This week: TikTok finally spills the beans about U.S. users, Facebook makes it easier for you to sell products online, and Google now allows you to customize search snippets for your ecommerce products.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
WordPress Sitemap Bug Causes 404 Errors
If you’re letting the WordPress core software generate your sitemaps, you could lose rank. That’s because a new bug in the 5.5 release creates non-existent XML sitemap pages.
The bug only affects sites with enough pages to require more than one sitemap. The parent sitemap links out to a child sitemap with a bogus URL. When Google attempts to crawl that sitemap, it gets a 404 error.
You can fix the bug by downloading the 5.5.1 release and installing it.
TikTok Reveals Total Number of U.S. Users
For the first time, TikTok is letting us know how many of its users are located in the United States.
So here are the magic numbers:
- 100 million monthly active users (MAUs)
- 50 million daily active users (DAUs)
TikTok also says that it’s grown a whopping 800% since January 2018, when it had 11 million U.S. MAUs..
The micro-video blogging application has been downloaded 2 billion times globally.
As of July, TikTok boasted 700 million MAUs from around the world. By way of comparison, Facebook claims 2.7 billion global MAUs.
Google Rolls out New System to Report Security Issues
Looking for a way to report a security issue to Google? Start at Search Console.
Just click on the Help icon in the upper, right-hand corner of the screen. The pop-up that appears will show you a Security Issues Report section. At the bottom of that section, you’ll see a big blue button labeled Open the Security Issues report.
Of course, you won’t need to do that if your site hasn’t been flagged with a security issue to begin with.
If it has, though, and you’re certain nothing’s wrong, you can use that process to request another review.
The new tool is only available on English help pages.
Facebook & Instagram Make E-Commerce Easier
Facebook is making it easier for you to sell products via social media.
For starters, the mobile version of Facebook now offers a Shop tab. Users can tap on that to browse through inventories of products they like.
Additionally, U.S. businesses can soon join Facebook Shops so they can sell their products on both Facebook and Instagram. Facebook will also roll out new customization features for online stores and enhanced analytics.
Also, U.S. businesses can soon sign up for Instagram Checkout. As the name implies, that feature enables users to shop and purchase products without ever leaving Instagram.
Finally, Facebook’s new messaging button on Shops allows users to shop via Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram Direct.
Google: Most SEOs Don’t Need to Worry About the Crawl Budget
You probably don’t need to worry about the Google crawl budget. That’s according to the Google Search Relations team.
In a recent podcast, team member Gary Illyes said that a “substantial segment” of webmasters don’t need to stress over it.
“We’ve been pushing back on the crawl budget, historically, typically telling people that you don’t have to care about it,” he said. “And I stand my ground and I still say that most people don’t have to care about it. We do think that there is a substantial segment of the ecosystem that has to care about it.”
Illyes went on to say that you should probably get concerned about the crawl budget only if your site hosts one million pages or more.
Bing Looks at Page Quality Before Indexing
This one isn’t too surprising but it’s worth covering: Bing won’t index low-quality pages.
And what constitutes a “low-quality” page? Examples include:
- Empty pages
- Pages with thin content
- Pages with broken links
- Pages with malicious content
Bing also offers a list of things to avoid if you want your page indexed in its search engine:
- Purchased backlinks
- Duplicate content
- Scraped content
- Keyword stuffing
- Thin affiliate content
- Misleading structured data
Finally, Bing also uses user engagement metrics as a ranking factor. So if you want to rank well, make sure people don’t bounce away from your page after a few seconds.
Google: Links From Wikipedia Have No Value
If you’re thinking that you can jump to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) with a backlink from Wikipedia, think again.
First of all, links on Wikipedia are no-follow. So they don’t pass any page rank to the target site.
Secondly, John Mueller himself said that Wikipedia links have no value.
“Randomly dropping a link into Wikipedia has no SEO value and will do nothing for your site,” Mueller explained during a recent back-and-forth on Reddit. “All you’re doing is creating extra work for the Wikipedia maintainers who will remove your link drops. It’s a waste of your time and theirs. Do something that’s useful in the long term for your site instead, build something of persistent value.”
A caveat here: this advice pertains only to Google. Some people think DuckDuckGo passes page rank from Wikipedia.
Google Allows E-Tailers to Customize Product Info in Search
Now you have more control over how your products appear in search.
Google enables you to decide what does (and doesn’t) get displayed in product search snippets via robots meta tags.
In the past, you could use schema.org markup to specify how you wanted products to appear in search. But even with that markup, sometimes Google would “go its own way.”
With robots meta tags, you gain more control. Specifically, you can use the tags to:
- Show no snippet at all
- Specify a maximum snippet length
- Set a maximum image size
- Withhold content from appearing in a snippet
Google says that any changes you make won’t affect search rank.
The news was a little light this week but you’ve still got some assignments.
- If you’re in the ecommerce space, consider how you can customize your product listings in search to improve click-through rates.
- Make sure your pages are free of any of the red flags that would prevent them from getting indexed in Bing.
- Stop worrying about the crawl budget unless you have more than one million pages on your site.
- If you’re in the ecommerce space, look at the new shopping features on Facebook and Instagram. Think about ways that you can market to people at the top of the sales funnel on social media.
- If you think Google raised a false positive about a security issue on your site, report the problem using the reporting feature in Search Console.
- If you’re using WordPress v5.5, upgrade to the latest version. That way, you won’t have to worry about the sitemap error bug.