This week: Instagram is testing a new grid layout, the ad industry doesn’t like what Apple’s doing with Safari 11, and a myth about top ranking factors is debunked.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Ad Industry Doesn’t Like the Cookie-Blocking Feature in Safari 11
Ad Industry groups are in a bit of snit over a new feature in Apple’s Safari 11.
The problem? Apple is implementing a tracking prevention solution that determines if a cookie can follow a user’s browsing habits.
Without that information, advertisers will have trouble running retargeted ads.
Just this week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), American Advertising Federation (AAF), Association of National Advertisers (ANA), Data & Marketing Association (DMA), and Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) issued a joint statement against the new feature. They asked Apple to “rethink its plan to impose its own cookie standards and risk disrupting the valuable digital advertising ecosystem that funds much of today’s digital content and services.”
Apple responded as follows: “Many users feel that trust is broken when they are being tracked and privacy-sensitive data about their web activity is acquired for purposes that they never agreed to.”
And the battle rages on.
Bing Ads Allows Users to Set Extensions at the Account Level
Once upon a time, Bing Ads users had to create ad extensions one by one. That’s no longer the case.
Now, advertisers can set extensions at the account level. Those extensions will apply to all current and future campaigns.
However, Bing says that the extensions will not apply to call extensions and sitelinks.
Also, the account-level ad extensions won’t override campaign or ad group settings. So users still have plenty of flexibility.
Advertisers can create as many as 20 extensions per account.
Google: Top Ranking Factors Depend on the Query
The ongoing narrative in the SEO world is that there are 3 top ranking factors: links, content, and RankBrain. That narrative is false.
According to a couple of Google hotshots, the ranking factors change with the query.
Some obscure longtail queries, for example, might yield results with no backlinks. Obviously, then, backlinks aren’t a ranking factor for those results.
Here’s how Google’s Gary Illyes framed it on Twitter this week as he responded to an accusation that he identified 3 top ranking factors: “I didn’t give a top 3. I actually said that it very much depends on the query and the results which signals count more.”
He followed that up with this: “I also said at Brighton there are tons of top results that don’t have links at all. billions of queries a day, lots of long tail w/o links.”
John Mueller chimed in on the conversation to say that optimizing for ranking signals is short-term thinking: “The algorithms try to show relevant & awesome results to users’ queries. Everything else varies. Opt’ing for factors is short-term thinking.”
Google: Our Algorithms Don’t Look at Disavow Files
This past week, Google made it clear that the Google algorithm doesn’t use disavow files to identify link spam.
Instead, it uses those files to ignore links pointing to a site.
The subject came up when someone asked Gary Illyes the following question: “Did you train some algorithms using disavow links sent it to Search Console?”
Here’s how he responded: “None I know of, no.”
Later he sarcastically added: “Oh I’m sure blackhats would love if we used it!”
Google: Click Data Isn’t a Ranking Factor
This past week in a Google hangout, John Mueller cleared up a misconception about SEO. He said that click data is not a ranking factor.
That statement is at odds with what the head of Google Brain said just a couple of weeks ago.
Here’s what Barry Schwartz asked Mueller: “To be 100% clear, Google is not using click data, behavioral data, pogosticking, that type of stuff directly in their search ranking algorithm for ranking websites in their search results?”
Mueller responded as follows: “As far as I know, we don’t use that.”
Google: Shopping Cart Abandonment Isn’t a Ranking Factor
You can also add shopping cart abandonment to the list of things Google doesn’t use to determine page rank.
No .. but what good are rankings if people don't buy? pic.twitter.com/U1PbjEL50j
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) September 18, 2017
This past week on Twitter, someone asked John Mueller this question: “Can a high rate of shopping cart abandonment have a negative impact on a site’s search rankings?”
Here’s how he responded: “No… but what good are rankings if people don’t buy?”
Instagram Is Testing a 4-Wide Grid Layout
If you’re doing any marketing on Instagram, you’re probably familiar with the 3-wide grid layout. You might have even tried to create a brand-specific mosaic with that layout in mind.
Now, you might have to update your mosaic. Instagram is testing a 4-wide grid layout.
Anyone else's instagram keep changing to a 4 pic grid then back to 3? 🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/n1ebT20656
— Nicky 💎 (@nxckyhale) September 14, 2017
A few Instagram users noticed the test this week. They posted screenshots on Twitter.
Whether or not Instagram decides to make the change permanent remains to be seen.