Within the past few days, both Google and Twitter have announced changes to their services. These changes (some already implemented, others only announced) are fairly significant. Here’s a summary of those we think you’ll find most important:
With Twitter losing some momentum in the past couple of years, the thought that they may remove the 140 character limitation on tweets in order to gain market share has certainly drawn attention. Yet Twitter’s identity is closely tied to 140-character messages.
Their recently announced changes allow them to stay true to their 140-character identity by creatively freeing up room on individual tweets. Here are several of the changes coming to Twitter over the next few months:
- @usernames in replies (up to 50 @usernames) will no longer be included in the character count. (This relates to replies only, not “new” tweets.)
- Linked twitter polls and media attachments (photos, GIFs and videos) will not be considered in the character count.
- It will be possible to retweet and quote tweet yourself. Twitter explains that this will help “when you want to share a new reflection”, (i.e. Throwback Thursday), “or feel like a really good (tweet) has gone unnoticed.”
- No more .@. Until now, tweets that began with an @username were seen only in the referenced username’s twitter feed, forcing the addition of a leading “.” in order to broadcast the message to all followers.
While this will free up one character, it remains to be seen whether users will be provided with an alternate way to reach out to a non-follower without the message appearing in their followers’ twitter feeds.
Earlier this week, Google announced several changes to Adwords, their bidding platform. Here are highlights of the key changes that will be introduced in the coming months:
- More characters and lines. This will include a move from a single 25-character headline to two 30-character headlines, as well as additional room in the description section of the ad.
- Maps integration. New “promoted pins”, with ads appearing on Google Maps as users navigate near your business location. We see big benefits here for retail – especially restaurants:
For example, let’s say our co-worker Tim Noland is driving cross-country. There’s a Cracker Barrel ahead, just off the interstate, but somehow he’s missed seeing the many related billboards. If Tim is using his phone’s navigation features, he’ll see a Cracker Barrel promoted pin. If you know Tim, you know he’ll be eating at the Cracker Barrel shortly.
- Separate desktop and mobile bids. In the past, you bid on mobile at either the same rates or an adjusted rate based on your desktop bid. Now, you can bid separately for the two types of devices, allowing bids that target only mobile, and don’t rely on modifications to a desktop bidding strategy.
Google Search Results Pages
Introduced a short time ago, these changes expand the space available on the search engine results page (SERP) for your organic message.
- Longer titles. Title length has grown approximately 25% to 70 characters before being cut off by ellipsis (…). The actual number may vary based on widths of the individual characters in the title. Some unofficial reports indicate mobile title tag lengths may now grow to as many as 78 characters.
- Longer descriptions. Descriptions that used to be in the 160-165 range are now up to 200 (two 100-character lines).
Descriptions that are only one line long will mean your listing will get a smaller footprint and earns less real estate on the search results page. Something to consider.
Given these changes, you may want to conduct an SEO review on your site to ensure that it is optimized for Google search.
These high-profile changes from high-profile websites are part of the near-constant stream of changes that can have an impact on your marketing. It’s beneficial to pay attention so you are in a position to act (when appropriate) before your competition.