Lab Weekly, Farewell Yahoo!, Panda 4.1 and Atlas

Andrew Birkitt

Lead Technical Engineer
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Probably the saddest news in a long time within our industry is the demise of what was once considered the internet’s most important search engine is finally come to the end of its slow death, Farewell Yahoo.
Yahoo which was launched in 1994 was the Google of its time and the search list who took its name from the meaning “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” quickly became the most popular search directory of its era.
Its supremacy was of course shortlived and its decline started with the release of Google in 1998, needless to say its decline has been a long and painful one that has led to the announcement this week that it will be closing along with two other services as part of further streamlining.
The announcement itself was almost non descript and a sad end to what was such an important service not so long ago:
“Yahoo was started nearly 20 years ago as a directory of websites that helped users explore the Internet. While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they’re passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory. Advertisers will be upgraded to a new service; more details to be communicated directly.”
Farewell Yahoo!

Technical SEO

Panda 4.1
Other new in the technical side of the industry saw the latest version of Google Panda roll out, the 27th update known as Panda 4.1 has been released with the emphasis on targeting ‘thin content’ with Google saying that it will affect 3% to 5% of search queries depending on location.
Google also added that this latest release is supposed to be more precise and that it should help small and medium sized sites of high quality to rank better as seen in the following statement.
“Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.”
Structured Snippets
Google also announced this week the introduction of ‘structured snippets’ which pulls facts into a pages search results:
“Google Web Search has evolved in recent years with a host of features powered by the Knowledge Graph and other data sources to provide users with highly structured and relevant data. Structured Snippets is a new feature that incorporates facts into individual result snippets in Web Search.”
The announcement goes on to explain that after much collaboration between the Web Tables and Google Research terms this latest edition to snippets will be able to extract information from data tables on web pages and display up to four relevant facts within the search result, more information on the announcement can be found here


Local Inventory and Store PLAs expands
Around this time last year Google announced the release of Product Listing Ads or PLAs now known as Local Inventory Ads in the US. It has now been announced by Google that this implementation will be extended into the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia.
The main difference with these PLAs is the inclusion of a local pin icon that if the listing is clicked upon will take the user into a local storefront landing page that will show the user much more information such as availability, product detail and any related items that may be available within that store. See more on the official announcement here
Local Inventory Ads
Ad Customizers
In other news Google announced the first of a series of tools for what it calls power users that are being rolled out over the coming months. Ad Customizers which has been designed to optimise ads at scale.
Available to a select number of users since August they will be officially rolling out to all Adwords users over the next few weeks. Described by some as Dynamic Keyword Insertion on steroids, Ad Customizers are said to be very helpful for managing product variations, pricing adjustments and promotions at scale, learn more in the official help centre page here

Social Media

Amazon WishLists
You can now add items directly to your Amazon wishlists from Twitter via the use of a new hashtag as announced on Wednesday. The new #AmazonWishList allows shoppers to automatically add items to their wishlist by combining it with a link to the item, this should be followed by a response from the MyAmazon Twitter account informing you when the item gets added to your wishlist, if its in stock and when it will be available to buy, all pretty cool stuff really.
As with the previous collaboration between the two firms #AmazonCart the service will only work if you have previously linked their Amazon and Twitter accounts through the Amazon account settings.
Atlas Platform
The continuing battle between Facebook and Google and its lucrative advertising business reached a new level this week with the announcement of Facebook’s Atlas Advertising platform. Industry pundits have muted that this launch could see Facebook surpass Google in the remarketing arena.
The new platform due to be unveiled next week is a much revamped version of the Atlas Advertiser Suite purchased from Microsoft last year. The system is capable of a much more targeted system allowing users to target specific individuals with ads that are specifically customised to them.
If Atlas succeeds it delivering what it promises it is believed that it will accelerate the already massive transition to mobile.
Definitely one we will be keeping a close eye on in the coming weeks and months so keep reading for more on this in upcoming blogs and remember subscribe to our Lab Weekly updates for all the latest news.

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