It has been a slightly more relaxed week in #TheLab with a  few meetings and consultations, actually, it has been a very busy and good week. Three members of the team took a trip to Manchester for a client meeting, Jodie was able to get a few exclusive Pokemon on the road trip too. Today we took a trip to the local pub for a well-earned drink and a chat which allowed us to discuss what everyone has been doing in the office this week and what we needed help on. We also got to discuss our next social event, which we are all excited for, I am sure there will be many photos when the time comes! In this week’s Lab Weekly we have a range of updates from Google including the Google Algorithm Update and the most recent update to Google’s Gboard.

Google Algorithm Update

Google have once again made an update to it’s algorithm which seemed to have affected a lot of companies rankings over the last couple of days. As a business we have noticed anomalies and fluctuations to the traffic and rankings across some of our sites which leads us to believe that there could have been a soft rollout over the last few weeks. It appears that there has been major shifts in high volume search terms with many sites losing traction, however long tail search terms are seeing improvements.

Industry experts are saying that it is most likely to be a Panda as site structure and mobile have seen changes. It has been difficult to work out exactly what the changes are but as a team we are monitoring all of our clients sites and will be responding to any issues.

Google AMP’s

Google will soon be introducing AMPs to their search results, AMPs are Accelerated Mobile Pages which are versions of a web page without a lot of elements that causes ordinary web pages to load slower. These include Javascript, ad networks, and cookies. This means that AMPs load very fast and are better for searchers overall.

In the SERP, Google will show a symbol next to results to indicate if they are AMPs, this symbol will be a small lightning bolt in a circle. If you have an AMP version of your page, Google will choose to show this rather than the ordinary page but it will not show both.Google introduced AMP pages in their ‘Top Stories’ section on mobile but this is now being expanded so that AMP pages across a range of industries has now been indexed.This feature is not yet available, with Google stating they will make it available later in the year, however a demo version can be accessed at g.co/ampdemo

Whereas having AMP pages may soon prove to be very beneficial, it is not a direct ranking factor, although as they are mobile friendly, they will receive the same boost that other mobile friendly pages received after the Google update in May. You may notice indirect ranking factors however, with searchers who are looking specifically for AMP pages, this will become especially apparent once awareness around this feature grows.

Gboard Update

On May 12th google launched their Gboard which has proved to be very successful, the keyboard allows you to search the web straight from your keyboard in your messages to quickly sent images, links, and gifs without ever having to leave messages. There has now been a major update to this to further improve user experience. One of the most popular features of the Gboard is the ability to search and send GIFs, this feature has now expanded so that suggestions of GIFs are shown to you after you send your message. For example, if you send a message talking about a party, recommended GIFs of parties will show up.

There is also now further international support with many more languages being added, the five new languages will be French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and German and these language settings can be changed in the Gboard settings. The Gboard can also now be customised by adding your own photos, instead of having an ordinary keyboard, you can choose to have a black background or one of your own photos for the background.

Instagram Gets New Update

At the beginning of this week Facebook updated the layout of Instagram making it very similar to Snapchat by now having “Instagram Stories”. Not only has Instagram copied the main feature of Snapchat but users on Instagram will also be able to add text, emojis and drawings on top of their photos and videos and share them with all the users that follow them or particular friends. The main difference though between Instagram and Snapchat is users on Instagram won’t be able to add filters to their faces on photos or videos. An Instagram spokesperson said in an email, “We expect some businesses will experiment with Instagram Stories for sharing ephemeral content with specific audience. For example, businesses could use Instagram Stories at select moments through the year to share behind the scenes content. Over time we look forward to introducing new advertising and other business opportunities as part of Instagram Stories.”

This update can be seen as a bad thing to some users but twice as many people use Instagram everyday as those who use Snapchat every day. Before this update Snapchat was the only platform to keep a running 24 hour narrative with annotated photos and videos so now there is more of an opportunity to share your photos and videos across social media platforms.

LinkedIn Brings Video to its Feed

LinkedIn has announced that they are bringing video ads to its news feed. With the popularity of Video on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites they thought they would dip their toe in and test the waters for themselves, they announced that these videos would be 30 seconds long and from some of LinkedIn’s biggest influencers. These influencers are being asked questions surrounding their area of expertise, users may only be able to watch and comment at the moment. The influencers who were hand selected include some of the brightest such as, Bill Gates and Martha Stewart. The videos which these influencer create will also be available to watch on their own profile page with users comments.