April 8

The Weekly Briefing: The Existential Crisis of the Search Engine

Senior SEO Specialist Josh Volk dropped some shocking news from the EU…
After two years of intense negotiations and legislative processes, the European Union has decided it will not recognize Google (or Bing, or Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo) as a search engine. Yes, according to the “Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and the Council concerning measures to ensure a high common level of network and information security across the Union,” an online search engine is defined as:

A digital service that allows users to perform searches of in principle all websites or websites in a particular language on the basis of a query on any subject in the form of a keyword, phrase or other input; and returns links in which information related to the requested content can be found.

To the untrained eye, this sounds like a pretty legitimate description of the generally accepted definition of a search engine. HOWEVER, the context of “searches of in principle all websites,” means that every website from every corner of the Internet’s indexes will be searched, including – but certainly not limited to – the dark web, NSFW websites, and webpages that were previously guarded by a site’s robots.txt file. This decision comes from the same politico-economic union that championed the “Right to be Forgotten” movement. As luck (?) would have it, adhering to the policy would result in a search engine not being a search engine. So it goes.


Social Media Manager Kaitlin Schlick talked about Facebook’s new accessibility tool…
For many, Facebook’s news feed is a visual explosion of cats, selfies, funny videos, presidential candidates, or funny film stills of presidential candidates taking selfies with cats. However, the experience was nowhere near as exciting for the blind and visually impaired – until now. This week Facebook launched their new Automatic Alternative Text tool, which helps blind and visually impaired Facebook users to “see” images. Before AAT, accessibility for images began and ended with the verbal description, “Bob McBoberson’s photo.” Now, the same image is verbally described by assigned alt text as, “This image may contain: cats, people, smiling.” While it seems the tool will learn and pick up on some grouping like food including hamburgers, spaghetti, or tofu, it will also be important to start utilizing the alt tag metadata for pictures on the Internet.


SEM/PPC Specialist Justin Dietzler highlighted some trends we should be watching for in the search marketing world…
Search engine marketers are slowly recovering from the aftermath of the disappearance of right rail ads, but it’s not the only change they’ll see over the next few months. Search Engine Land columnist Mona Elesseily mentioned a few predictions she has for the future of paid search (primarily for Google, but other “search engines” can benefit, too) including more “shopping” ad units, utilization of voice search and natural language text, and an expansion of app advertising. One thing’s for certain – buying something will take less clicks, and that may be a real game-changer.