This week: Google is phasing out the broad match modifier keyword option in Ads, Facebook might develop its own Clubhouse, and Instagram doesn’t want your hand-me-downs.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Google Adds New Manual Action Penalties
This past week, Google included 12 new types of manual action penalties. They’re related to Google News and Google Discover policies.
In the past, manual action penalties were limited to violations of Google Search policies.
A manual action, by the way, involves a human reviewer at Google taking steps to remove a site from the search engine results pages (SERPs) or lowering its rank.
Here’s a breakdown of the new penalties:
Since it’s difficult to recover from a manual action, it’s in your best interest to ensure that your site complies with Google guidelines.
Google: Removing Blog Comments Might Affect Search
Think you can remove blog comments without affecting your page rank? Think again.
According to Google’s John Mueller, you could take a hit in the SERPs if you remove all comments from a blog post.
The subject came up this past week during a Google Search Central SEO hangout.
“From our point of view we do see comments as a part of the content,” Mueller said. “We do also, in many cases, recognize that this is actually the comment section so we need to treat it slightly differently. But ultimately if people are finding your pages based on the comments there then, if you delete those comments, then obviously we wouldn’t be able to find your pages based on that.”
Mueller went on to remind everybody that Google does not ignore comments on a web page.
Google Ads Will Phase out Modified Broad Match
Google recently announced that the broad match modifier version of keyword matching in Google Ads will soon go away.
In two weeks, the phrase match option will cover broad match modified keywords.
Google says your performance data will remain the same once the change rolls out.
Further, you can continue adding broad match modifier keywords up until July.
Google says that it’s rolling out the change so that account managers won’t have to spend as much time managing specific keywords.
Broad match modifier is an advertising keyword strategy that tells Google to run the ad when specific words appear in the search query. But they don’t have to be in any particular order.
Phrase match, on the other hand, requires that the words be in the right order.
Once this change is fully implemented, Google says you should pay attention to the Recommendations section of your account. You might see duplicate keyword notifications.
Instagram Limits TikTok Reposts to Reels
Instagram doesn’t want you taking TikTok content and reposting it to Reels.
Why? Maybe because of that TikTok logo in the bottom corner of the video.
Instagram forgivably doesn’t want to provide free advertising for a competitor.
Anyway, Instagram updated its policies this past week to tell you not to post a Reel that’s “visibly recycled from other apps.”
“We’re building on what we’ve learned from Explore to recommend fun and entertaining videos in places like the Reels tab, and personalize the experience,” Instagram said in a statement. “We are getting better at using ranking signals that help us predict whether people will find a reel entertaining and whether we should recommend it.”
Yes, you read that right. Instagram also updated its algorithm to downrank recycled content.
Report: Facebook Developing Its Own Clubhouse
Meanwhile, in not-so-shocking news that will surprise absolutely nobody who’s paying attention, it looks like Facebook is trying to develop its own Clubhouse clone.
Clubhouse is an invitation-only, audio-only social media app. It’s home to high-profile business leaders and celebrities. Think of it as a virtual country club.
But in spite of its exclusive nature, the app gets a lot of buzz online. In fact, its “us four, no more” theme probably generates demand.
People want to be part of the exclusive Clubhouse.
And now Facebook wants a piece of that action.
This is a recurring theme. Every high-profile social media app rolled out some version of Stories.
And now we could see audio-focused hangouts on a number of apps.
The rules apply differently here, though. As I noted above, part of the attraction to Clubhouse isn’t its technology. It’s the opportunity to rub shoulders with people who could be featured in a modern-day version of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
That can’t be easily duplicated.
So time will tell if this gambit by Facebook pays off.
U.S. Government Ditches Forced Sell-Off of TikTok
The Biden administration won’t force TikTok to sell its U.S. company ownership.
Previously, the Trump administration approved the sale of TikTok to a group that included Oracle and Walmart.
TikTok’s ties to China have drawn concern about privacy rights. Some folks fear the Chinese Communist Party might gain access to user data and use it for nefarious purposes.
The U.S. government recognizes that concern and will address it as well. Just in a different way.
“We plan to develop a comprehensive approach to securing U.S. data that addresses the full range of threats we face,” said U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne. “This includes the risk posed by Chinese apps and other software that operate in the U.S. In the coming months, we expect to review specific cases in light of a comprehensive understanding of the risks we face.”
Google: Core Web Vitals Stats Might Include Non-Indexed Pages
This past week, Google’s John Mueller issued a sobering reminder that you need to generate a positive user experience with all your web pages. Even the ones that aren’t indexed.
During a Google Search Central SEO office hours hangout, somebody asked Mueller if slow non-indexed pages will get included in the Core Web Vitals metrics.
If you’re unfamiliar with Core Web Vitals, they’re a trio of stats that measure user experience on a website. Specifically, Core Web Vitals identify page load speed and layout shift.
And in May, they’ll become ranking signals.
So it’s understandable that some website owners don’t want non-indexed slow pages included in the Core Web Vitals scores.
The problem is that Core Web Vitals includes aggregated metrics. In other words, the standards don’t apply to single pages. They apply to a set of pages on a site.
Here’s how Mueller answered the question: “So I’m not 100% sure but my understanding is that in the Chrome User Experience Report data we do include all kinds of pages that users access. So there’s no specific kind of, will this page be indexed like this or not check that happens there because the indexability is sometimes quite complex with regards to canonicals and all of that.”
So yeah. Your site could take a hit in rank if you don’t optimize non-indexed pages.
Happy Valentine’s weekend! And when you’re done celebrating, take care of these action items:
- Make sure that even your non-indexed pages are compliant with Core Web Vitals standards. Otherwise, you could lose rank to competitors.
- Quit posting TikTok videos on Instagram. Find another way to get the same content to both platforms.
- If you’re using broad match modifier keywords on Google Ads, think about how you can optimize your campaigns to work with phrase match. Pay close attention to your analytics over the next few months.
- Think about how removing blog post comments can affect your rank in search.
- Pay attention to those new causes for manual action penalties. Make sure all your content is compliant.