Breaking Digital Marketing News
News 2/26/2024 to 3/1/2024
This week: Chrome has a new plugin that can help you write, YouTube stole another page from TikTok’s playbook, and we unveil the worst content management systems.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
1. Want to Be a Better Writer?
Google just launched a new AI feature for Chrome users.
It’s called “Help Me Write” and it lives up to its name.
Using Gemini, the tool generates text based on the context of the web page you’re visiting. As an example, Help Me Write will generate solid marketing copy from a description on a product detail page.
It’s even smart enough to extract key features if you’re writing a review.
If you’d like to get started with Help Me Write, just head over to the Experimental AI section of your browser settings.
The tool is only available for English-speaking users on Windows and Mac PCs.
2. Is a New Search Update Rolling Out?
That may be the case.
Barry Schwartz reported seeing significant volatility in rankings on Friday. He also noticed quite a bit of online chatter among folks in the SEO community.
SEMRush pegged search volatility at 9.2/10 this past week. That’s considered “Very High” and also very unusual.
SimilarWeb went to 79/100 and Mozcast to 121/140 in volatility measurements as well.
Excerpts from the chatter:
Speaking of, is anyone seeing some major shuffling going on in the SERPs today? It's a Friday so of course Google is playing around again.
USA traffic continues to be whacked...starting -70% today.
In my case, US traffic is almost zero (15 % from 80%) and the rest is kind of the same I guess. Traffic has dropped from 4K a day to barely scrapping 1K now. But a lot is just bots since payment-wise, the real traffic seems to be about 400-500. And ... that's how a 90% reduction looks like.
By Sunday, everything had calmed down.
3. Who Decides Which Old Content Is Helpful?
In a recent Reddit thread, a questioner asked about a website that has plenty of old politics-related articles that are just 200 words. He said that they don’t get any traffic and they’re not relevant today.
He wanted to know if they’d cause overall site quality issues.
Google’s John Mueller chimed in as follows: “There is no upper / lower word count limit or target, so what's useful & helpful content is up to you to decide... You could also take a hybrid approach and move them into an archive section, make the section noindex, and let people still find the content through internal search (which also lets you see in metrics if the content is - on aggregate - still considered useful by your regular users).”
4. Will Google Ever Get Better at Rewarding Smaller Websites?
The company promises to do so.
This past week on X, HouseFresh.com CEO Gisele Navarro posted plenty of evidence about how bigger websites know all about the best air purifiers, cooling sheets, gifts for moms, and more.
At least, according to Google, they know all about those subjects because they consistently rank at the top of the search results.
After seeing the receipt-filled thread, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan chimed in and said that he passed her concerns on to the Search team saying that he’d also like to see more diversity in the results list.
He also said that simply making a claim about a “rigorous testing process” and following an E-E-A-T checklist won’t guarantee a top ranking.
5. What Is YouTube Stealing From TikTok Now?
It’s called YouTube Collab. And it’s the same thing as TikTok Duets.
YouTube announced the Collab rollout this past week.
“Now, in addition to remixing with Green Screen and Cut, you can use Collab to record a Short in a side-by-side/split-screen format with eligible long-form videos and Shorts,” the announcement said.
Just select Collab from the Remix icon when viewing a video to get the ball rolling.
6. What’s the Latest Helpful Advice from Google?
Google just released a new video providing lots of great info about how Google Search crawls pages.
It’s hosted by Gary Illyes, a Google analyst who’s an expert on the subject.
In the video, Illyes highlights the importance of using sitemaps. If you’re unfamiliar with sitemaps, they’re XML files that make it easier for Googlebot to crawl the site and identify new content.
Illyes also advises website owners to make use of internal linking, ensure that pages load quickly, and avoid crawl budget exhaustion.
7. Which CMSs Show the Best Improvements in Core Web Vitals?
A new report highlights the Core Web Vitals improvements of six major content management systems (CMS).
Core Web Vitals, in a nutshell, is a set of metrics used to gauge the user-friendliness of web pages. It’s focused primarily on load times.
The report focused on how well the various CMSs performed in 2023.
Duda wins the grand prize with a whopping 76% of its websites showing good CWV scores.
Here’s how the rest of the pack fared:
- Wix (58.75%)
- Drupal (56.5%)
- Squarespace (54%)
- Joomla (46.26%)
- WordPress (39%)
Although WordPress finished last, the stats show that it’s improving noticeably.
8. What’s the Latest With Google Ads?
Google just announced the release of Google Ads API v16.
The new version:
- Adds new recommendation types
- Includes the ability to generate recommendations based on your settings
- Supports time-related segments
- Adds support for advertiser verification
In addition to other new features.
Keep in mind: to use some of the new features, you’ll need to upgrade your client libraries and client code.
Since you enjoyed a longer-than-usual February, you should have time to take care of these action items:
- If you’re using Google Ads API, take a look at that new version and understand all the latest features.
- Check out that new video on how Google crawls sites. You might learn something you didn’t know even if you’re a seasoned SEO.
- Think about how you can use YouTube Collab to promote your business in video.
- Consider using Help Me Write to become a better writer.
News 2/19/2024 to 2/23/2024
This week: Google offers pointers on how to diagnose ranking drops, YouTube rolls out a few new features, and WordPress users aren’t as happy as they used to be.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
1. Improvements to Performance Max Campaigns with New AI Features
Google is bringing Gemini models to Performance Max to help you build high-quality assets for your ads.
Back in November 2023, Google announced the launch of AI-powered asset generation and image editing.
Now, Google Gemini will be able to
- Generate copy for long headlines and sitelinks
- Add backgrounds that feature people
- Create new image options similar to successful ones
Moving forward, Google says asset quality and variety will be more important in determining the strength of your ads.
2. How Does Google Want You to Diagnose Ranking Drops?
Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, recently offered some pointers on what to do if your rankings drop.
Here’s the 5-point plan:
- Use Search Console to check Search Results from Performance
- Compare the last 6 months to the previous period
- Sort the report by Clicks Difference
- Look at the queries where clicks dropped the most
- See if you’re still in the top results
If you are still in the top results, Sullivan says that there’s probably no corrective action needed on your part.
He also went on to say that Google is always improving its ranking systems. That will account for some fluctuations.
3. SEO Study Finds New Correlations With Winning Websites
Next up, another interesting SEO study. Zyppy SEO did an analysis of 50 websites and found some strong correlations between features found on websites and Google algorithm update winners and losers.
Let’s remember, correlation does not equal causation, but there were some interesting findings.
Google update winners. Five websites features had a “strong” correlation among winners during Google algorithm updates:
- Usage of first-person pronouns (e.g., “me,” “I,” “we”). This was based on analyzing the first 1,000 words of text.
- Demonstrated first-hand experience. This was done either via description within the text or unique imagery or video content.
- Display of a cookie consent banner.
- Contact information appeared in the footer.
- Contact information appeared somewhere on the page but not the footer.
What do these all have in common? It all comes back to experience and, ultimately, credibility, which are both important factors Google wants to award.
4. Are WordPress Users Satisfied?
Some of them are. But an increasing number aren’t.
The survey also asked users about the three best features of WordPress. The answer showed declines in:
- Ease of use
- Block themes
When respondents were asked to choose the most frustrating things about WordPress, they answered:
- Too many plugins
- Site editing experience
Of all the things that need more attention, WordPress users chose performance as the top item.
5. Which Website Shows up Quite a Bit in Google Product Review Searches?
According to a new study by Detailed where they analyzed 10 thousand product review-related queries, Reddit showed up a whopping 97.5% of the time in “discussions and forums” serp feature, and on average had 1.9 of three possible listings.
Reddit, for its part, calls the Detailed report “flawed and misleading.” But the company also said that it’s got plenty of legitimate reviews in subreddits so it’s understandable that Google would link to those threads.
6. And Speaking of Reddit, Google’s Announced an Expanding Partnership
Google is reportedly paying Reddit $60 million per year to train its artificial intelligence models (e.g., Gemini).
The search engine now has access to Reddit’s API, delivering real-time content from the platform.
This API integration will give Google access to fresher, more comprehensible information, helping users better understand Reddit content.
Google makes it clear that this new integration will not change the use of publicly available, crawlable content for indexing, training, or display within Google products.
Why we care. Reddit was already facing backlash among SEOs because Google appears to be favoring the platform in the Discussions and forums SERP feature. Reddit is even outranking original sources of content in some instances.
7. What Are the Latest Features Added to YouTube?
YouTube just announced three new features.
First up: product tagging in live streams. And when you tag products in live streams, YouTube will display a “Shopping” button so viewers can make a purchase.
Next: post only feeds. This is a way for Android and iOS users to display posts from channels you’ve interacted with in the past.
Finally, there’s Mobile video and Shorts uploads. Use that to complete the upload process entirely within the Studio mobile app.
8. What’s the Latest in Structured Data?
This will allow merchants to easily show more variations of the products they sell, and show shoppers more relevant, helpful results.
Specifically, you have access to three new properties:
- hasVariant - use it to nest product variants under the parent ProductGroup
- variesBy - lists the variant properties (like color and size)
- productGroupID - also known as the “parent SKU”
The new properties are also supported in the Rich Results testing tool.
9. Want Some Creative Pointers for TikTok?
If so, then you’re in luck. A new guide offers 34 pages worth of creative insights for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
The guide is split into three segments:
Each section not only offers helpful pointers but also links to TikTok tools that offer assistance.
And there are also some key tips to help you get the most out of the platform. For example, a section that tells you how to maximize impact within the first 3-6 seconds of the video.
You’ll need to provide an email address if you want to download the whole guide.
10. Want a Hack on How to Avoid Paying Apple Fees for Boosted Posts on Meta?
Meta just announced a way that you can avoid paying Apple fees for boosted posts on its platform.
In case you missed the news, Apple is now charging a 30% service fee on boosted posts purchased in the app.
So if you want to avoid that fee, just head over to your desktop and run the campaign from facebook.com.
Alternatively, you can go to instagram.com as well.
In fact, if you go to the website instead of the app even on a mobile platform you’ll avoid paying the fee.
11. What’s the Latest Threat to Google’s Search Dominance?
And that makes sense because OpenAI already has a web crawler: GPTBot. Further, Bing uses GPT-4 for search.
But will it prove strong enough to give Google a run for its money? History says no. Time will tell.
As we head into the last month of winter, take time to review each of these action items:
- If you want to run boosted posts on Meta, make sure you avoid the 30% Apple surcharge by going to the website instead of the app.
- Take a look at those creative pointers for TikTok. Even if you’re not into marketing on TikTok, you’ll find valuable advice for marketing in general.
- If you’re running an ecommerce site with product variants, use that product variant structured data.
- If you haven’t yet moved to GA4, do so yesterday.
- Follow Google’s advice on diagnosing ranking drops.
News 2/12/2024 to 2/16/2024
This week: Gemini is everywhere in Google’s products, TikTok offers a new integration, and a new report offers advice on the kind of content that LinkedIn rewards.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
1. Where Can You Find Gemini in Google’s Product Suite?
The answer is almost everywhere.
If you’re unfamiliar with Gemini, it’s Google’s AI model. It’s also the new name for Bard, which you may have read about recently.
The Big G brags that its “state of the art” AI even outperforms humans when it comes to processing info contained in text, audio, images, and video.
You’ll soon find Gemini features in Google Workspace. For example, Smart Compose in Gmail will help you write faster.
And in Google Cloud, you can use Gemini to auto-generate code and improve productivity.
More details coming next week.
2. Where Do Google Web Stories Appear in Search?
They do, however, appear in the carousel on Google Search. That was previously listed as a grid view in the docs.
Additionally, Google says: “Web Stories can appear as a single result on Google Search, which is available in all regions and languages where Google Search is available.”
Finally, Web Stories can also appear in the Discover feed.
3. How Is Meta’s AI-Based Ad Targeting System Working Out?
Meta recently hosted a roundtable discussion with C-suite execs to talk about AI strategy. The panel also included Jones Road Beauty CMO Cody Plofker to talk about his company’s experience with Meta ad tech.
Here are a few key takeaways:
- Meta’s AI content generation features show positive results in generating better performance for advertisers.
- 40% of the content that people see on Instagram is delivered via AI recommendations.
- Meta says that AI content recommendations delivered a 7% increase in time spent on Facebook and a 6% time increase spent on Instagram.
- Advertisers are seeing better results with the assistance of AI targeting tools, such as Advantage campaigns.
Meta also says that creative is the most important part of advertising. It impacts more than half of the ad auction decisions.
4. How Can You Get the Most out of LinkedIn in 2024?
A new report by Richard van der Blom shares insights on LinkedIn’s algorithm, ideas on how to increase reach, and “secret sauces” that lead to post perfection.
Here are a few key takeaways:
- Overperforming content includes polls, documents, and LinkedIn Videos.
- Underperforming content includes text alone, external links, articles, and reposted thoughts.
- It’s best to engage with your audience rather than “post & ghost.”
- If possible, respond to comments within the first hour.
- Gain attention by making use of tags.
- Keep content unlocked as gating slashes reach by 90%.
The report analyzes more than 1.5 million posts from over 34,000 profiles and more than 26,000 company pages.
5. What Did YouTube Copy From TikTok This Time?
Here’s how it works: as you scroll through Shorts, you’ll see previews of currently running live streams. And you can join any one of them by tapping “Watch Live.”
Only vertical streams are eligible to appear in the feed.
TikTok ran with this idea quite some time ago.
6. What’s the Latest TikTok Integration?
This past week, TikTok announced that its Creative Assistant is now part of Adobe Express.
The new integration will help you create, edit, and optimize videos.
"At TikTok, we are always finding innovative ways for brands, advertisers and creators to create engaging, fun and impactful content that resonates with the TikTok community,” says Sofia Hernandez, TikTok head of Global Marketing. “We're excited to integrate Creative Assistant within Adobe Express and help businesses seamlessly create TikTok-first campaigns within the platform they know and love. Having the ability to ideate, create and post all within Adobe Express further enables businesses of all sizes to create for TikTok at scale."
If you’re interested in using the Creative Assistant within Adobe Express, it’s offered as an add-on.
7. What’s the Latest With AI and Google Ads?
Looking for some automatically created assets (ACA) for your next Google Ads campaign?
If so, then you’re in luck. Google just announced that generative AI for ACA has fully rolled out in the U.S. and UK.
The AI generates assets based on your landing page, keywords, and any existing ads. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your site is up to date when you opt for ACA.
Finally, ACA is meant to complement, but not replace, your existing headlines and descriptions.
8. How Many Fake Reviews Did Google Smack Down Last Year?
About 170 million.
Google just announced that its new machine learning algorithm helped deep-six 45% more fake reviews in 2023 than the previous year.
The new algo looks for patterns that indicate suspicious behavior. For example, if the same reviewer leaves the same kind of review on multiple businesses or if a business receives a sudden deluge of 5-star praises.
Google also says it removed over 12 million fake business profiles and 14 million videos.
9. Was Your Site Affected by the Helpful Content Update?
You might think it was. But was it really?
“They're ranking in the top results,” he wrote. “There's no fundamental content issues. It's more that other things might have moved up even slightly.”
And if you’ve slipped a rank or two but still land on the top page, Sullivan has this advice: “People will naturally want to regain a higher ranking. That's totally understandable. But if you're ranking highly on the page, you probably don't have any fundamental issues to somehow ‘fix.’”
Now that Valentine’s Day is behind us, you should have time to take care of these action items:
- Check your rankings after the Helpful Content update, although you might not have anything to “fix,” you might get some SEO pointers from competitors who’ve suddenly outranked you.
- If you’re marketing with Google Ads, take advantage of ACA. It could turn out to be a huge time-saver.
- If you’re an Adobe Express user who’s marketing on TikTok, consider getting that Creative Assistant add-on.
- If you’re in the B2B space, take a look at that report about the type of content that LinkedIn lifts to the surface. Then, produce that type of content.
News 2/5/2024 to 2/9/2024
This week: Your Local Service Ads may be disappearing, Bard is now Gemini, and Core Web Vitals has a new metric.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
1. Your Ads May Be Invisible (And You May Not Know It)
Google is investigating a loophole that allows your competitors to manipulate the ad system behind the scenes.
What ads are being targeted?
Local Service Ads.
And this attack is ruining leads for businesses.
When more than one Local Service Ad is connected to a Google Business Page, the ads will become invisible. And this kills off all leads.
Competitors can intentionally create a new Local Service Ad and link it to your Google Business Profile page, without your knowledge.
2. Bard Is Now Gemini. Now What?
Yep. That's correct.
Google Bard is now Google Gemini. Same product, with a new name.
There will be a paid version, similar to ChatGPT-4 and it costs $19.99 a month.
Here's the latest updates:
- The paid version of Gemini, is called Gemini Advanced.
- Gemini is a new opt-in default assistant on Android and has been added to the iOS and Google App, stores.
- Gemini will replace Duet AI, bringing the Gemini model to Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet and other Google products.
Will it replace ChatGPT-4?
Stay tuned to find out.
3. Microsoft Advertisers Have New Ad Targeting Capabilities
Microsoft announced they are expanding enhanced conversions and ad targeting capabilities.
Advertisers should start using these tools to optimize their campaigns more effectively, resulting in improved performance and overall ROI.
Microsoft added in-market audiences that are based on company size and job titles.
This feature will help you target potential customers through their job titles and company.
It's available in the U.S. and Canada across display, native, and CTV.
4. Google's Pausing Third-Party Cookie Removal?
This week the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised concerns about Google's removal of third-party cookies.
Apparently, Google needs to do more in the wake of privacy concerns.
CMA published a report detailing the following concerns:
- Google may continue to benefit from user activity data while limiting competitors’ access to the same data.
- Google’s ability to control the inclusion of ad tech rivals on this list could advantage its ad tech services.
- Publishers and advertisers may be less able to effectively identify fraudulent activity.
This gives marketers more time with third-party cookies before they are phased out.
5. Yandex Is For Sale?
Yandex, a search engine, sold for $5.2 billion.
As part of its Russian assets, Yandex, N.V. has agreed to sell the Yandex search engine.
Rumors of the sale started back in November 2023, but it still needs approval from regulators and shareholders.
Yandex management told its Russian employees that the company would remain independent.
6. Microsoft Is Rolling Out Deep Search to More People
Deep Search is an optional AI feature within the Microsoft platform.
It's meant to help searchers find answers to complex queries and is rolling out to more people.
The "Deep Search" icon lives on the top right of the Bing search box after conducting a search. It's built on top of Bing's web index and ranking system, using GPT-4 to understand the query and produce an "ideal set of results."
Important factors in Deep Search rankings:
- How well the topic matches
- Whether it has an “appropriate level of detail”
- Whether the source is credible and trustworthy
- How popular the page is
7. Google Officially Retires Cache Link
Yep. Google is officially retiring cache link.
And it might add links to the Wayback Machine in place of the cache link.
A cache link gives you the option to click a button, so you can see the latest version of the webpage that Google was looking at.
While the cache is not a great use for debugging SEO issues, many SEOs use it.
8. What’s the Latest in Core Web Vitals?
It’s a new metric: Interaction to Next Paint (INP).
INP measures the time between user interaction and the changed pixels on the screen caused by the user interaction.
In other words, if you press a button and it takes the website .5 seconds to change the screen in response to you pressing the button, then the INP is .5 seconds or 500 milliseconds.
Google has been toying around with INP since the middle of 2022. It becomes official next month.
9. How Do You Check Advertising Analytics With Reddit?
This past week, Reddit announced its first Conversions API partner: Tealium.
You can use it to gain more insight into how your ads perform on the platform.
“Our Conversions API enables advertisers to directly connect their vetted and trusted partners with Reddit to seamlessly share conversion signals and data, while enhancing data efficiency and compliance through simplified measurement integrations,” Reddit said in a statement. “Aligning with Tealium, an industry-leading customer data platform, as our first Conversions API partner is the latest example of our commitment to empowering performance-focused advertisers with measurement solutions that drive business results.”
Reddit’s IPO will reportedly launch next month.
10. How Much Do Online Creators Earn Every Year?
According to new research from Kajabi, 96% of online creators make less than $100k per year.
Further, Kajabi also found that the folks who make under $100k are doing so from two income streams.
The people with five or more income streams earn $100-150k. And people with seven or more income streams earn over $150k.
Here are the top income streams in order:
- Digital products
- Platform payouts
- Physical products
- In-person consulting or coaching
- Online consulting or coaching
11. Is Threads Still a Thing?
It looks that way. According to Meta’s most recent quarterly report, Threads enjoys 130 million MAU.
That’s an increase of about 30 million users from Q3.
“Threads now has more people actively using it today than it did during its initial launch peak so that one’s I think on track to be a major success,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
By way of comparison, X has about 500 million MAU.
I hope you’ve got your shopping done for that Super Bowl party. Now you should have time to take care of these action items:
- Double-check your Local Service Ads. Be sure no one else has added any to your Google Business Profile.
- If you run ads on Reddit, check out that Conversions API. Use the analytics to fine-tune your campaigns.
- Make sure you get your websites ready for INP. You can already check that metric in Search Console.