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Grab a hot cup of joe, we’ve got your monthly round-up of some of March’s happenings in the digital marketing world. You’re welcome!

Forget Penguin, there’s a new kid in town, and he goes by the name of Fred

Just when we’d started to forget about Penguin like it was some ex-boyfriend turned stalker that just wouldn’t leave us alone, Google dials up its ‘Fred’ rank algorithm and we’ve got his undivided attention.

Of course, Google has yet to fully confirm or deny Fred’s existence. Nonetheless, most chatter across the SEO-sphere suggests the update has affected low-value content sites which don’t focus on a specific area or industry. Rather, they seem to be riddled with too much ad content to generate revenue over user intent. It’s been reported that sites such as these have seen a drop in organic search traffic of up to 90%.

When asked what we should refer to this update as, Gary Illyes decided that all updates going forward will be known as ‘Fred’ – ‘nuff said!

RIP DMOZ

Yes, this month we saw the end of the iconic directory DMOZ. The former Open Directory Project (ODP) is a testament to ‘the good old SEO days’ and can now be found archived alongside Yahoo’s Directory in the ‘hall of fame’.

In the days of BG (Before Google / before search engines existed) DMOZ was born. Maintained by a community of volunteers, it was a way for people to find new websites. Yet fast-forward AG (After Google) and its uses were misunderstood by SEO-ers who wanted to gain more links in a quick and easy way; therefore, they created more ‘directories’ in a bid to do so.

However, as the times have changed and as Google has evolved with algorithm updates such as Penguin, SEO-ers can no longer practice link building with dodgy tactics, and it seems DMOZ has naturally run its course. So thanks, DMOZ – it’s been special, but we’re moving on to bigger and better things.

Google shortcuts its SERPs for mobile users

Sticking with its ‘mobile first’ approach, Google has recently announced its new shortcut features to both its mobile app and .com mobile site. This will appear at the top of the Google app or, for its mobile site, just below the search box. Keeping its users ‘in the know’, the global giant is making fresh strides to enable people to access information with just one press of their fingertips.

And it’s not just delivering answers to questions in a faster fashion, as we know text-based and voice activated search queries are to serve a query, typically. Google also wants to generate more of a ‘hub’ user experience where it’s literally a one-stop-shop for people to satisfy all their online needs.

These shortcuts have been created to keep you abreast of a series of interesting topics including sports, food and entertainment. Looking for the latest sports fixture results? Google’s got it. Want to know what the weather’s like before leaving the house? Yep, Google’s got you covered there, too.

While it’s currently only the US that can benefit from these shortcuts we’re sure it won’t be long until it’s rolled out to other countries, including the UK.

PPC-ers, watch out for close variants in exchange for ‘exact match’ keywords

We may as well start calling these roundups an homage to Google News, but we’ll press on. Yep, it seems as though the Fred and new mobile shortcuts updates weren’t keeping the chaps at Google HQ busy enough as they’ve released a blog about some pretty big changes to its ‘exact match’ keywords.

With the new rollout, we will see close match variants include an expanded list of possibilities with the introduction of rewording and ignoring function words as well as keywords with the same meaning, just in a different order. From its initial tests, Google has claimed “… advertisers may see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable clickthrough and conversion rates.”

In our opinion, advertisers could be taking more of a step back over their accounts with Google urging users to trust its machine learning capabilities. This is because it says this update will reduce the reliance on AdWords users having to build exhaustive lists of keywords by introducing close variants. Here at IT Works Media, we think that now is the time to take control of your AdWords accounts and really understand at a granular level how your keywords are performing. As true geeks at heart, we will always want to keep a handle on this rather than relying on automated services.

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So, there we have it – another busy month of plenty of updates to keep us digital marketeers on our toes!

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