I’d like to share with you some of the most interesting changes/updates in search engines in the last week:

Zero Result Searches

Last week, Google launched an experiment on “Zero Result” search by removing a small set of searches with definitive answers down to one. For example, if you had searched for “What is the time in Seattle?” you would have received only the time, and nothing else.

Google’s public search liaison wrote on Twitter:

The SERPs just displayed a knowledge card with the result and an optional “Show all results” button.

For normal companies, this won’t have an impact for a while. Brands and local businesses can prepare themselves by creating high-quality content to hopefully answer questions like this in the future. Eventually, Google will be able to give you one result for “what is the best way to set up a page for SEO,” because a brand has given the perfect answer to it.

Updated Heatmap Results for Google My Business

Google My Business (formerly Google Places, the directory style listing for your business) has updated the Insights analytics tool within Google My Business to let business owners & marketers see a heat map of locations from which searchers requested directions to their business. More information is available on the Google direction page. This is an important idea for brands to find out where consumers are traveling from and helping to ensure that their other marketing efforts are related to that. If your business only sees results from specific areas and zip codes, you can save advertising money by cutting down on those zip codes. For businesses that travel to their customers, this likely won’t be as beneficial as businesses that rely on consumers to come to them.

Google removed more than 3.2 billion “bad ads” in 2017

According to the Google blog, they removed more than 3.2 Billion “bad ads” in 2017.

While search engines and social media recoil from the recent public outcry to fake news, extremist content, and brand violations, Google advised that in 2017 it took down:

  • 79 million ads for sending users to malware-laden sites
  • 400,000 malware sites
  • 66 million “trick-to-click” ads
  • 48 million ads that prompted unwanted software installation

Brands can expect competitors and other annoying violations that Google used to allow to start to disappear, and we can all take a breath that something is being done to better the content seen on these platforms.