This week: Google rolled out another algorithm update, YouTube is releasing Premieres 2.0, and Facebook is testing an Instagram content calendar.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Google’s December Core Update Was a Big One
You might have noticed your keywords jumping around a bit lately. That’s because of the Google December 2020 core update
According to reports from folks who track updates, this one was even bigger than the May update.
The rollout started about a week ago. It should continue to roll out for another week.
But plenty of analysts have noticed big changes so far.
RankRanger, for example, reported a 98% level of volatility in the top results. The May update registered a 93% level of volatility.
Also, fluctuations for the top twenty positions more than doubled, from 153 to 345, between the two updates.
According to SEMRush, the categories hit the hardest by the algorithm change include Arts & Entertainment, Auto & Vehicles, and Beauty & Fitness.
Interestingly enough, Pinterest lost a bit of rank from the latest update.
Facebook Tests an Instagram Content Calendar
Good news if you’re looking to create a content calendar for Instagram. Facebook might soon give you one for free.
And it’s literally a calendar!
According to a screenshot posted by Ahmed Ghanem, the new calendar option shows a listing of all your Instagram posts, past and future.
New! Facebook Creator Studio now has a content calendar tool for Instagram
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) December 9, 2020
It appears in the left-hand sidebar in your Instagram tab in the app. If you have it.
Looks like the calendar goes out to six months in advance. That gives you plenty of time to release your Instagram strategy in bits and pieces.
As of now, though, the calendar limits you to scheduling only feed and IGTV posts. Maybe soon it will support Stories.
Google Enhances Lead Form Extensions
If you use Google’s lead form extensions to promote your brand, you’ll love this news.
Google is adding a couple of new features to lead form extensions.
First, the company is making them shareable across Search, YouTube, and Discovery campaigns.
Additionally, you can choose from more than 50 questions to customize your lead forms according to your business requirements.
Also, Google now integrates lead forms with your customer relationship management (CRM) system. That means your leads will get forwarded to the right sales reps who can follow up.
Searches for ‘Available Near Me’ More Than Doubled in the Past Year
It seems people are still fond of shopping close to home. That’s true even during a time when interest in ecommerce is soaring.
According to Reena Nadkami, Head of Product Management and Local Ads at Google, searches for “available near me” are up over 100% this past year.
She also said that 67% of consumers plan to confirm online that an item is in stock before they go to the store to buy it.
Finally, Nadkami advised small businesses to use contactless payments, curbside pickup, real-time product delivery, and online communication as the pandemic continues and local governments mandate lockdowns.
Google: NoIndexed Pages Can Affect Core Web Vitals
This is a surprise.
You might think that if you have some pages on your site marked noindex, they won’t be used by Google to determine your Core Web Vitals metrics.
But they will.
Google says that the reason it also uses non-indexed pages to calculate CWV is because they measure page experience. Pages that don’t qualify for search impact UX as well as indexable pages.
In response to that news, someone recently asked Google’s John Mueller if there’s any way to exclude certain pages from Google’s CWV assessment.
His reply was not encouraging.
“I don’t have any great answers for you at the moment,” he said.
Instagram Adds Shopping Tags to Reels
Now you can sell your products via Instagram Reels.
Yes, this is yet another attempt to turn everything into an e-commerce platform.
Here’s how it works: you add a shopping tag to your Reels clip. Viewers can tap the “View Product” prompt at the bottom and check out featured items. Then, they can tap again to make a purchase.
It’s a great way to monetize content for Reels creators as ads aren’t practical with Reels clips that last only a few seconds.
WhatsApp Adds Carts for Online Shopping
Speaking of turning every platform into ecommerce, WhatsApp added carts to its feature set.
Users who see an item they’d like to purchase just tap “add to cart.” They can repeat that process as often as they like.
When they’re ready to checkout, they can send the cart to the business as a message. Then, the business can complete the order.
Here’s what WhatsApp has to say about the feature:
“Starting today, we’re excited to bring carts to WhatsApp. Carts are great when messaging businesses that typically sell multiple items at once, like a local restaurant or clothing store. With carts, people can browse a catalog, select multiple products and send the order as one message to the business. This will make it simpler for businesses to keep track of order inquiries, manage requests from customers and close sales.”
The cart is available right now.
Google: Structured Data Is a Minor Ranking Signal
Structured data won’t save you in the SERPs. That’s according to Google’s John Mueller.
This past week, Mueller tweeted a bit about structured data. He said that “it’s an extremely light signal.”
He went on to say that if you’re concerned about getting rank, you should make the content more obvious.
Keep in mind, though, that some types of structured data can give your site rich text results in search. That will likely lead to more click-throughs.
YouTube Updates Premieres
This past week, YouTube announced updates to Premieres. Soon, you’ll find 4 new ways to boost your videos.
If you’re unfamiliar with Premieres, it’s a way that video creators can promote their videos before they actually go live.
Here’s a rundown of the new features:
- Live Redirect – Connect a live stream (like a pre-show show) to an upcoming video.
- Premiere Trailers – Make a pre-recorded video to further promote your production.
- Expanded Countdown Themes – Match your countdown to the overall atmosphere of your video.
- Schedule Premieres on Mobile – Use your mobile app to schedule a Premieres video.
The new features roll out over the next month.
Lots of ways to improve your own marketing strategies based on this week’s news:
- If you’re running an ecommerce site, consider using WhatsApp to sell products. You might reach people you wouldn’t on any other platform.
- Think about adding shopping tags on Instagram Reels as another way to sell your products.
- Pay attention to that Instagram content calendar feature. If it goes into production, you’ll have a new way to schedule content. You might even be able to get rid of a paid solution you’re currently using.
- Think about how you can use the updates to YouTube Premieres to generate more buzz about your videos.
- Use those Google Ads lead form extensions to walk even more customers through the sales journey.