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The Pros and Cons of Deepfake Technology, Google News gets a redesign, TikTok’s Platform Strategy revealed, and Instagram’s main feed to be revamped.

June 24, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Deepfake Technology, Google News gets a redesign, TikTok’s Platform Strategy revealed, and Instagram’s main feed to be revamped.”

Advantages and Disadvantages to Deepfake Technology

Deepfake technology is changing how different people perceive digital marketing. Whilst marketers are still experimenting with ways to include deepfakes and deepfake technology into their strategies.

At the moment, deepfake videos can convey an immersive marketing experience for a target audience through storytelling.

Deepfake technology is a form of “deep learning”, which means it’s a machine learning type that lets a computer learn different tasks without being explicitly programmed to learn the said task. It also allows a computer to identify different objects in images. This is known as “computer vision”

Computer vision uses algorithms to recognise and identify different objects in both videos and images, for example, it can tell you if a cat appears in an image or not.

As well as the learning technologies and computer vision, creating a deepfake includes image synthesis. To explain the image synthesis process, it involves for instance:

  • Taking an image (like someone holding up a Union Jack flag).
  • Incorporating it with a different image (a person holding up an American flag).
  • And then making something entirely new from these two components (Someone holding up both flags).

Examples of Deepfakes in popular media

Some examples of deepfakes you may have seen in popular media or in real life you may have seen are as follows:

  • The Star Wars film Rogue One involved a performance from a deepfaked young Carrie Fisher.
  • A deepfake of the famous artist Salvador Dali was used to host a museum dedicated to him in Florida.
  • Deepfake technology even allowed a voice synthesised John F. Kennedy to read a speech he never got to make.

The benefits of Deepfake technology

Deepfake technology can provide the following benefits to marketers:

  • Lowers the cost of video campaigns.
  • Deepfake technology can create better omnichannel campaigns.
  • It can provide a hyper-personalised experience for customers.

Low-cost video campaigns

Marketers using deepfakes can save money on the budgets for their video campaigns using because you don’t need an in-person actor.

Instead of using an in-person actor, a marketer can purchase a license for an actor’s identity. You can then use previous digital recordings of the actor, insert the appropriate dialogue from a script for the actor and create a new video.

If you follow this process, you can also save time if you want to use other employees for ads.

To use an example, if you want to use your business’ CEO for a new video campaign but they do not have time to record a new ad due to a busy schedule, you would only need a few previous recordings from past campaigns or interviews to make the new campaign.

As another benefit, you don’t even need to reshoot the video if it’s not what you wanted, you can just edit the deepfake accordingly.

Improved Omni-Channel campaigns

Since you don’t need to use in-person actors for a campaign, you can repurpose existing content for various marketing channels for both less time and less money.

Instead of reshooting to fit different purposes for different channels, you can instead just edit or replace video cuts to create a paid social campaign.

Or, you can use voice synthesis to create new dialogue to create a podcast, radio, or streaming services ad.

Hyper-Personalisation

Deepfake technology has led to an upsurge in hyper-personalization.

A brand can provide individual customers with more relevant messaging and experiences based on their personal preferences, such as their ethnicity or skin colour.

For example, if a customer was of a different ethnicity than a brand’s model for their marketing.

Deepfake technology would allow you to alter the skin tone of that model so the customer can experience what the product would look like on their skin tone.

This process can help your brand increase inclusivity and reach a broader market with campaigns.

Deepfake disadvantages

Unfortunately, deepfake technology has the potential to be used for malicious purposes just because of the sheer power behind it.

For a marketer, this can mean a fake customer complaint, a fake product review, as well as a decrease in trust from customers.

Lack of trust or ethics issues

The most obvious impact of deepfake technology is that it can be used to create a fake video, so ascertaining the authenticity of a piece of content has become more difficult.

If you could tell whether or not someone’s image was actually them or not before viewing a video, it would still be impossible for anyone who didn’t know the person on a personal level.

If a marketer or brand uses a deepfake video, a consumer may feel manipulated by the campaign and not trust the brand in the future.

For example, it’s possible to use deepfakes to create a fake review, this would be considered unethical.

On the other hand, if a brand uses deepfakes to elevate the brand’s storytelling, this would be considered ethical.

Scamming increases

Deepfake technology may also increase the number of scams online, you could create false accusations or complaints against companies.

A deepfake such as this is made by taking a recording of an actual incident and then altering the audio with new dialogue to mislead viewers.

An example of this happened recently, a German energy firm’s U.K. subsidiary handed around £220,000 to a Hungarian bank account after a swindler used the power of deepfakes to synthesise the CEO’s voice.

You could also use deepfakes to make product reviews that are fakes, to make your product more appealing than they actually are.

Google revamp Google News for Desktops

Google has redesigned Google News for desktops as of the 22nd of June.

The redesign is more customisable, so a user can meet their information needs in a personalised way, you can now:

  • Add filters
  • Customise topics you’re interested in
  • And check more facts with an expanded fact-checker section

Google confirmed that the redesign was inspired by feedback from users of Google News. The update coincided with the 20th anniversary of Google News, which was one of the earliest tools that aggregated stories in real-time.

Here’s a bit more about the update:

Filters

You are now able to add filters to the ‘local news’ section of Google News, this allows you to see stories from different locations all at once.

Customisable topics

You can now customise the topics that appear on your Google News home page. A user is able to add, remove, or even reorder topics.

Expanded fact-checker

Google News allows a user to gain more content in regards to a story in the expanded fact-checker section. Users will be able to see the original claim along with the fact-checked assessment from an independent body, separate to Google.

Google News returns to Spain

After eight years, Google News has also returned to the country of Spain.

Here’s what the new homepage looks like:

A screenshot of Google News' new homepage.

TikTok Leaders discuss their platform strategy at Cannes

On the 20th of June, TikTok hosted its first company event at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Multiple leaders of the number one social media platform discussed their vision for TikTok’s future and the challenges they may face.

The event is held annually at the resort town located on the French Riviera and is deemed one of the premier awards shows for the advertising industry, the execs from TikTok discussed multiple topics.

The topics included adding shopping functionality for brands, safety challenges, the impact that iOS’ privacy changes brought to social media advertising, and the influencer/creator economy.

TikTok on iPhone homescreen.

TikTok aim to win more advertisers, despite privacy changes

Blake Chandlee, who is TikTok’s president of global operations solutions, revealed that the social media platform currently hosts hundreds of thousands of advertisers — but they aim for somewhere in the millions.

The heads at TikTok plan to achieve this by adding new tools to the platform and executing a program that has been developed in-house and is designed to report back on the quality of ads.

Just like other social media platforms, TikTok has been pursuing fresh and unique ways to target advertising in the wake of Apple’s privacy changes.

Ray Cao, the managing director and global head of monetization product, strategy, and operation stated that TikTok’s platform will include more contextual targeting for audiences.

Also, the platform is taking steps to address both quality controls as well as brand safety, which has caused some advertisers to shy away from using TikTok to advertise in the past.

Francis Stones, the current head of TikTok’s European brand safety, stated that the platform’s review process now includes more than just images. The process now includes checking sounds, text, and emojis to make sure brands are not inadvertently associating with something that is potentially problematic.

Expansion of in-platform shopping

TikTok is also currently aiming to globally expand the live shopping functionality on the platform, according to Sofia Hernandez, global head of business marketing for TikTok.

These new features for live shopping will let brands capitalise on the viral status that they can gain from user-created content that the platform is famous for.

These fresh changes will open new opportunities for marketers by enabling them to target audiences more accurately.

Brands, as well as content creators, will be able to improve their exposure with less concern about negative associations, whilst also gaining a means to make sales.

Instagram to change the home feed, again

Meta CEO and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Instagram will begin to test a full-screen redesign of the main home feed.

This announcement was made on an Instagram story, so don’t be surprised if you missed it.

Here is a screenshot showing how the main feed currently looks:

The main Instagram feed before changes.
Source: Instagram.com/Zuck, June 2022.

And here is how the main feed may potentially look in the future:

An image showing the proposed full screen feed on Instagram.
Source: Instagram.com/Zuck, June 2022.

This change will make Instagram look more like its rival, TikTok, with the bulk of the content filling an entire length of the screen.

There is a small area at the bottom of the screen for navigation, whilst every other factor is overlayed on the content itself.

Zuckerberg has said that Instagram will still focus on pictures and that the changes will not make the platform video only.

Zuckerberg's announcement clarifying that the platform will not go video only.
Source: Instagram.com/Zuck, June 2022.

The full announcement reads:

“We want to make it easier to discover content and connect with friends.

Photos are still an important part of Instagram, and we’re working on ways to improve the way they show up in a full-screen feed too.

Some people will start seeing this test soon.

Exited to hear your feedback.”

This change may mean that Instagram photos will have their dimensions changed, as they’re currently not uploaded in full screen dimensions. The likelihood is that the sides of photos will get cropped off, so detail will be lost.

It’s a risk, we may have entirely new Instagram and Facebook home feeds before the end of the year, so be prepared for changes.

You can read about Facebook’s radical changes in our latest Digital Roundup.

The wods fake news on a typewriter

Facebook revamping main feed, TikTok and others sign EU anti-disinformation code, and Google launch an update for Search.

June 17, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Facebook revamping main feed, TikTok and others sign EU anti-disinformation code, and Google launch an update for Search.”

With significant changes to the weather (for the better) we’re also seeing significant changes in the digital industry (also for the better) let’s take a look at what’s happened.

Facebook Set To Restructure Main Feed Around Video Content

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Facebook have plans to turn its main home-page feed into a ‘discovery engine’ for video content, according to a leaked internal memo that was sent to the company’s employees.

The Verge received the memo and publicised it in its entirety. Although the memo is being revealed to the public today, it was first sent to the employees on the 27th of April.

This means that Facebook is already a month and a half into executing its ‘near-term’ plans. Users could potentially see these changes roll out sooner than later on the social media platform.

Here are a few highlights from the memo that was written by Tom Alison, current head of Facebook.

Enhancing the discoverability of Content

The buzzword that Facebook is tossing about to describe its vision for the future of the platform is ‘discovery engine.’

Alison says that’s what he desires to shift Facebook into—a platform where users can get recommendations for video content they’re likely to appreciate.

Alison lists three priorities that will help Facebook realise this vision:

  1. Making Reels successful.
  2. Building a world-class recommendation technology for the platform.
  3. Unlocking messaging-based sharing.

Turning Facebook into a ‘discovery engine’ simply means suggesting more content from various accounts users aren’t associated with but are likely to be interested in, similar to Instagram’s suggested posts feature.

In the past, Facebook has prioritised content that has been published or shared by connections close to your account such as friends, family, and pages you follow.

Unrelated content has never been a priority of Facebook’s feed. To turn the feed into a “discovery engine” would mean showing users different content that they’d engage in from all over Facebook in an endless feed.

The three priorities

Making Reels Successful

Whilst Facebook has plans to enhance the discoverability of all content for users, they have identified its most significant gap as short-form video.

In order to seal that gap, Facebook is making its video Reels more discoverable by incorporating Reels in more areas throughout the app and website.

Building A World-Class Recommendation Technology For The Platform

To accomplish its goal of revamping the feed and becoming a discovery engine, Facebook intends to design a recommendation system that factors into people’s interests, is able to determine and recommend trending content, and a system that is capable of making responsible selections for users.

Unlocking Messaging-Based sharing

Facebook’s users are sharing and discovering content privately through messenger at an increasing amount, rather than sharing the content publicly in the main feed for their connections.

Facebook plans to capitalise on this by enabling more methods a user can use to share content through messenger.

But What Will The Feed Look Like?

Verge journalist Alex Heath managed to speak directly with Tom Alison, the author of the Facebook memo, to ascertain what’s changing on the Feed.

From Heath’s conversation with Alsion, this is how he described how the main feed will look.

“Here’s how the future Facebook app will work in practice: the main tab will become a mix of Stories and Reels at the top, followed by posts its discovery engine recommends from across both Facebook and Instagram. It’ll be a more visual, video-heavy experience with clearer prompts to direct message friends a post. To make messaging even more prominent, Facebook is working on placing a user’s Messenger inbox at the top right of the app, undoing the infamous decision to separate the two apps eight years ago.”

When Will These Changes Roll Out?

It is currently unknown when the changes to the feed will roll out, although Alison certainly sounds keen to execute his vision.

As a business, you can prepare for this change by getting comfortable with creating and publishing more short-form videos if you’re not comfortable already.

EU anti-disinformation code signed by Google, Meta, and others

Free Blue and Yellow Round Star Print Textile Stock Photo

Google, Meta, TikTok, and other tech giants across the industry have reportedly agreed to a revision of the EU’s anti-disinformation code, the new code is set to have the companies share more data with the European Commission.

A secret report managed to be obtained by the Financial Times contained the details of an updated code of practice from the EU that various tech companies have signed.

The ‘Code Of Practice On Disinformation’ is an agreement to comply with a set of self-regulatory measures to oppose disinformation. The code was established in 2018 and includes Google, Meta, TikTok, Twitter, Microsoft, and Mozilla.

The code has been amended and revised several times since its release, although this latest revision has increased how much information signatories are being asked to disclose.

Here’s a quick rundown about the EU’s code of practice, and what’s being added.

The Code Of Practice On Disinformation

In a joint effort to combat the spread of fake information online, the EU launched a code of conduct that multitudes of tech companies agreed to.

Any company that enters into the agreement is asked to communicate details with the European Commission in regards to any actions they take against disinformation campaigns on their individual platforms.

The company’s commitments involve practices such as guaranteeing that political adverts are transparent, removing any fake accounts on the platform, and demonetising genuine accounts that are spreading false information.

Each company has to produce a report on measures they have taken to comply with their obligations under the Code of Practice.

A ‘strengthened’ revision of the code has been planned and written since last year, and it looks like it’s going to be introduced soon. Here’s a breakdown of what will be added to it.

A ‘Strengthened’ Code Of Practice

From what the Financial Time reported, the reworked code has three significant changes.

The first change is that every company in the agreement will have to provide country-by-country data on their efforts. At the moment they only have to provide either global or Europe-wide data.

The second key change is the requirement for the companies to reveal how they are removing or limiting dangerous content in advertised or promoted content.

And the third change is any companies that enter into the code of practice will have to design tools and collaborations with fact-checkers and include “indicators of trustworthiness” on independently corroborated information about important issues.

As well as the new terms, the revamped code of practice is said to have 30 signatories.

Since signatories enter into the agreement voluntarily, the code of practice isn’t currently enforced with fines or penalties. However, this could change.

The EU Commission seeks to evolve the code toward becoming a co-regulatory agent under the Digital Services Act. This will allow enforcement of the code through EU legislation.

If the Code Of Practice On Disinformation ends up being enforced through the Digital Services Act, companies could face fines of up to 6% of their global turnover.

Google testing new featured snippet layouts

Google has begun testing fresh formats, layouts, and interfaces for its featured snippet slot in Search.

Typically, Google shows a user a single source for a featured snippet for a query but since 2018, Google has periodically shown two or three, or sometimes four featured snippets for certain queries.

Here are some tests that were spotted by William Alvarez on Twitter and Brodie Clark on Twitter – showing this in action.

Four different snippets on Google Search

Here are some card styled snippets:

Various snippets from Search.
Block and list view Google Featured Snippets

Why this change is significant

Google will show users a single source for a featured snippet. But if Google begins to show users two or more sources in the featured snippet position – the “position zero” location – then this may change how valuable this position is for business site-owners and SEOs. This may even have a change on your CTR (click-through-rate)

A team meeting.

Google Core Update Complete, Instagram Add New Reel Features & Potentially Limit Account Reach, and WordPress Announces Safer Third-Party Plugin Proposal

June 10, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Google Core Update Complete, Instagram Add New Reel Features & Potentially Limit Account Reach, and WordPress Announces Safer Third-Party Plugin Proposal”

After a refreshing (and well-needed) bank holiday where the country celebrated the Queen, it hasn’t stopped digital companies from improving their platforms! In this week’s article, we’ve got advice on how to cope with a Google core update, new ways to be creative on Instagram, how your reach may be limited, and a WordPress proposal that would inform the website publishing tool.

May 2022 Google Core Update roll out complete

Google has confirmed via Twitter on the 9th of June that the Core Update they began rolling out on the 25th of May has now been completed. Now you will be able to take an accurate assessment of how the update has impacted your website.

The announcement was at 8:44 AM, but you may have noticed ranking changes good or bad prior to the 9th; if you did notice a change then it was likely you were hit by the update.

What you should do next

If you’ve been positively affected by the Core Update, that’s great! Keep up the good work.

If you’ve noticed negative changes such as low rankings or traffic, then you’re probably thinking “What can I do next?”

Google’s advice for this update is the same as their advice for the last one: Improve your content.

Google Search Advocate John Muller stated the following regarding core updates:

“With the core updates we don’t focus so much on just individual issues, but rather the relevance of the website overall.

And that can include things like the usability, and the ads on a page, but it’s essentially the website overall.”

– John Mueller, October 2021

If you’ve been hit by the update, instead of getting bogged down by slight technical changes such as title tags, instead start with the essence of any website: the content.

The questions you need to ask

A question mark on a chalkboard.

Google have a blog post regarding what to do in the case that your rankings or traffic drops from a core update, and the advice is still relevant today. They say you should be asking yourself the following questions:

For content quality:

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
  • Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
  • Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

Regarding expertise:

  • Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
  • If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic?
  • Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
  • Does the content have any easily-verified factual errors?
  • Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?

Content presentation:

  • Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?

Lastly, comparative questions:

  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

If you work through these questions, have a solid content plan, and begin making improvements based on a plan as well as improving elements that factor into SEO; then you should begin to see your rankings improve.

Instagram introduce new reel features

Instagram has added new features to its widely-popular Reels tool, which will allow users and businesses more ways to apply creativity. The intent behind the new features is to help content creators engage with their user base, attract new viewers, and express their own creativity in a unique fashion.

As of now, Reels is Instagram’s fastest-growing feature worldwide, with 675.3 million out of their 2 billion users using the feature.

A film reel meant to represent Instagram reels.

The new tools

The new update has not only refreshed the collection of sound effects that you can use in a reel but you can now upload your own sound effects too.

This is suitable for commentary, a jingle, or even just background noise; a creator can import sounds from any video as long as it is five seconds long. Other creators will then be able to use this in their Reel.

Increasing the length restriction is another big feature. In the past, you could only make a Reel last 15 seconds, but now you can post a Reel that is 90 seconds long. On top of this, a Reel ad can last for 60 seconds.

You can also use interactive stickers such as polls, quizzes, or emoji sliders in a reel too that a user can interact and engage your content with.

The last new feature is templates, a creator can now use another Reel as a template when they’re making their own. You can pre-load audio and clips from source videos, and then you can add and trim your own unique clips on top of this.

Reels Provides Value To Marketers, Advertisers, & Branders

The amount of views online videos generate has almost doubled since 2018, online videos have become an important tool that many marketers will use. This is particularly true for Reels which have been proven to help attract viewers.

According to Instagram, a public account that has more than 10,000 followers that post at least five different Reels over a 60-day period will gain 250% more followers compared to those in the same category who have not posted reels.

The same update could also harm an Instagram account’s reach, however

An image showing a phone with the new sensitive content control options.
Source: Instagram

The Instagram update has also expanded on a feature that filters out ‘sensitive’ content for users, which has the possibility of impacting the reach of some accounts.

If a user selects Sensitive Content Control in the Settings menu, they can choose how much or how little “sensitive content” they see across all aspects of Instagram which includes: Search, Reels, Hashtag Pages, and In-Feed Recommendations.

The option for Sensitive Content Control was originally introduced in 2021, however, it only applied to the Explore feed.

If you post content that Instagram deems ‘sensitive,’ the content may see a reduced reach if enough users begin to use Sensitive Content Control.

Here’s more about how the feature works and what kind of content is impacted.

Sensitive Content

Sensitive content is described by Instagram as “posts that don’t necessarily break our rules, but could potentially be upsetting to some people.”

Specifically, this includes:

  • Content that depicts violence, including people fighting.
  • Content that is sexually explicit or suggestive, like pictures of people in see-through clothing.
  • Content that promotes the use of certain regulated products, including tobacco or vaping products, adult products and services or pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Content that may promote or depict cosmetic procedures.
  • Content that may be attempting to sell products or services based on health-related claims, for example, a supplement to help lose weight.

The options for content control

There are three options available that users can select for controlling sensitive content on Instagram.

The options are as follows:

  • Standard: The default state, which limits some but not all content.
  • More: Allows users to opt-in to seeing more sensitive content.
  • Less: Restricts sensitive content to a greater extent than the default state.

The “more” option is not available for users under the age of 18.

Users can customise their experience

This update to Sensitive Content Control is the latest addition to a series of tools Instagram is offering to allow users to shape their own unique Instagram experience.

In order to change Sensitive Content Control, simply follow these steps:

  1. Click on “Settings”
  2. Tap “Account and then “Sensitive Content Control”
  3. Select which content level you wish to apply.
  4. Tap “Confirm.”

WordPress announces a proposal to improve plugins

An image with the word "security" displayed.

WordPress has announced a new proposal to take a more foresighted strategy towards third-party plugins in order to improve their security as well as their site performance.

The current discussion is surrounding a plugin checker that will make sure that plugins are following best practices.

Third-party plugins are unfortunately a major origin of both security vulnerabilities and performance bottlenecks. The proposal outlines three different ways to tackle a plugin checker.

The proposal defined the problem:

“While there are fewer infrastructure requirements for plugins than there are for themes, there are certainly some requirements that are worth verifying, and in any case, checking against security and performance best practices in plugins would be just as essential as it is in themes.

However as of today, there is no corresponding plugin checker.”

Vulnerabilities And Poor Performance

WordPress, whilst a good tool to publish a website on, is controversial for not only being vulnerable to hackers but also for being slow.

So it may surprise readers to discover that WordPress itself is a highly secure platform. The majority of the problems stem from third-party plugins.

Although WordPress itself is safe to a degree, third-party plugins have caused WordPress to basically become synonymous with hacked sites.

There is a comparable issue in regards to WordPress site performance, too. Whilst there is a WordPress Performance Team that actively works on enhancing the performance of the WordPress core itself; the effort is undermined by third-party plugins that unnecessarily load JavaScript or CSS on pages where they’re not needed or don’t lazy load images, which ends up slowing down the website.

The Plugin Checker

WordPress already has a theme checker that allows a theme developer to check their work to ensure they’re following best practices and security. This same theme checker is even used on the official WordPress theme repository.

WordPress is now wanting to introduce a similar checker for Plugins.

This is how the goal of the proposed plugin checker was defined:

“There should be a WordPress plugin checker tool that analyzes a given WordPress plugin and flags any violations of plugin development best practices with errors or warnings, with a special focus on security and performance.”

The proposal lists three potential methods for the checker:

  • A. Static analysis
    This method is how themes get checked but this method has its limitations, for instance not being able to run the code.
  • B. Server-side analysis
    This method would allow the plugin’s code to run whilst also being able to do a static analysis at the same time.
  • C. Client-side analysis
    This methodology runs a headless browser (a bot emulating the site) which tests the plugin for issues that can’t be detected with method B. The document notes some difficulties with this approach but also lists ways around these challenges.

The proposal features a chart with columns for methods A, B, and C and rows that correspond to ratings assigned to each approach for security and performance issues.

The evaluation from the chart finds that the Server-side analysis may be the optimal approach if a Plugin checker is to be introduced.

It’s important to remember WordPress’ performance team is not committed at this moment in time to creating a plugin checker, this is just a proposal for one. Nonetheless, if they were to check any third-party plugins for security and performance flaws and vulnerabilities, it would be a good idea because it would benefit both WordPress users and site visitors alike.

WordPress has a team meeting roundup with a link to the proposed.

An image depicting a phone woth social media apps.

Google begin rolling out a new core update, TikTok introduces account management to 3rd party platforms, and California may allow suing for social media addiction.

May 27, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Google begin rolling out a new core update, TikTok introduces account management to 3rd party platforms, and California may allow suing for social media addiction.”

TikTok has increased its willingness to partner with brands to make marketing easier, Google has unleashed its first core update in six months, and California is introducing a new bill that social media giants are not happy with. Let’s jump into the news for this week’s Digital Marketing landscape.

Google launch May 2022 Broad Core Update

Google confirmed on the 25th of May 2022 via Twitter that they were launching a new Core Update to Search, called the May 2022 core update.

Google’s core updates are launched and designed to make the search results that a user sees when they’ve got a query more relevant to the searched topic. Core updates usually take 1-2 weeks to complete their roll-out, and it can take even longer to see if your website has been affected by the changes.

Danny Sullivan, who works as a Public Liasion for Search said that changes to site performance in search result rankings are to be expected:

“Core updates are changes we make to improve Search overall and keep pace with the changing nature of the web. While nothing in a core update is specific to any particular site, these updates may produce some noticeable changes to how sites perform…”

-Danny Sullivan

When Google roll out their core updates, they offer the same guidance that was provided in 2019, which can be summarised as the following:

  • Expect widely noticeable effects, such as spikes or drops in search rankings.
  • Core updates are “broad” in the sense that they don’t target anything specific. Rather, they’re designed to improve Google’s systems overall.
  • Pages that drop in rankings aren’t being penalized; they’re being reassessed against other web content that has been published since the last update.
  • Focusing on providing the best possible content is the top recommended way to deal with the impact of a core algorithm update.
  • Broad core updates happen every few months. Sites might not recover from one update until the next one rolls out.
  • Improvements do not guarantee recovery. However, choosing not to implement any improvements will virtually guarantee no recovery.

The last Core Update was rolled out in November 2021 (which you can read about in our blog post about Google Core Updates) and those who have been working on their site since the last update may see noticeable improvements in their performance.

However, those who have sat idly by and not carried out improvements may see their performance drop compared to sites with more relevant content.

As of now, it’s too early to judge the impact of the update, as it needs to be fully rolled out first.

TikTok introduce account management for third-party tools

Person opening TikTok on their iPhone.

TikTok is now allowing a business to manage their accounts for the platform with third-party business tools such as Hootsuite, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social.

The initial launch for this includes the following tool integrations: Brandwatch, Dash Hudson, Emplifi, Hootsuite, Khoros, Later, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social.

This is an expansion of TikTok’s Marketing Partner Program which launched in September 2020 and is aimed at making it easier for a business to connect with users on the social media platform.

An easier way to market

The integration with these third-party social media management tools will give businesses a more straightforward way to incorporate a Tik-Tok marketing strategy into their workflow.

TikTok aims to help brands see more positive results on the social media platform by introducing content management, scheduling videos, and publishing content to tools that the brand already uses.

Brands will also be able to use third-party tools to monitor conversations that happen in the comments section of their videos so that they can interact with users and track video metrics in real-time.

Melissa Yang, who is the head of TikTok’s EcoSystem Partnerships had this to say in a press conference:

“At TikTok, we are always looking for ways to make it easier for brands to develop great content that resonates with their communities. We are excited to welcome our new Content Marketing partners into the TikTok Marketing Partner Program, and to be collaborating with some of the most trusted partners in the industry. These partners will provide marketers with simple, effective tools to help them to regularly publish content, gain valuable performance insight, and meaningfully engage with their communities.”

-Melissa Yang

The partnership between TikTok and these third-party companies will allow marketers to optimise social media strategies for TikTok by providing a better understanding of their audience and the type of content they engage with.

A New California bill would allow a parent to sue for their child’s social media addiction

3 children on a sofa using mobiles or tablets.

On the 23rd of May 2022, the California State Assembly passed a new bill that would hold social media companies such as Meta responsible for harming a child who has become addicted to their platform.

The proposed law that would apply to social media platforms with at least $100 million in revenue for 2021 would allow a parent to sue for up to $25,000 for violating the law.

Assembly Bill 2408, which is also known as the “Social Media Platform Duty to Children Act,” is a bipartisan bill that aims to protect a child (anyone under the age of 18) from becoming a social media addict; however, this bill does not apply to streaming services or services that only offer an email or text messaging service.

The definition of a social media addict

The definition of an addict, according to the bill, is:

“A preoccupation or obsession with, or withdrawal or difficulty to cease or reduce use of, a social media platform despite the user’s desire to cease or reduce that use (which) causes or contributes to physical, mental, emotional, developmental, or material harms to the user.”

The bill’s co-author Jordan Cunningham, has told the American news site AP News “The era of unfettered social experimentation on children is over and we will protect kids.”

The bill is yet to be passed by the California state senate and signed by the governor to become a law.

What does this mean for social media companies?

In a letter to the lawmakers, Technet, who are a network of senior executives in technology had this to say in response to the proposed bill:

“Social media companies and online web services would have no choice but to cease operations for kids under 18 and would implement stringent age-verification in order to ensure that adolescents did not use their sites.”

Technet and other technology business groups contend that no social media platform no matter how big would be willing to take that risk and liability.

The Top 20 clicked links on Facebook, TikTok to allow you to credit video creators, Google launch new tool for job interviews.

May 20, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “The Top 20 clicked links on Facebook, TikTok to allow you to credit video creators, Google launch new tool for job interviews.”

This week in Digital we’ve been served Facebook’s most popular links, including 30% that were spam, TikTok finally allowing users to credit other creators, and Google helping people to pass job interviews using AI.

The top 20 clicked links on Facebook for 2021 and spam links

Meta has uploaded its latest transparency report, where they reported on the most popular posts for the second half of 2021.

The transparency report also includes stats about the types of content that get shared the most, popular domains, as well as the most viewed links and posts engaged and seen by users in the US.

Meta confirmed that they would be transferring to a new way of reporting their most viewed content. So for this report, they showed results based on the old methodology and the new approach.

The top metrics for generating the top content report were “content views” and “viewers”. Arguably, one of the most important changes for the transparency report is the change that links have to generate a preview in order for them to be considered links on Facebook.

Widely Viewed Links

Facebook has noted that the most widely viewed links section reflects the interest of Facebook users as a whole and includes topics such as humour, culture, and DIY subjects. However, with the new methodology they use, 30% of the most widely viewed links were generated through spam or inauthentic behaviour.

Inauthentic behaviour can be described as a misrepresentation of a user, or when content is boosted through multiple Facebook accounts.

The top two links came from the same website and had a combined 59.3 million views.

The top 20

The non-links in the top 20 included:

  1. Private YouTube Video
  2. YouTube Video – Political
  3. TMZ Article About Bob Saget
  4. Dot Gov Covid Test Page
  5. TikTok
  6. NBC News Article
  7. BBC News article
  8. USPS Covid Test Site
  9. Fox News Detroit Dog Rescue Article
  10. HuffPost Superbowl Halftime Article
  11. Offline Parked Domain (ranked #15 with 12.3 million views)
  12. ComicBook.com article
  13. BuzzFeedNews article
  14. ScreenRant article

TikTok’s creator-credit feature

TikTok is adding a new feature to its social media platform, users will now be able to credit video creators as well as trend originators. This feature allows a user to tag, mention, or even credit a video in their posts.

Until the feature is launched, the only way to credit a video is to acknowledge the creator in a caption or comment.

“These features are an important step in our ongoing commitment to investing in resources and product experiences that support a culture of credit, which is central to ensuring TikTok remains a home for creative expression,”

Kudzi Chikumbu, TikTok’s Director of Creator Community

In order to access this feature, users will need to post or edit an existing video, and then they’ll have the option to tag videos they’ve liked, posted, or that use the same sound.

See this helpful screenshot from TikTok:

TikTok's credit creator feature
Source- TikTok: newsroom.tiktok.com/en-us/crediting-tools

Why this feature is being brought in

For almost a year now, TikTok has been facing accusations from various BAME users who feel their original content is being hijacked without proper credit being given to them.

In April last year, American TV host Jimmy Fallon and popular TikTok creator Addison Rae drew the anger of black users after performing a series of dances popular from the platform on Fallon’s “The Tonight Show”, without crediting the creators. In response to the outrage, Fallon apologized and invited five TikTok creators onto the show to perform their dances.

This apology did not lessen claims that white content creators were stealing dances and memes from black creators, and last June, as a protest many African-American content creators boycotted TikTok, using the hashtag “BlackTikTokStrike.” This hashtag was used across multiple social media platforms and a lot of attention

“It’s important to see a culture of credit take shape across the digital landscape and to support underrepresented creators in being properly credited and celebrated for their work,”

Kudzi Chikumbu, TikTok’s Director of Creator Community

Google launch Interview Warmup

Google has launched Interview Warmup, which is a new tool powered by AI aiming to help people prep for job interviews. It asks you interview questions and transcribes answers in real-time.

Using voice-to-text or a keyboard, users of Interview Warmup can practice some of the most common questions that are asked in a job interview and have the option of job-specific ones which have been picked by an industry expert.

Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:

Google's example of Interview Warmup
Source- Google: grow.google/certificates/interview-warmup/

After answering, the tool analyses your answer and offers suggestions to improve it for when you’re asked it for real:

Google's example of how the AI analyses your answer.

The industries you can choose from include: Information Analytics, E-Commerce, IT Help, Undertaking Administration, UX Design or Basic. and has three question types:

  • Background
  • Situational
  • Technical

You can read more about the tool on Google’s site for it: Interview Warmup

An image showing someone take an online course.

Google controversies, Analytics changes, and tourism updates to Search.

May 13, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Google controversies, Analytics changes, and tourism updates to Search.”

Google has taken the headlines by storm this week, by either causing controversy with their free certifications or holding companies hostage, by adding quality of life features for tourists now that travel is being encouraged by governments. Let’s take a look at this week in search!

Google sued by Tinder’s parent company

A woman showing her phone with the Tinder app displayed.

Google has been sued by the online dating app company Match Group on the 9th March, Match Group stated that the tech giant has an illegal monopoly on Android because they force apps to use their billing system.

Match Group own over 40 dating apps including Tinder and Hinge has claimed that Google’s in-app payment options and policies are anti-competitive.

The suit alleges that Google is holding companies “hostage”

Match Group has stated the following in their lawsuit, which was filed in Northern California’s district court:

“Ten years ago, Match Group was Google’s partner. We are now its hostage. Once it monopolized the market for Android app distribution with Google Play… Google sought to ban alternative in-app payment processing services so it could take a cut of nearly every in-app transaction on Android.”

Google’s in-app payments work by charging a service fee of 15-30% to apps, as well as monetising the personal data of their billions of app users according to an announcement on Match Group’s website.

Match Group also said in the announcement:

“These exorbitant ‘fees’ force developers to charge users more for their services and utilize resources they would otherwise invest in our employees, technologies and user-requested features,”

Google’s response

As a response to the lawsuit, Google made a blog post where they accused Match Group of trying to leverage Google’s investments in the platform for no cost.

In the blog post, Google states:

“After years of reaping the benefits of Google Play, Match Group is doing all it can to avoid paying for the enormous benefits it receives–including misusing the courts, lobbying policymakers and even suggesting to investors that alternative billing systems would exempt them from paying for the valuable services they receive from Google Play.”

Google has refuted the charges Match Group has brought against them, they have claimed their fees are the lowest amongst major app stores, and that the fees help support the entirety of Google Play services.

Google’s response also points out one key fact, that Android is the only mobile platform that allows alternative distribution choices for apps.

Google’s disastrous digital marketing training course

Google has released a new Digital Marketing training course on the online training platform Coursera, but it has met massive criticism from the SEO and marketing communities online.

Announced on the 2nd May, the idea behind the course which is being offered to U.S businesses is to train or upskill an employee with Digital Marketing skills where they would receive a career certificate scholarship for free.

The criticism started when this tweet from international SEO consultant Gianluca Fiorelli:

Displayed on the tweeted screenshot is Google’s advice on avoiding keyword stuffing, where the advice is as follows:

  • Write more than 300 words on your webpage.
    • Your webpage is more likely to be ranked higher in search engine result pages if you write a higher volume of quality content.
  • Keep your keyword density below an industry standard of 2%.
    • This means that 2% of the words on the webpage or fewer should be target keywords.
  • Be thoughtful about keyword placement.
    • Your keywords should be used only once in the following places on each page within your website: page title, subheading, first paragraph, and body conclusion. 

Fiorelli tweeted :

“I mean… keyword stuffing is bad, sure! but solving it by spreading SEO myths that SEOs try to eliminate?”

“I know that this course is very entry-level, but exactly for this reason myths like these ones should not be taught. Did the SEOs in Google review the course?”

Google search liaison Danny Sullivan tweeted a response to Fiorelli, saying that the above advice can be “ignored” and that the “search team don’t recommend limits or ‘density'”. Sullivan also linked to Google’s advice from their SEO Starter Guide, which has no mention of keyword density or word count minimums.

What is Keyword Density?

Keyword density is a percentage that shows how often a keyword or phrase is being used on a web page. To work it out you divide the total number of times the keyword or phrase by the total number of words on the page, then multiply the result by 100.

There is no industry standard for keyword density, even Google downplay keyword density and in the past has said in articles:

“… in the on-page space, I’d recommend thinking more about words and variants (the ‘long-tail’) and thinking less about keyword density or repeating phrases.”

This video from ex-Googler Matt Cutts shares more on “the ideal keyword density of a page”

The two key takeaways from the video are as follows:

  • “So the first one or two times you mention a word, then that might help with your ranking, absolutely. But just because you can say it seven or eight times, that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily help your rankings.”
  • “I would love it if people could stop obsessing about keyword density. It’s going to vary. It’s going to vary by area, it’s going to vary based on what other sites are ranking it. It’s not a hard and fast rule.”

As much as keywords matter, there isn’t a ratio or percentage of keywords that will guarantee your page web traffic and rankings.

What about word count and SEO?

The 300-word advice from Google more than likely came from a Yoast article, where they said:

“We advise writing more than 300 words for regular posts or pages, while product descriptions should be over 200 words. Why is that? A higher word count helps Google better understand what your text is about. And, generally speaking, Google tends to rank longer articles higher.”

Google’s advice on the course is:

  • Write more than 300 words on your webpage.
    • Your webpage is more likely to be ranked higher in search engine result pages if you write a higher volume of quality content.

Both pieces of advice look quite similar.

Google experts have stressed in the past that the quality of the content matters more than the word count and that you don’t need to unnecessarily stuff a blog post with words for instance.

Why this is bad

All the advice Google is offering is calling the validity and value of the course and certification because it’s spreading SEO myths that aren’t true. What makes it worse is that the advice hasn’t come from someone on the Google search team, and Google has said “all course instructors are Google employees who are subject-matter experts.”

If they were experts, then they wouldn’t have included advice that isn’t relevant or would have offered advice that can actually make a difference to the people who are doing the course.

Google retitle real-time metrics on Google Universal Analytics

Google has changed the title of real-time metrics in Universal Analytics to now read “in the last 5 minutes” instead of “right now”.

This is due to Google wanting to make the title of these metrics more accurate and specific to what it is actually displaying.

The new title and metrics look like this:

A screenshot of the real time metrics now displaying "in the last 5 minutes title"

Compared to how it used to look below:

A screenshot showing the old title "Right now"

It is suspected that Google made the change in order to communicate how real-time metrics are different in Universal Analytics compared to GA4. In Universal Analytics the real-time metrics are taken from the last 5 minutes, whilst in GA4 they’re taken from the last 30 minutes.

If you see this change, don’t be alarmed as the metrics won’t have changed, it’s just the title.

Google search update adds a new feature for eager travellers

In lighter news, Google have added a new feature intended to help eager travellers and tourists Search. The new feature is called “Popular Destinations” and shows a carousel of popular tourist destinations, in order to bring this feature up you need to have a search query such as “Japanese tourism”

Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:

A screenshot showing the popular destinations feature.

If you click on any of the buttons, it will take you to Google Travel in the search results.

TikTok Pulse unveiled, new tools for small businesses on Meta platforms available, Adobe offer free training, and WordPress 6.0 features revealed.

May 6, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “TikTok Pulse unveiled, new tools for small businesses on Meta platforms available, Adobe offer free training, and WordPress 6.0 features revealed.”

Hello and welcome to the latest digital roundup, this week brings a focus on ways that small businesses are being helped by brands such as Meta and Adobe, how users will find the new WordPress easier than ever to use, and how TikTok plan to expand their advertising capabilities.

TikTok introduce Pulse- a new way to advertise

An image to represent a heartbeat or pulse.

The number 1 social media platform is stepping up its advertising capabilities with a new advertising feature called TikTok Pulse: which is a way for brands to be a part of the everyday moments and culture that users engage in.

What is TikTok Pulse?

TikTok Pulse is a new advertising solution that focuses on context, so your ads show around the top content on TikTok- specifically, your ads can show next to video content on a user’s For You feed.

TikTok has stated that Pulse will show your ads among the top 4% of all videos on that platform. The additional benefits of TikTok pulse include:

  • Drives engagement and action.
  • Confidence in brand suitability measurements.

TikTok plan to offer 12 categories of Pulse for brands to choose where their ads will show, some examples of the categories include:

  • Beauty
  • Fashion
  • Cooking
  • Gaming

As you can choose where your ads will show category wise, It allows you to engage with the groups that are most relevant to your brand.

To ensure that your ads are running next to the top content of your selected category, TikTok will use an in-house inventory filter. The filter will ensure that your ad is suitable for the platform.

To measure the impact of your Pulse ad, you will have access to third party brand suitability and viewability verification for post-campaign measurement.

As of now, individual creators and media publishers who have at least 100k followers are eligible for the program, it’s believed the program will launch in the US before anywhere else.

Meta expanding ad formats and tools for small businesses

An image meant to represent a small business.

During National Small Business Week, Meta announced that they are going to give SMBs the attention they deserve and spoke about new ways for them to take advantage of lead generation and share content.

The new tools and ad formats are aimed at helping businesses gain higher quality leads by identifying different ways they can connect with their customers.

Messaging and conversation features

Meta identified that over 70% of people wish that they could communicate with a business in a similar way to how they connect with friends and family: through messaging.

Businesses are starting to realise the value of messaging a customer, such as the ad format that opens a WhatsApp chat, which is a great way for new customers to discover a business and have a conversation.

With this insight from Meta, they are creating ads for Facebook and Instagram that can be made directly from Meta’s WhatsApp business app. Here’s what the new experience looks like:

An example of a Facebook ad created in WhatsApp.
Source: Facebook.com, May 2022

The next messaging update is to a business’ inbox itself, Meta is streamlining business communications by having all its messaging tools in one place.

A business inbox as of now only contains messages from Facebook and Instagram, the update will contain WhatsApp messages now too.

This feature is designed to save you and your team time, money, and efficiency.

The final messaging update that was talked about will allow you to send promotional message adverts to customers who have opted in to communications, through Meta Business Suite. This feature looks like this:

Meta is testing Marketing Message campaigns from the Business Suite.
Source: Facebook.com, May 2022

Lead Generation and Customer Acquisition tools

As well as the new messaging tools, Meta is also launching new tools to help a business capture and manage leads through their platforms. These tools and features include:

  • Quote Requests on Instagram
  • Lead filtering with Instant Forms
  • Creative flexibility
  • Gated content
  • Partner integrations

Select businesses on Instagram are currently able to test the Quote Request action button on their profile, which allows a customer to request a quote for a good or service.

In the future, a business will be able to filter their leads which works by reviewing responses to a multiple-choice question from leads.

Meta is currently testing its Instant Form for more personalisation such as adding visuals or content to Instant Forms.

Meta are hosting an event called Conversations on the 19th of May where these features will be spoken about further, so if you’ve had trouble leveraging Facebook or Instagram to work for your small business; then these tools are definitely for you.

Adobe and Meta join together to offer a free training program for small businesses

an image showing a Macbook and Adobe tools.

Meta and Adobe have come together in partnership to create a free, online training program called Express Your Brand. The training is intended to help small business owners grow and expand their businesses online.

This year-long initiative combines skill training, community building, and inspiration.

Over half of small business owners believe that improving their social media skills would have a meaningful impact on their business, given they had the time and resources to do so.

Meta and Adobe wish to make this a reality, the company announcement can be read below:

“It’s no surprise that social media is an essential marketing tool for small businesses today. According to a recent Adobe survey, we found 59% of small business owners (SBOs) say improving their social media skills would be the most impactful thing they can do for their business.1 But with limited time, resources and technology, it can be a daunting task for entrepreneurs…

Empowering people to create and communicate has always been core to Adobe’s mission of changing the world through digital experiences, and Adobe Express makes it possible for everyone, independent of skill level, to make something great and quickly.”

Express Your Brand launches on the 17th May and will highlight a variety of digital marketing topics such as building a brand, driving engagement on social media, and creating your own ads on Ad Manager.

Skills and Community

Express Your Brand will be delivered with monthly virtual training sessions and will focus on giving tips to small business owners to maximise their impact on Social Media platforms. Each monthly session will include hands-on training on Adobe Express, formerly known as Adobe Spark.

Using Adobe Express will teach participants how to build a creative library, and then be shown how this library can be used to market on Facebook or Instagram.

Express Your Brand also strives to inspire participants creatively and will feature guests and experts such realtor Hrishell Stause, chef Melissa King, and interior designer Justina Blakeney, who will speak about their experiences in growing their own brands into the successful ones they are today.

In addition to the skill training and creative inspiration, the program aims to create a community where small business owners can connect with each other and share tips to personalise their learning experience. The training will be hosted on centralised hubs and a forum will allow for personal interaction between businesses.

Adobe Premium incentives

To sweeten the deal, the partnership will provide 10,000 lucky Meta Elevate members with a one-year subscription to Adobe Express.

Meta elevate is a learning platform that offers Black, Latin, and Hispanic business owners the resources they need to succeed, and was launched in 2018. Meta Elevate is a community for entrepreneurs of colour and provides access to virtual coaching, one-on-one mentorship, and other digital marketing tools.

Read Meta’s full announcement here.

WordPress 6.0 improvements

An image with a laptop with WordPress on it.

WordPress has published a list of improvements that are coming to WordPress 6.0, the list focuses on changes coming to the block editor that aims to make designing webpages and websites easier and more inspiring. WordPress 6.0 will deliver a UI that makes it easier than ever for people to design web pages and edit text.

Here’s what a member of the WordPress design team had to say about 6.0:

“I think some of the features being released in 6.0 are absolutely going to empower that end-user.

Particularly in terms of improvements around design tools and some of the quality of life improvements.

For example, partially selecting across multiple blocks and being able to partially select texts there.

That’s the type of thing that really brings the writing experience in the editor to be on par with how you would expect a text editing experience to work.”

WordPress Gutenberg blocks

WordPress’ block system has been subject to criticism in the past because people thought it wasn’t ready. 6.0 will bring notable improvements that bring the block system in line with what users expect a visual website editor to function like.

The key improvements include a new user interface that makes it easier for users to create content or design a website. However, many of the improvements depend on the theme designers to implement and get on board with the changes, such as offering theme.json config files that offer a user an easy way to switch between different page patterns and styles.

Page creation

WordPress 6.0 includes page patterns, which is a way for users to select from patterns or templates to help them begin designing web pages. For example, a user can select a page pattern appropriate for an about us page.

Page patterns do not ship with WordPress core. Page patterns are a feature that theme designers will need to take advantage of.

Global Style Switcher

In 6.0, theme creators can now include different style presets that can change the look and feel of a webpage. This is one of the key changes coming to WordPress.

The Global Style Switcher is a critical feature because it provides theme designers with a way to make it easier for users to change how their website looks to make it feel truly unique. In a recent podcast, a member of the WordPress design team explained why the style switcher is an important advancement:

“I’m most excited about the style switcher within the global styles panel.

Um, so if folks still don’t know what I’m talking about there, it’s the ability to change between different variations of the theme.json without actually switching the theme.

So this is a way to get a drastically different look and feels across your site with just a single click.

And I see it as a really fun place to experiment and kind of get inspired for the different ways your site could appear without ever having to change your theme.

But now, with 6.0, I think even more so it’s starting to showcase the real power of block themes and what can actually be done there.

And style variations is a huge kind of first step into this new world of block themes and starting to really open up the possibilities and all the flexibility that you have there.”

To read about the full list of changes, read the WordPress 6.0 Field Guide

Metaverse plans unveiled, 3 strike policies for Google Ads and Top 10 apps in Q1 2022 revealed.

April 29, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Metaverse plans unveiled, 3 strike policies for Google Ads and Top 10 apps in Q1 2022 revealed.”

It’s now the end of Q1 2022, and as it comes to a close companies have begun to think about their aims for the rest of the year, and interesting reports are getting published about how Q1 has been for businesses. Let’s take a look.

Meta’s Future

Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spoken about its future in a quarterly earnings call, he expressed optimism about the direction Meta is heading in, even if they missed their earnings per share goal.

Meta met their targets for revenue and new users but is planning to slow its investment pace due to current growth levels.

On the same day, Zuckerberg posted on Facebook to address some of the challenges Meta is facing, such as the transition to short-form video (like their rivals Tik-Tok) stating that it “doesn’t monetise as well for now, but we’re which we’re quite optimistic about over the long term”

The other challenges Meta is facing include Apple’s iOS 15 privacy changes, the slowing of e-commerce growth, and the war in Ukraine.

Video, The Metaverse, and Ads will drive growth for Meta

In 2021, Meta divided its business into two separate categories: Family of Apps, which includes the staple platforms of Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, and Reality Labs. Reality Labs are focused on building the social media platform of the future. In the Facebook post Zuckerberg said:

“Over the next several years our goal from a financial perspective is to generate sufficient operating income growth from Family of Apps to fund the growth of investment in Reality Labs while still growing our overall profitability,”

Meta plan to use its three main investment priorities to drive its growth, Reels, ads, and the Metaverse.

Reels to be enhanced by improved AI recommendations

Meta’s short-form video feature Reels was created to rival TikTok and launched in February this year, for the rest of 2022 Meta wants to capitalise on the popularity of short-form video by improving their AI recommendations.

“Reels already makes up more than 20% of the time that people spend on Instagram. Video overall makes up 50% of the time that people spend on Facebook, and Reels is growing quickly there as well.

We’re also seeing a major shift in feeds from being almost exclusively curated by your social graph or follow graph to now having more of your feed recommended by AI, even if the content wasn’t posted by a friend or someone you follow.”

Meta’s advancements in AI are aiming to make it a discovery engine to show users valuable and relevant content across the company’s properties.

Horizon, a Metaverse gateway

Zuckerberg also mentioned Meta’s plan to launch a new platform called Horizon later this year.

“Horizon will make it easy for people to step into metaverse experiences from a lot more platforms, even without a headset,” Zuckerberg said.

Horizon will work with virtual reality platforms such as Quest and feature work use cases as well as recreational activities.

“Our other focus for Horizon is building out the metaverse economy and helping creators make a living working in the metaverse. We expect to be meaningfully better at monetization than others in the space, and we think that should become a sustainable advantage for our platforms as they develop.”

If you’re unsure of what the Metaverse is, here’s a quick video from CNET explaining the concept that is making its way through headlines and businesses alike:

Everything Facebook revealed about the Metaverse in 11 minutes

Google implement a 3-strike policy for Google Ads

If you’re a business that has used Google Ads to advertise, it’s likely you’ll have had an ad that has been disapproved. Disapprovals are becoming more and more automated as well as harder to appeal without speaking to a Google rep.

Google has announced an update in relation to the enforcement of repeated disapproval violations, set to kick in June 2022.

So what’s changing?

Google will issue a strike against an Ads account if you have violated certain policies repeatedly.

Strikes aren’t issues for every policy, but the policies that do have them include:

  • Compensated sexual acts
  • Mail-order brides
  • Clickbait
  • Misleading ad design
  • Bail bond services
  • Call Directories, forwarding services
  • Credit repair services
  • Binary options
  • Personal loans

For certain policies, your Ads account will have a maximum of three strikes, with each strike that is applied by breaking one of these policies, the penalties will be worse.

How the strikes work

The first two strikes are temporary suspensions, the first strike is a 3-day suspension and the second is a 7-day suspension. On the third strike, your individual-account level, not your manager account level will be suspended.

An image of a baseball glove and baseballs meant to visually represent "Three strikes"

TikTok is the downloaded app in Q1 2022

TikTok has achieved the number one spot on the most downloaded apps for Q1 2022, according to a report from Sensor Tower.

TikTok was downloaded by more than 175 million people from the 1st of January through to the 31st of March 2022. With this achievement, they have now surpassed Instagram as the most downloaded app.

Since 2018, no other app has had more downloads than TikTok, which has been downloaded more than 3.5 billion times.

TikTok is the fifth app to achieve this milestone, but the first app that does not fall under Meta’s umbrella.

The most downloaded apps in Q1 2022

For Q1 2022, the top ten downloaded apps in Europe are:

  1. TikTok
  2. WhatsApp
  3. Telegram
  4. Instagram
  5. Facebook
  6. Messenger
  7. CapCut
  8. Spotify
  9. Snapchat
  10. YouTube

Instagram improving for content creators and users, why negative reviews can have a positive impact on SEO, and Google makes managing cookies easier.

April 22, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Instagram improving for content creators and users, why negative reviews can have a positive impact on SEO, and Google makes managing cookies easier.”

It’s that time of the week again, following sunny spells across the UK there’s also a lot of positive news for marketers and businesses in the digital sector, let’s take a look!

Instagram to make hashtags more valuable for accounts

In an effort to improve its platform for its users, Instagram is currently testing ways to improve the hashtag by making them more valuable.

By adjusting how top posts are ranked on a hashtag page, the top posts will now consist of timely and recent content, in the past, there were three sections of a hashtag page “top”, “recent”, and “reels” which meant that the content on “top” might be from months ago.

Instagram will now be removing the “recent” tab so that users can find newer, relevant content on the “top” tab, while the “reels” tab will not have changes.

The social media company hopes that these changes will increase the value of including a hashtag in a post for users, this is presumably to make a difference in hashtag engagement levels.

Studies have shown that at the moment, hashtags don’t increase post engagement considerably, will this change improve the impact that a hashtag will bring?

How and why the hashtag page is changing

Instagram’s communication team announced the change and why they’re doing it, which reads:

“We’re trying out some new things to make hashtags as valuable as possible for people. A few weeks ago, we rolled out Destinations which helps connect people to more information around social causes, and now, we’re going to try something new.

For a small group, we’re testing more recent and timely content in ‘Top’ and ‘Reels’ tabs in hashtags, and removing the ‘Recent’ tab. We want to see if this helps people connect with more interesting and relevant content on hashtags, while also keeping them across what’s current.“

Instagram even shared an example of what the new hashtag page will look like:

A screenshot of a side by side comparison of what the old and new hashtag screen will look like.
Source: Twitter.com/InstagramComms, April 2022.

As you can see, the design is functionally the same, but the “recent” tab is just removed.

The streamlined design is to help users find timely and quality content, rather than seeing content which is potentially outdated.

Only time will tell if this has the positive change for users that Instagram is looking for.

Instagram to favour original content with new ranking change

As well as the hashtag changes, the way that Instagram’s home feed ranks content is receiving an update that has been designed to boost original content visibility.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram announced that this ranking change is one key component of a larger effort to not only improve the platform for its users but also to reward originality and give credit where it is due.

Mosseri stated:

“People expressing themselves is the heartbeat of Instagram. It’s what makes Instagram work. I’ve talked a lot this year about how creators are incredibly important to Instagram’s future. And one of the things I’ve learned from speaking with creators is how important getting credit for their work is to them. So today, a few hidden gems, a few way’s we’re going to make sure that credit is going to those who deserve it.”

Mosseri discussed three updates which are intended to help credit the creators he’s referring to:

  • A home feed ranking change
  • Product tags
  • Enhanced people tags

Home feed ranking update

Mosseri has said that the ranking algorithm which is currently used for Instagram will be updated to assign more value to original content. This means that if someone creates and posts original content, it’s likely to be more visible and gain more traction compared to content that has been republished.

Mosseri spoke a bit more about the change:

“I know a lot of you are skeptical of ranking, but it really does help us make sure that Instagram is more valuable to each and every person who uses the platform. This [update] is specifically focused on this idea of originality.

If you create something from scratch you should get more credit than if you are sharing something that you found from someone else. We’re going to do more to try and value original content more, particularly compared to reposted content.”

Product tags

Instagram will also be introducing the ability to tag a product in a post, which was once only available to select users.

Mosseri stated:

“Product tags have been available for a while now, but they’re now going to be available to everyone. So no matter who you are out there, you can tag a product and drive some traffic or attention to a business or a creator that you love.”

You can follow these instructions to do this:

  • Start to create a post.
  • Tap ‘Tag people’.
  • Search and tag the brand first.
  • Two options should show up at the bottom labeled ‘People’ & ‘Products’.
  • Tap ‘Products’.
  • Tap the photo to start tagging products.
  • Hit ‘Share’ to publish the post.

The idea behind this feature is to shout out your favourite brands and small businesses.

People tag enhancements

Tagging people in a photo post will also get a small enhancement. If an individual user tags you in a post, they can add a category in their profile that will show up when you’re tagged.

To give an example, if someone publishes a video of you speaking at a conference and you’re tagged, people will be able to see who you are and what it is that you do.

Mosseri spoke about the feature:

“So you’ve always been able to tag accounts on Instagram and photos or videos for a long time now, but now you can actually select a category for yourself.

So if you go into profile, edit profile, and that category will show up when you are tagged in a photo or a video. Again, trying to make sure that you can have your presence, your identity, be what you want it to be and have that credit flow appropriately.”

Mosseri also reiterated that Instagram is fully committed to ensuring that users and creators are credited appropriately:

“Again, creators are incredibly important to the future of Instagram, and we want to make sure they’re successful on the platform and they’re getting all the credit they deserve. And hopefully these three changes are small steps in that direction.”

You can watch the full tweet announcement here:

Why negative reviews can be positive for SEO

A frustrated customer shouting down a phone.

Consumers rely heavily on reviews when purchasing a new product, therefore a negative customer review of one of your products can seem like a bad thing, but for SEO it’s actually the opposite.

A lot of people wonder ‘Should I remove negative reviews?’ under no circumstances delete your negative reviews.

A negative review can have a positive impact on your brand, sales, and ranking for SEO. It may be hard to believe, but according to a study by ReviewInc, customers will trust a 4.7 rating compared to a 5-star rating.

This is due to the fact that some businesses provide payment for a positive review or even post fake reviews of their own products, and a lot of customers are now aware of this fact.

A customer is more likely to be aware when a product feels too good to be true, and if they feel like this, they’re more likely to purchase another product from elsewhere.

A good rating that includes positive as well as negative reviews is a good indicator of a product’s authenticity.

How negative reviews can help SEO & online reputation

If you keep your bad reviews and manage those reviews with an online management tool, then your product’s star ratings can:

  • Improve your SEO and visiblity in SERPS (search engine results pages).
  • Increase the trust and loyalty of your customers.
  • Provide insights about to help your businesses’ growth for the future.

Negative reviews and SEO

Having reviews and a rating section on your product pages as well as sites such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp factor into Google’s rankings for search engine optimisation.

Google has described how reviews play into SEO rankings by saying “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”

If you encourage reviews both positive and negative and respond to them, it’s a good practice that will help enhance local SEO and your online presence and reputation.

Negative reviews provide a balance that’s necessary as if you have too many positive reviews or reviews that are biased, then it can result in the reviews being suspended which will impact the SEO.

Negative reviews build trust

On Yelp, the average review score is 3.65, whilst on Facebook, it’s 4.42, 4.3 on Google and 4.25 on TripAdvisor.

Although those numbers seem low, the truth is that these reviews build trust that helps a potential customer know what they’re getting into before they purchase your product.

A bad review is a necessary part of authenticity, and this can lead to more purchases. If you have a bad review, you need to use a sympathetic response that lets customers know the following:

  • The context of the bad review.
  • Show any future customers that you’re taking existing customer’s needs on board and will work to accomodate them.
  • Show customers you’re a genuine business who are there for them.

A negative review can improve business operations

There’s another benefit from negative reviews, they can tell a business how it can improve.

In today’s competitive e-commerce environment, this is especially important.

Criticism can make people and businesses better, sometimes a negative review can draw your attention to an issue you may have overlooked or not noticed such as:

  • If the product is faulty or not fit for purpose
  • If a team member needs guidance

Not every bad review will end a business, it can be an opportunity to improve for the future.

EU users are provided a simpler way to reject cookies

Google are wanting to make it easier to reject all cookies on their search engine and YouTube for their European user base. The changes will be rolled out in France first, then the UK, Switzerland, and the rest of the European Economic Area.

If you visit search or YouTube signed out or in incognito/private mode, you’ll be presented with a choice to either reject or accept all cookies, you can also click on “more options” to customise your choice of cookies.

Google provided a screenshot of what the change would look like:

A screenshot showing the new cookies screen on YouTube, providing an example of rejecting or accepting all cookies.

This change is because CNIL, who is a french privacy watchdog fined Google 150 million euros on the 6th of January. Google was given three months to provide a simpler way for users to reject cookies, if Google didn’t do this then they’d have had to provide CNIL with 100,000 euros per day.

This is a positive change for Google, which in the past has made it difficult to reject their cookies, but unfortunately, this change was only brought about due to not wanting to pay a fine. Google had this to say on the update:

“This update meant we needed to re-engineer the way cookies work on Google sites, and to make deep, coordinated changes to critical Google infrastructure. Moreover, we knew that these changes would impact not only Search and YouTube, but also the sites and content creators who use them to help grow their businesses and make a living.” Google thinks it can balance privacy while helping digital businesses grow and thrive. Now it’s time to find out how it will work.

YouTube to launch a keyword research tool, Facebook ads turning off, and Google Search features finish their rollout.

April 15, 2022 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “YouTube to launch a keyword research tool, Facebook ads turning off, and Google Search features finish their rollout.”

It’s been a busy week for marketers as updates have either finished rolling out, have been announced, or have just been introduced to different platforms across the internet. Let’s take a look at what’s been happening across the week.

YouTube to make their keyword research tool available to all creators

A tool called YouTube Search Insights, which is designed to surface keyword data to creators, will be available to all channels later this month.

This is following a limited test from November where select channels received a preview of this tool so they knew what to expect. The tool has not been significantly altered.

If you were a part of the test group, great! You can keep using the tool as normal.

If this is your first time hearing about Search Insight or you’re aware but don’t know what it is, here’s an explanation.

What is YouTube Search Insights?

YouTube Search Insights is a tool that has been built to assist creators when planning their content by providing them with data to create more relevant content.

The data that is surfaced by Search Insights will inform a creator about what their specific target audience is looking for.

As well as this, it will also provide creators with data on what the general audience is searching for by looking up keywords to see their search volume.

If a keyword search returns you with high volume but low results it will label this a Content Gap. This is a prime opportunity to supply your target audience with content that they’re seeing low results on.

This data is based on the last 28 days of searching.

How can I access YouTube Search Insights?

In order to access YouTube Search Insights, you need to access your YouTube Studio and follow these instructions.

  1. Click Analytics
  2. Find the Research tab
  3. Then look for a section called “Your viewer’s searches”

From here you will be able to see the data on what your target audience is searching for on YouTube.

This tool can only be accessed on a desktop, and only shows queries from users in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and India.

The full video announcement can be watched below:

Source: Creator Insider

Facebook turning off marketers’ best ads.

On the 13th of April, many marketer’s woke up to find that upon opening Meta Business Suite, some of their ads were turned off. To rub salt in the wound, a lot of the best-performing ones were the ones that were turned off.

Meta did not make a statement about the bug, but it’s worth checking your Facebook Ads account to make sure that any ads that were running still are, and if they’re off to turn them back on again. Here’s a tweet about how to do this:

Unfortunately, if you were affected by this bug then it may have significantly hindered the success of a paid social campaign.

Highly Cited labels for Google Top Stories is now live

A few weeks ago I posted this article talking about a new label for Top Stories on Google which is “highly cited”, well this feature is now live. Here’s a screenshot of the label in action.

A Google screenshot showing the top stories section of a resuts page regarding "Jason Ravnsborg"
Source: Search Engine Land

The label is designed to help searchers identify stories that have been cited by other news organisations. The purpose of this is to elevate original reporting, which is something they’ve been wanting to focus on since 2019.

The “Highly Cited” label will give confidence to anyone who is searching the topic that the story is cited by other journalists and offers unique information that they can learn and rely on.

March 2022 product review update now live on Google after finishing rolling out

In another week,’s roundup I spoke about Google Product Review Updates, this update launched in March and has now finished rolling out successfully after 19 days. The announcement is below on Twitter:

If your reviews have been affected by the rollout, then here’s what you can do to try and improve your rankings and traffic:

  1. Provide more multimedia around your product from visuals to audio, or even just links to your own experience with the product in question. This supports your expertise and reinforces authenticity.
  2. Include links to multiple sellers of the product to give readers an option of purchasing from a seller of their choice.

I also included the criteria for product reviews following on from this update, this includes:

  • Include helpful in-depth details, like the benefits or drawbacks of a certain item, specifics on how a product performs or how the product differs from previous versions
  • Come from people who have actually used the products, and show what the product is physically like or how it’s used
  • Include unique information beyond what the manufacturer provides — like visuals, audio or links to other content detailing the reviewer’s experience
  • Cover comparable products, or explain what sets a product apart from its competitors