This week: Titlepocalypse is here, LinkedIn ends Stories, and TikTok makes it easier to promote your videos.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
LinkedIn Ending Stories
Here’s a switch: a social media company is eliminating Stories.
On September 30, LinkedIn will officially remove its Stories feature.
Apparently, Stories aren’t very successful on the so-called “Facebook for adults.”
“In developing Stories, we assumed people wouldn’t want informal videos attached to their profile, and that ephemerality would reduce barriers that people feel about posting,” LinkedIn said in a statement. “Turns out, you want to create lasting videos that tell your professional story in a more personal way and that showcase both your personality and expertise.”
Ads that were intended to run in between Stories will now run in the main LinkedIn feed.
Google Rolls out Shipping and Return Annotations in Search
If you’re in the ecommerce space, you’ll like this news.
Google is giving you the opportunity to highlight promotions related to shipping and returns.
For example, you’ll soon have the opportunity to include an annotation that reads: “Get it by Dec. 24.” That could come in handy in the not-so-distant future.
You could also include an annotation that reads: “Free, 2-day shipping.” And you get to specify the number of days with that annotation if two days doesn’t work for your business.
Regarding return annotations, you could include something that reads: “Free returns until Jan. 31.” Again, you get to pick the date.
Google’s Link Spam Update Is Complete
As of August 24, Google officially completed the rollout of its linkspam update.
It’s primarily aimed at sites that use affiliate links. But it also takes aim at link schemes.
If you’re unfamiliar with link schemes, they’re attempts to get backlinks for money or some other type of compensation.
Feel free to read the guidelines on affiliate links for more info.
Google: You Can’t Get a Better Rank by Faking Your Lighthouse Score
SEOs get more creative with each passing day.
The latest trick that some black-hatters attempted is by faking their Lighthouse scores.
Lighthouse is a tool that measures site speed and other user experience factors. It does that with the assistance of an automated agent that crawls a website and delivers a report on how quickly it loads.
Some folks got the bright idea of detecting the Lighthouse agent and loading a different, leaner page just to get a better speed score.
Well, that doesn’t affect rank, according to Google’s John Mueller.
“Lighthouse scores do not affect Google Search,” he said. “Doing this kind of user-agent cloaking is a terrible idea – you’re just deceiving yourself. It makes absolutely no sense, and prevents you from finding real issues. If you run across a plugin that does this, report it to the CMS.”
It’s okay. I’m sure the blackhat folks will soon come up with another equally ineffective way to boost rank next week.
Titlepocalypse Is Upon Us
For the third week in a row, I am forced to cover Google’s recent decision to show its own titles instead of web page titles in search results.
That’s because some SEOs are none too happy about it. They’ve resorted to calling it “Titlepocalypse.”
One search marketer, Lily Ray, tweeted that an e-commerce site saw clicks decline by more than 60,000 and CTR drop by .6%.
She’s not alone. A local search marketer complained to Google that the search engine rewrote a web page’s title tags with the wrong location.
It gets worse. In the health sector, Google added the word “vaccination” to titles for pages that cover an illness but not the vaccination for the illness.
That’s a significant issue for YMYL (Your Money Your Life) content.
And, in some cases, Google’s titles don’t include proper capitalization.
Undoubtedly, Google will recognize many of these issues as legitimate and make some changes.
Watch this video to dive deeper into Google’s SEO title updates.
Google: Don’t Blindly Replace Your Title Tags With Google’s Titles
More on Titlepocalypse.
Google says you shouldn’t replace your original web page title with the title that gets displayed in search. At least not until you’ve done some due diligence.
“[J]ust because one algorithm selects something as a title doesn’t mean it’s a better title,” John Mueller said in response to a question about this subject.
He added: “But maybe there are cases where Google’s algorithms have selected a better title and where it makes sense to kind of go in that direction.”
So if Google hands you a better title than the one you chose, use it.
Google’s Title Change Doesn’t Affect Rank
Still more on Titlepocalypse.
Google says it doesn’t impact rank.
According to Google, the change is “purely a display change.” So it doesn’t affect where your web pages land in search based on keywords entered by the searcher.
Google also says that the company makes algo changes all the time. So your page rank could change, but it’s not because of Titlepocalypse.
This is purely a display change. This is not meant to change rankings. It’s easier to separate things out for testing. That said, we make ranking changes all the time too, so I wouldn’t assume you won’t see ranking changes, it’s just that they’re not due to this :).
— 🧀 John 🧀 (@JohnMu) August 29, 2021
SEMRush: Google Dropped Title Tags Usage by 77%
The last thing on Titlepocalypse comes to us from SEMRush.
According to the company’s research, the number of search results showing the web page’s <title> tag dropped 77% on average.
For results that display something other than the <title> tag, 75% use the H1 instead of the tag contents.
A caveat, though: this study by SEMRush only examined 2,000 URLs. So it’s not a huge sample.
Google Will Drop Expanded Text Ads
This past week, Google announced that it will drop support for expanded text ads as of June 30, 2022.
Google also said that marketers can only use responsive search ads for standard Search campaigns in the future.
The company pointed out that the change will help you simplify the way you create Search ads.
“Responsive search ads help you compete in a wider variety of relevant auctions by delivering ads that adapt to show the right message for the right query. This means that you can drive incremental conversions and create fewer ads—all while spending more time on strategic initiatives for your business.”
Google also said that advertisers who switch from expanded text ads to responsive search ads see an average of 7% more conversions at a similar cost per conversion.
TikTok Adds ‘Promote’ Option for Business Accounts
TikTok is giving you the option to quickly boost your video content on its platform.
“Starting this month, Promote is available to help businesses reach more people and grow their community with their TikTok videos,” the company said in a statement. “With Promote, you can turn any organic TikTok video into an ad, directly within the app. You can start reaching new audiences, build a following, and drive traffic to your business website.”
In other words, the feature is similar to the Facebook Boost button.
It’s only available for business users, though.
The new feature is a great option if you’re following TikTok’s advice to not make ads but instead make TikToks. Once you’ve made a great TikTok, you can build brand-name awareness by promoting it.
Before you enjoy the long weekend, take care of a few things:
- Think about how you can use the TikTok “Promote” feature to boost your brand.
- Make the switch to responsive search ads since Google is sunsetting expanded text ads.
- See if Google is coming up with better titles for your pages in search and make the necessary changes.
- If you’re using affiliate links, be sure to read the Google guidelines and make sure you play by the rules.
- If you’re in the ecommerce space, think about how you can use shipping and return annotations to gain market share.