Google says Assistant now on more than 400 million devices

Google said in a blog post this morning, “The [Google] Assistant is now available on more than 400 million devices.” When Google says “devices” it’s including Android smartphones, tablets, TVs, headphones . . . and Google Home smart speakers.
What we don’t get from the post is how many Google Home, Mini and Max speakers were sold in 2017. Four hundred million is a massive number but it’s going to be mostly Android smartphones. If Google were really psyched about the Home figures it would have called them out specifically.
We can make a crude estimate of how many Google Home devices there are in US households. Based on a review of data from NPR, Strategy Analytics and Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, it appears that Google Home has roughly a 25 percent share of the US smart speaker market. Specifically, Strategy Analytics estimated that Google’s share of Q4 smart speaker sales was 24 percent.
Walker Sands (“Future of Retail 2017“),

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Report: Google exploring sale of Zagat reviews

According to a report appearing in Reuters, Google’s parent Alphabet is considering a sale of reviews publication Zagat. The company was purchased in September, 2011 for a reported $151 million in the wake of a failed deal to acquire Yelp.
At the time Google needed local reviews content to better compete in local search with rivals such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and others. Marissa Mayer was responsible for the acquisition. Less than a year later Mayer became Yahoo’s CEO.
The Reuters report says, “Google has held informal talks in recent months with multiple companies about offloading Zagat . . . Any deal would likely involve the Zagat brand name and website . . .”
Whether the sale will actually happen and any potential purchase price are uncertain. If Zagat did sell it almost certainly would fetch less than what Google paid for it. Its brand has undoubtedly declined in value during the nearly seven years Google has owned and managed it.
Google clearly

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Have a question about Will Ferrell? Google may show you a video response directly from him

Curious if Will Ferrell can actually play the drums? Or if Tracee Ellis Ross can sing? Now, when you ask Google a question about a specific celebrity, you may get a self-recorded video from them answering your question.
“When you search for your favorite personalities, whether they’re rising stars or well-known celebs, their answers will appear in the form of selfie-style videos with a uniquely personal, authentic and delightful touch,” according to Google’s The Keyword blog.
Google has taken the most often asked questions about a select number of celebrities and had the celebrities record their answer so that they can now be served up for mobile searches related to the query.
The new feature is currently only available in the US and only works on mobile. It also applies to a very select list of well-known personalities. Google says it is piloting the feature with self-recorded video answers from the following list of celebrities:

Priyanka Chopra
Will Ferrell
Tracee Ellis Ross
Gina Rodriguez
Kenan

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The lowdown on driving app downloads with Universal App campaigns

Universal App campaigns (UAC) help you find new app users across Google’s largest properties: Google Play, Search, YouTube and Gmail, as well as millions of websites and apps across the Google Display Network. Back in August, Google (my employer) announced that all app install campaigns in AdWords are becoming UACs.
Whether you’re starting UACs for the first time or are looking to get the most out of existing UACs, here are some best practices that I’ve discovered from talking with a bunch of other Googlers.
Getting up and running with UAC
The first key step is defining your goal. You’ll need to set a target based on one of these key performance indicators:

If you care about different metrics in different situations, create separate campaigns for each desired outcome.
From there, you’ll need to set up a few more items:

A daily budget. When you’re driving installs, this should be your target CPI multiplied by the number of daily installs you want (shoot

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Google beefs up mobile shopping results for the holidays, adds more product info & buying guides

Google is beefing up its mobile shopping experience to prepare for the holidays, now showing buying guides for broad categories like “sewing machine” and “coffee grinder” searches and adding more product-related information for specific product searches.
“When you search for a specific product, Google.com now shows you other helpful information, like related items, and allows you to compare reviews, prices and other specs, side by side,” writes Google product management director for Google Shopping, Jennifer Liu on Google’s The Keyword blog.

Google says it has added a “newer model available” label to tech-gadget product listings so searchers know if they’re browsing the most recent version of tech products.
According to the announcement, Google’s recently redesigned mobile shopping experience has helped bring more product information to the forefront with features like a “Quick View” button in Google Shopping ads that lets users preview detailed product information.
Google also noted its recent knowledge panel updates that quickly surface product photos, videos, reviews and

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8 game-changing SEO trends that will dominate 2018

With over 200 factors in Google’s algorithm, SEO is a complex science. But it’s not how much you need to know that makes it really challenging — it’s the ever-changing nature of the rules of the game.
As search engines strive to improve the quality of search results, some ranking factors shift shapes, others fall into oblivion, and completely new ones arise out of nowhere. To help you stay ahead of the game in 2018, here’s a list of the most prominent trends that are gaining momentum, with tips on how you can prepare for each.
1. The rise of SERP features
Are you assuming a #1 organic ranking is the way to get as much traffic as possible? Think again. Increasingly, SERP features (local packs, Knowledge panels, featured snippets and so on) are stealing searchers’ attention and clicks from organic listings.
And it’s only fair if you consider the evolution the Google SERP has been through. It has gone all

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Google searches now correspond to user location instead of domain

Google announced today that it is changing the way it labels country services on the mobile web, Google app for iOS and desktop Search and Maps.
According to Google, one in five searches is now location-related. To make search results more relevant, Google says the country of service will no longer be indicated by the country code top level domain name (ccTLD) such as “google.co.uk” for the UK or “google.com.br” for Brazil, but instead will default to the country where the user is performing the search.
From the Google Search Blog:
So if you live in Australia, you’ll automatically receive the country service for Australia, but when you travel to New Zealand, your results will switch automatically to the country service for New Zealand. Upon return to Australia, you will seamlessly revert back to the Australian country service.

Google says that typing the relevant ccTLD into a browser will no longer return various country services. Instead, users must go into their settings

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Google AdWords to roll out ‘parallel tracking’ to speed up mobile landing page delivery

Google’s been working to speed up mobile web experiences on several fronts, AMP being the most visible of these efforts. On Wednesday, the company announced a change to the way it will handle tracking parameters appended to AdWords landing page URLs.
Processing tracking codes can bog down page load time by “hundreds of milliseconds” and hurt campaign performance, says Google. Instead of processing the tracking with the landing page, Google is introducing “parallel tracking” to process the tracking URL, the AdWords click tracker and possible redirects in the background while the user goes straight to the landing page.
Currently, the tracking URL, AdWords click tracker and any redirects load before the user sees the landing page. Google says it’s seen the change help improve page load times by several seconds for users on slower networks.
Parallel tracking will start rolling out later this year and become the default tracking method in early 2018. It will initially be optional and only

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Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) conquer the competition for shoe retailer

In the highly competitive footwear vertical, no season matters more than late summer, when shoppers spend $27 billion on supplies and clothing for the coming school year.
According to the Deloitte back-to-school survey for 2017, some 55 percent of that spend, about $15 billion, is devoted to clothing and accessories. Late summer may be only the second-biggest shopping season of the year in the United States, but for verticals like footwear, it’s number one.
A top shoe retailer came to Brandify (disclosure: my employer) for a solution to boost local store visibility online. To achieve the retailer’s goal, we worked in collaboration with SEO consultant Steve Wiideman to implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for the retailer’s nearly 500 US stores.
The open-source AMP Project, led and heavily promoted by Google in collaboration with Twitter, WordPress, Pinterest and LinkedIn, defines a lightweight standard for publishing web pages that makes them load very quickly on mobile devices. The standard includes special implementations

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Google’s ‘Manhattan project’: Home device with a screen to compete with Echo Show

Google generally doesn’t do as well when it builds “follower” products — think Google Plus or Allo. But there are other examples where Google has excelled with later entries (e.g., AdWords, Maps). Right now, Google Home is a follower product seeking to break out of Amazon Echo’s shadow.
On paper, Google should win in this market. It has a larger developer ecosystem. And it has a better assistant. But Amazon is being very aggressive by innovating quickly and offering a dizzying array of devices at different price points. Amazon also has a more powerful sales channel. Overall, Amazon is out-innovating the rest of the “smart speaker” market at the moment.
Amazon now has two devices with screens: Echo Show and the new Echo Spot. According to TechCrunch, Google is also working on a Home device with a touchscreen:
Two sources confirm to TechCrunch that the Google device has been internally codenamed “Manhattan” and will have a similar screen size to

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