Episode 160 contains the notable Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of May 8-12, 2023. And the show notes for this episode was generated using generative AI. I still sourced the articles for the show.

1. Scammers Are Exploiting Verified Accounts on Facebook and Instagram to Defraud Users – Scammers are exploiting verified accounts on Facebook and Instagram to defraud users by posing as official Meta providers. These hackers have managed to gain access to a range of verified accounts and are utilizing them to promote Facebook-specific scams, redirecting users to malware. It’s important to note that any URL not directly affiliated with ‘facebook.com’, ‘fb.com’, ‘meta.com’, or similar are not associated with Meta or its platforms and should be avoided. While it was initially assumed these scammers acquired verification through the new Meta Verified program, it has been found that most of these pages belong to existing verified accounts that had their names changed recently. Meta has stated that it invests significant resources in detecting and preventing scams and hacks, and it has removed all identified imposter accounts.

2. Meta Introduces AI Sandbox for Advertisers – Meta has announced the launch of AI Sandbox, a suite of generative AI tools designed to enhance the effectiveness of advertising on their platform.

The AI Sandbox provides three new generative AI features:

  1. Text Variation: With this tool, you can enter your ad copy, and the AI will suggest several variations for you to test. This feature helps optimize your copy based on AI-driven insights, allowing you to choose whether the suggestions are “Not Great” or “Looks Good”​
  2. Background Generation: This feature enables you to use text prompts to define the appearance or style of the background you want. It allows for testing various images and gauging their impact on ad performance
  3. Image Outcropping: This tool assists in adjusting your assets to fit different aspect ratios across Facebook and Instagram surfaces, such as Stories and Reels

These tools have the potential to significantly improve the performance of your Facebook advertising while saving time. However, as is always the case with AI, it’s crucial to test and monitor the outputs, given that generative AI is not flawless.

Currently, these new generative AI features are only available to a select group of advertisers. However, Meta has announced plans to expand access to more advertisers in July. As we approach the date, we will keep you informed about any further developments.

3. New Pinterest Updates That Could Transform Your Business! –
Pinterest is revamping its pin creation process, unifying all its creation features into a single streamlined flow. This simplification means that features previously exclusive to certain pin formats or business accounts are now accessible to all users. This includes the ability to add links, make post-publish edits, and adjust aspect ratios flexibly. Adding to the creative suite, all content creators can now include expressive features like music, text overlay, and stickers to their pins.

A noteworthy addition is the ability to add links to all images and videos in the app, empowering every pin type to drive direct traffic. This functionality could transform Pinterest into a powerful referral marketing tool for your business, guiding users back to your site and even facilitating in-app purchases via Pinterest’s native product features.

Moreover, Pinterest is expanding access to its paid partnership tool and product tagging using affiliate link options. It’s also enabling emoji reactions on all pin types, adding a new layer of user engagement.

These enhancements not only enrich the user experience on Pinterest but also open up fresh avenues for business potential and revenue generation within the app. It’s a great time to reassess your Pinterest strategy and explore how these new features can be leveraged to their maximum potential.

4. Unleash Your Marketing Potential with TikTok’s New World Hub – There’s exciting news on the horizon for TikTok marketers. TikTok recently held its third annual ‘TikTok World’ event, showcasing the latest product developments, ad tools, and creator options, all with the aim of empowering businesses to increase their TikTok presence​.

But the cherry on top is the launch of the new ‘TikTok World Hub’ – a central space that houses all the key announcements and insights from the event. The hub provides access to video presentations covering topics like eCommerce elements, improved ad tools, and more. It also links to a range of guides aimed at enhancing your TikTok marketing strategy​.

TikTok has published two new guides within the hub. The first, ‘Creative Codes’, gives an overview of the key principles that drive standout creativity on the app. The second is a comprehensive 4-page explainer of TikTok’s creative principles. These guides are designed to help you amplify your TikTok content efforts​.

While no major updates were announced during the TikTok World event, TikTok provided valuable insights into the app’s best practices and ongoing development of its ad tools. It’s certainly worth your time to explore and absorb the information to maximize your potential on the platform​.

5. Key Announcements from Google I/O 2023: Embracing the AI Wave –
Google’s annual I/O event recently concluded, and it showcased significant developments in the realm of AI, influencing Search, Google ads, and visual creation elements. Here are the key takeaways that are relevant for marketers and SEO professionals:

  1. Transforming Search with AI: Google announced new AI-powered capabilities for Search. The company has integrated a range of new generative AI tools into Google Search, enabling a more comprehensive and efficient search experience. You can now expect to uncover new viewpoints, insights, and understand a topic faster. However, Google has also noted that errors in AI responses are to be expected, and they will be refining these systems over time based on user feedback.
  2. AI in Shopping Results: Google’s generative AI tools will also be applied to shopping results to aid users in product comparisons. These new AI elements for shopping will provide insights into key elements to consider when making a purchase, including up-to-date reviews, ratings, prices, and product images​.
  3. Bard Expansion and Perspectives Element: Google is rolling out its generative AI creation tool, Bard, to more regions and adding more capacity to generate Bard responses from multiple inputs. A new ‘Perspectives’ element is also being added to selected Search results to provide more human insight into specific elements, enhancing the user’s search experience​.
  4. Photo Editing Tools: Google is launching new improvements to its photo editing tools, including enhanced capacity to shift core elements within an image frame. These tools will be launched on Pixel phones later this year.
  5. Mitigating Risks of Generative AI Images: Google is introducing new informational tools to help users determine whether images displayed in Search are real or not. This is a significant move towards mitigating the risks associated with the rise of generative AI images in Search.

Google’s push into AI could have significant implications for how users interact with Search and how traffic is directed to websites. If you’re unsure of how these changes might affect your website or business, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re offering a complimentary audit to help you navigate these new developments.

6. Update on Google Analytics 4 Deadline – There have been some rumors circulating around the internet suggesting that the GA4 migration deadline might be extended. However, Google’s Ads Liaison, Ginny Marvin, has emphatically stated that “The deadline is not changing”.

This means that, as planned, Universal Analytics will stop processing data on July 1, 2023. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that historical data will still be accessible in UA properties until July 1, 2024​.

Given the deadline, we strongly urge you not to delay your GA4 migrations. The transition to GA4 is a significant step and could impact your data analysis capabilities if not handled promptly and appropriately.

If you need assistance with the transition, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help guide you through this process to ensure minimal disruption to your analytics setup.

Don’t let the GA4 transition catch you off guard. Contact us today for a thorough audit and a smooth transition.

7. Harness Google’s Hreflang x-default to Boost Your Website Navigation and Conversions – Google has recently highlighted the advantages of using the hreflang x-default value, an underused feature that can significantly improve user experience and website navigation​​. This tool is particularly useful for directing users to a suitable URL when their preferred language is unsupported.

The hreflang x-default value works in tandem with other hreflang annotations that specify the URL version for content targeted to a specific language and region. As an example, if a page has hreflang annotations for English and Spanish versions, with an x-default value pointing to the English version, French-speaking users would be directed to the English page due to the x-default annotation. This ensures a seamless experience for all website users, regardless of their language or location.

There are a couple of key benefits to implementing the hreflang x-default value on your site:

  1. Enhanced User Experience: By directing users to a URL that is best suited to them when their preferred language is not supported, you improve their overall experience.
  2. URL Discovery: The URLs specified in hreflang annotations, including x-default, may be used for URL discovery. This is particularly beneficial for large sites with complex structures, as it ensures every localized URL is well-linked and accessible.

This tool can potentially increase your conversions and better serve your audience. However, it’s crucial to adhere to best practices and avoid common mistakes when implementing hreflang x-default. If you’re unsure whether your website could benefit from this tool or if it’s implemented correctly, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a comprehensive audit of your website’s SEO and user navigation capabilities.

8. Unveiling the Nuance in Google’s Nofollow Attributes: An Update from John Mueller – Some important insights from Google’s John Mueller on the proper use of ‘nofollow’ for SEO. His recent remarks have shed light on the intricacies of ‘nofollow’ attributes, particularly their significance for sponsored links and User Generated Content (UGC).

In a discussion on Twitter, Mueller clarified that using the ‘rel=nofollow’ link attribute for a sponsored link is technically correct, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. He highlighted that while it’s okay to use ‘nofollow’ for sponsored outbound links, it’s also beneficial to specify the type of ‘nofollow’ attribute used. In this context, he introduced the ‘rel=sponsored’ attribute, which provides Google with extra context for the link, offering meaningful insights about the nature of the outbound link​.This echoes Google’s official documentation which recommends using ‘rel=sponsored’ for sponsored links​.

Additionally, Mueller addressed the use of ‘nofollow’ attributes in UGC. While the infographic recommended using ‘nofollow’ on UGC to avoid becoming “spammy”, Mueller clarified that there is nothing inherently wrong with UGC links, provided they are properly moderated. He pointed out that Google only recommends (but does not require) the ‘rel=ugc’ attribute for user-generated links. Thus, it’s crucial to note that UGC links are not inherently problematic, as long as they are appropriately supervised. 

However, a word of caution: failing to moderate user-generated links can result in spammers adding links to spammy sites, potentially causing issues for the publisher​.

As the realm of SEO grows increasingly complex and technical, it’s essential to stay updated with the latest nuances and best practices. If you’re unsure about how these changes might affect your website’s SEO, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help you navigate through these complexities and ensure your site is optimized for the best performance.

Contact us today for a comprehensive SEO audit and let’s ensure your website is up-to-date with Google’s latest preferences and recommendations.

9. Google Gives Clarification on Cross-Domain Canonicals –
Some important updates regarding Google’s support for cross-domain canonicals, which may affect how your website is indexed and appears in search results.

Recently, Google issued a statement to clarify their position on the cross-domain canonical link element (rel=”canonical”). They emphasized that they still support this element, but they also highlighted some important limitations in how they use it.

Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Google updated their guidance on duplicate content for news publishers who syndicate content in Google News. The update doesn’t represent a change in policy, but is designed to provide clearer instructions on how to avoid duplication when syndicating content.
  2. Google also clarified guidance on content that must be blocked from Google News. The most significant alteration is the removal of the guidance encouraging publishers to consider using the canonical for republished content. Instead, the updated guidance now suggests blocking for republished content.

In the statement provided to Search Engine Journal, Google clarified that “We support the canonical link element, which is primarily designed for use within a site to self-identify what should be considered the canonical version of a page when there might be duplicates or near-duplicates. We also do try to support canonical across domains, but canonical is not recommended for those who wish to avoid duplication by syndication partners, because the pages are often very different.”

These changes may have implications for your website’s SEO strategy. If you’re unsure whether these updates affect you, I’d be more than happy to help you navigate through these changes. Don’t hesitate to contact me for an SEO audit.

10. New Google Insight: Quality Content May Still Lack Web Value – A recent statement by Google’s John Mueller has sparked some interesting discussion in the digital marketing community. Mueller made a remark on Twitter, stating, “Something can be high-quality content with a lot of information for users and still be of low value for the web”​

This statement underscores an important point: not all high-quality content adds significant value to the web. It’s not just about crafting content with comprehensive information for users. The content must also bring something new or unique to the table to stand out in the sea of information on the web. The value of content can vary, irrespective of its length or the quantity of information it provides. Sometimes, even short content can garner significant interest and links, while longer content may not resonate as well.

The evolving landscape of digital marketing and SEO requires us to keep a keen eye on these nuances. It’s critical to continually reassess and ensure that your content is not just high in quality but also adds unique value to the web.

Are you unsure if your content meets these criteria? We’re here to help. Reach out to us for an audit, and we can help ensure your content strategy aligns with these updated insights.

Remember, quality is just the starting point – uniqueness and value are the destinations.

11. Invalid Schema Markup Does Not Impact Your Google Rankings – Gary Illyes, a Google representative, recently clarified that having invalid schema markup does not hurt your website’s rankings or its overall performance on the search engine. The worst-case scenario, if Google cannot parse the markup, is simply that it won’t use it​.

This came in response to a query asking if it could be harmful to have invalid schema markup on a page, such as a product markup without an offer, review, or aggregate rating. To this, Gary responded, “Short answer is no. The long answer is also no, because if we can’t parse it, we just won’t use it.” He did note, however, that this could potentially result in missing out on some search features, like the rich attributes under your snippets.

Therefore, while your website’s rankings and placements will not be negatively impacted by invalid schema markup, your click-through rate might suffer. This is due to the lack of those eye-catching rich results in the search results that can attract users and increase your website’s visibility.

So, what does this mean for you? It’s simple: while you don’t need to worry about invalid schema markup damaging your SEO, it’s still crucial to ensure your markup is correct to maximize your site’s potential and user experience.

If you’re unsure whether your website is affected by this issue, or if you need help reviewing your schema markup, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today for an audit to ensure your site is performing optimally in the Google search results.

12. Google Plans To Update Its Helpful Content System – Last week, at the annual Google I/O developer conference, Google announced upcoming changes to its helpful content system. This update aims to enhance Google’s ability to identify content created from a personal or expert point of view, which can significantly improve the search experience for users.

This system is a vital part of Google’s automated ranking algorithms, designed to ensure that people see original, high-quality content in search results. It uses a site-wide signal to evaluate content, distinguishing between content that offers a satisfying experience to visitors and content that falls short of users’ expectations.

The upcoming update is set to enhance the system’s understanding of content created from a personal or expert point of view, implying a more sophisticated ability to evaluate the expertise and authenticity of content.

As a result of this update, content creators should focus on providing original, valuable content that offers a satisfying experience to readers and closely adheres to their area of expertise. Google’s guidelines for core updates and product reviews should also be followed to optimize content ranking.

Please note that while we have a high-level understanding of the forthcoming changes, Google has not yet provided specific details on the technical aspects of the update. We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

13. New Core Web Vitals Metric to Take Effect in 2024: Here’s What You Need to Know – Google is retiring the current Core Web Vitals metric, First Input Delay (FID), and replacing it with a more comprehensive and accurate measure known as Interaction to Next Paint (INP).

FID has traditionally measured the delay before an interactive webpage element becomes responsive. However, it did not take into account the total time it took for a webpage to react to those interactions. Recognizing the incompleteness of the FID metric, Google introduced INP as an experimental metric in May 2022. INP not only measures the delay but also the entire responsiveness of a page, offering a more precise understanding of the user experience​.

INP has been available through tools like PageSpeed Insights for the past year. This new metric considers the entire duration from the moment a user interacts with the webpage to the time it takes for the site to respond visually. Pages with an INP score under 200 milliseconds are considered fine, while scores between 200 and 500 milliseconds need improvement, and scores above 500 milliseconds signify poor responsiveness​.

For publishers, developers, and SEOs who have been working to optimize website performance, this change could potentially reflect in more positive INP scores. As we know, elements that can affect this score include scripts taking a long time to load, delays in fetching a resource, and the time spent parsing CSS and HTML for correct website display. Optimizing these areas may lead to better INP scores​.

Please note that INP is currently a Pending Core Web Vital Metric and will officially become a core web vitals metric in May 2024.

If you’re unsure how these changes might affect you or if you want to know how you can optimize your website for INP, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today for a comprehensive audit and let’s ensure your website is ready to meet the new standards of user experience.