Get up to speed with the Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Feb 27-Mar 3, 2023.

1. PSA: US TikTok Ban Moves a Step Closer – More bad news for TikTok, with the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to give President Joe Biden the power to ban the Chinese-owned app, if he deems such a move necessary, amid ongoing security discussions around its potential connection to the Chinese Communist Part (CCP).

TikTok responded to the vote by tweeting that “A U.S ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our  service worldwide…”

While Today’s announcement doesn’t give Biden the full green light to ban the app, with the US Senate still required to give sign-off before a ban could be implemented. But it’s another step towards that next stage, which increasingly feels like it will lead to a TikTok ban, or at the least, a significant change in direction for the app.

Remember that TikTok, along with 58 other Chinese-created apps, was banned completely in India by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on 29 June 2020. So if you are relying on traffic from TikTok then it is high time you diversify your traffic sources.

2. Google Shares How Its Keyword-Matching System For Search Ads Work –
Google has released a 28 page comprehensive guide during Google Search Ads Week 2023, providing a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse into its keyword-matching system for search ads.To achieve better results, advertisers can optimise their campaigns by gaining an understanding of Google Ads keyword-matching process.

Google’s guide provides a comprehensive breakdown of the system, which includes how the company utilises machine learning and natural language understanding technologies to determine keyword eligibility, and how the responsive search ads creative system selects the best-performing creative for users.

It is essential to note that grouping keywords is critical to campaign optimisation. By eliminating the need to add the same keyword in multiple match types, advertisers can avoid segmenting and reducing the available data that Smart Bidding can use for optimisation, which can result in fewer conversions and higher costs.

The guide is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to enhance their Google Ads campaigns. Incorporating the insights and best practices outlined in the guide can boost the chances of success and drive more conversions.  

This is why I always tell my listeners to work with a reputable learning and growing agency who is in the know. Afterall, you can not make moves or leverage opportunities if you are not in the know.

3. Google Ads Is Changing Location Targeting Settings In March 2023 – Starting March 2023, “Search Interest” targeting will no longer be available in Google Ads. Campaigns that use “Search Interest” targeting will be migrated to “Presence or Interest” targeting. These changes will be consistent in Search, Display, Performance Max, and Shopping campaigns. 

The Presence option lets you show your ads to people who are likely to be located, or regularly located in the locations you’ve targeted.

The Search Interest option lets you show your ads to anyone searching on Google for your targeted location. If a person doesn’t specify a location in their search, then the system uses the location where a user is likely to be located for targeting. This option is only available for Search campaigns.

So after this change is in effect, a person who lives in Northern VA but often travels to Maryland for shopping or work. While home in VA, the person searches for “plumber near me.” Now Google is going to show some Maryland plumbers who are not licensed in VA.  Am I the only one who thinks that the real winner of this change is Google!!

4. Google Ads Introduces AI-Powered Search Ads – During the Google’s Search Ads Week, a new customer acquisition goal for Search campaigns has been launched globally. This goal utilizes Smart Bidding and first-party data to optimize campaigns and attract new customers during peak periods. According to Google, by combining the new customer acquisition goal with bidding strategies like Maximize conversion value with a target ROAS, advertisers can prioritize and target high-value customers. The new customer acquisition goal has two modes that help you to reach your campaign goals:

  • Value New Customer: Bid higher for new customers than for existing customers
  • New Customers Only: Bid for new customers only.

5. Microsoft Bing’s Fabrice Canel : SEO Will Never Be “dead” – Fabrice Canel, the Principal Product Manager for Microsoft Bing, gave a keynote presentation at the Pubcon convention in Austin, Texas. His presentation offered valuable information on optimizing websites for the new Bing search experience as well as shared the benefits of using Bing Webmaster Tools to monitor traffic data and make necessary adjustments to improve visibility in search results.

First, Canel suggested to stay with the same SEO playbooks for optimizing content for Bing’s AI experience because it’s still the early days for AI search. Throughout his keynote at Pubcon, Canel stressed the importance of SEO professionals in guiding Bing’s search crawlers to high-quality content.

Then Canel emphasized the importance of setting the lastmod tag to the date a page was last modified, not when the sitemap was generated. Remember lastmod was covered in previous episodes in details. 

ICYMI, the lastmod tag is an HTML attribute indicating when a particular webpage or URL received significant changes. This tag is used in sitemaps to help search engines like Bing understand when a page was last updated. Lastmod also helps searchers identify and access the most up-to-date content available. When a lastmod tag is present, Bing will display the updated date in search results. This signals to searchers that the webpage may have new or updated information they haven’t seen yet. According to Canel, 18% of sitemaps have lastmod values not correctly set, typically set to the date and time the sitemap is generated.

Thirdly, Canel recommended website to  adopting IndexNow to inform search engines of recent modifications to website content instantly. 

FYI: IndexNow was covered in episode# 90 (Jan 10-15, 2022). According to Canel, 20 million websites have already adopted IndexNow, and he expects more top websites, search engines, and content management systems to follow suit. Canel adds that manually crawling a webpage to see if its content has changed wastes resources and energy and creates CO2. 

He also suggests having sitemaps to provide search engines with all relevant URLs and corresponding modification dates.

Most importantly, he wanted website owner focus on writing quality content and use semantic markup to convey information about the pages.

Lastly, we learned Bing Webmaster Tools will soon include traffic data from Bing’s AI chat.

6. Google On ‘lastmod’ Tag In XML Sitemap – I covered “lastmod” in episode#146. It is back again. Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter if you are “providing something new for search engines that you’d like reflected in search,” then update the date, if not, then don’t. 

John added, “The issue is more that some CMS’s / servers set the lastmod to the current date/time for all pages. This makes that data useless. Good CMS’s setting it thoughtfully, even if not always perfect, is much more useful.”

The current Google documentation says, “Google uses the lastmod value if it’s consistently and verifiably (for example by comparing to the last modification of the page) accurate.” And according to a recent study at Bing (also covered in episode#146) revealed that among websites with at least one URL indexed by Bing:

  • 58% of hosts have at least one XML sitemap (sitemap known by Bing).
    • 84% of these sitemaps have a lastmod attribute set
      • 79% have lastmod values correct. 
      • 18% have lastmod values not correctly set. 
      • 3% has lastmod values for only some of the URLs.
  • 42% of hosts don’t have one XML sitemap (Bing does not know it)

P.S: Don’t be the business that is skipping the basics and easy to do stuff and looking to do advanced stuff. #DoTheBasics first.

7. Google: Don’t Combine Site Moves With Other Big Changes – Sometimes businesses make changes to their top-level domain as well as update their website. So Google Search Advocate John Mueller during a recent Search Of The Record Podcast with Gary Illyes, and Senior Technical Writer Lizzi Sassman asked “What happens if I do a domain change, and move from a “.ch”, which is a Swiss top level domain, to “.com”? Is that a problem? Like if I combine a domain change with other stuff?

In response, Illyes, shared that these changes should be done in smaller pieces over months. Making too many changes at once could result in lower rankings and lost traffic. For example, if a website is moving from “” and “” to “,” Illyes recommended moving “” first and waiting before moving “”

Mueller and Sassman questioned Illyes on why he’s so concerned about spreading out site moves. Illyes admitted that many site moves he’s been involved with have resulted in lost traffic. Illyes also mentioned that misconfigurations, such as incorrect redirects, are common mistakes that can cause traffic loss. However, traffic shouldn’t be lost during a domain change if everything is done correctly.

If all you’re doing is redirecting URLs from one site to another, there’s a low risk for adverse effects. On the other hand, if you do lose rankings and traffic, there’s no specific timeframe for a full recovery.

8. Google’s Gary Illyes: Google Does Not Care Who Authors or Links To The Content – Gary Illyes from Google gave a keynote and a Q&A session at PubCon and while the keynote was pretty vanilla stuff, the Q&A did reconfirm a lot of what has been said in the past around authorship, links and disavowing links. In short, Google does not give too much weight to who writes your content. So if you get a Walt Mossberg to write a piece of content on your site, just because it is Walt, doesn’t make it rank well. If the content is written well, it will rank well, but by default, just because Walt wrote it, doesn’t make it rank well. Gary also said that links are not as important as SEOs think they are.  And disavowing links is just a waste of time.

P.S: All these topics have been covered in the past shows. 

9. Google: PageRank Sculpting Is A Myth – Every website is assigned a unique value by the Google PageRank algorithm. This value, also called PageRank, has long been an important factor in link building and link exchange. PageRank sculpting is a technique in which an attempt is made to distribute the PageRank of a website to other subpages. Assuming that the home page receives the highest PageRank because it is the most important within the sites hierarchy, the PageRank will decrease as you go further down into the structure. 

Before 2009, it was common practice to control the PageRank through sculpting so that only certain pages would benefit. For example, function pages such as the imprint or contact page were linked internally with the attribute “nofollow.” Thus, the link power increased (as measured by PageRank) for the remaining internal links. 

Unfortunately, some SEO Experts still feel that they can control how Google passes your link equity throughout your site by using the nofollow link attribute. So Google’s John Muller said on Twitter that it is an SEO myth to say you can use the nofollow attribute on links sculpt PageRank. Remember, back in 2019 he tweeted that Internal PageRank Sculpting Is A Waste Of Time. 

Another #SEOMythBusted. I’ll file this under #AvoidBadSEOAdvice.

10. Check Domain Reputation Before You Buy A Domain – Google’s John Mueller was asked about a domain name purchased several months ago but still does not rank well in Google Search. John explained that if a domain has a “long and complicated history.” “It’s going to be hard to convince search engines that it’s something very different & unrelated to what was done in the past decades,” John added.

In short, he is saying that not only was this domain abusing search engines for a long, long time, but also that the new content on this old domain is not different enough or unrelated enough from what the topic was previously where the search engine would consider it a brand new site and wipe the site clean.

Basically the issue here is “domain legacy penalty” – It’s a penalty that’s associated with a domain from when it was registered by someone else in the past. Apparently the penalty remains after the domain is registered by someone else years later. Which makes sense or else bad actors will keep on transferring domain ownership to bypass the penalty. 

The way to prevent is to check the past history of a domain name is to visit downloads and creates an archive of websites throughout the Internet.

A similar issue happened a few years ago to ZDNet. One of their domains was hyphenated ( So they purchased the non-hyphenated variant ( from a third party domain auction. ZDNet was unaware that the domain had been used by spammers.  Soon after ZDNet migrated all their content from to, their website was banned from Google. ZDNet wrote an article about what happened to them and had the following advice:

  • Before purchasing any domain at auction, be sure to check its history using backlink tools
  • If the domain has a bad history, use Google Webmaster Tools to do a clean-up before putting the domain into service
  • Google’s system of problem remediation lacks transparency and responsiveness. They can and should do better. I still don’t really know what caused the problem or how to fix it.

11. Should You Rewrite Your Content With ChatGPT? – Google’s John Mueller went back and forth on Twitter with some SEO practitioners on the topic of using ChatGPT to (re)write existing content. Basically Ujesh was wondering if he can rewrite his own content with the help of tools like #ChatGPT without losing its helpfulness and relevancy. He was curious to see if it will  reduce the quality of the article due to AI involvement or does it boost the article considering the quality revamp ?

To that question, John asked “Why do you need to rewrite your own content? Is it bad?” IMO, this is a fair question.

To John’s question Paulo replied, “let’s say that English is not my main language. Then, I write something in my mother tongue, translate it in my own limited vocabulary, and ask AI to enhance the vocabulary. The content is not bad, but limited by my knowledge of a language, not the topic I’m trying to cover.”

And John responded by saying “Why do you want to just publish something for the sake of publishing something, rather than publishing something you know to be useful & good? (This is not unique to LLM/AI NLG, it’s the same with unknown-quality human-written content.) What do you want your site known for?”

John is saying that, if your content is bad, why are you writing it in the first place? If you know your content is bad, then it is not helpful, will ChatGPT make it helpful for you? How do you know if the ChatGPT version is helpful and quality if your content you originally wrote is not quality? Maybe instead of using ChatGPT to improve the quality of your content, maybe you should focus on topics that you can write quality content about?