February 25

The Weekly Briefing: Will 2016 Be the Year Virtual Reality Gets Real?

SEO Content Specialist Hannah Scherrer talked about an unprecedented announcement made at the Mobile World Congress …
Samsung solidified the future of virtual reality with a single promotion: pre-order the new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge in the United States, and get a free Gear VR (retail: $100). 2016 will be remembered as a turning point for virtual reality. Both Samsung and HTC have started to push their VR headsets. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg spoke at Samsung’s announcement and acknowledged the that Gear VR is “paving a path for VR to become the next major computing platform.” In addition, Samsung and LG launched 360-degree cameras, so anyone can make content for these platforms. If VR momentum picks up, a new generation of content will rise with it.


Account Manager Michelle Conway announced Google’s newest SERP change …
On February 19, 2015, Google confirmed that it was no longer show text ads in the right rail of desktop search engine result pages, and will instead display four top ads instead of three. Why? Well, according to a January 2016 study recently published by WordStream, only 14.6% of SERP ad clicks on Google came from right rail ads – and this trend is probably not unique to just last month. Knowledge Panels and featured snippets, however, will keep their positions on the right rail. While a potential rise in CPCs is an overarching concern with the removal of right rail ads, the primary concern should be how the fourth paid search result has bumped the number one organic result below the fold, as seen below. This presents a new challenge to SEOs, but by no means eliminates the importance of search engine optimization. After all, digital marketing success depends on a multi-pronged, strategic approach.

Original Dimensions: 1886 x 952
New Layout Stonewalls Organic Search Results (Screen Dimensions: 1886 x 952)


Senior SEO Specialist Josh Volk shared a (less anticipated?) change on Google’s SERPs …
Just one day before Google’s previously mentioned announcement about SERP changes, many digital marketers noticed a startling absence of review snippets and precious star-ratings. And while there is no confirmed correlation between the review snippets disappearance and the absence of third rail ads, it did result in some shockingly barren results pages. The MozCast Feature Graph revealed a 14.5% drop in reviews snippets’ presence on search results pages.

missing review ratings in SERP

A day later, MozCast shared that review snippet results had dropped another 12%. As of today, the reviews snippets seem to be recovering to their standard appearances in search results, but questions around the event haven’t subsided. According to Search Engine Land’s News Editor Barry Schwartz, Google’s response to the slip was, “we’re looking into it and will let you know when we have more details.” For now, the SEM world is left to speculate if this event was the result of a glitch or an intentional adjustment.