Bing is on the rise

Microsoft’s Bing has been working hard to compete with Google—from its beta inception, then called Kumo, to the snappy search engine it is today. In spite of its search deal with Yahoo, Bing has claimed just a little over 20 percent of the global search market, trailing Google but persistently nipping at its heels. Now, Bing has turned a profit for Microsoft, bringing in $5.3 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year. Most of this revenue was ad revenue, with significant growth over the previous year.

The only possible roadblock in the way of another potential banner year is Yahoo’s recent sale to Verizon. For years now Bing has provided search for Yahoo, and it’s not certain that relationship will remain intact under the new ownership. However, Bing has a solid working relationship with AOL, another Verizon subsidiary, so the search deal may very well stand.

Why does this matter? Bing’s growth is a good reminder that we shouldn’t forget that it exists. While making Google a priority makes sense, marketers should also pay attention to the kind of traffic Bing brings to a website and make decisions on their digital search strategy from there.

Google displays average time spent at businesses

While not an SEO-centric change per se, this new Google addition is pretty neat. For select mobile searches, the amount of time people typically spend in a business is now displayed along with the business hours and popular times. Jennifer Slegg at the SEM Post has some neat examples of this feature in action.

Why does this matter? Google is getting better and better at providing information that helps searchers optimize their time. Knowing that a shop you want to visit is usually not busy at 1 p.m. and that you can expect to spend 20 minutes there is pretty helpful. This is just one small example of the innovations Google has been churning out using data it collects from mobile users.

On-page pop-ups may be harmful

Google has made its opinion on interstitial ads very clear, going so far as to impose a penalty on sites trying to force their app on mobile users before allowing them access to content (access LinkedIn on a mobile browser for an example of an app interstitial in action). When asked if Googlebot reads the content behind a pop-up on a site, John Mueller from Google implied that in some cases, Google may interpret the content of a pop up as the primary content of a website rather than a supplemental pop-up. Google wants searchers to find content, not aggressive advertising that blocks the content, and the company is currently doubling down on that stance, according to Mueller.

Why does this matter? If you’re planning an aggressive advertising campaign that relies on pop-ups that immediately block content for a visitor, you may want to consider a less intrusive tactic. Banners or other advertising that doesn’t block a user’s view of on-page content appear to be the safest way to go.

Sometimes HTTPS isn’t best

You may have heard about Google’s recent campaign to make the web HTTPS. The company claims that the HTTPS protocol is better for website visitors and webmasters because it makes a site more secure and less prone to malware and hacking (because all communications between the user and website would be encrypted). To encourage webmasters to adopt HTTPS, Google has offered a slight ranking boost. Unfortunately the boost is so small that many webmasters say it’s not worth the trouble to convert a site to HTTPS if they don’t have to.

The problem is, implementing HTTPS for a site can be difficult and it’s easy to do it wrong. In fact, webmasters have complained after implementing HTTPS, saying that not only did they not get the small ranking boost they were promised, their traffic numbers dropped off significantly. Tony Edward at Search Engine Land covers the most common issues that could arise when the conversion to HTTPS goes awry, and how to fix them.

Why does this matter? If you’ve already moved to HTTPS, pay attention to your site traffic—if you see a significant drop compared to your previous numbers, you may need to address some SEO issues. If you’re thinking about whether or not HTTPS is right for your site, consider the possible risks and rewards before you decide to move ahead with this costly endeavor. While Google would like all sites to be more secure, not all sites need to be HTTPS.