This week: Google is changing how it looks at robots.txt, Facebook adds back reach estimates for custom audiences, and wait until you hear what consumers rate as their top conversion factor.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Facebook Reinstates Reach Estimates for Custom Audiences
A while back, Facebook eliminated reach estimates for custom audiences. That was because a group of researchers discovered a vulnerability in the tool.
Now, the company is bringing back reach estimates. Without the vulnerability.
“People’s privacy is incredibly important to Facebook and we take any potential abuse of our service very seriously,” said Mary Ku, Facebook Director of Product Management. “Last year, when researchers found this issue, we suspended it and after working with those researchers to address the issue, we are now reinstating it.”
Now you can once again gauge potential reach with your custom audience campaigns.
Instagram Will Start Running Ads in Explore Tab
Instagram found a new source of revenue: the Explore tab.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Explore tab, it’s the part of the app where users can discover new accounts based on their interests.
Soon, users will also discover ads in that tab.
Instagram says it will roll out the ads “slowly and thoughtfully” over the next few months.
The company will initially use the ad space to promote Instagram TV (IGTV). Then, it will open the space up to a “handful of brands.”
Consumers Say Experience Rather Than Price Is the Top Conversion Factor
If you’d like to know what makes consumers convert, maybe you should ask some consumers.
Marketing agency Merkle did exactly that and discovered that 66% of them say that experience is more important than price when it comes to making a purchase decision.
More than half of those surveyed (52%) said they left a website because of a poor experience.
“Now more than ever, consumers expect brands to offer personalized and seamless experiences,” said Merkle’s Rives Martin. “Marketers must focus on developing experiences that place customers squarely at the center.”
Report: Clients Who Pay More for SEO Say They’re More Satisfied
You get what you pay for. That seems to be the sentiment of business owners who pay top dollar for SEO services.
According to a new study by Backlinko, clients who spend above-average amounts for SEO report higher satisfaction rates than clients who spend below-average amounts.
What’s the average? About $500 per month, according to the research.
Those that spend more than $500 per month are 53% more likely to be “extremely satisfied” compared to people who spend less than that amount.
However, only 30% of those surveyed said that they’d recommend their current service provider to somebody else. Apparently, a lot of SEO agencies aren’t meeting the needs of their clients.
Also, the study shows that people who work with agencies are more satisfied than people who work with freelancers.
Study: Instagram Engagement Has Been in Decline for a Couple of Months
According to a new study by Trust Insights, engagement on the Instagram app has been on a downward trend since May.
The research evaluated more than 1.4 million Instagram posts from the beginning of the year through June. It found that average engagement peaked at 1.54% in mid-April.
As of now, it’s around 0.9%.
The study also says that the number of interactions is down 18% from the beginning of the year.
Trust Insights claims that both brands and influencers are suffering as a result of the decrease in engagements.
The study doesn’t offer any reasons for the decline in engagements, though.
Google: You Can’t Improve a Page’s Rank by Updating the Publish Date
If you thought that you could push one of your web pages up a little higher in the search results by just updating the publish date, think again.
According to John Mueller, updating the publish date won’t have any impact on rankings.
“You can use [the last updated date], I don’t think you would see much of a change with regards to search – like crawling, indexing, or ranking-wise – if you changed the date or the timestamp on a page on a regular basis,” Mueller said in a Webmaster Central hangout this past week.
“For example, weather report pages are probably updated every couple of minutes, or every hour at least, but that doesn’t mean that these pages suddenly rank a lot better if they have the date stamp that matches the last change that they made on the page.”
Report: Paid Search Ad Spend in Retail Will Grow 22% This Year
According to a new report by eMarketer, paid search spend will increase by 22.5% in the retail sector this year.
Retailers are expected to spend just over $13 billion in search ads in 2019. That figure will account for the largest share of search spend for the whole year.
Overall, retail digital ad spend will increase just over 19% to $28.33 billion in 2019. More than two-thirds of that investment will go towards mobile advertising.
Mobile purchases are expected to increase 28.9% this year.
Google Will Stop Supporting the Noindex Directive in Robots.txt
This is a big one. Google will no longer support the noindex directive in the robots.txt file.
In fact, the company will stop supporting unpublished rules completely. So crawl-delay and nofollow are gone as well.
Here’s Google’s statement about the change: “In the interest of maintaining a healthy ecosystem and preparing for potential future open source releases, we’re retiring all code that handles unsupported and unpublished rules (such as noindex) on September 1, 2019. For those of you who relied on the noindex indexing directive in the robots.txt file, which controls crawling, there are a number of alternative options.”
One of those alternative options is to put the noindex directive in robots meta tags. You can also use the Search Console Remove URL tool.
The change is expected to take effect on September 1.
Google: It’s Worth Looking Into Compressing Your Web Pages
If you haven’t yet compressed your web pages and CSS files, you should consider doing that. Google’s John Mueller says it may be worth the effort.
This past week on Twitter, someone asked Mueller: “it’s recommended to compress the HTML and CSS code?”
Mueller replied that “[s]ometimes minifying HTML & CSS can reduce the size of the files, so it can certainly be worth looking into that.”
It’s also best to let a qualified web development team handle that effort. You can really mess up your site if you try to take it on yourself.
Facebook Will Downgrade Posts That Use Exaggerated Health Claims
It looks like Facebook is taking a page out of Google’s playbook and adding its own YMYL (“Your Money Your Life”) policy.
According to a statement released by the company on Tuesday, the Facebook news feed algorithm will downgrade posts that use hyped up health claims to sell products.
“We know that people don’t like posts that are sensational or spammy, and misleading health content is particularly bad for our community,” wrote Travis Yeh, Facebook Product Manager. “Pages should avoid posts about health that exaggerate or mislead people and posts that try to sell products using health-related claims.”
Facebook is currently identifying phrases used in exaggerated health claims. It will use that info to downgrade offending posts.