This week: YouTube has a new metric, Google lets you sell products commission-free, and TikTok will start paying folks to use the platform with its Creator Fund.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Buy on Google Goes Commission-Free
Good news if you’re a Google merchant: your margins are about to increase.
That’s because Buy on Google is going commission-free.
If you’re unfamiliar with Buy on Google, it’s Google’s native checkout platform for product listings.
With this new move, Google is attempting to take a bite out of Amazon’s e-commerce market share by giving e-tailers yet another reason to join the platform.
Recall that just recently Google started listing products on Google Shopping free of charge.
So how many Amazon sellers will flock to Google Shopping now? Time will tell.
Google Explains How to Get Away With Intrusive Interstitials
Believe it or not, there are times when you can use intrusive interstitials without hurting your ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Google’s John Mueller explained how to do so during a recent Webmaster Central hangout.
TL;DR: Serve the interstitials to direct traffic but not to organic traffic coming from search results. Also, don’t serve the interstitials to Googlebot.
Here’s what Mueller had to say about that tactic: “That’s generally okay. The thing to watch out for there is that Googlebot, when we crawl and index your page, we don’t send a referrer. So that’s something where if users coming in from search see kind of an improved view – that’s fantastic.”
Normally, Google would consider that cloaking. But in this case you’re not doing anything deceptive, you’re literally showing the same thing to Googlebot that you’re showing to users who access your site from search.
Google: Use Images Instead of HTML for Charts
Ever wonder if you should post charts as HTML or embed them as images? According to John Mueller, you can do just fine with images.
Mueller was asked about that at a recent Google Webmaster Central hangout.
In response, he didn’t just endorse the idea of using images, he flat-out recommended using images over HTML.
But he added this caveat: website owners should use the alt attribute to explain the contents of the chart.
Using the alt attribute for images is a best-practice, anyway. So that should be par for the course.
Mueller also said to add textual content around the chart to further clarify its contents.
TikTok Launches $200 Million ‘Creator Fund’ in U.S.
TikTok will pay you to produce content on its platform.
The company launched a $200 million creator fund to “encourage those who dream of using their voices and creativity to spark inspirational careers.”
Of course, you have to qualify if you want TikTok to send you some of that money.
Here’s the criteria for qualification:
- You must be 18 years of age or older
- You must live in the United States
- You must consistently post content that doesn’t violate community guidelines
Oh, yeah. You also need to meet a certain baseline for followers. In other words, you probably already need to be a TikTok influencer.
There’s little doubt as to what motivated this initiative. TikTok is under fire in the U.S. for alleged ties to the Chinese government. And there’s a bit of a fractious relationship between China and the U.S. right now.
The company will start accepting applications for grants in August.
New YouTube Metric Shows Creators How Much They’re Earning Across the Board
YouTube is making it easier for you to see how much you’re earning with all of its monetization methods.
Even better: the new Revenue per mille (RPM) metric shows you much you’re earning relative to all video views.
As the name implies, RPM shows your earnings per 1,000 views during a specific time period.
That means even videos you haven’t monetized will contribute that metric. It’s a great way to get a holistic picture of your overall YouTube channel strategy.
Facebook: Most-Liked Posts Not the Most Viewed
Here’s an eye-opener: the Facebook posts that get the most engagements are typically seen by a small percentage of people. That’s according to Facebook’s Head of News Feed John Hegeman.
“While some link posts get a lot of interactions, likes or comments, this content is a tiny % of what most people see on FB,” Hegeman said in a tweet. “News from these Pages don’t represent the most viewed news stories on FB, either.”
He went on to say that some posts receive high engagements because the people interacting with them are passionate about the contents. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that those posts are the most popular on the platform.
Hegeman says the best way to determine popularity is by looking at reach (impressions).
Google’s AMP Testing Tool Now Recognizes Web Stories
If you like to create Web Stories using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), you’ll be happy to learn that Google now supports that format in the AMP testing tool and Google Search Console Performance reports.
If you’re unfamiliar with Web Stories, they’re storytelling experiences designed for mobile users. As the name implies, Web Stories are similar to the “Stories” formats you see on Instagram and Snapchat. Here’s a really cool one from USA Today about Beyonce.
You can see Web Stories in Google Images, Discover, and on the Google app.
Now, the AMP testing tool will properly parse your Web Story markup and identify it as such. It will also tell you if it’s valid.
Additionally, Search Console will also show you much traffic you get from your Web Stories.
New Version of WordPress Adds Sitemaps
If you’re using WordPress as your content management system (CMS) of choice, you can now create a sitemap without any plugins.
Of course, you’ll need to get the latest version (5.5) of WordPress.
The sitemap is found at your URL root plus /wp-sitemap.xml.
WordPress developed the new feature in conjunction with Google. So you can be sure it’s in line with what Google is looking for in a sitemap.
According to Google’s Pascal Birchler, the sitemap index can hold a maximum of 50,000 sitemaps. A single sitemap can hold a maximum of 2,000 URLs.
Although you don’t need to add any plugins to WordPress for the feature to work, you will need to add the SimpleXML PHP extension to your PHP installation.
Google: We’re Updating the Rich Results Testing Tool
As I reported in this space a few weeks back, Google is sunsetting the Structured Data Testing Tool in favor of the Rich Results Test Tool. That didn’t sit well with several members of the SEO community.
Why? Because the old tool highlighted markup problems on all structured data issues. The new tool only highlights problems about markup that might show up in search results.
This past week, in a Google Webmaster Central hangout, John Mueller addressed the concerns about the new tool.
“We are planning on expanding the Rich Results Testing Tool,” he said. “We’ve been looking at all the feedback that we’re getting where people are like oh this is like terrible Google because this one use case I have only works in the Structured Data Testing Tool. And we try to take that kind of feedback understand what it is that people are trying to do and to make sure that we can implement that with the Rich Results Testing Tool.”
Mueller also said that the Structured Data Testing Tool isn’t going away “like just now.”
Not a whole lot of news this week but there are still a few items that can keep you busy:
- If you’re concerned about losing your ability to test all structured data on your website, make your concerns known to Google. Post a tweet about it and tag John Mueller.
- If you’re relying on a plugin to create sitemaps for your WordPress site, use the embedded sitemap feature in the latest version of WordPress instead. Then, you can delete your plugin.
- If you use Web Stories to promote your brand, be sure to check out the Web Story related enhancements on Google’s AMP testing tool as well as Search Console.
- If you’re generating income via YouTube, be sure to check out that RPM metric. Use it to determine if you need to update your overall video strategy.
- If you find that interstitials help you get more conversions, consider updating your site so they only appear for direct traffic but not for organic traffic. Remember, though, that some users will find them irritating.
- If you’re an Amazon seller, consider how much money you can save by selling commission-free on Google Shopping. However, make sure you also take your potential reach into account. Even if you can save money on a per-product basis, you might not sell nearly as many products via Google as you do with Amazon.