This week: Facebook brings an early Christmas present to e-commerce marketers, Google gets sued by the people of the United States, and Bing’s got a new toy.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Google Will Identify Passages in Web Pages for Better Indexing
Search Liaison Danny Sullivan recently announced that Google will identify individual passages in web pages. It’s an update that will make it easier for the search engine to understand how relevant a page is to a search query.
The problem now is that Google looks at pages as a whole. It determines the relevance of those pages to specific queries in search.
But what if a page includes multiple topics? In that case, the search algorithm might not flag one of those topics as relevant to a query because the whole page carries a different theme.
Once the update rolls out, Google will surface pages that include passages relevant to the keyword. That will happen even if the overall content on those pages doesn’t necessarily relate.
This is a game-changer.
The good news: you won’t need to do as much work to optimize content for search terms. In other words, you’ll no longer need to optimize the whole page. You can just focus on specific passages.
The bad news: more competition. Other pages that include subtopics more relevant to the query than your overall page might surface in search ahead of your website.
Google hasn’t yet announced a release date for the change.
WordPress Gutenberg 9.2 Includes Lots of New Enhancements
WordPress released the latest version of its content management system this past week. It’s called Gutenberg 9.2
Here are some of the improvements you’ll find if you get the update:
- Security fix – Addresses a Regular Expression Denial of Service threat that causes CPU overloads.
- Image alt text fallback – Enables you to use the image caption as the alt text.
- Video subtitle support – Provides a drop down in the video media workspace that you can use to add subtitles to videos.
- Info panel update – Enhances the info panel to display it as columns instead of rows.
- Template detail dropdown – Gives you the name and description of the template you’re using.
- Layout update – Enables you to use a single-column layout.
There are a few other updates as well. Be sure to check them out at the link above.
Bing Site Explorer Now Includes Great New SEO Tools
You’re going to want to take a look at the new Bing Site Explorer if you haven’t done so. It’s packed with goodies for folks serious about SEO.
If you’re unfamiliar with Site Explorer, it’s part of Bing Webmaster Tools, that thing you don’t think you need because you have Google Search Console.
But not so fast. Site Explorer has some really nice features.
The overarching theme: it gives you a bird’s-eye view of how Microsoft Bing sees your website.
It does that with a pretty slick UI. All your pages are arranged in folders and subfolders. That gives you the ability to look at the big picture or view individual pages.
And what exactly do you see? Crawl info.
You’ll see a notice about whether specific URLs are indexed or excluded from the index because of quality issues.
Additionally, you’ll see errors and warnings about problems with specific pages.
Site Explorer also offers other page-specific data such as when it was last crawled, when it was first discovered, and whether it’s using HTTPS.
Bing says the new features make Site Explorer “a one stop solution for checking the SEO status and health of your URLs.”
Facebook Rolls out New E-Commerce Features
Just in time for the holidays!
- Instagram ads with tags – Create ads with product tags in Ads Manager rather than promoting product tags for organic Shopping posts.
- Shopping engagement custom audiences – Reach people who’ve shown an interest in your brand by saving your product, making a purchase, or viewing a shop.
- Shopping lookalike audiences – Find people who share the same interests as folks in your target market.
- Discounts – Promote sales and discounts on the Promotions tab. This feature is only available in the U.S.
Additionally, Facebook will promote minority-owned businesses with the #BuyBlackFriday hashtag from now through the actual Black Friday.
DOJ Files Antitrust Suit Against Google
Together with 11 state attorneys general, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google.
The suit alleges that the search giant engages in monopolistic and anti-competitive practices.
Specifically, the DOJ claims that Google:
- Manages monopolies in “general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising.”
- Uses revenue sharing, restrictive contracts, and direct payments to prevent competitors from gaining widespread distribution.
- Coerces mobile phone manufacturers to pre-install Google apps.
Just two weeks ago, the House Subcommittee on Antitrust issued a report describing Google as a system of “interlocking monopolies.”
Google, for its part, says the suit is “deeply flawed.”
Almost All of Google’s Indexing Problems Have Been Resolved
This past week, Google announced that almost all of its indexing issues have been resolved.
Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison, tweeted that “the canonical issue was effectively resolved last Wednesday, with about 99% of the URLs restored. We expect the remaining edge cases will be restored within a week or two.”
Google: You Don’t Necessarily Own Content That Gets Indexed First
So when Google detects duplicate content between two sites, who wins?
In other words, which site hosts the original content and which site hosts the duplicate?
You might think that it’s “first come, first served” with Google. But that’s not the case.
According to Google’s John Mueller:
Being indexed first doesn’t make a site the owner of the content. There’s no need to try to squeeze your pages in early in that regard. Spammers are sometimes very technically smart & fast, but that doesn’t make their content original or useful.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) October 17, 2020
In the past, Google said that scrapers can only outrank your site if it’s penalized or suffering from quality issues.
Google: Slow URLs Can Affect the Ranking of Your Entire Site
If you’ve got a page on your site that’s particularly slow to load, you might think that only affects the SEO of that page.
This past week, John Mueller made it clear that slow speed on one page can affect your entire site.
To be sure, he said that Google does try to get as granular as possible when it comes to specific pages. However, sometimes data just isn’t there for specific URLs. In that case, the search engine evaluates the speed of the site as a whole.
And if some pages are performing poorly, that will affect the ranking of other pages.
Twitter Ads Manager Shows Preview of Composed Tweets
Here’s a nice update to Twitter’s Ads Manager.
This is what the new tweet composer looks like: pic.twitter.com/VTzQX3i3sM
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) October 21, 2020
Now, in Tweet Composer, the tool will show you what your Promoted Tweet will look like.
It will even show you what your tweet will look like in both mobile and desktop platforms.
Even better: the preview updates dynamically. As you make changes, you can see your changes reflected in the preview in real time.
Also, Tweet Composer now uses an expanded layout that gives you more digital real estate to create tweets.
Lots of takeaways from this week’s news. Here are some action items to add to your calendar:
- If you run ads on Twitter, check out the preview feature in Tweet Composer. Use it to fine-tune your Composed Tweets for different platforms.
- If any of the pages on your website are slow, speed them up immediately or your entire site could take a hit in rankings.
- If you’re in the e-commerce space, take a look at Facebook’s new features. Think about how you can use them to generate more revenue over the next couple of months.
- Take a look at Bing Site Explorer. Start using it as well as Google Search Console to get more insights about SEO.
- Talk to your development team about moving to WordPress Gutenberg 9.2.