Episode 161 contains the notable Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of May 15-19, 2023. And the show notes for this episode was generated using generative AI. And like always, I curated the articles for the show.

1. HomeAdvisor Penalized by FTC for False Claims –
HomeAdvisor, a popular online marketplace for home improvement services, has been penalized by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for making false claims about the quality of leads it sells to service providers.

The FTC’s complaint alleged that HomeAdvisor had made false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims about the quality and source of the leads it sells to service providers. The complaint also alleged that HomeAdvisor often told service providers that its leads result in jobs at rates much higher than it can substantiate. Some of the false and misleading claims made by HomeAdvisor are:

  • That its leads were “hand-picked” by HomeAdvisor experts.
  • That its leads were “pre-qualified” and “ready to buy.”
  • That its leads were “more likely to convert” than leads from other sources.

The FTC’s complaint also alleges that HomeAdvisor failed to disclose that its leads were often generated by bots or other automated means, and that they were not always from people who were actually interested in buying home improvement services.

As part of the settlement, HomeAdvisor will pay $50 million to the FTC and will be required to change its business practices. These changes include:

  • Disclosing that its leads may be generated by bots or other automated means.
  • Disclosing that its leads may not be from people who are actually interested in buying home improvement services.
  • Providing service providers with more information about the leads they are buying.

This settlement is a reminder that businesses must be careful about the claims they make about their products or services. Businesses that make false or misleading claims can be subject to penalties from the FTC.

If you believe that you have been the victim of false or misleading claims about leads, you can contact the FTC at https://www.ftc.gov/complaint.

If you need assistance with your marketing or advertising, please contact me for a free consultation. I can help you ensure that your business is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. You can also contact me for a comprehensive audit to help you ensure that your business is not making false or misleading claims.

2. Meta Adds New Lead Generation Tools to Facebook –
Meta is adding new lead generation tools to Facebook, making it easier for businesses to collect contact information from potential customers. The new tools include a lead form builder, which allows businesses to create custom lead forms, , a lead magnet library,  a lead generation chatbot and a lead generation ad, which allows businesses to promote their lead forms to a wider audience.

The lead form builder allows businesses to create custom lead forms that can be embedded on their website or in their Facebook posts. 

The lead magnet library provides businesses with a selection of pre-made lead magnets, such as ebooks, checklists, and white papers. 

The lead generation chatbot allows businesses to collect contact information from potential customers through a conversation in Messenger.

The new lead generation tools are available to all businesses that use Facebook. To use the lead form builder, businesses will need to create a Facebook Page and then add the lead form builder to their Page. To use the lead generation ad, businesses will need to create a Facebook Ad and then select the “Lead Generation” objective.

The new lead generation tools are a great way for businesses to collect contact information from potential customers. The lead form builder is easy to use and allows businesses to create custom lead forms that fit their needs.

Meta says that the new lead generation tools are designed to help businesses “grow their audience, increase engagement, and drive sales.”

3. Meta Starts Refunding Advertisers for Overspending Glitch –
Meta has started to issue refunds to advertisers impacted by a glitch last month that resulted in overspending and higher than usual CPAs.

The glitch occurred on April 23, when Meta’s automated system overspent advertisers’ daily budgets in a matter of hours. CPAs also tripled.

Meta has said that it is still investigating the cause of the glitch, but it has apologized for the inconvenience and promised to make it right.

If you were affected by the glitch, you can request a refund by visiting Meta’s website.

4. Google Merchant Center COVID-19 Update –  Starting from June 2023, Google is making a significant change to its COVID-19 policy under its Sensitive Events Policy. The company will be lifting restrictions on COVID-19 related content, meaning that Shopping ads and free listings containing COVID-19 related terms will no longer be restricted. In addition, the approval via LegitScript or Project N95 will no longer be required. This policy update will allow Shopping ads and free listings for certain types of face masks, vaccines, and other COVID-19 related products.

However, it’s important to note that all content related to COVID-19 will still be subject to all other Shopping policies. These policies prohibit content that could be harmful to users and the overall shopping ecosystem, including any form of misrepresentation.

If you’re unsure about how this update might impact your business, or if you need assistance in adjusting your marketing strategy in line with these changes, I’m here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact me for an audit and let’s make sure your business continues to thrive in these changing times.

5. YouTube to Offer Unskippable Ads on Connected TV –
YouTube is the most popular streaming service on TV screens in the U.S., with an estimated 150 million unique viewers. Now, the company is testing a new ad format that will allow advertisers to show unskippable 30-second ads on connected TV devices.

The new ad format is called YouTube Select, and it is currently being tested with a small group of advertisers. If the test is successful, YouTube plans to roll out the format to more advertisers in the coming months.

YouTube Select ads will be placed before, during, or after videos on connected TV devices. Viewers will not be able to skip these ads, which will last for 30 seconds each. Advertisers will be able to target their ads based on a variety of factors, including the viewer’s interests, demographics, and viewing history.

The introduction of unskippable ads on connected TV is a significant development for the advertising industry. It is a way for advertisers to reach a large audience with their messages, and it is a way for YouTube to generate more revenue. These ads can be a more effective way to reach your target audience, since they will be guaranteed to see your ad.

And if you are interested in running YouTube Select ads, I can do an audit, assess your need and then develop a strategy for using YouTube Select to reach your target audience . 

6. Google Analytics 4 Audience Builder Refresh – Google Analytics 4 has recently refreshed its audience builder, adding new dimensions and metrics, enhanced ways to manipulate event value and event count, and a new option to match dates.

Here are some of the new features:

  • New dimensions and metrics: GA4 has added new dimensions and metrics to the audience builder, including:
    • Low engagement sessions: This dimension helps identify users showing low engagement with a website or app. For instance, it allows the creation of an audience segment of users having more than three low-engagement sessions within the past five days.
    • Session duration: This metric measures the average duration of a session.
    • Session count: This metric measures the number of sessions that a user has had in a given period of time.
  • Enhanced alternatives for manipulating event value and event count: GA4 has enhanced the alternatives for manipulating event value and event count. For instance, you can now create audiences based on the total value of events or the number of events that have occurred within a given period of time.
  • New option to match dates: GA4 has added a new option to match dates when creating audiences. This option allows you to create audiences based on events that have occurred within a specific date range.

These enhancements make it easier to create more sophisticated audiences in GA4. If you’re using GA4, I encourage you to check out the new audience builder and see how it can help you improve your marketing campaigns.

If you need assistance with updating your Google Analytics 4 audience, please contact me for an audit.

7. Google Search Console to BigQuery Bulk Data Export Feature Does Not Include Historical Data – Google announced in February 2023 that it would be adding a new feature to Google Search Console that would allow users to export their data to BigQuery. his feature allows users to export all of their Search Console data to BigQuery, where it can be analyzed using SQL queries. 

BigQuery is a cloud-based data warehouse that offers powerful data analysis capabilities. By exporting their Search Console data to BigQuery, users can gain insights into their website’s search performance that would not be possible with the Search Console web interface alone.

For example, users can use BigQuery to analyze the following:

  • The keywords that are driving traffic to their website
  • The pages on their website that are performing the best in search
  • The countries and regions from which their website is receiving traffic
  • The devices that users are using to access their website

This information can be used to improve the website’s search performance and make it more visible to potential visitors.

However, it has now been revealed that this feature will not include historical data.

This means that users will only be able to export data from the day that they set up the export. This could be a problem for users who want to track their performance over time.

Google has not said why it has decided not to include historical data in the export feature. However, it is possible that the company is concerned about the amount of data that would need to be stored.

Reach out to me, if you need assistance exporting your historical data from Google Search Console data to BigQuery so that you can track your performance over time, or if you need assistance with an audit of your website’s search performance. 

8. Google Releases New Crawler for Testing Tools – Google has released a new crawler, Google-InspectionTool, which will be used by Google Search’s testing tools, such as the Rich Result Test and Google Search Console’s URL inspection tool. Google-InspectionTool mimics Googlebot, except for the user agent and user agent token.

If you are a crawler junky and you analyze the crawling activity and bot activity in your log files, you might see Google-InspectionTool show up. That is especially if you use the Rich Result Test and URL inspection in Google Search Console.

Google-InspectionTool is a valuable tool for webmasters and SEOs. It can be used to test how Googlebot sees your website and to identify any potential problems. If you are having trouble with your website’s search engine ranking, Google-InspectionTool can be a helpful tool to troubleshoot the issue.

This new crawler is a helpful tool for webmasters and SEOs who want to test their websites and make sure that they are crawlable by Google. If you are having trouble with your website’s crawlability, you can use Google-InspectionTool to troubleshoot the issue.

If you need assistance with your website’s search engine ranking, please contact me for an audit. I can help you identify and fix any issues that are preventing your website from ranking well in Google.

9. Will SSL Boost Your SEO Rankings? – Google’s John Mueller has stated that an SSL certificate does not boost a website’s SEO. This means that having an SSL certificate will not improve your website’s ranking in Google search results.

An SSL certificate encrypts the data that is transmitted between your website and a user’s browser. This helps to protect users’ privacy and security. However, it does not have any impact on how Google ranks websites.

If you are concerned about the security of your website, you should still get an SSL certificate. However, you should not do it in the hope that it will improve your SEO.

If you need help with your website’s SEO, please contact me for an audit. I can help you identify and fix any SEO issues that are affecting your website’s ranking.

10. Google’s John Mueller on “Gambling with SEO shortcuts”​ – I want to share with you a thought-provoking discussion from a recent Mastodon thread that I believe has valuable insights for everyone in the SEO and digital marketing community.

The conversation started with Preeti Gupta (@ilovechoclates_) posing a hypothetical scenario in which a site, filled with scraped reviews from established platforms like Capterra, G2, and Trustpilot, is created to gain traffic and revenue. The question raised was whether such a practice is ethical, especially the review scraping part.

Simon Cox (@simoncox) responded that while he wouldn’t engage in such practices on ethical grounds, the lack of a strong brand would likely render such efforts futile. He emphasized that there are no shortcuts in building a trustworthy business.

John Mueller (@johnmu) replied that while sites taking such shortcuts might temporarily gain traffic from search, the majority won’t. He compared it to a gamble, and cautioned that when things go south, there won’t be any sympathy. He emphasized that attempting to cut corners with SEO, such as using low-quality content or artificial backlinks, can lead to more harm than good. Rather than providing a shortcut to better rankings, these tactics can actually harm your site’s reputation and visibility in Google’s search results. 

Mueller advises that sticking to Google’s guidelines and focusing on creating high-quality, relevant content is the best approach to SEO. He stressed the importance of building a long-term, value-based presence rather than relying on short-term, potentially unethical strategies. This is a timely reminder for all businesses about the importance of ethical SEO practices.

This discussion serves as a stark reminder that ethical, long-term strategies are at the heart of successful digital marketing. There are no shortcuts to building a reputable brand and a loyal customer base. Scraping content and attempting to profit from others’ work might seem tempting, but such tactics are likely to backfire in the long run.

If you’re unsure about your SEO strategies, would like an audit to ensure your methods align with best practices or if you could benefit from a comprehensive audit of your website’s SEO, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. We’re here to provide guidance and support to help you avoid potential pitfalls, ensure your site is fully optimized for long-term success in the digital space.