can also be created by clicking Publishing Tools at the top of your page and selecting Instant Articles from the menu on the left of the screen.

Why use Instant Articles? To get more eyeballs on your content is the greatest benefit. According to Facebook’s data, Instant Articles leads to

  • 20% more clicks on links to content
  • 70% reduced likelihood of abandoning content once clicked
  • 30% more shares compared to the average mobile web articles

As always, the goal of social media marketing is to drive traffic back to your website. So we recommend leaving a call to action in all articles published via Instant Articles which leads back to a page on your site.

Wrapping it Up

With Google’s new AdWords formula, ads that achieve the very top position will be able to display more ad extensions. Gas prices are now integrated into local search, and Facebook’s new publishing platform is available to everyone. If you have any questions about any of this week’s updates, please leave us a comment below.