Episode 175 contains the notable Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of August 21 -25, 2023.

1.LinkedIn Makes it Easier to Create and Manage Newsletters – LinkedIn is updating its newsletter creation user interface (UI) to make it easier for users to create and manage their newsletters. The new UI includes a number of improvements, such as a more intuitive design, a preview pane, and the ability to host multiple newsletters.

First off, LinkedIn’s rolling out an updated newsletter editing and publishing process, improving on the current creation flow. The preview pane allows users to see how their newsletter will look before they publish it. This is a helpful feature for ensuring that the newsletter is formatted correctly and that all of the content is displayed as intended.

The revamped article editor is purposefully designed to offer a seamless and dependable experience, allowing you to completely focus on sharing your insights and expertise. It’s now easier than ever to format, layout, and add a mix of photos, videos, links and more. You can save your articles in progress as drafts to seek a second opinion and gather feedback from others before it goes live. With customization options, you can schedule your article to publish when your community is most active and add a SEO title and description for even more reach

The ability to host multiple newsletters is a new feature that allows users to create different newsletters for different purposes. For example, a user could create one newsletter for their company’s news and updates, and another newsletter for their thought leadership content. “Any member or Company via Pages can now host up to five newsletters in one place with different topics, design and frequency of posting for each newsletter to strengthen relevance and engagement.

Finally, LinkedIn’s also now adding auto-follow for newsletter subscribers, so that when a new subscriber signs up to your newsletter, they’ll also follow your regular LinkedIn updates as well. I’m not sure that this is the best way to go, as newsletter subscribers are not explicitly seeking to follow all of a member’s updates, but it could help in building your LinkedIn audience, and maximizing engagement through extended notifications.

LinkedIn says that its newsletter updates will be rolled out to all users over the next month.

2. TikTok Pushes Retailers to Adopt Native Shopping – TikTok is pushing retailers to adopt its native shopping elements, as it looks to further grow its in-app commerce business. The company recently announced that it is shutting down its Storefront feature, which allowed merchants to connect their third-party shopping process into the TikTok UI. Originally launched back in 2021, TikTok’s Storefronts are primarily focused on direct connection with Shopify, and enabling Shopify merchants to display their products in-stream. TikTok has since expanded Storefront integration to other eCommerce providers as well, but now, it’s confident that its own TikTok Shop offering will cover all retailer requirements.

Now, TikTok wants retailers to rely on its own shopping tools, such as TikTok Shop, which allows users to browse and purchase products directly from videos and live streams. According to TikTok: “Storefront will be officially discontinued and unavailable for use. This means your Storefront products will no longer be visible on your TikTok profile, or be eligible for inclusion in short videos, LIVEs and ads. You will also lose access to your Storefront on Store Manager. It’s important to migrate from your Storefront to TikTok Shop as soon as possible.

TikTok Shop is still in its early stages, but it has already seen some success. In April, TikTok announced that it had processed over $3 billion in GMV through TikTok Shop. The company is also working on expanding TikTok Shop to other countries, including the United States.

The move to native shopping elements is a sign of TikTok’s ambitions in the e-commerce space. In China, in-app shopping has become the key revenue stream for the local version of the app, but thus far, Western users haven’t shown the same enthusiasm for in-stream purchases. TikTok has the reach, the experience, and the expertise to make this happen. Now, it’s just down to whether users actually want to be able to shop in-stream.

3. TikTok Launches Search Ads: A New Way to Reach Your Target Audience – It’s official – TikTok is bringing ads to its search results.  TikTok has begun rolling out ads in search results, giving brands a new way to reach users who are actively looking for information about their products or services. The ads will appear alongside organic search results, and they will be labeled as “Sponsored.” TikTok said this depends on: Relevancy, user intent (as understood from their search query), and broader learnings from other user behavior. Per Tiktok: “The typical search journey starts with a user clicking the search button at the top of the For You feed. From there, they type in a search query, which then yields a series of search results. The ads appear among these search results. Once a user clicks on a search ad, the ad mirrors the in-feed TikTok experience, with users able to continue scrolling through the search results in the order they appear on the page.

TikTok’s search ads are not a standalone ads product. Rather, ads are an extension of a TikTok video ad buy. TikTok’s search ads are powered by the same technology as its In-Feed Ads, which means that they can be targeted to users based on their interests, demographics, and other factors. This makes them a highly effective way to reach a specific audience with relevant advertising.

The launch of TikTok’s search ads is a major development for the platform, as it opens up a new revenue stream for the company and gives brands a new way to reach their target audience. It is also a sign of TikTok’s growing ambitions in the advertising market. TikTok has 100 million U.S. monthly active users, which means there is a big opportunity for your brand or business to be found. Google has acknowledged TikTok search is a legitimate threat to its search business.

4. YouTube’s Tips for Creating Successful Shorts – YouTube Shorts is the fastest-growing content type on YouTube, and is now driving over 50 billion daily views in the app. YouTube has published a new interview with Shorts Product Lead Todd Sherman, in which Sherman answers some of the most common questions about Shorts, including how they’re using hashtags, how often you should post, the Shorts algorithm, and what’s coming next.

For example, on long form, a lot of the times people are choosing which video by tapping on it on their phone, or clicking on it on the web, and that choice is something that drives a lot of engagement. On short form, people are swiping through a feed, and discovering things as they go. That’s one important difference.

Sherman says that Shorts views are not measured when a Short appears on screen, but are more aligned with actual viewer interest. “What we try and do with a view is have it encode for your intent of watching that thing, so that creators feel like that view has some meaningful threshold that the person decided to watch. It doesn’t mean it’s their favorite video ever, it just means that they are deliberately watching it.” Sherman says that YouTube doesn’t publish its actual calculations on this, in order to stop people trying to game the system.

Sherman says that the Shorts team has opted not to add specific thumbnail creation tools for Shorts because most Shorts views come from people swiping through the Shorts feed, which means that most people won’t see your thumbnails anyway. YouTube has added the capacity to select a frame from your clip as the thumbnail, but there are no plans to add custom thumbnail options. YouTube advises that creators should “think audience, not algorithm” within their creative process. On hashtags, he said “Sometimes a hashtag can be associated with a real world thing that’s happened, like an event, and you wanna’ associate it with it. Other times they’re focused on topics, and I think in both those cases, creators should consider using them.

Creators should also experiment with different types of content and collaborate with other creators to reach a wider audience.

In terms of the Shorts algorithm, YouTube says that it takes into account factors such as watch time, engagement, and the creator’s overall channel performance. The company also advises against posting too many shorts in a short period of time, as this can lead to lower engagement. “If you generated a bunch of relatively lower quality videos and then posted those, and got meager engagement on them, that energy is probably better spent in just making a better video and fewer of them.

Some gurus claim that re-uploading can effectively re-trigger the algorithm to expand your distribution, but Sherman says that this is not a great strategy. “I would not advise that. I’ve heard people talk about this as like a growth hack on Twitter or something [but] I think that there’s also a risk that it gets seen as spam in our systems.

5. Google Ads Enhanced Customer Service: Get help from a Google Ads expert for $50 per call – Google Ads has started rolling out a new paid customer support service for small businesses. PPC expert Natasha Kaurra spotted the new feature on her account for the first time and decided to provide a sneak preview of what it looks like on X (formerly known as Twitter). The service, called “Enhanced Customer Service,” offers businesses one-on-one phone consultations with a Google Ads expert for $50 per call. However, the new tool is still in beta and so is not yet available to everyone.

The service is currently available to a limited number of businesses, but Google plans to expand it to more businesses in the coming months. 

Google claims that in the consultation, a Google Ads expert will help the business with a specific issue they are having with their Google Ads campaigns. The expert can help with a variety of tasks, such as setting up campaigns, optimizing bids, and creating ad copy.

The service is designed to help small businesses get the most out of Google Ads. By providing businesses with one-on-one support, Google hopes to help them improve their campaigns and get better results.

Please listen to me and stay away from this service. If you want to hear why I’m asking you to stay away from this service then do give the show a listen. 

6. Google August 2023 Core Update: What You Need to Know – Google announced its August 2023 core update on August 22, 2023. This is the second broad core algorithm update of 2023, following the March 2023 core update.

The August 2023 core update is designed to improve the quality of search results. Google has not released any specific details about the update, but it is likely to focus on factors such as relevance, expertise, and authority.

Early unconfirmed reports suggest that the August 2023 core update has had a significant impact on search results. Some websites have seen their rankings improve, while others have seen their rankings decline.

It is important to note that core updates can take several weeks to fully roll out. This means that the full impact of the August 2023 core update may not be known for some time. Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:

  • Name: Google August 2023 Broad Core Update
  • Launched: August 22, 2023 at around 1:30 pm ET
  • Rollout: It will take about one to two weeks to roll out
  • Targets: It looks at all types of content
  • Penalty: It is not a penalty, it promotes or rewards great web pages
  • Global: This is a global update impacting all regions, in all languages.
  • Impact: Google would not tell me what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update but so far, this seems to be a typical core update that reaches wide and the impact is fast.
  • Discover: Core updates impact Google Discover and other features, also feature snippets and more.
  • Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google’s core update advice.

7. Google Search Can Now Index CSV Files: What You Need to Know – Google Search has recently updated its help document to say that it can now index Comma-Separated Values (.csv) files. This means that Google Search can now show CSV files in its search results when relevant to the query. This is a significant change, as it opens up the possibility of indexing a much wider range of data.

CSV files are a common way to store data, and they are often used to store information such as customer lists, product data, and financial data. This means that businesses and organizations that have CSV files can now potentially have their data indexed by Google Search.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to have your CSV files indexed by Google Search. First, the file must be publicly accessible. Second, the file must be well-formatted and easy to read. Third, the file must contain relevant keywords.

8. Google: Internal Links Pointing To Same Page Don’t Affect SEO –  John Mueller was asked if internal links that point to the same page have any SEO value. The exact question from Sina Afkham was, “How much weight does Google give to internal links pointing to a page itself? Does Google consider the anchor text of these links to gain a better understanding of what the page is about?

Mueller replied that Google does not give these links any more weight than other links. He explained that Google understands that internal links are often used to create a navigation structure for a website, and that they do not necessarily indicate that the linked page is more important than other pages on the site.

This means that internal links pointing to the same page should not be used as a way to artificially boost the ranking of that page in search results. Instead, internal links should be used to help users navigate your website and find the information they are looking for.

9. On Google’s Ranking Systems From Google’s Search Off The Record Podcast – In a recent episode of the Google Search Off The Record podcast, Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, discussed the company’s ranking systems and how they are evolving. Sullivan revealed that Google uses multiple ranking systems, not just one algorithm, and that these systems are constantly being updated. 

A lot of people think, ‘Oh, there’s the Google algorithm, and that’s it, it’s this big giant thing.’ And of course, as we all know, there’s multiple systems that all come into play.

He also said that Google is now viewing updates as ongoing, rather than one-time changes. The podcast touched on SEO professionals’ mistaken beliefs about ranking algorithm updates. One misconception is that each new update necessitates reworking your SEO strategy. However, Sullivan disagrees with this view.

If you’ve seen a change after one of these systems has been launched or an updated system been launched then that’s probably a sign that, well, maybe you’re not as aligned as you should be with what these things have been looking for with what Google’s generally trying to look for.

Sullivan addressed the concerns of some SEO professionals who believe that Google’s increased transparency about its ranking systems could lead to more gaming of the system. He said that Google is committed to providing accurate and relevant search results, and that it will continue to take steps to prevent gaming.
I think that I feel like more of our shift these days is less about these are the specific things and more of these are the mindsets you should be following.

Finally, Sullivan discussed the importance of creating high-quality content that is relevant to users’ search intent – Create genuine, engaging content tailored to your target audience. He said that this is still the best way to rank well in Google search results.

Now more than ever, having that authentic content that you created because you have an actual audience in mind that you know would come to it directly, that is your way forward as you try to navigate this world of how ranking systems are evolving.

In conclusion, while staying informed is essential, Sullivan says most updates don’t require dramatic alterations to your overall SEO approach.

10. Google: A Page Doesn’t Have To Be In The Top 10 Results To Be A Featured Snippet – Featured snippets (also known as Answer box) are a type of search result that appears at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) and quickly answer the users search query. They are typically a brief summary of the most relevant information from a web page, and they can be a great way to get your content noticed by searchers.

There are a number of factors that can affect the ranking of featured snippets, including the quality and relevance of the content, the use of keywords, and the overall structure of the page. However, Google has not revealed the exact algorithm that is used to determine which pages are eligible for featured snippets.

Shubham Davey asked John Muller “if a page isn’t ranking in the top 10 on SERPs, are those pages eligible for featured snippets?”  Google’s John Mueller said there is no rule that a page has to rank in the top ten search result positions for it to be considered eligible for a featured snippet position. This directly contradicts the results of a study published by Ahrefs and backed by their own data where they wrote: “If your page is ranking anywhere in the top10 Google search results, it has a chance to also get the #0 spot – a featured snippet. And the best part is that the amount of effort required to get featured is almost zero (that is, if you get lucky).

Google’s Danny Sullivan added: “If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show.

Given that Ahref contradicts with what John and Danny said, my question to you: Who will you listen to? An outsider or Google’s official rep?