Episode 170 contains the notable Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of July 17-21, 2023.

1. Sell Directly on TikTok with WooCommerce – WooCommerce and TikTok have partnered to allow WooCommerce merchants in the United States to sell directly on TikTok. This new program, currently in beta, gives store owners access to an audience of over 150 million, 61% of which engage in ecommerce behavior.

To participate in the program, merchants must have a WooCommerce store in the United States and be approved by TikTok. Once approved, merchants can create a TikTok Shop and start selling their products.

TikTok Shops offer a number of features that can help merchants sell more products, including:

  • The ability to create product catalogs and tags
  • The ability to run product ads
  • The ability to track sales and performance

The WooCommerce and TikTok partnership is a great opportunity for merchants to reach a new audience and grow their businesses.

2. TikTok Launches Ads Transparency Library: See Who’s Advertising What – TikTok has launched a new Ads Transparency Library (Commercial Content Library), which provides users with more information about the ads they see on the platform. The library includes information such as the advertiser, the target audience, and the creative used in the ad.

The Ads Transparency Library is a welcome addition to TikTok, as it gives users more control over the ads they see. It also helps to increase transparency and accountability for advertisers.

Having access to this data can give marketers a better understanding of campaign performance and the TikTok algorithm. This key information will help reveal what creatives work, what ideas don’t work and more. Having this data at hand will enable marketers to make more informed decisions, potentially maximizing reach and ROI.

Access to TikTok’s Commercial Content Library is available to everyone globally. However, only data from Europe is available. TikTok said that its team is already working on ways to include advertising data from more countries, such as the U.S., in the future. But a date for this release is yet to be confirmed.

Read TikTok’s official blog post to find out more about its ads transparency library.

3. Meta : How to Integrate Your Brand with Threads – Social media app Threads, Meta’s new Twitter alternative, has seen a nearly 70% decline in the number of daily active users since its July 7 peak, according to market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, spoiling their explosive launch just two weeks ago and paling in comparison to Twitter. 

Now Meta is providing guidance to brands on how to integrate with Threads, its ephemeral messaging app for teenagers. The guidance includes tips on how to create “epic entrances,” engage followers, and run challenges or contests.

Meta suggests that brands make a grand entrance on Threads by combining images, memes, and open-ended questions to announce their arrival. They should also engage followers by creating interactive content, such as polls or quizzes. Additionally, brands can run challenges or contests to encourage users to create and share content on Threads.

The guidance also emphasizes the importance of using puns and talking about Threads in order to promote the app. Finally, Meta suggests that brands explore Threads’ existing tools, such as stickers and GIFs, to create engaging content.

4. 30 New Ecommerce Metrics in GA4: Get More Insights into Your Shopping Performance – Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has just announced an expansion of its ecommerce measurement capabilities, adding 30 new dimensions and metrics. These new metrics provide more granular data on items, promotions, and shopping behavior, making it easier for marketers to track and analyze their ecommerce performance.

Some of the new metrics include:

  • Item Name: The name of the product that was purchased.
  • Brand: The brand of the product that was purchased.
  • Category: The category of the product that was purchased.
  • Promotion Name: The name of the promotion that was used to purchase the product.
  • Checkout Step: The step in the checkout process where the purchase was made.
  • Gross item revenue (The total revenue from items only, excluding tax and shipping)
  • Gross purchase revenue (The total revenue from purchases made on your website or app)
  • Refund amount (The total amount from refunds given on your website or app)

These new metrics can be used to answer questions such as:

  • What are the most popular products?
  • What brands are performing well?
  • What promotions are driving sales?
  • Which checkout steps are causing the most abandonment?

The addition of these new metrics is a significant boost for ecommerce marketers, providing them with more data to track and analyze their performance. These changes to GA4 make it easier to see meaningful ecommerce data. Marketers will no longer have to build custom reports to access key revenue metrics.

5. Google Updates Misrepresentation Policy: What You Need to Know – Google has updated its Misrepresentation policy with detailed information on how marketers can build trust. The document advises what steps and precautions brands should take to make sure their products and offers are eligible to be served in Search.

The updated policy includes new requirements for brands to provide clear and transparent information about their products and offers. This includes information about the product’s availability, pricing, and shipping. Brands are also required to provide accurate and up-to-date information about their reviews and testimonials. For each issue specified, Google provided specific instructions that brands should follow:

  • Business Identity
    • Ensure that the official business name is provided and that there is consistency across the registered business name and domain name.
    • Make sure a brand’s website features an ‘About Us’ page as this establishes authenticity and helps customers to understand their unique journey.
    • Link out to the brand’s social media profiles from the website so that customers can follow those accounts should they so wish.
  • Transparency
    • Make sure website content and messaging is completely clear and include details regarding shipping, returns and privacy policies.
    • Ensure honesty and transparency about the brand’s business model and how the company operates.
  • Online reputation
    • Display honest reviews and testimonials about a brand’s products and services to help customers understand how to use them.
    • Feature any badges or seals of approval from official third-party sources.
    • Clearly display how customers can get in touch.
    • Be sure to tell customers if the brand publishes a blog post.
    • Make sure customers know if the brand was mentioned in a third-party article.
  • Professional design
    • Make sure that the brand’s website has an SSL certificate to reassure customers that their sensitive data is stored securely.
    • The brand’s website should be easy to navigate and shouldn’t contain any unnecessary redirects or redirects to broken links.
    • Try to avoid placeholders where possible as this gives Google and the customer the impression that the website is still under construction and not yet ready for SERPs.

Google explained that there are several steps brands can take to help it to understand their business faster and more accurately:

  • Create and verify a Google Business Profile.
  • Share up-to-date information in the Merchant Center under the Business information settings.
  • Link relevant third-party platforms to Merchant Center.
  • Follow Google’s SEO guidelines to ensure a strong customer experience is provided.
  • Opt into the Google Customer Reviews or other third-party review services to improve eligibility for seller ratings.
  • Match product data in the product feed with your website to make sure that customers are seeing the same information across both platforms.

Google is also taking steps to crack down on misrepresentation in the Merchant Center. Merchants who violate the policy may have their products removed from Google Search and Shopping results.

Read Google’s “Building Trust with your Customers” guide for more information on its Misrepresentation policy.

6. Avoid Spam Risks with Your Domain Name – Google advises against choosing cheap top-level domains (TLDs), such as .xyz or .club, due to the increased risk of spam. These domains are often used by spammers because they are inexpensive and easy to register.

Google’s Search Relations Team (John Mueller, Gary Illyes, and Martin Splitt) in the Jul 20, 2023 podcast episode recommended that website owners choose TLDs that are well-known and reputable. They also suggest considering branding and marketing factors, not just SEO, when choosing a TLD.

Google’s Search Relations team debunked the misconception that having a TLD matching your keywords provides an inherent SEO advantage. When Splitt asked if owning a domain like fantastic.coffee could offer any SEO benefits for a coffee shop, Illyes responded with a definitive “No.”

For more on website domain best practices, check out the full episode of Google’s podcast.

P.S: I covered this is Episode 163. Now Google is talking about the same issue. 

7. Your Domain Name Matters: Don’t Forget the Branding – Another update from the latest episode of Google’s Search Off The Record podcast. 

Google’s John Mueller has advised that domain name selection should prioritize long-term branding over keyword-centric SEO strategies. Keywords in domain names do not impact Google search rankings, but they can influence user behavior. Therefore, it is more important to choose a domain name that is memorable and easy to type, even if it does not contain any keywords.

Here are some additional tips from Mueller for choosing a domain name:

  • Choose a domain name that is easy to pronounce and remember.
  • Avoid using hyphens or numbers in your domain name.
  • Keep your domain name short and concise.
  • Make sure your domain name is available in all relevant top-level domains (TLDs).

8. 301 vs. 404: Which is Better for SEO? –  When a web page is deleted or moved, it can be redirected to a new page using a 301 or 404 status code. Google’s Gary Illyes answers the question about which status code is “less harmful” A 301 redirect tells search engines that the page has been permanently moved to a new location, while a 404 error code tells search engines that the page cannot be found.

So, which is better: 301 or 404? Google’s Gary Illyes answers the question about which status code is “less harmful” in July’s SEO Office hour.

Per Illyes, it actually depends on a case by case basis thought 301 redirects are generally considered to be better for SEO than 404 error codes. If the page is missing because two sites were merged, a publisher can 301 redirect old or outdated pages to the new pages that are similar in topic.

However, there are some cases where a 404 error code may be preferable. For example, if a page has been deleted because it was spam or malicious, a 404 error code will prevent search engines from indexing the page.

9. Good Page Experience is Not Enough for SEO – Google’s John Mueller recently clarified that having a good page experience is not a silver bullet for SEO. In other words, having a website that loads quickly, is mobile-friendly, and has no errors will not necessarily improve your search rankings if your content is not high-quality or relevant to the user’s search intent.

Mueller’s comments are a reminder that SEO is a complex process that involves a variety of factors. While page experience is an important factor, it is not the only one. If you want to improve your search rankings, you need to focus on creating high-quality content that is relevant to your target audience.

10. Google Doesn’t Favor AI-Generated Content – Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, has clarified that Google does not give any special ranking boost to AI-generated content. In fact, he says that “lots of AI content on the web that doesn’t rank well and hence isn’t well received” by Google Search.

Sullivan’s comments come after a recent article in Vox Media claimed that AI content is “currently well-received by search engines.” However, Sullivan says that this is not the case, and that Google’s search algorithms are designed to rank content based on its helpfulness and quality, not on how it was produced.

This means that AI-generated content can still rank well in Google Search, but only if it is actually helpful and informative. If it is not, it is likely to be ignored by Google’s algorithms.

11. Should You Match Google’s Rewritten Titles? – Google often rewrites the titles of pages in the search results, most of the time removing the site name from the title. That seem to indicate to them that maybe Google sees the site name as redundant and perhaps they should just drop the site name from the title tag altogether. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as to make the titles more concise, to make them more relevant to the user’s search intent, or to avoid duplicate titles.

There is no consensus on whether or not it is a good idea to match the titles of your pages to the titles that Google rewrites. Some people believe that it is important to match the titles in order to improve your click-through rate (CTR). Others believe that it is not important to match the titles, and that you should focus on creating high-quality content that will attract users to your site.

Google’s John Muller offered his recommendations on this topic by writing: “I would not assume that a rewritten version is better (for SEO or for users), and I’d recommend keeping your site name in there — because it makes it easier to confirm a site name that we show above the title. Also, it’s a well-known pattern, so I wouldn’t change it just for Google.”

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) says that the purpose of the title element is to define what the webpage (referred to as a document) is about. And Google largely follows those standards.

Google’s official title element recommendations (on Google Search Central) for title tags echoes what the W3C recommends in a little more detail. Google advises that title elements should be descriptive and concise. The title elements should not be vague. Lastly, Google recommends concisely branding the title. That means using the site name is fine but repeating a marketing slogan across the entire site is not necessarily concise.

Why does Google rewrite titles? Years ago many SEO sites recommended adding keywords in the title tag instead of recommending to describe what the page is about. Eventually Google figured out that people were stuffing keywords in the title tag. Obviously, if the keyword is relevant to what the document is about then put the keyword in there if you want. Another reason Google rewrites titles is because the description of the entire page is not appropriate. For example, Google often ranks a webpage for what is essentially a subtopic of the main topic of the webpage. This happens when Google ranks a webpage for a phrase that is in the middle of the document.

So should you match Google’s title rewrite? In my opinion it is not a good idea because Google might be ranking the page for a subtopic. If you want a reality check about the title element, give ChatGPT a try by inputting the text of the document and asking it to summarize it in ten words. Then again be careful because ChatGPT can spit out incorrect information.