Search in Pics: Google’s Velociraptor, playroom & frosty lawn

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more.

Did you know Google has a child-like playroom?:


Source: Twitter

Google also has a Velociraptor:


Source: Instagram

Frosty Google grass:


Source: Instagram

Google gantt chart:


Source: Instagram

Google, I dream of a world where…


Source: Instagram


The Google Assistant SDK adds support for additional languages & more

Voice, mobile & apps – get the latest on Google’s search developments at SMX

Google announced it has expanded the Google Assistant software development kit to support additional languages. That means developers can now bring Google Assistant applications to more people. Google Assistant now supports these additional languages and regions English Australia, English Canada, English UK, English US, French Canadian, French France, German and Japanese.

Lack of support for languages can impede development on the platform. For example, my company has been trying to find ways around language barriers to build Jewish apps, but Hebrew is not yet supported. The difficulty is having the Google Assistant APIs understand the language or regional language dialects and respond with a proper answer. So in this example, if someone asks what time is mincha, which is afternoon services in the Jewish world, Google cannot understand the word “mincha” because it is a Hebrew word. Bringing more support for additional languages and regions helps Google expand the ecosystem of the Google Assistant platform.

Other improvements to the Google Assistant SDK include more customized settings, including changing the device’s language, location and nickname and enabling personalized results. The API now also supports text-based queries and responses. Developers can also utilize the new Device Action functionality to build Actions directly into your Assistant-enabled SDK devices. Also, new APIs allow developers to register, unregister and see all devices that you have registered for better device management support.


Google launches new Rich Results testing tool with some rebranding

Google has announced it has launched a new version of a structured data testing tool for rich results at https://search.google.com/test/rich-results.

The company also said it will be calling rich snippets, rich cards or enriched results “Rich results” from now on and group them all together.

Google said the new testing tool “focuses on the structured data types that are eligible to be shown as rich results.” This new version enables you to test all data sources on your pages, including the recommended JSON-LD, Microdata or RDFa. Google said this new version is a “more accurate reflection of the page’s appearance on Search and includes improved handling for Structured Data found on dynamically loaded content.”

The tool currently only supports tests for Recipes, Jobs, Movies and Courses. Google said it will be adding support for other rich results over time.

Here is a screen shot of the tool. Note it works on desktop or mobile:

You can check out the new rich results testing tool over here.


December global festivities Google doodle kicks off series of holiday doodles

Today’s Google doodle kicks off a series of holiday doodles leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The doodle, which leads to a search for “December global festivities,” includes three animated images that you can swipe or scroll through using the arrows within the artwork.

“The festive season is here and this pair of slippery-footed siblings are excited to spend time with their warm-weather relatives!” writes the Google Doodle team on the Google Doodle blog, “Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks to see what kind of fun this feathery family has in store.”

Here are the three images that make up day one of Google’s holiday doodle:

The doodle is being displayed on Google’s home page in most countries around the world.


[UPDATED] Google Ad Grants policy changes include 5% CTR minimum

This article has been updated with additional information and clarifications.

Google is making changes to Ad Grants, the AdWords program that provides search advertising grants of up to $10,000 per month to non-profits.

As reported by Robert Brady on the Clix Marketing blog, advertisers and agencies began receiving email notification this week extolling the fact that more than 35,000 non-profits participate in the Google Grants program and news that it is lifting the $2 bid cap when campaigns use Maximize Conversions bid strategy.

That news was then followed by a set of links to updated policy pages. On those pages are several other significant changes.

The biggest update is a new requirement for accounts to maintain a minimum 5 percent click-through rate (CTR). That’s an increase from a 1 percent CTR minimum (Update: The 1 percent CTR minimum was only for Grantspro accounts). Accounts that miss that threshold for two consecutive months will be suspended. Accounts in jeopardy of being canceled will be “alerted through in-product notifications if your account is at risk of falling below 5 percent CTR with educational resources offered to improve.”

Update: Google says 5 percent CTR is lower than the current program average and that new updates, such as the requirements outlined below to prune low quality keywords and not target competitor keywords will help most accounts easily maintain a 5 percent average CTR. For one frame of reference, Community Boost, a digital agency specializing in non-profits says, “most Ad Grant accounts we look at typically have a 1.5% to 4% click-thru rate”.

Other policy updates include:

  • Non-profits cannot buy branded keywords they don’t own.
  • Keywords must have quality scores of 2 or higher.
  • Campaigns must have at least two ad groups with at least two ads running in each.
  • Accounts also must have at least two sitelink extensions active.
  • Accounts must have geo-targeting.
  • Most single-word keywords are prohibited, the idea being non-profits should choose well-targeted keywords.

The new policies go into effect on January 1, 2018 — just weeks away. Of the short timeline, Brady writes, “…  asking nonprofits to make such significant changes on such short notice (only 17 days from email send before these go into effect) is just bad customer service. And if they try to say that one email and a few notifications in the interface are enough, then they don’t understand how busy nonprofits are.” Update: Google says it will start sending non-compliance notices on January 1, and accounts will be given some time to make adjustments. Deactivated accounts can still call Google support for reinstatement after making changes.

It would seem from reading the Ads Grant support pages that Google is pushing non-nonprofits to use AdWords Express. However, I’m told this continues to be meant only as an option for nonprofits that don’t have the ability to manage their accounts and prune low CTR keywords monthly.

Last year, Google wound down the Grantspro program, which was the premium Google Grants offering for non-profits spending between $10,000 and $40,000 per month.