First Thing Monday 19 Jan 15

This week: Google asks webmasters what they want; Twitter adds in-stream ads, auto-play video; LinkedIn offers workgroup services; Google launches Domains…

  1. Google to Webmasters: Give us your wish-lists
  2. Twitter looks for profitability with in-stream ads, auto-play video 
  3. LinkedIn to add intra-company collaboration services 
  4. Google Domains opens in the U.S.

The latest news about web marketing, SEO, PPC Advertising & Web Analytics. But only the stuff that matters from a New Zealand perspective. Less noise, more signal!

1. Google to Webmasters: Give us your wish-lists

If you didn’t get everything you wanted last Christmas, here’s your chance – Google has asked for ideas on how to make Google Web Search and Webmaster Tools better.

A Google+ post from the Google Webmaster team asks: What would you like to see from Google Websearch & Webmaster Tools in 2015?

Dated January 15, at this writing the post has attracted over 240 suggestions with over 4,000 votes. Most suggestions concern improvements to Google Webmaster Tools rather than Google search.

Ideas are submitted and voted on via a Google Moderator page. Popular suggestions include extending historical data beyond the current three-month limit, improving the Webmaster Tools API, enhancing backlinks data, and providing more insight into the impact of algorithmic updates. Not surprisingly, the few search-related suggestions all concern the necessity for improvements to local results in Google search.

Why should you care?

Why wouldn’t you? This is a golden opportunity.

If your suggestion is already in the mix, add your vote.

If you’ve something new to contribute, grab this rare opportunity to be heard.

2.Twitter looks for profitability with in-stream ads, auto-play video

At this month’s Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Twitter announced plans to sell ads that will appear in tweet streams published on third-party apps and websites. Advertising revenue will be shared with publishers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In a blog post covering a CES briefing Twitter held for media buyers, the Journal’s Mike Shields also reported further details on native video coming shortly to the social media platform.

First announced at Twitter’s inaugural Analyst Day in November, Twitter users, advertisers and media companies will soon be able to upload videos directly to Twitter. Like Facebook videos, these videos will be on auto-play for the first six seconds, and will play in full when clicked on. And, like YouTube videos, viewers will be presented with related videos they may also like to watch.

Why should you care?

It hasn’t escaped Twitter’s attention that the combination of a worldwide increase in mobile device usage, an auto-play feature that makes videos hard to ignore, and social sharing have helped Facebook’s surging growth as a video platform.

Facebook has 1.3 billion monthly active users, and now hosts over a billion video views every single day (where a video view is when a video is watched for three seconds or more).

Twitter has just 284 million users, but has declared ambitions “to build the largest daily audience in the world”. It may yet do so: the addition of in-stream ads is likely to appeal to publishers; the option to post and watch video will help increase active users; while pay per click video ads in users’ feeds should attract marketers.

3.LinkedIn to add intra-company collaboration services

Not content with a spruced up homepage, improved search and better analytics, LinkedIn is reportedly preparing additional functionality for intra-office workers.

A LinkedIn employee is reported by Re/code as saying that workers within the same company will be able to share content and contact each other using LinkedIn’s InMail (whether or not they are already connected). Employees will be prompted to join relevant groups within their company. In this way, for instance, sales collateral might be shared amongst a company’s sales reps or new product information with developers and marketers.

Why should you care?

LinkedIn is keen to become more than a resume database that, recruiters apart, only gets attention from regular users when they are in the market for a new job or need a new hire. These changes are designed to increase usage, and will most appeal to large companies and virtual workforces. An added benefit will be in improving ad targeting of large companies for B2B advertisers.

While not groundbreaking news, the timing of this information appears to be no accident, coinciding as it did with Facebook’s announcement it is now testing Facebook at Work (which we first reported last month).

At this point, Facebook at Work is only available as an iOS and Android smartphone app to the few companies involved in the pilot. However, while providing newsfeeds and allowing employees to share documents and files, Facebook at Work also offers chat (functionality that is absent from LinkedIn’s proposed services).



4. Google Domains opens in the US

Google Domains, Google’s domain registration service, is now open to all US users, and will eventually be offered in other countries. As is often the case with Google’s new products, the “open beta” service was previously available only to invited users.

In the US, domain registration starts at $12 a year, offering standard services such as new domain registration, domain name transfer, and email and website/URL forwarding. Google Domains is also integrated with various website builder services, including Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly and Wix, with users able to compare pricing and choose templates from these services.

In opening up the service, Google is providing new features implemented after feedback from early beta testers. These include the addition of over 60 new domain endings, among them .company, .florist, .photography and .training. The service includes Blogger integration and support for Dynamic DNS which allows users to setup their domain and keep it pointing to the same computer even when the IP address changes.

Why should you care?

If you run a domain registration business, this news will likely be cause for concern. Most of us don’t however.

For small businesses, Google’s entry into the domain registration business should help simplify website setup and management. It is also likely to help reduce prices. However, don’t expect to see your Google-registered website to start punching above its weight in search rankings. Google will have more ready access to website ownership details, but will no doubt be at pains to ensure Domains customers receive no undue preference.


OK, that’s what we think. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on any of the above – please comment below. 

Click here to read previous editions of “First Thing Monday” web marketing news.

Want this delivered to your inbox each Monday?


If you found this useful, please tell your friends.

About the Author Jeremy Templer & Mark Sceats

Jeremy and Mark are two of the partners behind SureFire Search. Despite their deceptively youthful appearances, both have worked in search marketing for many years. To put that in context, Google didn't even exist when Jeremy started.