Google and Facebook are unrelenting in their pursuit of policy and interface redesigns in light of increased government scrutiny and heightened public expectations. Updates and reports from the past week highlight the move toward greater transparency and better outcomes for businesses and users.
Google Increases the Real Estate for Responsive Search Ads
Google announced last week that it will extend ad space for responsive search ads. There will now be three headlines instead of two, and the 80-character count limit on descriptions will extend to 90. Apart from increased ad visibility, advertisers get to communicate more information than they would with standard text ads. Testing started in spring and will roll out globally in September.
Takeaway: Advertisers can enter up to 15 headlines and four descriptions when setting up responsive search ads, so ad groups have more chances to compete in auctions. Based on machine learning, Google will serve the ad combination that will most likely achieve the business’s goals. The advertiser will have to trust Google’s automated algorithm to serve the combination that delivers the best performance. At the end of the day, though, the increased real estate means there will be more room to express value propositions, underscore offers, and display more conversion-oriented messaging in their ads.
Google Assistant Now Provides In-Depth News Reporting
Google Assistant can now relay in-depth news reports based on users’ queries. Previously, reports from Google Assistant were limited with regard to sources and content. The virtual assistant can now provide excerpts or entire news reports on specific topics and offer article recommendations.
As search grows to respond to natural syntax, users can ask Google Assistant direct questions regarding news items of interest. The application is available on Android phones and Android auto.
Takeaway: Voice search is huge, and it’s getting larger. As SEOs prepare for a future where “search without screens” becomes increasingly commonplace, optimizing for voice search is growing more and more important. Publishers will need to use schema structured data for Google Assistant to read their articles.
Could Purchasing Using Voice Be Alexa’s Kryptonite?
As reported in a recent TechCrunch article, “…no one buys things via Alexa.” Approximately 50 million people use Alexa, but only about 100,000 made a purchase more than once. In findings from The Information, so far this year, only 2% of those with devices that use Alexa made voice purchases.
It is important to note that Amazon did not agree with the data from The Information and indicated that, “millions of customers use Alexa to shop.” How many of these are repeat users is, however, at the heart of the matter. There’s much ado about voice search or “screen-less search.” Google, like Amazon, will need to understand the limitations or user concerns and make the right adjustments.
Takeaway: This is notable because it’s a reminder that while there’s a lot of hype about voice search right now, the fervor over “screen-less search” doesn’t actually mean that people are changing their purchasing habits all that much. At least not yet, if indeed, those habits ever really change. SEOs definitely need to be optimizing for voice search, of course, but still for other types of search as well.
Fake DMCA Takedown Requests: A New Form of Negative SEO
According to a recent report published in TorrentFreak, Google has removed hundreds of thousands of websites from its index because of scammers posing as copyright owners or anti-piracy companies. The scammers use fake Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests to affect Google search results.
Takeaway: Google is informed of this issue and is working hard to flag some of these false notices as illegitimate. However, some are still getting through. Monitor Search Console closely and look for any sign that your site may have been affected by one of these bogus requests so that you can file a DMCA counter notice if necessary. Learn more about false DMCA takedown requests, DMCA counter notices, and about negative SEO in Mediagistic’s Negative SEO guide.
Facebook & Google Get Strict With Bail Bond & Addiction Treatment Ads
Based on feedback from advocates and industry and policy experts, Facebook no longer allows promotions for bail bond services. Additionally, addiction treatment centers that advertise to Facebook’s U.S. users will need to abide by stringent guidelines. Treatment centers must obtain approval from third-party certification platform, LegitScript, which will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure compliance with various ordinances. The advertising policies will also extend to Messenger, Instagram, and the Audience Network.
Similarly, Google began banning ads for bails bond services in May. The company also started limiting searches related to addiction treatment last September. This update stemmed from concerns about the regulation of rehabilitation treatment centers. Facebook also issued new policies for cryptocurrency and weapon accessory ads.
Takeaway: Facebook is becoming more and more stringent in its advertising policies and compliance protocol. Expect more guidelines to arise in other areas as well as Facebook increases scrutiny on all types of advertising and messaging to ensure it’s legitimate and in the user’s best interest. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with Facebook’s current Advertising Guidelines to ensure you’re in full compliance.
Facebook’s Local Business Pages Updates Lead to All-Round Benefits
Many businesses struggle to find effective ways to connect with their local audience. However, recent Facebook updates will help to make that job a little easier. Features for making appointments and learning about companies, services, events, and employment opportunities are now more prominent. Businesses benefit when followers and potential customers can find the information they need.
A recommendations feature now exists in place of the longstanding review option. Fans can easily recommend businesses and provide additional company information. Considering that 1 in 3 users look to Facebook for recommendations and reviews, this redesign has the potential to give businesses even more visibility.
Takeaway: Online reputation management is as important as ever. Make sure you are keeping track of your Facebook reviews and recommendations and responding to any compliments or complaints.
Facebook Page Engagement Declines Following Algorithm Update
If you’ve noticed a decline in Facebook page engagement recently, you’re not alone. In January, Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm to prioritize content that users would find more appealing. The update shows posts from friends and family more often than content from businesses.
Buffer and BuzzSumo, looked at 43 million posts from 20,000 top brands from Q1 in 2017 to Q2 in 2018. Overall, page engagement fell by more than 50%, and the average post engagement fell by more than 63%. The study also found that images performed better than video ads.
Takeaway: Businesses will need to conduct their own research and understand their followers to determine the best way to optimize their Facebook posts. Using Facebook ad units like post engagements and local awareness ads can help to ensure you’re getting as many eyes on your content as possible.
Facebook Leaves No Stone Unturned in Content Clean Up
In continued efforts to safeguard the interests of users on its site, Facebook is aggressively policing content. The social media juggernaut is reaching far and wide in removing posts that could negatively affect user experience. In a post published last week, Richard Allen, Facebook’s VP of policy stated:
“We do not, for example, allow content that could physically or financially endanger people, that intimidates people through hateful language, or that aims to profit by tricking people using Facebook.”
According to TechCrunch, this is the first time that Facebook has targeted financial ads that are deceitful or harmful in nature. Beyond posts that promote violence and hate, Facebook is clamping down on any content or ad that could violate user trust and safety. The networking service has been working hard to make transparency a new standard. Facebook is learning from past missteps. If there is potential for a problem, the new-attitude Facebook intends to get ahead of it.
Takeaway: Moving forward, expect no tolerance for the types of content mentioned. Keep your content honest and transparent.
Google Signals Makes Analytics Easier With Cross-Device Tracking
Google is beta testing a new feature to make it easier for advertisers to generate and analyze reports. Using Google Signals, advertisers can track performance across devices and browsers to better understand customer behavior.
Data collection is based on signed-in Google users who have enabled Ads Personalization. The new feature generates cross-device reports for more in-depth analysis. Google Analytics can collect demographic and other information and remarket to users.
Takeaway: Take advantage of this new data by utilizing it in your remarketing campaigns to increase results.
Nicola Kelly is an Inbound Marketing Specialist and a creative thinker with a passion for helping businesses to maximize their marketing potential. She has experience designing marketing campaigns and providing copywriting services for print, radio, and online campaigns for clients in various industries.
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