January 2018 Digital Marketing News Recap
Here are some major digital marketing updates from the Month of January 2018.
Google Assistant & Voice Search Guidelines: Google has announced that they have published their Google Assistant and voice search quality guidelines, similar to how Google published their search quality raters guidelines. These give specific guidelines for third parties to evaluate the quality of the search results, and in this case, the Google Assistant voice search responses.
Google PageSpeed Insights Tool Now Shows Real User Speed To Your Pages: Google announced they have updated the Pagespeed Insights tool to now show real user data from Chrome users, on how they access your pages. That means, if you are using Chrome and accessing this page, Google may use that data to determine how fast or slow this page is.
New Google Search Console Is Rolling Out With 16 Months Of Data: The new Google Search Console is rolling out over the next few weeks to all webmasters and you will be able to access the new Google Search Console and the old one via links in the navigation. Google also announced the Search Performance report, which is similar to the Search Analytics report, has up to 16 months worth of data! The features will come to the API over time, so be patient there!
Google Speed Update: Google Algorithm Designed To Downgrade Slow Mobile Pages: Google announced a new ranking algorithm designed specifically to downgrade the search rankings of really slow mobile pages. Google said “starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.” Overall, this update really is not that big of a deal. I doubt most sites will even notice when it goes live. A page has to be super slow for it to be impacted by this. Heck, even a super fast page won’t see any ranking boost. It just hurts pages that are really unbearably slow. How slow exactly? Only Google knows but they won’t say.
Chrome User Experience Report Now Shows Country Specific Data: Google quietly announced that the Chrome User Experience Report now will give you country-level insights. Before the tool only gave you the data on a global aggregate basis, now you can drill down to country-specific datasets to compare these metrics across specific regions.
Google: Translate Your Image Alt Tags As Well: Google’s John Mueller said that having different languages on the same page “makes it harder to determine which language is the primary language of a page.” You don’t want to make it harder for Google to understand your pages, ever. So make sure to translate your page fully when doing that translation. That includes the image alternative text attributes, alt tags. John Mueller said if you don’t translate those as well, it can make it harder for Google to understand them as well.
Google Testing – Google Bulletin: Google is testing a new local service called Bulletin. The company describes it as a “lightweight app for telling a story by capturing photos, video clips and text right from your phone, published straight to the web.” It’s currently only available in Nashville, Tennessee, and Oakland, California. Google envisions this as a way to contribute “hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone.”
Video Uploads on Google My Business Dashboard: Google is testing a feature where business owners can upload videos to their local listings through Google My Business account. As of January 12, this video uploading function is available to every business owner, but people are experiencing a bug where the uploaded videos don’t show up on local listings
Study: 80% of Google Home Answers Come from Snippets: According to ROAST, when Google Home provided an answer, 80% of the answers came from Answer Box. According to ROAST, when Google Home provided an answer, 80% of the answers came from Answer Box.
Google to Drop AdWords Review Extensions: This month, the review extensions will be gone. Steve Seeley posted first about it on Twitter and Ginny Marvin posted a more detailed write up about it on Search Engine Land. So if you are using them, this is a heads up that they will stop working next month and that you should download the extensions now.
Google AdWords App Now Lets You Add/Edit/Delete Keywords: Google announced on Google+ and Twitter that now you can add, edit or delete keywords within your AdWords campaigns directly in the Google AdWords mobile app on iOS or Android. Here are instructions from their help docs:
Google AdWords Adds Remarketing Ad Settings & Mute Ads Additions: Google announced they are adding two new features to help searchers and users see fewer ads they don’t want to see. Google announced “more additions to Ads Settings and Mute This Ad to give you more control to mute the ads you see on Google, on websites, and in apps.” You can now mute the reminder ads in apps and on websites that show these ads where they are powered by Google. Google also added two more features to the Mute This Ad option:
(1) It will now recognize your feedback on any device where you are signed in to your Google Account, based on your account settings.
(2) You should see Mute This Ad in even more places and on more Google ads across apps and websites.
Bing Hotel Ads Moving Out of Beta: After running its Hotel Ads offering in beta last year, Bing Ads is going to be rolling them out in general release. Bing Ads’ initial partner is travel advertising platform Koddi, which also participated in the beta. There will be a new PPC campaign type that is similar to what exists for Shopping. Accounts can be organized into accounts, subaccounts, hotel groups and finally hotels, with multiple levels of bidding available to advertisers.
Bing Ads’ new Audience Segmentation feature: Bing is launching Audience Segmentation reporting to give advertisers detailed insights about how their search audiences are performing. The new feature also makes it easy to compare audiences against non-targeted users. The new feature applies to Remarketing in Paid Search, as well as In-market Audiences and Custom Audiences, both of which are in a pilot. Advertisers can see audience data by Audience Category or Audience Name from the Segment tab on six areas in the web interface: Account summary, Campaigns, Ad Groups, Ads, Keywords and Ad Extensions.
Social Networks to Face Huge Fines in Germany for Not Removing “Illegal Content” in 24 Hours: Germany started rolling NetzDG law which targets publishers and social media with more than 2 million registered users in Germany (Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter). This law was designed to combat hate speech, fake news, and illegal content. Site owners have to remove the illegal content within 24 hours after the content is reported as a violation.
Facebook Announces Updates to Organic Reach for Pages: Facebook announced major changes to the way it will organically serve page posts. Mark Zuckerberg states that Facebook will “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people and posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with its News Feed values.” He goes on to state that as a result of this update, “Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.”
Instagram Allows Users to Send Live Videos in Direct Messages: Instagram recently announced that users can now privately send live videos over direct messaging. This update is available as part of the newest version of the Instagram app for iOS and Android.
Snapchat Now Lets Users Share Their Stories on Other Platforms like Facebook and Twitter: Snapchat said it planned to add a button called Stories Everywhere that will allow users to share Stories—its strings of user-generated content—to Facebook, Twitter, email and text messages from within the app. The feature will be included in Snapchat’s upcoming redesign and marks a significant move for the platform. In addition to reporting how many views content gets within the app, Snapchat will be able to report eyeballs from outside of Snapchat, which, in theory, could eventually be a selling point for advertisers interested in reach buying ads against Stories.
Instagram Officially Rolls Out Recommended Posts: After testing posts that are “Recommended for You” with a small group of users, Instagram has quietly rolled out this new feature on iOS and Android. According to a post found on Instagram’s Help Center, “these posts are suggested based on posts liked by accounts you follow” and can be disabled at any time.
Instagram Tests Ability to Share Stories Directly to WhatsApp: TechCrunch reports that Instagram is allowing a “small number” of test users to post their Instagram stories directly to WhatsApp as a status. An Instagram story posted as a WhatsApp status also becomes encrypted like the rest of WhatsApp.
Facebook Testing “Today In” Feature: In the past couple of weeks, Facebook has been testing a brand new feature which will highlight local news and events. Calling the new feature “Today In”, the update is set to launch city-specific content and will give users access to real-time events relative to their own location.
Facebook Allows Edits on Image Alt-Text: It appears that Facebook will now allow users to override auto-generated alt-text for images uploaded to the site. This new update was discovered by Matt Navarra.
Facebook Adds New Tagging Option to Stories: Facebook now appears to allow broadcasters to tag other people and pages in their stories.
Instagram Halts Live Broadcasts That Possibly Violate Copyrights: It’s been discovered that Instagram now interrupts live videos if it detects that the audio, music, or video content being streamed infringes on someone else’s copyright. When a match is detected, a warning pops up and suggests that you “finish your broadcast now” if you don’t have the rights to share all of the content in your video.
Instagram Introduces GIF Stickers and Ability to Upload Photos and Videos of Any Size to Stories: Instagram announced that users can now “add fun, expressive GIF stickers to any photo or video” in their story. There are now “hundreds of thousands of moving stickers powered by GIPHY” to select from when you add a sticker to Instagram stories. This feature will also highlight what’s currently trending on GIPHY and is available for iOS and Android as part of Instagram version 29. Instagram also announced that in the “coming weeks,” users will be able to upload photos and videos of any size to their Instagram stories. According to Instagram, photos and videos can now be shown as a square, portrait, or landscape and any extra room will be filled with a custom color gradient that matches the content that has been shared.
Instagram Tests Recording and Screenshot Alert Feature for Stories: Instagram is reportedly testing a new feature that notifies users when another user has taken a screenshot or a screen recording of their Instagram stories. WABetaInfo reports that this new feature is only being tested internally, but it has been spotted by select users.
Facebook Tests New Stories Features for the Desktop: Facebook is testing the option to create and share stories from Facebook on the desktop, as well as moving them to a much more prominent placement at the top of the news feed instead of in the sidebar. Previously, Facebook users on the web could only consume stories that had to be created on mobile. TechCrunch reports that only “a small percentage of users will see this new posting ability and design” but details of a further rollout haven’t yet been determined.
WhatsApp Officially Launches WhatsApp Business App in Select Markets: WhatsApp rolled out WhatsApp Business, a new app that “will make it easier for companies to connect with customers and more convenient for 1.3 billion users to chat with businesses that matter to them.” The app is currently only available for Android devices in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the U.S. but is rolling out more broadly around the world “in the coming weeks.”
Facebook Business Manager Rolls Out a New Test and Learn Tool: Under the Measure and Report section of Facebook’s Business Manager, there’s a new Test and Learn tool that allows admins “to easily create advertising tests that help find the strategies that work best for their business.”
Facebook Now Asks Your Goals When Boosting Posts: Facebook now asks what marketers’ goals are when they boost a post. They can select from two options, either “get likes, comments, and shares” or “engage and chat with potential customers.” Facebook will automatically show the posts to people who are most likely to engage with it.
Facebook Rolls Out Two New Ads Manager Reporting Options: Facebook rolled out two new reporting features for Ads Manager. These include Date Comparison, which compares results from two different date ranges in the Ads Manager table, and the ability to see creative performance across your entire ad sets at once with Creative Reporting.
LinkedIn Starts Rolling Out Changes to Groups: LinkedIn announced plans to reintegrate LinkedIn Groups back into the core LinkedIn experience and sunset its stand-alone iOS app for Groups as of February 15, 2018. In a follow-up email, LinkedIn notified group admins and moderators that they’ll start real-time alerts for social activities on group posts including likes, comments, and @mentions, and for membership activities like group invitations within the Notifications tab on the LinkedIn website and mobile apps.
Instagram Stories Is Testing a “Type” Feature: This month, users around Japan and Europe have reported seeing a “Type” feature on Instagram Stories. This feature allows users to create images made up of a colored background and text, with their choice of font. While this is something that users could already do with the pen tool, this feature is definitely a relief for some.
Facebook’s ‘Watch Party’ Lets Groups Watch Videos Together: In Facebook’s continued push to transition from passive content consumption to active content consumption, they began testing the “Watch Party” feature. The feature is simple: any Group admin can select publicly posted videos on Facebook and broadcast it to all the Group’s members simultaneously. Similar to live Facebook videos, the Watch Party will create a real-time comment and reaction reel, creating the “community” feeling. The ultimate goal of this feature is to turn the lonely act of watching videos into a fun social activity that users can get excited about.
Sponsored Twitter ‘Moments’: Twitter has announced a new way to advertise with sponsored Twitter Moments. Moments posted by select publishers such as TV networks, sports leagues, and digital publishers will be open to sponsorships, allowing advertisers to contribute their own tweets or add branded cover images in association to that Moment. And similar to existing In-Stream Sponsorships, Moments can also be promoted and customized to target specific audiences with Twitter’s advertising tools.