122: [Ep122] – Google ‘Helpful Content’ Algorithm Will Target Sites With Low Quality Content

by Aug 22, 2022TWIMshow0 comments

1. Snapchat+ Reaches 1 Million Subscribers & Adds New Features – Snapchat+ launch was covered in Episode#115. And now it seems that in 6-weeks, Snapchat+ has crossed 1 Million subscribers. FYI: Snapchat+ is a premium membership tier available for $3.99 per month that grants access to exclusive features. At launch time, it had the following features:

  • A Snapchat+ badge.
  • “Ghost trails,” which is the ability to see where your friends were in the past 24 hours. 
  • The ability to see who rewatched your snaps. 
  • The option to designate a “best friend” and pin them to the top of your feed. 
  • Various exclusive icons and themes.

And now here are the new features that Snapchat has added:

  • Priority story replies: Your replies will be more visible to influencers and celebrities. 
  • Post-view emoji: Show people a specific emoji after they view your snaps. 
  • Bitmoji backgrounds: More options when selecting a background for your bitmoji. 
  • App icons: Change the Snapchat icon on your Home Screen to one of several new designs.

Snapchat+ seems to have better features than the comparable subscription service Twitter Blue. And Twitter Blue is about a $1 more per month ($4.99). While Twitter hasn’t revealed how many premium subscribers it has. However, there’s evidence suggesting the service isn’t doing well. According to Twitter’s Q2 2022 earnings report, revenue from ‘subscriptions and other’ sources is down 36% year-over-year.

2. Pinterest Announces “Hosted Checkout” For Shopify Merchants – Pinterest claims that the Hosted Checkout shopping experience removes multiple steps from the checkout process, making it simpler than ever for people to shop on Pinterest—and for merchants to sell. According to them “This new purchasing process removes friction from the shopping process—making it simpler and faster for people to complete the purchase.” 

Prior to hosted checkout, when shoppers wanted to shop from a product Pin, they has to click the Pin, visited the retailer’s own site and go through extra steps to add products to their cart, enter payment and shipping details, etc. 

With hosted checkout, shoppers will pick the exact product they want—think colors or sizing. Then, they tap “Buy” to enter the hosted checkout experience via Shopify where they will enter details like shipping and payment.

In my opinion, it does eliminate couple of steps in the checkout process. The hidden benefits of this integration are:

a.) The time delay from transferring a shopper from Pinterest to Shopify store is eliminated

b.) Better conversion data that would otherwise be lost due to Apple’s ATT update.

3. 3 New Types Of Shopping Ads On TikTok – Advertisers can now run shopping ads on TikTok with three different formats to choose from. They are:

  • Video shopping ads – Video shopping ads allow advertisers to create shoppable videos for display on the For You page. This ad type combines features from existing TikTok ads — collection ads and dynamic showcase ads. Video shopping ads will dynamically combine video creative and product cards into different variations. The format can be either product-specific to drive sales or a broader brand message to drive consideration. As TikTok gathers data, it will optimize a campaign’s performance by dynamically choosing the top converting combinations. When a user taps on the ad, TikTok will create an in-app landing page to better determine a user’s intent to buy. These pages let shoppers learn more about products and redirect users to a retailer’s site when they’re ready to purchase. Collection ads and dynamic showcase ads will remain available until the end of the year, then TikTok plans to phase them out in favor of video shopping ads.
  • Catalog listing ads – Catalog listing ads allow advertisers to promote product catalogs at scale with new placements across TikTok. Something advertisers may appreciate about catalog listing ads is that they’re not required to create video content. The ads allow brands to get in front of the TikTok audience without making videos, which is a first. Instead of video, catalog listing ads pull product images from a retailer’s catalog and promotes them in shoppable placements. Users discover the ads through branded content on the For You page.
  • Live shopping ads – Live shopping ads are specifically designed to promote live shopping streams. The ads help direct people from the For You page to a live shopping event. TikTok says these ads can boost traffic to a live shopping event by getting it in front of people who are ready to buy.

The new advertising formats are accessible in TikTok Ads manager through buying objective ‘Product Sales.’ 

Advertisers can utilize these new shopping ads with or without an e-commerce store on TikTok. Access to shopping ads requires advertisers to reach “level one” status by integrating advanced signals and linking their product catalogs. TikTok has a PDF guide that outlines the whole process. Advertisers are not required to utilize TikTok Shop, an in-app ecommerce solution, to run shopping ads. Although TikTok Shop can be used with shopping ads, advertisers can direct shoppers to an external site.

4. TikTok Recommends You To Use ‘Instant Page’ With Your Ad – Back in Jan 22, we covered “Instant Page” in Episode#93 after it was first announced by TikTok. TikTok “Instant Page” enables brands to connect their TikTok ads through to a lightweight, native landing page, built within TikTok itself, that loads up to 11x faster than standard mobile pages. With “Instant Page”, TikTok users can view videos and images, swipe through carousels, or even click on buttons to explore another destination, all without leaving TikTok itself.

Now in a new tips post, TikTok also says that “Instant Page” can be great for providing additional contextual detail and insight, in order to boost campaign performance.

Instant Page is especially useful for informing, educating, and engaging users on complex topics where ad creatives can’t go into the necessary detail e.g. for finance brands. With added vital information about the product and service clearly listed on the Instant Page, it provides prospective users with the necessary consideration points in order to make more sound judgments before purchasing. This, in turn, shortens their decision-making time

Campaign results from our platform prove this again and again. Campaigns that use an Instant Page reduce their cost per acquisition up to 75%, compared to campaigns that don’t use the feature. Not only that, these campaigns also achieve a 25% to 35% higher click-through rate on call to action buttons within the Instant Page. That means out of every three or four people who view an advertiser’s Instant Page, at least one person will engage with the CTA button.

If you are considering “Instant Page” as a potential addition for your ads, TikTok has also shared some key best practice tips and notes:

  • Create an “Instant Page” using one of their  many available templates, or customize your own from the ground up
  • Set up several different Instant Pages to test their varied effects on your selected audiences.
  • Include a broader target audience at first, then narrow down to higher-performing segments.
  • Have at least one call to action button.
  • Choose a distinctive call to action button design that matches your brand’s style and color, etc.
  • Consider your Instant Page’s average view percentage and average view time together for a holistic understanding of the page’s performance.
  • Onsite page views and call to action button clicks are also major metrics to watch.

You can learn more about TikTok’s Instant Page tools here.

5. IG/FB Reels Update – Here the updates to IG/FB Reels:

  • Crosspost Instagram Reels To Facebook – If you have accounts on both social networks you can post a Reel on Instagram and have it post on Facebook at the same time. The next time you create a Reel on Instagram you’ll get a prompt asking if you want to share it to Facebook. After opting in to crossposting all reels created on Instagram will automatically share to Facebook unless you indicate otherwise at the time of posting. Meta’s also expanding its Remix option to Facebook Reels also. Keep in mind the default privacy setting for Reels is public. Even If you have a private Facebook profile, people you’re not connected to will be able to see your Reels.
  • “Add Yours” Sticker From Instagram Stories – Instagram is bringing the “add yours” sticker from stories to Reels. You can add the sticker to any Reel to encourage others to create a Reel in response. It could be something like, “My highlight of the weekend was spending time at the beach. Add yours.” Users can tap on the sticker and add their own reel responding to your prompt.
  • New Insights For Reels On Facebook – Now you’ll be able to analyze data such as reach, average watch time, total watch time, and other metrics that can help you understand how your Reels are performing on Facebook.
  • Schedule Reels On Facebook – Using Creator Studio you can schedule Facebook Reels content in advance, and manage all your published Reels in one central location.

6. Meta’s “Foundations of Performance” Guide Provides Tips To Mitigate ATT Impacts – Since Apple’s ATT update went live, most brands are simply not getting the same bang for their buck as they once were. May be this is why Meta has published a new guide to help brands realign with the latest changes, and get their ad performance back on track. The new 21 page guide outlines key points of focus for advertisers. I skimmed through the guide and the 2 points that jumped out are:

  • Use Conversions API – Enables brands to use their own marketing data for improved retargeting and measurement. Meta claims that Advertisers who followed best practices while sending events redundantly via the Meta Pixel and Conversions API received an 8% CPA improvement on average. The Conversions API lets advertisers plug their customer information directly into Meta’s system. That alleviates the need to rely on the data that Meta itself can (or more effectively can’t) collect, which can help to mitigate the impacts of ATT on your ad targeting.
  • Use Conversion Optimization – Enables Meta to gather more insight based on actions taken on-platform – because it can’t track website activity in the same way. Optimizing for conversion means that it can use that intent data more effectively, which can then help to improve results. Meta also recommends that advertisers show their ads across six or more placements, test new creative formats (Reels, Carousel, Stories, Live), and refresh creative to avoid creative fatigue .

You can download the full Meta ‘Foundations of Performance’ guide here,

7. Hey Google, Will You RANK Non-https Sites In 2022? – A twitter user asked Google’s John Muller this question: “do you still RANK non-https sites in 2022?”

John responded on Twitter saying, “Sure. There are a lot of great & old websites on HTTP. It’s not a requirement to be on HTTPS.”

But do keep in mind that HTTPS is one of the ranking signals that Google uses. Just spend the extra dollars and get the https (SSL certificate).

8. Hey Google, Do You Drop URLs From Index Over Time? – A Twiiter user asked Google’s Search Advocate John Muller, if Google will de-index a page under certain condition?

John wrote “It doesn’t really matter what happened, but yes, any URL can drop out of the index over time.” What this means is that, you need to periodically check your Google Search Console and make sure that your pages are still indexed and if you find that a page has been de-indexed then go ahead and request a re-indexing manually.

9. Google Merchant Center May Limit The Visibility Of Free Product Listings – According to a latest policy enforcement announcement, Google will no longer automatically remove shopping listings that are missing the return and refund policy and also that have insufficient contact information. The free listings policies but the policies remain unchanged. It’s just how Google enforces the policy has changed.

Previously, Google would automatically disapprove Google Merchant Center feed listings that either is missing a return policy, refund policy and/or containing insufficient contact information. Going forward, that is no longer the case. Google said these free listings with these issues will remain active however it may have limited visibility due to how the policy enforced. Google said, “free listings accounts with these issue statuses will remain active, but their products will have limited visibility on Google.”

Google defines “Insufficient contact information” as “Websites that are missing required contact information, have unverified business information in Merchant Center, or both.” Examples include the Website is missing contact information (e.g. no social media link, contact email address, or phone number); Merchant Center account has missing contact information, such as a physical business address or a verified phone number; contact information is missing from both the store website and Merchant Center account.

Google defines “Missing return and refund policy” as “Websites that are missing return and refund information.” Examples include the Store return policy pages that are empty or don’t state all the requirements for return; refund policies that aren’t clear or easy to find; no return or refund policy is clearly stated.

10. Google ‘Helpful Content’ Algorithm Will Target Sites With Low Quality Content – Starting the week of 8/22, Google will launch a new search algorithm update, called the helpful content update. Google’s new helpful content update specifically targets “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.” The purpose of this algorithm update is to help searchers find “high-quality content”. This update will initially launch for English-language searches globally. Google plans to expand to other languages in the future.

Google wants to reward sites with useful content that was written for humans and to help users. And penalize sites where the content was written for the purpose of ranking in search engines – what you might call “search engine-first content” or “SEO content”. 

Unlike other Google algorithms that get applied on a page-by-page basis, this new helpful content update will be sitewide. That means that if Google determines your site is producing a relatively high amount of unhelpful content, primarily written for ranking in search, then your whole site will be impacted. This will not just impact individual pages or sections of your site, but rather, it will impact the whole site.

Google won’t say exactly what percentage of the pages on your site need to be helpful versus unhelpful to trigger this classifier but they did say it is sitewide and will impact the whole site, even if you have many pages that are helpful. Again, if you have helpful pages but a relatively high amount of your content is unhelpful, even your helpful content or sections of your site will be hit by this update. Google said “removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.

If a site gets hit by the helpful content update, it can take several months for the site to recover. A site needs to prove itself over time that it no longer publishes content with the sole reason to rank in search engines, a search engine first content experience, and that takes time. Here is what Dan Sullivan from Google wrote: “Sites identified by this update may find the signal applied to them over a period of months. Our classifier for this update runs continuously, allowing it to monitor newly-launched sites and existing ones. As it determines that the unhelpful content has not returned in the long-term, the classification will no longer apply.”

Google is using a new machine learning algorithm that  looks at a variety of signals about the page and site to determine the ranking of a page and decide on the quality of the content. Google engineers tweaking and improving the overall algorithms on a regular basis so the algorithm should get better over time.  While these algorithms do not specifically target any specific niche, Google said these types of content may be impacted the most:

  • Online educational materials. 
  • Arts and entertainment. 
  • Shopping. 
  • Tech-related.

Here is an example from Google search where the helpful content update would make an impact:

  • If you search for information about a new movie, you might have previously encountered articles that aggregated reviews from other sites without adding perspectives beyond what’s available elsewhere on the web. This isn’t very helpful if you’re expecting to read something new. With this update, you’ll see more results with unique information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven’t seen before.

To write better content, Google shared these questions around building human-first content:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you? 
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?

And when it comes to avoiding search-engine first content, Google laid out these questions:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans? 
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value? 
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?

  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?