Get up to speed with the Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Feb 13-17, 2023.

1. Pinterest Has Refreshed ‘Pinterest Academy’ – Pinterest has launched its refreshed Pinterest Academy (originally launched in 2019) learning resource, which includes a range of courses and insights designed to help you become a Pin marketing expert. Here is what Pinterest wrote in the announcement:

Whether you’re new to Pinterest ads or looking to boost your expertise, Pinterest Academy has it covered. From basics like ‘Why Pinterest?’ to modules like “Measurement solutions,” you’ll find instructions and tips for every step of the campaign process.

To enroll, visit 

2. Google Business Profile Strength Widget Now Live – Last June, Google began testing a “profile strength” widget or status icon that shows you if you need to do more with your Google Business Profile. Well, that just went live on Friday and seemed to be fully rolled out. A lot of experts are unhappy with this rollout because Google will give you lower score if you do not sign up for Google Ads. Another soft nudge from Google to sign up for Google Ads and pushing you to spend $$.

3. Google’s John Muller Dislikes Keyword Rich Domains – Keyword-rich domain are domain names that have the keywords in them. For example, In the early days of SEO, Keyword-rich domain names were once thought to be an effective way to increase a website’s visibility and improve search engine rankings. But that has changed at least since 2014.  Now John Muller is repeating his old message that keyword-rich domains might be detrimental to a website’s long-term success for a few reasons. They are:

  1. Generally people will think you are a spammer. This is because spammers often use keyword-rich domain names to manipulate search rankings and attract unsuspecting website visitors. As a result, a website with a keyword-rich domain name may be viewed as untrustworthy and unprofessional, which can drive away potential customers.
  2. Changing business focus, or even expanding is harder. For example, if a company with a domain name like “” decides to start selling other athletic gear, it can be challenging to convince customers that the website is a trustworthy source for those products.
  3. You will have no brand name, there is nothing that people can search for which “obviously” should show your site. You’re always competing, you’re not building value with long-term users.

Despite all these cons, if you search for the term “keyword-rich domains” you’ll get a ton of results (including tools) that will suggest you to use keyword-rich domain. If you were to ask me, I prefer to listen to John Muller vs reading blog posts some random guy claiming to be a SEO expert. YMMV.

4. Google’s Advice On Which Structured Data To Use For A Services Business – During a recent Google SEO office hours, an user who is an owner of a service based business  asked how to fix the invalid item error when they use product structured data on their webpages? This is because the service price vary. 

John Mueller made an assumption that the business is a local service provider and recommended to use the local business structured data because it allows you to specify a price range for your services. 

One thing to keep in mind is that while Product structured data supports service based business, Google’s Product structured data documentation clearly focuses on product content and has no provision for service businesses. Their Search Central page for structured data makes it clear that for enhanced SERPs listings, use this structured data type for products.

So if you are wondering who you should listen to, my recommendation is that you listen to Google. 

By the way, if all this talk about structured data is making you dizzy then it is high-time you seek the services of a reputable search marketing agency or expert.

5. Google Simplifies Policy Circumvention Spam Policy – ast November Google introduced a new catchall search spam policy named policy circumvention.It was covered in Episode#136. That spam policy was listed to be able to take action on sites that bypass the other Google spam policies through other means. 

Now after receiving feedback, Google has updated that spam policy with simplified language. The policy circumentation document now reads:

If you continue to engage in actions intended to bypass our spam policies or content policies for Google Search, we may take appropriate action which may include restricting or removing eligibility for some of our search features (for example, Top Stories, Discover). Circumvention includes but is not limited to:

  • Creating or using multiple sites with the intention of continuing to violate our policies
  • Using other methods intended to continue distributing content or engaging in a behavior that aims to violate our policies

6. Google Updates SEO Link Best Practices Document – Google has published an updated document on SEO link best practices. The previous document was just on how to make your links crawlable but the new one adds tips on anchor text placements, how to write good anchor text, internal links within your content and external links from other sites. Here are the seven things you should be cognizant of when using links on your website:

  1. To make your links crawlable, it is recommended to use full URL over relative URL. 
  2. Anchor text (also known as link text) is the visible text of a link. This text tells people and Google something about the page you’re linking to. So place anchor text between elements. If you do not use anchor text then Google will attempt to use “title” attribute. For images that are links, Google uses the “alt” attribute of the “img” element an anchor text. So be sure to add “alt” text to your images.
  3.  Write good anchor text that is descriptive, concise, and relevant to the page that it’s on and to the page it link to. It provides context for the link, and sets the expectation for your readers. 
  4. You should cross-reference or cross-link your own content when possible. However, do not over do it.
  5. Use the “nofollow” attribute when linking to an external site and you are unsure about the reliability of that site. For example, you’re a cheese enthusiast and someone published a story bad mouthing your favorite cheese, so you want to write an article in response; however, you don’t want to give the site some of your reputation from your link. This would be a good time to use “nofollow”
  6. If you were paid in some way for the link, qualify these links with “sponsored” or “nofollow”. 
  7. If users can insert links on your site (for example, you have a forum section or Q&A site), add “ugc” or “nofollow” to these links

P.S: As a reminder, last November Google said external links will be less important as a ranking factor in the future.

7. Googlebot Will Ignore The “noindex” During 301 Redirects If You Do Not Do This – William Sear asked Gary Illyes “Will directives (noindex, nofollow) from a URL that redirects (301, 302) be respected or ignored?” “This particular use case the noindex, nofollow directives are in the HTTP header, so crawling the HTML would not be required to see the directive,” he added for clarification.

His response was, “I think we shouldn’t forward the noindex with redirects unless we can be exceptionally certain that the target also wants the noindex. I imagine that on same site the noindex would forward in some cases, but across sites it would not. This is a pretty bad hijack vector, hence being vague.”

8. Google: CDN’s “Checking if the site connection is secure” Is Not Search Engine Friendly – Gary Illyes from Google said that those “Checking if the site connection is secure” interstitials you see on some sites, some of the time, is the “last search-friendly things you can do.”

This is a feature that CloudFlare, and other CDNs have, to help prevent spam bots from accessing your website. In CloudFlare you can configure how strict you want this prompt to be and I keep it at the lowest level. But some sites do not and I guess for Google, it can cause issues.

So what should you do here? Listen to the show recording for my thoughts on this topic.

9. Google Ads Is Testing Disabling Opt Out Of Search Partners & Display Network –A week or so back, Google Ads users were posting on twitter how Google disabled the ability in campaign settings to easily opt out of your campaigns being also shown in the Google Search Partner network and the Google Display Network.Although it’s still possible to opt out of the GDN and Google Search Partners through the “Choose Networks” dropdown. I bet that some marketers and small business owners may feel pressured to include the GDN in their search campaigns, or they may don’t even notice the hidden option.

I’m against opting-in to either of these options because you usually end up spending a lot of $$ without any insights and results.

I wish I was making this up but I’m not since Ginny Marvin, the Google Ads Liaison, confirmed this test. Here is what she had to say:

1. Yes, this experiment is aimed at encouraging users to remain opted-in to the recommended setting – more on why below – while also providing opt-outs.

2. The team did multiple user studies over nearly 6 months to ensure the design balanced advertiser choice w/ a clear recommendation.

3. Why opt-in is recommended: Typically advertisers see more conversions at a similar ROI because Display Expansion (& Search Partners) serves ONLY when there’s unspent Search budget AND we believe we can match or beat your Search CPA. More on how it works here:

I get the initial reaction to this experiment, particularly if you’ve long reflexively opted out or haven’t tested Display Expansion in a while or ever, but hope this helps explain the why behind this test. Happy to answer any questions.

10. Instagram Launches ‘Channels’ Broadcast Chat Feature – Instagram is rolling out a new feature called ‘Instagram Channels’, which is essentially a group messaging function within the app where you can stay up to date on specific topics, brands, people, etc. Instagram Channels is a ‘broadcast chat’, which will support text, images and polls, all within IG Direct. After you join a channel, it will be added to your IG Direct chat list. You can then read and react to messages posted in the chat – though you can’t post yourself to the chat feed.

Hmm. To me Instagram is building a quasi-whatsapp within IG.Hey, they are welcome to try different things to keep creators on the platform and and increase engagement. I’ll expand on this in the show.

Creators who are interested in Channels can sign up to be considered for early access here.

11. No More Live Shopping On Instagram – If you have been a regular listener to my show, you know that I was not a fan of live shopping even though it is a huge thing in Asian markets. To me live shopping in North America never made sense because of the cultural differences. Looks like I was not so wrong and Techcrunch wrote that “as of March 16, 2023 Instagram users will no longer be able to tag products while livestreaming – a capability that has been broadly available to U.S. businesses and creators since 2020.”

Lesson for Instagram and other business owners : Don’t just blindly copy. Make sure it is relevant in your market.

12. Meta Announces ‘Meta Verified’ Paid Verification Scheme For Facebook & IG – Gandhi once said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Looks like this is true when it comes to charging a fee for verification. Everyone was up in arms or ridiculed Twitter owner Elon Mush for charging a fee for verification. Now, Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that that Meta’s launching a test of a paid verification program, much like Twitter’s $8 verification scheme. Here is what Meta wrote:

To help up-and-coming creators grow their presence and build community faster, we’ll begin testing a new offering called Meta Verified, a subscription bundle on Instagram and Facebook that includes a verified badge, which authenticates your account with government ID, proactive account protection, access to account support, and increased visibility and reach. We’re starting with a gradual test in Australia and New Zealand later this week to learn what’s most valuable, and we hope to bring Meta Verified to the rest of the world soon.