Links from the show:
- Less than 10% of Google accounts use two-factor authentication
- The new Google Search Console is rolling out to everyone
- You don’t need to submit URLs to Google monthly
- Google lets users mute repetitive remarketing ads
- How Google treats subdomains vs subfolders
- Google launches “Bulletin” for hyperlocal news
- Google launches audiobooks on Google Play
- You took 30 million selfies with the Google Arts & Culture app
- Live videos generate 600% more Facebook interactions
- Some interesting stats from DeviceAtlas
Imagine that you sit down to catch up on your Gmail and you can’t log in. Your password no longer works and the password reset options don’t work either. You quickly realize that you’ve been hacked and someone has control of your account. This includes bank account information in your email, all of your Google photos, your calendar, and much more. This happens pretty often, but thankfully it’s free and quite easy to protect yourself.
Before we get into that though, I’m Mickey Mellen and this is A Brighter Web Episode number 36, brought to you by all of us at GreenMellen. Our goal of this podcast is to give you quick weekly insights and tips to help you get more done and free up your time to do great things. We also want to thank our sponsor, gowp.com. GoWP provides white-label WordPress support for agencies and web professionals. Use code ABW for a 15% discount on any monthly plan.
Today we’ll talk more about two-factor authentication, the new Google Search Console, remarketing ads, sub-domains versus sub-folders, Google’s new Bulletin, Google Play audiobooks, Facebook Live videos and much more, so let’s dig in.
According to Google, less than 10% of Google accounts using two-factor authentication. Most services support it, and you should be using it whenever you can. By two factor, they mean that you need two things to be able to log in. Your password is one and we all use those. But then you usually need proof that you’re holding your phone, typically via a text message. You put in your password. Then it would text you a code and you put that in, and you’re into your account. It’s pretty easy to set up and makes your account way more secure. Again, Google says only 10% of users use it, and I strongly recommend you give it a try. It makes it a little more time-consuming to log in, but you don’t need to log in that often, and again, but to make your account way safer, it’s worth doing. Details and tips are in the show notes, so you can get started on that.
The new Google Search Console is rolling out to everyone. We’ve told you recently that Google’s slowly rolling out the new version of Search Console and now it seems they’re rolling it out for everyone. If you already use Google Search Console, check your messages to see if you have any access to it. Lots of new features in there that we won’t get into today. We’ve talked about some before. We’ll actually be digging into them in our Meetup on February 15th, so if you’re in the Atlanta area, come join us for that one, and if not, we’ll post slides and probably the video of it sometime after the event. You can find it over at abrighterweb.com.
You don’t need to submit URLs to Google every month. This was kind of a weird story, because it’s not something we’ve heard in decades, but Google made it clear again that you do not need to submit your URLs to Google each month. In the words of Google’s John Mueller, “if Google forgets about them in a month, you have bigger problems than SEO”. Really, you don’t even need to submit your URLs to Google at all. They should find them anyhow and get you going, but certainly if you hear advice that you need to submit them repeatedly, that’s just not good advice.
In a move that marketers will hate, but users will love, you can now mute annoying ads that keep following you around. These are the remarketing ads. When you go to look for a kayak on Amazon, and suddenly you see kayak ads everyone on the internet. There’s now a way to block that. You will be able to mute the ads, but technically you won’t be muting the ad, you’ll be muting the advertiser for a period of 90 days. Pretty cool way to get the ads cleaned up a little bit, and really it’s not a bad thing for the advertisers either. If you’re sick of seeing the ad, you’re probably not going to click on it, so they can free up that ad space for something else. This is active now in apps and on the web, and it’s coming later to YouTube, Search, and Gmail.
There’s long been a debate about whether it’s better to use sub-domains or sub-directories for parts of your site. For example, if you add a blog, should it be located at website.com/blog or at blog.website.com? Google has said both options are treated the same, but SEO experts aren’t so sure. Rand Fishkin who runs the excellent SEO company, Moz, thinks Google isn’t answering correctly. He says, “This is disappointing. The answer should be sub-folders are always better for rankings, but the video just talks about how Google knows how to crawl both fine. You should do what’s right for users and for your longterm plans.”
I tend to agree. Google certainly will crawl and index them the same, whether it’s a sub-folder or sub-domain, but they often seem to treat sub-domains as separate sites, so you’re typically better off using sub-folders. It’s a pretty complex conversation. We have a link in our show notes where you can see the full discussion between all these folks and come to your own conclusions.
Google’s launched Bulletin for hyper local news. Google’s testing a new local service called Bulletin which they say is, “A lightweight app for telling a story by capturing photos, video clips, and texts right from your phone published straight to the web.” It’s unclear if Bulletin will become a destination, kind of like NextDoor, or just another tool to help generate local content for Google to share in other ways. You can head out to the link in our show notes and sign up to be a beta tester if you want to try it out.
Google’s launched audiobooks on Google Play. This has been expected for quite a while, but they finally released them. You can buy books without a subscription. You can share them through your family library. It seems to be around $10 a book to do that. What’s neat is it integrates well with the Google Assistant, meaning different devices can pick up where the last one left off. For example, I can start with Google Home in my living room reading a book, hop in my car and have Android Auto continue reading the book where I was, and then pop on my headphones and listen from my phone after that, and kind of keep track through all your different devices, and it’s potentially a good way to listen to books. You can check that out if you’re a Google Play user.
A few weeks ago, Google added a selfie feature to their arts and cultures app on Android and iOS. It lets you take a selfie and then match it up to a similar art museum portrait. Google says that we took around 30 million selfies and used them in the app to see what we look like. It’s kind of amazing that Google saw 30 million selfies that quickly, which ultimately points back to how much Google is developing their machine learning, even for quirky uses like this. They’re doing some powerful things with search by using it in some neat ways like this, and it’ll be interesting to see where else it surfaces in the coming months.
Facebook Live videos generate 600% more interactions on Facebook than normal videos. A few weeks ago, Facebook made some announcements about their News Feed algorithm. We’ve discussed some of those in past episodes, but the interesting one is that live videos generate six times more interactions than regular ones. As you know, interactions are a huge factor on Facebook to determine how content will rank and how many people see it. Live videos get more engagement, so therefore they rank better for more users and you’ll be seen even more often.
We streamed our Meetup last week through Facebook Live, talking about the WordPress Gutenberg Editor, and it was pretty neat. You can find that full replay of that video over at abrighterweb.com if you want to see that, and it was cool for people that couldn’t make the Meetup to be able to watch live, so we may do that more often. The full article linked in our show notes has some details and tips about using Facebook Live.
And lastly, some interesting stats came out from DeviceAtlas. Near the end of 2017, DeviceAtlas released a report of “18 mobile market statistics you should know in 2018”. I’m not going to read all of them, but a few stood out to me. One was that Android surpassed Windows for the leading operating system worldwide, with a global share of about 38%. If you want to talk just about mobile phones, Android is roughly ahead of Apple there 85 to 15%.
Another one was that mobile page speed is not increasing, and in fact, the average mobile page speed is getting slower. Pay attention to your sites. Try to keep them running as fast as you can, and look at tools like AMP to help keep things loading fast.
Another one is they said bounce rates go up 50% if your page takes longer than two seconds to load. This is a big one. We’ve always said page speed’s important, and Google does factor it into the rankings, but having your bounce rate go up 50% just by taking longer than two seconds is pretty rough, so make sure you’re on a solid host. Using caching. Do what you can to help your site load quickly and you should see your bounce rates be a whole lot better than if you’d loaded slowly.
Related to that, actual conversions fall by about 12% for every second that it takes your page to load. If your page takes four or five seconds to load, you’re going to lose a ton of possible conversions, whether that was sales or email list signups, whatever it may be. Speed is very, very important.
The last one I want to mention, too, is they said desktops still have a higher conversion rate than mobile devices. If people come to your site on a desktop, they’re going to convert more often than on mobile. It’s interesting, though. Desktop’s a little bit ahead of mobile and mobile is way ahead of tablets. Tablet conversion rates are much, much less. Learn more in the full report I’ve linked in our show notes.
But another thing from DeviceAtlas that’s not on that report is that tablet sales have dropped for the 12th consecutive quarter. So about three years straight now, every quarter, tablets are selling less and less. Larger phone screens and two-in-one laptops seem to be the primary killers, and that’s certainly true at our house. All four of us have various large phones and we all have convertible Chromebooks that work as a tablet, including any Android apps. Really none of us have touched a true tablet in a while and that seems to be the ongoing trend. That may change a bit as Apple’s going to be doing more things with the iPad with some of the facial recognition things, but I’m not sure it’s going to swing it enough. But we’ll see what happens.
For our tip of the week, spend some time to learn everything your smart speaker can do. I mentioned in a past episode how I found that my Google Home could start my car, and it’s something it’d been able to do for a while and I just didn’t realize it. Once I finally took the time to research it, it was kind of cool. Another thing I was looking at is I’m often saying to my Google to, hey, turn this up. Turn it up again. Turn it up again. And you’re kind of stepping it up to be louder or quieter. You can just set the volume level, and say hey, set the volume level at six or whatever. It’s a scale of one to 10, or you can say set the volume level to 60%. You can do anywhere from zero to 100%. So you can have it jump way high or way low in one shot.
Google Home and Alexa do things differently, so whichever one you have, I encourage you to dig in. Just learn some of the other commands it can do to really make it do a lot more for you.
And that’s all we have for this week. You can find me on Twitter at Mickmel, M-I-C-K-M-E-L, or learn lots more at greenmellenmedia.com. You can find out more about the podcast, including show notes and links, as well as video tutorials and many other resources over at abrighterweb.com. Thanks for listening.