Digital Marketing News 4/13/2020-4/17/2020
This week: Google Shopping allows free product listings, stimulus checks give a big boost to online sales, and LinkedIn has a new feature for B2B marketers.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Google Shopping Now Allows Free Product Listings
Starting next week, the Google Shopping tab will “consist primarily of free product listings.”
Why? Because of the pandemic.
Mom-and-pop shops recently shuttered their doors as a result of the outbreak. Now, they really need online sales.
And Google is here to help.
“For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs,” said Google’s President of Commerce Bill Ready. “For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings.”
Paid shopping ads will still appear at the top and bottom of the Google Shopping page.
If you want your products included in Google’s product listings, you’ll need to upload your data feed to the Google Merchant Center. That platform is open to all retailers.
Facebook No Longer Requires Advertisers to Campaign Budget Optimization
Facebook is no longer requiring you to use Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) when you run ads. Now, you have the choice to manage your budget at the campaign or ad set level.
Last September, Facebook planned to move all campaigns to CBO-only.
When you opt for CBO, the platform will automatically optimize budget allocation across ad sets.
Advertisers took issue with the CBO mandate, saying that they see better results when they have more flexibility with how they manage their budgets.
Facebook heard their complaints.
Government Stimulus Checks Spawn ‘Black Friday’ Levels of Online Spending
It looks like the federal government’s aid to our beleaguered economy is having an impact.
According to Shopify CTO Jean-Michel Lemieux, his company recently saw “Black Friday level traffic every day.”
And Merkle is reporting that recent online sales data “suggests that many consumers used part of that stimulus money on more discretionary purchases.” The marketing agency also said that it’s seeing online activity similar to Black Friday 2019.
Additionally, both the Wall Street Journal and CNBC are reporting that Amazon is once again allowing sellers to ship “non-essential” items to its warehouses. That’s a good sign that things are returning to normal.
In another good sign for the economy, four out of five consumer sentiment indicators recently ticked up as well.
LinkedIn Allows Users to Add Polls to Posts
Here’s a new way to generate more engagement in your B2B marketing: LinkedIn now allows you to add polls to posts.
According to the reverse engineer who discovered the new feature, LinkedIn polls will function very similarly to Twitter polls. You can create a question and give it as many as four possible answers.
LinkedIn has yet to make an announcement about polls. But the company did publish help docs about how to use them.
It looks like the platform began rolling out the new feature recently. It will be some time before it’s available to all users.
Google Shares Details About Its $340 Million Ad Credits for SMBs
This past week, Google offered details about its ad credit program for small and medium-sized businesses.
To be eligible, advertisers must have spent money on Google Ads during 10 of the last 12 months (and specifically in January or February of this year).
For agency-managed accounts, Google will distribute the ad credits per account.
Each business that qualifies will receive one ad credit. What that credit is worth will vary from business to business.
Google will issue the ad credits on a rolling basis starting in May. If you qualify, you’ll receive a notification when you get the credit.
You can use the credit for Search, Display, and YouTube ads.
Report: People Search for Uplifting Content During the Pandemic
According to a couple of new surveys by Channel Factory, people prefer YouTube videos with positive, helpful, and educational content during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The survey found that 80% of YouTube users spend time on the platform to improve their moods.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents said that YouTube offers more uplifting content than other social media apps.
Almost half (48%) watch YouTube for entertainment videos. The same amount prefer to stream music-related content.
A third of those polled said they look for comedy.
One example of the type of positive content people search for on YouTube: John Krasinski’s “Some Good News.” It’s a series that lives up to its name.
The first episode reached 16 million views and the channel has more than 2 million subscribers.
Google Ads Data Hub Releases New Features
Google Ads Data Hub, the analytics tool for Google Ads campaign metrics, announced some new features this past week.
First up, Google said it’s reducing the latency period for some data from 24-48 hours to just 6 hours. That change will enable you to run same-day queries and get quicker feedback on campaign performance.
Next, you’ll also be able to link your Campaign Manager, Google Ads, and Display & Video 360 accounts to the platform on your own. You can create multi-tier accounts as well.
Additionally, Google is enabling you to work in a sandbox environment for testing purposes.
Also, you’ll have the option to use more than 20 templates for running various types of reports. Google is also accepting suggestions for new template ideas.
Finally, Google confirmed that it’s working on a way to create audience lists from engagements on its various ad platforms. You can use those audience lists in future campaigns.
Google: You Don’t Need Multiple, Embedded Headers
According to Google’s John Mueller, too many header sections in your content is a waste of time.
This past week on Reddit, some self-described “SEO noob” asked about the use of H6 headers.
Mueller eventually chimed in and said that the use of multiple, nested header sections is “almost never going to make sense.”
He also said that “changing anything in the last level is never going to change anything with regards to SEO.”
Mueller added that including too many headers “is a waste of time when it comes to SEO.”
We got some news you can use this week. Here are a few to-do’s you should add to your list:
- Review the new features on Google Ads Data Hub and see which of them you can use to improve ad performance.
- Create some uplifting video content and post it on YouTube. See how many views you get. You might find that you can promote your brand effectively while simultaneously helping people. The best of both worlds.
- If you’re in the B2B space, brainstorm up some ideas about polls you can post on LinkedIn.
- If you’re in the ecommerce space and you haven’t yet uploaded your data feed to Google Merchant Center, do so now so your products will get listed (for free) in the Google Shopping tab.
Digital Marketing News 4/13/2020-4/17/2020
This week: Amazon delivers bad news to affiliates, eMarketer predictably predicts a reduction in ad spend, and Microsoft offers new conversion goal options for online ads.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Amazon Cuts Affiliate Payouts
Didn’t see this coming, especially since Amazon seems to be doing pretty well during the COVID-19 outbreak.
This past week, the ecommerce giant sent a note to affiliates informing them that affiliate payout cuts are coming.
Furniture and Home Improvement commissions, for example, will drop from 8% to just 3%.
And Grocery will drop from 5% to 1%.
The categories affected are the ones with highest demand.
Amazon is essentially telling affiliates: “Who needs you when we have a pandemic that generates plenty of business?”
Some good news, though: Luxury Beauty and Amazon Coins categories still have a 10% commission.
Changes for other categories take effect on April 21.
Google Rolls out Tool to Help Businesses Create Videos
Google is introducing YouTube Video Builder. It’s a free tool that helps you create short videos.
“Because businesses of all sizes are strapped for time and resources and in-person video shoots are no longer practical in many countries, we are accelerating the next stage of Video Builder availability,” Google said in a statement.
The tool accepts still images and animates them. So there’s no need to create video assets.
You also get to choose your own layout.
Once you’re happy with the assets and layout, YouTube Video Builder will produce a 6- or 15-second video.
The tool is currently in beta.
YouTube: Views up, Ad Revenue Down
Speaking of YouTube, that site is seeing an uptick in traffic during the pandemic. However, that increase in views isn’t translating to more revenue for video creators.
According to The New York Times, YouTube traffic is up 15%.
So why is ad revenue plummeting? Because ad rates are down.
That’s a side-effect of the outbreak as well.
“People I know are going down from $8 to $5.50 [per thousand views],” says Robert Blake, a YouTuber. “I’m seeing people go down from $12 to $4.”
Hopefully, this will turn around soon.
YouTube Lifts Monetization Ban on COVID-19 Content
YouTube is now allowing you to monetize content that references coronavirus.
“Content that references and/or features COVID-19 and adheres to our Advertiser-Friendly and Community Guidelines is now eligible for monetization,” YouTube said in a help document.
There are a few exceptions, though:
- Footage of people suffering from the virus
- Medical misinformation
- Challenges that could potentially expose people to the virus
In the past, YouTube demonetized content that even mentioned COVID-19.
Bing Gives Website Owners New Ways to Control Search Snippets
Bing is introducing new tools so you can control how your site appears in search.
The platform is offering extended support for robots meta tags. Here are the directives that Bing now supports:
- max-snippet – specifies the maximum number of characters in a search snippet
- max-image-preview – specifies the maximum size of an image preview in search
- max-video-preview – specifies the maximum number of seconds of a video preview in search
The new features started rolling out this week.
U.S. Paid Search Forecast Slashed by Billions
A drop of $6 to $8 billion.
That’s what eMarketer is forecasting for ad spend in the first and second quarters of 2020.
The forecast predicts ad spend coming in somewhere between $23.8 and $25.5 billion.
As far as growth, eMarketer predicts that there could be an ad spend increase of as much as 2.8% or a decrease as low as 0.2% in the first half of this year.
The study says that the reason for a speedy decline in search spend is because budgets aren’t committed in advance. They can be pulled at any time.
During a recession, they’re one of the easiest line items to cut.
To bolster that argument, eMarketer cites a report saying that Amazon recently reduced its investment in search ads.
That’s understandable. As we’ve seen, Amazon doesn’t need much help getting sales right now.
eMarketer also revised its global ad spend growth forecast down from 7.4% to just 7%.
Microsoft Rolls out Conversion Goal Options for Ads
This past week, Microsoft introduced a couple of conversion goal options for Search and Audience Network campaigns.
First up: “Include in Conversions.” When you select that option, you tell Microsoft which conversion goals you want specified in your metrics.
For example, if you’re tracking newsletter sign-ups and only want to optimize your campaign for whitepaper downloads, you’d use “Include in Conversions.”
The other new feature is “View-through Conversions.” It’s designed to capture info about users who view your ads, don’t click, but convert later on anyway.
The “View-through Conversions” goal option is strictly for the Microsoft Audience Network.
Instagram Live Streams Now Available on the Web
Instagram is now giving you the option to broadcast live streams on the web.
The platform also provides a URL so you can cross-promote your stream.
People who watch live streams via the web will see a view that looks very similar to what they’d see on a mobile platform. It’s a skinny, vertical presentation.
The web stream also shows comments next to the video content (because there’s room for that). So viewers can watch the content or try to read the comments that quickly scroll up next to the viewport.
It’s a good move from Instagram considering that many stuck-at-home folks are opting for video streaming on a PC.
Here’s your homework assignment based on this week’s news:
- Consider how you can use Instagram live streams to promote your business. Remember to cross-promote your live stream with a URL.
- Think about how you can use Microsoft’s new conversion goal options to better track the success of your ad campaigns.
- Take advantage of Bing’s new search snippet features to ensure that your search content resonates with people in your target market.
- Have a look at YouTube Video Builder. See if you can use it to promote your brand with video content.
Digital Marketing News 4/6/2020-4/10/2020
This week: Marketers rely on SEO during a recession, Pinterest offers some new ecommerce features, and Google explains why it rewrites meta descriptions.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Pinterest Rolls out Home Fashion and Decor Marketing Updates
If you’re in the home fashion or decor space, Pinterest now makes it easier for you to earn money off its platform with a few new features.
First up: a new “Shop” tab. It shows up in search and on boards so users can find in-stock products from fashion and home decor e-tailers.
Next, users can access Pinterest’s visual search tool to locate similar products in search and shop.
Finally, Pinterest now includes home decor and style guides in search. They’re categorized and appear at the top of relevant search queries.
Survey: SEO Will Be a Key Focus for Marketers in the Coming Downturn
Many business leaders are bracing for a recession thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. So how will marketers adapt their strategies?
According to a recent survey by Conductor, they’ll lean heavily on SEO.
Sixty-three percent of those polled said that SEO will be more important during the economic downturn. Only 5% said SEO will be less important.
Further, 20% of respondents said that their budgets are decreasing “greatly” because of the pandemic. The majority of those polled said their budgets will remain about the same.
Eighty-six percent of marketers said their goals will be more difficult to achieve this year.
Almost two-thirds (66%) said that organic search was their top-performing channel in 2019. That was followed by paid search and email.
Only a minority of respondents (25%) said they’ll consider layoffs when faced with a global recession.
Facebook Allows Businesses to Show Temporary Service Changes
If your business owns a Facebook page and it’s affected by the current pandemic, you’ll want to pay attention to this news.
Facebook now allows you to prominently display temporary changes on your business page.
For example, if you run a restaurant, you can let Facebook users know whether you offer pick-up, delivery, or both.
If your business is closed until social distancing is a thing of the past, you can let people know that as well.
Here’s Facebook’s statement on the change:
To help businesses respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re enabling businesses to announce temporary service changes on their Facebook Page and in searches on Facebook.
Businesses that have changed how they operate, like fitness studios offering virtual classes or restaurants offering delivery instead of dine-in service, can easily indicate those changes to customers.
You can update your page to reflect any changes by going into Page Settings, then selecting Page Info, Hours, and Temporary Service Changes.
Google: Web 2.0 Links Are Spammy
Think you can rank easily by building backlinks from sites like Tumblr, Slideshare, Reddit, and profile pages? Nope.
According to Google’s John Mueller, that kind of a backlink strategy is a “really terrible” way of promoting your website.
He went on: “So just to be really clear like this kind of activity has zero value for SEO.It’s not something where you’re promoting your website in any way but rather essentially they’re spamming the web. So that’s something I would strongly discourage anyone from doing.”
Mueller also said that the best way to build a healthy backlink profile is to produce quality content and then tell others about it so they generate backlinks.
Google Offers Advice on Avoiding Meta Description Rewrites
Did you know that Google will sometimes rewrite meta descriptions? The rewrites will display in search instead of the descriptions authored by webmasters.
This past week during a Google Webmaster Central hangout, John Mueller offered some suggestions about how to avoid a rewrite.
For starters, Mueller listed the reasons why Google does meta description rewrites:
- The existing meta description isn’t relevant
- The exact same meta description occurs on multiple pages
- The meta description doesn’t match the user query but the page content does
So if you don’t want Google to rewrite your meta descriptions, do the opposite of what you see in those bullet points.
Additionally, Mueller said to write short meta descriptions. That way, they’ll fit in a search snippet.
Even after doing all that, though, Google may still rewrite your meta descriptions. But it’s less likely.
Google May Be Ordered to Reveal Its Search Algorithm
This news might change the SEO game significantly.
Google is currently involved in a lawsuit in the UK. The court gave the search engine giant an ultimatum: withdraw evidence to its defense or disclose its search engine algorithm.
By the way, if Google chooses the second option, it wouldn’t just reveal its algorithm to the court. The Big G would also have to deliver its search secrets to an SEO consultant.
Google will probably settle the suit rather than disclose proprietary trade secrets, though.
We’ll keep an eye on this one.
Facebook Rolls out Updates to Video Publishing
Facebook is making it easier for you to do video marketing on its platform with four new features.
For starters, Facebook made changes to the bulk uploader. Now, you can upload as many as 50 videos at a time to the same page.
While the videos are in transit, you can edit their titles, descriptions, and post times.
Next, Facebook is making it easier for you to take action on videos in bulk.
Now, you can handle in-stream ads, add custom labels, and include auto-captions during bulk uploads.
Also, Facebook is updating playlists so you can organize related content.
Finally, the social media giant is also giving you the ability to create a video series. Users can discover series content on Facebook Watch, the news feed, and in search results.
When users watch a series, they can navigate between seasons and episodes. They can also pick up watching where they left off.
Amazon Releases Product Targeting for Sponsored Display
This past week, Amazon rolled out product targeting for Sponsored Display ads. The new ad format gives you the ability to target similar or complementary products and categories in Seller Central.
For example, you could target running shoe ads to appear on category pages for running books or running shorts.
You can also use the feature to cross-promote your own products.
The Sponsored Display ads appear next to reviews, on the right-hand sidebar, and in search results.
In the past, you could only use Sponsored Display ads for retargeting.
Not a whole lot going on this week because of the pandemic, but here are a few key takeaways:
- If you’re selling products on Amazon, look for ways that you can use Sponsored Display ads to increase sales.
- Take advantage of Facebook’s new bulk video features to ramp up your video marketing on the platform.
- Follow Google’s advice on avoiding meta description rewrites. If you have meta descriptions that violate Google’s best-practices, rewrite them yourself.
- If you’re employing an SEO strategy that involves getting backlinks from Web 2.0 sites, drop it in favor of a better content marketing strategy.
- If you’re dealing with temporary service changes because of COVID-19, make sure you update your Facebook page to reflect the updates.
- If you’re in the home fashion or decor space, take advantage of Pinterest’s new features so you can generate more sales from the platform.
Digital Marketing News 3/30/2020-4/3/2020
This week: Pinterest lets merchants get verified, Facebook has new tools for live streaming, and Google has a very early Christmas present for some SMBs.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Google Dumps Dedicated Ad Rep Support for Some Agency Ad Partners
Don’t shoot the messenger.
This past week, some Google Ads agency partners learned that they’re losing dedicated reps as of April 1.
Why? According to the Big G, the agency rep program is put under a magnifying glass every quarter. Apparently, the numbers no longer add up.
Google also says the change has nothing to do with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, the move only affects small and medium-sized agencies.
Google advises people who’ve lost their support to check out the Help portal, blog posts, and Skillshop training.
Facebook Rolls out New Tools for Facebook Live
Facebook is adding some new goodies to its Live streaming tool.
For starters, the platform will automatically add closed captions. That’s a help to people who want to watch live streams without volume.
Additionally, Facebook also supports the exact opposite of close-captioned viewing. Users can now just listen to the audio portion of the live stream without watching the video.
The social media platform is also rolling out Live Producer. That’s a dashboard for managing your broadcasts.
Finally, Facebook will allow nonprofits to generate toll-free phone numbers for fundraising efforts.
Google Will Give $340 Million in Ad Credits for SMBs
Here’s some much-needed good news if you’re an active Google Ads user.
Google is offering its own stimulus package to businesses hit by the pandemic fallout. The company is pledging $340 million in ad credits to SMBs.
If you’re an eligible advertiser, you’ll see a notification in your Google Ads account. Don’t worry if you don’t see a notification today. Announcements will go out in the coming weeks, according to the Big G.
To be eligible, you must have an active Google Ads account that you’ve maintained since January 1, 2019.
Google also said that it’s increasing grants to the World Health Organization.
Pinterest Rolls out Verified Merchant Program
Pinterest is taking a page from the Twitter playbook and giving some merchants a blue checkmark. That’s a badge indicating that the account is owned by a verified merchant.
If you want to get verified, you’ll have to go through the manual review process. You’re eligible to apply if you’re already a merchant on Pinterest and:
- Your catalog is connected to the platform
- You have the Pinterest tag installed on your website
- You meet Pinterest’s guidelines
Verified merchants have access to a new conversion insights tool. They also get “Shop” tabs at the top of their profiles so users can see all of their products in one place.
Social Platforms Reduce Streaming Quality
With so many people stuck at home binge-watching old TV shows like The Sopranos, streaming services are feeling the heat. As a result, they’ve been forced to adapt their platforms to deal with the increase in traffic.
How are they doing that? By reducing video bitrates. That means lower video quality.
Oh, well. Better to watch a grainy Tony Soprano than no Tony Soprano at all.
But it’s not just Disney+ and Netflix that made adjustments as a result of the pandemic. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram downgraded streaming quality as well.
In a statement, Facebook said that it made the change to “alleviate any potential network congestion.”
Study: Contextual Ad Targeting Works
According to a new study by GumGum, contextually relevant ads pique people’s interest more than their non-contextual counterparts.
Keep in mind: GumGum is a contextual ad company. So it’s got some skin in the game here.
Still, the results show that “old school” ads present a good alternative to advertisers wary of relying too heavily on cookies in this privacy-obsessed era.
According to the research, contextually relevant ads generate 43% more neural engagement and 2.2 times improved recall.
GumGum also says that contextually relevant ads led to a statistically significant increase in purchase intent.
The study didn’t consider click-through rates or conversion rates.
Google Rolls out New Features for Game Marketers
This past week, Google announced a number of new features aimed at game marketers.
First up: open testing ads. They’re designed to help game developers bring in more beta testers before official release.
Next, Google Ads will roll out app campaign asset reporting. It enables you to compare asset source and orientation between similar assets.
Starting next month, the tool will also show you performance charts so you can see changes to asset performance over time.
Finally, Google Analytics is also offering gaming specific analytics. They’ll give you insights about acquisition, retention, monetization, and engagement.
Warning: There’s a Critical Vulnerability in the Rank Math SEO Plugin
If you’re using WordPress with the Rank Math SEO plugin, be advised that the security of your website is at risk.
Older releases of the plugin give attackers the ability to gain elevated privileges on a WordPress site. If they can gain admin rights, they can do pretty much anything.
Any version of Rank Math below 10.0.4 is vulnerable.
To its credit, Rank Math responded quickly once the company learned of the vulnerability.
Google: Marking a Business ‘Temporarily Closed’ Won’t Hurt Rankings
If you’re running a local business that you’ve had to shutter to maintain social distancing, you won’t have to worry about losing rank even if you mark it “Temporarily Closed.”
This past week on Twitter, somebody asked Google’s Danny Sullivan these questions: “Can you please work on an option on GMB for the local businesses that are closed due to COVID 19, but still trading in different channels? The temporally closed option will drop the visibility of the listings. GMB post low visibility. Any options?”
Here’s how Sullivan responded: “Temporarily closed doesn’t impact ranking or visibility.”
That’s in contrast to Google’s previous guidance. In the past, the company said that closed businesses would surface in a lower position than open businesses.
Here are a few to-do’s from this past week’s news:
- If you’re using the Rank Math plugin, make sure you update it to the latest version. Otherwise, your website is open to attack.
- If you’re into game marketing, take advantage of the new features Google announced recently.
- Consider running a few contextual ads to see if they generate more interest than traditionally targeted ads.
- If you’re a merchant on Pinterest, apply to become a Verified Merchant. The perks are worth it.
- If you promote your brand with Facebook live streaming, take a look at the new features and see how they can help you build a better online presence.
- If you’re running Google Ads regularly, find out if you qualify for some of the ad credits that Google will hand out.
Digital Marketing News 3/23/2020-3/27/2020
This week: Amazon could hit the jackpot once the pandemic is over, Bing releases a tool that offers instant indexing, and eMarketer lowers ad spend projections.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Amazon Could Win Big After COVID-19
As I mentioned last week, Amazon reported that it’s hiring 100,000 new workers to keep up with demand as consumers opt for shopping online and social distancing instead of visiting a local store.
But even before the COVID-19 outbreak, we saw what some strategists called a “retail apocalypse.” Stores closed down and retailers declared bankruptcies as people opted to shop with their laptops instead of with their feet.
That problem is only going to get worse for brick-and-mortar outlets.
Simon Property Group, for example, owns and operates shopping malls across the U.S. That company said it would close all of its malls through the end of March.
E-commerce sales, on the other hand, spiked in recent weeks. Amazon, unsurprisingly, will benefit significantly from that uptick.
Amazon isn’t the only company that stands to make gains as a result of the pandemic, though. Big box shops like Costco, Sam’s Club, and B.J.’s Wholesale should weather this storm fairly well.
Walmart and Target also offer online shopping. They’ll likely emerge bruised but not beaten down after this is all over.
Users Claim Instant Ranking With the Bing URL Indexing API
Wanna get indexed in a hurry? Consider using the Bing URL and Content Submission API. It promises real-time web indexing.
One SEO said he ranked a page at #2 for the keyword “jQuery obsolete” in just 10 minutes. He expected to wait 30-45 minutes.Keep in mind, though, that the API is part of a pilot program. You’ll need to apply if you want to use it.
Also, the documentation says that you’re limited to batches of 500 URLs per submission. So if you’ve got millions of URLs you need indexed in the next 10 minutes, that’s not going to happen.
Finally, Bing still uses algorithms to determine whether it will accept a URL and place it in the index.
Google Eliminates Right-Sidebar Featured Snippets
Here’s one you probably saw coming.
Google moved the right sidebar featured snippets results into the main results section. The change is part of Google’s broader effort to eliminate featured snippet duplication.
So if you once owned a few spots on the right sidebar, that means your results only appear in the normal search results now. In other words, your links don’t appear twice.
As a result, you might see a drop in search traffic. Don’t blame an algorithm update. It’s probably because your links don’t appear as often in search as they used to.
Global Ad Spend Projections Lowered As a Result of COVID-19
Research firm eMarketer lowered its ad spend projections for 2020.
Previously, eMarketer forecasted an increase in ad spend of 7.4% or $712 billion. Now, the firm is projecting an increase of 7.0% or about $692 billion.
That’s a decrease of 3%.
In a statement, eMarketer said it’s lowering the forecast due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new modeling assumes that we’ll have the virus under control in the coming months. A fair assumption as some reports indicate that the spread of COVID-19 is limited in warmer weather.
Additionally, eMarketer assumes a significant rebound in economic activity following the containment.
Google Allows Restaurants to Add “Delivery Available’ to Business Name
Thankfully, Google will make an exception in what you can put in your business name if you run a restaurant. Now, you can add “Delivery Available” or “Takeout Available.”
It’s no mystery that restaurants are among the hardest hit businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak. They could use all the help they can get.
Thibault Adda, local search specialist for Darden Restaurants, tweeted this week: “Given the situation, GMB would allow us to update our business name to add ‘ – To Go Available’. Faster to push that Post and more visible.”
Joy Hawkins confirmed the move in the Local Search Forums: “Google said that they are fine with restaurants adding ‘Delivery Available’ or ‘Takeout Available’ to their business names during these crazy times. Normally this is against guidelines but given the circumstances, it’s helpful for users to be able to see this info easily.”
Google: No, We Don’t Prioritize AMP Pages in Search
Apparently, some SEOs are under the impression that Google prioritizes AMPlified sites in search. That’s not the case.
This past week on Twitter, someone posed the question about whether Google surfaces AMP content over non-AMP content in the SERPs.
Google Developer Martin Splitt replied bluntly: “That’s a myth.”
However, some carousels usually need AMP content. Additionally, AMP Stories need AMP content as well.
Sometimes, Google allows non-AMP content in those elements. That seems to be the exception rather than the rule, though.
Google: We May Look at Site Speed in a More Granular Way in the Future
You probably only need to worry about the site speed penalty if your site is reallllly slow. However, that might change in the future.
This past week in a Google Webmaster Hangout, somebody asked John Mueller the following question: “I think you guys have always said when it comes to the speed of a site you’re really only negative, like directly from a ranking standpoint ,directly impacting like the slowest of slow sites. Is that just an SEO thing that we say or is that actually true and then I have a follow-up?”
“I could imagine that over time especially with mobile sites we might find a more granular approach,” Mueller replied.
He went on to say that “if you like tweaking milliseconds and that’s probably not the best use of your time if you’re only worried about SEO.”
Facebook: Expect Ad Approval Delays During COVID-19
Facebook, like just many other companies, made staffing changes as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, you can expect delays for ad approvals.
Unfortunately, many of Facebook’s contractors aren’t able to work from home. Since they’re also not allowed to work at the office, that means they aren’t working at all.
Some of those contractors are the people who approve ads on the platform.
As a result, Facebook released the following statement this past week: “We use a combination of people and technology to review ads on Facebook and Instagram, and our automated systems already play a big role in that process. Now with a reduced and remote workforce, we’re relying on automated technology even more.”
In spite of the word “automated” appearing twice in the statement, Facebook warned that the change could result in delayed reviews, an increase in ads getting approved incorrectly, delayed appeals, and limited availability of Facebook in-stream ads.
Not a whole lot going on this week thanks to the virus, but we still have a few action items for you:
- If you’re doing any advertising on Facebook, get an early start by submitting your ads for approval well before you want to run them. Then, pause the ads until you’re ready.
- If your site speed is slow, get it up to speed. Literally. Otherwise, you might take a hit in the SERPs at some point in the future.
- If you’re running a restaurant and you do delivery or accept take-out orders, make sure you include one or the other in your business title on Google My Business. That way, people will know that they can support your restaurant during the pandemic.
- Sign up for the Bing API and see if you can get 10-minute indexing with some of your new content.
- Think about using Amazon as a platform to promote your brand since it looks like it’s going to take off in the next couple of quarters. Also, consider using alternative ecommerce platforms like Walmart and Target.
Digital Marketing News 3/16/2020-3/20/2020
This past week: LinkedIn rolls out Conversational Ads, Amazon stops FBA shipments for non-essential goods, and GMB optimization is the most important local marketing service.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
LinkedIn Introduces Conversation Ads
Conversation Ads are coming to LinkedIn!
If you’re unfamiliar with Conversation Ads, they give potential customers the option to choose their own path based on the CTA that they find most attractive.
For example, you can send a Conversation Ad that introduces your business and gives people the option to visit your site, register for a webinar, or sign up for a newsletter.
When you’re ready to get started with a Conversation Ad campaign, you can start with one of two objectives: website visits or lead generation.
Keep in mind: the platform will only send messages to active LinkedIn users. So you won’t have to worry about wasting ad spend on occasional visitors.
The new ad format rolls out globally over the next few weeks.
Amazon Eliminates FBA Shipments for Non-Essential Goods
There are many ways that the COVID-19 outbreak could affect your business. This is one of them.
This past week, Amazon announced that it’s limiting Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) inbound shipments to household staples and medical supplies.
Here’s a list of items that still qualify for FBA:
- Healthcare products
- Household items
- Baby products
- Industrial and scientific products
- Pet supplies
- Beauty and personal care products
To see if your product is eligible, visit the product detail page. If you see a double-arrow with a circle and a line through it on the right-hand side, then your product isn’t eligible for FBA shipments.
In a separate report, Amazon is hiring 100,000 more warehouse workers to handle the demand for its products. So this policy might get lifted in fairly short order.
Survey: 1 out of 3 Business Owners Don’t Know How Google Search Rankings Work
According to new research from Fractl, more than 1 in 3 business owners don’t know anything about how Google ranks web pages.
Nearly 1 in 4 owners aren’t even familiar with SEO, according to the survey.
Further, Fractl says that all respondents failed a basic SEO quiz. The average score on the quiz was 48.7%.
That quiz included the following questions:
- What is alt text?
- Which best describes organic search?
- What are backlinks?
- What is anchor text?
The questions were multiple-choice.
Survey: GMB Optimization the Most Important Local Marketing Service
According to a new survey by BrightLocal, Google My Business optimization is more important to local marketers than website optimization.
Here are the other four most valuable services, in order:
- On-site optimization
- Reputation management
- Citation management
- Website design
And here are the top five services offered by local marketers:
- GMB optimization
- SEO audits
- On-site optimization
- Citation management
So it looks like local marketing pros are fulfilling the needs of their clients.
Local marketers also say that SEO is the best way to attract new clients.
Google: We Don’t Use W3C Validation in Search
If you’re worried that W3C validation errors might adversely affect your website’s appearance in search results, don’t be.
This past week on a webmaster hangout, somebody asked Google’s John Mueller if W3C validation errors could slow down page loads.
Here’s how Mueller responded:
No, this does not affect time to download a page. Time to download a page is purely the time that it takes from Googlebot asking your server for a URL, to your server having provided that full-content to Googlebot.
What is on that page is totally irrelevant, other than maybe if you have a lot of text then maybe it will take a long time to transfer. But HTML errors are totally irrelevant to that.
Mueller also said that W3C validation isn’t something that Google uses when it comes to search.
Informal Survey: 58% of SEOs Want Google to Stop Algorithm Updates During Outbreak
This is pretty funny.
This past week, Barry Schwartz took a Twitter survey asking if Google should pause algorithm updates until the Coronavirus outbreak is in the past.
Fifty-eight percent said yes.
Google’s John Mueller responded to the tweet asking, “What would you consider an update?”
That’s a good question.
Google puts out updates all the time. Some are more significant than others.
Bing: Use 302s for URLs That Will Change in a Couple of Days
If you’re wondering whether you should opt for a 301 or 302 redirect, it depends on how long the destination URL will last. That’s according to Fabrice Canel from Bing.
“When the future is uncertain,” he tweeted, “preferable to use a 302 redirect if your destination URL may change within 2 days, else 301 is recommended.”
Frederic Dubut added: “I don’t think 2 days was meant as a prescriptive threshold… If you’re changing the target every 3 days, you should still use 302s.”
He went on to say that anytime a redirect is temporary, you should use a 302.
Google: Start With Fewer Pages for New Sites
If you’re planning a new site, it’s probably best if you don’t cram 10,000 pages into it right out of the gate. That’s according to Google’s John Mueller.
This past week on Twitter, someone asked Mueller if she should launch her jewelry website with different URLs for each product/style/color/etc.
Here’s how Mueller replied: “That’s hard, I recommend erring on the side of having fewer pages, especially when starting up a new site. ‘Too’ many pages makes it hard to find the unique value of each page, so unless they’re significantly different, I’d try to keep them together.”
Not a whole lot going on this week thanks to COVID-19, but there are still a few takeaways:
- If you’re using 301 redirects for destination URLs that change frequently, consider using 302 redirects instead.
- Get up to speed on Google My Business optimization if you haven’t done so already. As we’ve seen, it’s an important skill set these days.
- If you’re a business owner who doesn’t understand the basics of SEO, take some time to get acquainted with successful optimization strategies. You don’t have to know everything, but it’s a good idea to understand what your paid consultants are doing to give your website greater exposure.
- If your products don’t qualify for FBA shipments on Google, put an emergency plan into place. Determine how you’ll continue to meet the needs of your market during this crisis.
- If you’re running a B2B shop, consider how you can use LinkedIn Conversational Ads to reach new people in your target market