This Week In SEO 53
Payday Loan Ad Ban, Doorway Pages, New gTLDs, & More
Google Bans Payday Loan Ads
Google has updated their advertising guidelines for payday loans to exclude companies whose loan terms fall under the following description:
We will no longer allow ads for loans where repayment is due within 60 days of the date of issue. In the U.S., we are also banning ads for loans with an APR of 36 percent or higher. When reviewing our policies, research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users so we will be updating our policies globally to reflect that.
According to Search Engine Land, Google stands to lose 34.5 million dollars in desktop ads alone. SEL is quick to point out that $34.5 mill is just .5% of Google’s annual ad revenue for 2015, and Google’s all like:
So Google’s a purely altruistic organization that is happy to take a hit in revenue as long as it helps the world be a better place?
Depends on who you ask here. Aaron Wall from SEObook pointed out some pretty interesting things, related to Google and pay day loans.
He highlights a comment from Google’s announcement blog post:
Are you disgusted by Google’s backing of LendUp, which lends money at rates of ~ 395% for short periods of time? Check it out. GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) has an investment in LendUp. They currently hold that position.
Oh, the former CIO and VP of Engineering of Google is the CEO of Zest Finance and Zest Cash. Zest Cash lends at an APR of 390%.
Google invested in LendUp (a payday loan service) to the tune of $14,000,000. Here’s a screenshot from LendUp.com showing you what kind of loan they can give you:
The interest for this loan? Only 369.69% NBD…
As Aaron points out:
And you know their search traffic is only going to increase now that competitors are getting scrubbed from the marketplace.
Hey, no matter what the reasons (good or bad) happy to see at least a small decline in predatory lending. This is especially relevant for Google partner sites that were previously being shown on non-Google properties.
Edit: There ended up being some interesting comments on Hacker News about this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11730059
An Update on Doorway Pages
Google is coming after your crappy-user-experience-created-only-for-SEO doorway pages (again).
From Google’s official site:
Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.
The post has a helpful list of things to check to make sure you are not using doorway pages, so definitely give that a run through, if you’re unsure.
Funny thing, and a call-back to the SEObook post mentioned above: here’s a solid example from the Google Ventures-funded LendUp of exactly what doorway pages look like on a site:
LendUp currently ranks extremely well for all of those pages, if you’re wondering.
New gTLDs Ranking Well?
A common response from SEOs regarding the abundance of new top level domains (such as .attorney, .xyz, .design) is that they don’t see a lot of them ranking well in Google.
This post is pretty interesting as it presents some hard data on moving two sites from a fairly bad URL to a much more memorable newer one on a new gTLD.
I studied the search engine rankings of St. Louis Motorcars both when it was on the .COM domain and after it was moved to the .CARS TLD. I found 16 keyword phrases that were ranking in the first few pages of Google’s search results. Of these 16 keyword phrases, 8 got better when it came to search engine rankings after the move to the new domain. Many of those keywords that didn’t move up in the search engine rankings stayed the same (i.e., the ranking was the same before and after the move).
Google has previously said they will treat new gTLDs like .com, .org, .info, etc.
One reason for the improvement in rankings? A lot of the new gTLDs present the opportunity to get an exact match domain. And despite Google’s announcement of algorithm changes affecting exact match domains, they still work. Super well. So some of these sites may be benefiting from that.
As the author of the article points out, some of these sites that moved from an underwhelming .com to a ??? new gTLD could be the implementation of SEO best practices, and the clean-up of some not-so-good practices during the website move.
Either way, it’s something to think about. It’s easy to write off these new domain endings as not valuable unless you own a registry, but keep your eyes open as this unfolds and, as always, do your own research.
Google’s New iOS Keyboard
What if you were a billion dollar company that owned a mobile operating system that allowed you to track literally every single “keystroke” for data tracking, compiling, and analyzing (to monetize, duh), but only had access to 61% of the mobile market?
How can you track and monetize data entered into the second biggest mobile operating system (iOS, 28% market share) if you don’t own the platform?
Well, Google has answered this question with a new app called the Gboard (get it?), a keyboard for iOS that allows you to search for thing INSIDE THE KEYBOARD without having to leave the texting app to Google something.
Yet another way Google will convince you to hand over your privacy for convenience (for monetizing ,duh).
With Gboard, you can search and send all kinds of things—restaurant info, flight times, news articles—right from your keyboard. Anything you’d search on Google, you can search with Gboard. Results appear as cards with the key information front and center, such as the phone number, ratings and hours. With one tap, you can send it to your friend and you keep the conversation going.
Local SEO Guide took some time to poke around on the Gboard and said:
I noticed the results are heavily biased towards Knowledge Graph cards.
It sounds like they’ve got a bit of work to do before this becomes as useful as it could be…
New Title and Description Lengths
Google has lengthened the meta title and meta description lengths in the search results. Here’s the important info:
The new title length is 70 characters before Google will truncate the title with ellipses (…). This is an increase of 10-15 characters, which is pretty significant. It can go up to at least 71 characters, depending on the letters used, since l and i are small characters.
Descriptions have also increased by about 16-20 characters per line. The new description length per line is 100 characters.
However (important!) Google is still truncated the descriptions for many search results. This means that the overall description is only displaying 150-160 characters total right now, for a usual 2 line snippet. So here is how they currently appear:
Why did they do this?
Not super sure right now; keeping an eye on it. The risk here is that this is just an experiment and as soon as you take time to lengthen all the meta titles/descriptions on your site, they roll back the numbers and you have to go an edit everything again…
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