Episode 178 contains the notable Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Sep 11-15, 2023.

1. TikTok Shop Launches in the US – With inspiring hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, TikTok now aims to revolutionize online shopping culture. TikTok Shop is now officially available in the US, allowing US businesses to sell their products directly on the TikTok platform. TikTok Shop is a social commerce platform that allows users to discover and purchase products directly from their favorite creators and brands. 

TikTok Shop adds shoppable videos and LIVE streams directly into the “For You” feeds for its 150 million American users. TikTok Shop extends beyond in-feed videos and LIVE streams. Users can discover new products via the search bar inside the TikTok app, filtering results to Shop. Businesses and brands get a dedicated “Shop Tab” to display products and promotions. This incorporates a product showcase where users can read reviews and purchase directly from your brand’s profile. In addition, sellers can take advantage of “Fulfilled by TikTok” – a new logistics solution where TikTok manages storage, picking, packing, and shipping. The platform even includes an affiliate program, letting popular influencers and creators earn commissions by promoting TikTok Shop products. 

To get started, go to your TikTok app, visit your profile and, using the menu, navigate to Creator Tools. There, you will see the options to sign up for TikTok Shop as a seller or creator to earn brand commissions. Creators must have at least 5,000 followers and be 18 years old to be eligible for the TikTok Shop Affiliate program. 

TikTok Shop is integrated with well-known ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This should make it easier for existing ecommece sellers to start selling on TikTok without creating a new store from scratch. In addition, TikTok has partnered with several multi-channel platforms like Channel Advisor and Feedonomics to support omni-channel businesses. Sellers can utilize apps from Zendesk, Printful, Yotpo, EasyShip, and more to add more functionality and features to TikTok Shops.

2. Amazon Launches New AI Tool to Help Sellers Create Listing Content – Creating compelling product titles, bullet points, and descriptions has traditionally been a cumbersome task for sellers. Amazon has taken a significant step forward in simplifying the lives of its sellers by employing generative artificial intelligence (AI) to generate listing content. The process is remarkably straightforward. Sellers only need to supply a brief description or a few keywords about the product. Amazon’s AI generates high-quality, detailed content for the seller’s review. If satisfied, sellers can directly upload this content to their product listings. 

Robert Tekiela, vice president of Amazon Selection and Catalog Systems, expressed excitement about the developments in the announcement post. “With our new generative AI models, we can infer, improve, and enrich product knowledge at an unprecedented scale and with dramatic improvement in quality, performance, and efficiency. Our models learn to infer product information through the diverse sources of information, latent knowledge, and logical reasoning that they learn. For example, they can infer a table is round if specifications list a diameter or infer the collar style of a shirt from its image.

3. Suspended Google Advertisers Needs To Complete Verification Before Appeal – Google wrote, “In October 2023, selected advertisers whose accounts were suspended due to a violation of our Google Ads policies must complete Advertiser verification first to be able to appeal their account suspension.”

Google said that those advertisers on monthly invoicing are not required to complete Advertiser verification. If they do get suspended, Google said they may directly appeal their account suspension.

Google will be rolling out this process on October 10, 2023, with full enforcement ramping up over approximately four weeks.

Advertisers may be required to provide the following information for advertiser verification for the account suspension appeals process:

  • D-U-N-S number if the advertiser is an organization
  • US Social Security Number or phone number if the advertiser is an individual

4. Struggling To Get Results From Your YouTube Ads? Google Ads Creative Guidance Can Help! – Google Ads Creative Guidance is a new tool that helps advertisers improve the performance of their YouTube ads. It provides feedback and recommendations on key creative attributes, such as brand logo, video duration, voice-over, and aspect ratio.

To access Creative Guidance, advertisers simply need to go to their Google Ads account and click on the “Videos” tab. Then, they can select the video ad they want to analyze and click on the “Creative Guidance” button.

Creative Guidance will then provide feedback on the following creative attributes:

  • Brand logo: Is the brand logo displayed prominently in the first 5 seconds of the ad?
  • Video duration: Is the video ad the recommended length for its marketing objective?
  • Voice-over: Does the video ad use a high-quality, human voice-over?
  • Aspect ratio: Does the video ad group include all three video orientations: horizontal 16:9, vertical 9:16, and square 1:1?

Creative Guidance will also provide recommendations for how to improve the performance of the video ad. For example, if the brand logo is not displayed prominently in the first 5 seconds of the ad, Creative Guidance will recommend adding a logo overlay to the video.

Creative Guidance can be a valuable tool for advertisers who want to improve the performance of their YouTube ads. By following the feedback and recommendations from Creative Guidance, advertisers can create video ads that are more likely to capture the attention of viewers and drive results. While this tool seems promising, advertisers must remember that the AI can only provide recommendations based on historical data and existing best practices. Therefore, its suggestions may not align with every brand’s style and strategy.

To access Creative guidance in Google Ads, follow these instructions: In your Google Ads account, 

  • Click the Campaigns icon Campaigns Icon. 
  • Click the Assets drop down in the section menu. 
  • Click “Videos”. 
  • Click the “Analytics” tab next to “Videos”. 
  • Select your video ad in the drop down menu. 
  • In the “Ideas to try” section below the retention curves, you’ll find the creative attributes you’re missing with recommendations on how to take action. 

The steps listed above are part of a new Google Ads user experience that is set to launch for all advertisers in 2024. A spokesperson for Google Ads said in a statement:

  • “We’ll let you know if your video is missing a best practice. If we have a recommendation or tool to implement a suggestion such as adding a voiceover, we’ll direct you to it.”
  • “Voiceover has a big impact on YouTube. Thanks to the power of AI, quality voice overs in 15 languages are accessible directly in Google Ads (both in the asset library and built into the video creation tool) and coming soon to Ads Creative Studio.
  • “Similarly, if your campaign would benefit from videos in different durations, we’ll guide you to Trim video. Or, if you’re missing a horizontal, square or vertical video, you can easily create one using a variety of high-quality templates.”
  • “These features empower marketers to take charge of their creative. AI can help turbocharge performance by tuning creative elements across all the different viewing experiences and content that YouTube viewers love.”

5. Google: Don’t Stuff Low-Quality Content at the Bottom of Your E-Commerce Category Pages – During September 2023, Google SEO Office hour, Gary Illyes has advised against stuffing low-quality, auto-generated content at the bottom of e-commerce category pages. Gary said, instead, “add content that people will actually find useful, don’t add content because search might require it or so you think… please don’t do those auto-generated low-quality repeated, blurbs of text over and over again on all your category pages.It just looks silly, even for the average person.

6. Google Says Meta Description Length Doesn’t Matter for SEO – Your SEO professional may disagree with this, but Google’s John Mueller has said that the length of meta descriptions does not matter for the Google search ranking algorithm. However, meta descriptions are still important for SEO, as they can influence click-through rates (CTRs).

His exact words were, “I’m sorry to tell you, those numbers are all made up.. Whoever told them to you is leading you astray, probably not just in this regard (and I hope you’re not telling them to clients).” after Kushal wrote to John statingHey @JohnMu meta description length matters. One of client say 200-300 character not good, make it 155-160 character is ideal as per google algo. Being SEO What I suggest him. I know the hidden truth. Pls suggest.

7. Google: No Such Thing as “Back to the Same” for Search Rankings After a Site Revamp –  In a recent tweet, Google Search’s John Mueller said that there is no such thing as “back to the same” for search rankings after a website revamp. This means that when you make changes to your website, your search rankings may go up, down, or stay the same.

There is no specific time or guarantee for how long it will take for your rankings to stabilize after a revamp. It can depend on a number of factors, such as the size and scope of the changes you made, the quality of your content, and the competitiveness of your keywords.

If you are considering revamping your website, it is important to be aware of the potential impact on your search rankings. You should also make sure that you have a plan in place for monitoring your traffic and rankings after the revamp.

So before you embark on your website revamp journey, work with a reputable SEO professional to figure out a SEO strategy that will either maintain the rankings or even improve.

8. Google: Fixing INP Issues Won’t Improve Search Rankings – Google’s John Mueller reiterated what Google has been saying for some time around Core Web Vitals and the specific metrics within the page experience system. In short, if you fix INP issues, John Muller said, don’t expect it to visibly change search ranking visibility.

INP, or Input Interactivity, measures how responsive a page is to user input by selecting one of the single longest interactions that occur when a user visits a page. For pages with less than 50 interactions in total, INP is the interaction with the worst latency. For pages with many interactions, INP is most often the 98th percentile of interaction latency. It is one of the three Core Web Vitals, which are a set of metrics that Google uses to measure the user experience of a web page. In July, Google began sending out scary INP core web vital warnings to users. That email notice came a few weeks after Google created the INP report in Google Search Console. As a reminder, INP, Interaction to Next, is replacing FID, First Input Delay, in March 2024. More on INP can be found here and how to optimize for it can be found here.

P.S: While INP is important for user experience, it is not a direct ranking factor. This means that fixing INP issues is not guaranteed to improve your search rankings. However, it is still important to fix INP issues, as they can improve the user experience of your website.

9. Google Announces September 2023 Helpful Content System Update – Google rolled out a new update to its Helpful Content System on September 14, 2023. The update, which is the first since December 2022, is designed to promote helpful content and demote unhelpful content. It will take about two weeks to complete. And they’ll update their ranking release history page when the rollout is complete. The three main things you should be aware of are:

  1. Loosening the guidance on machine generated content : Google’s previous guidance on machine generated content emphasized that the Helpful Content system prioritizes content created by humans. That part of the guidance is removed, signaling a change in Google’s attitude toward AI content to align it better with other seemingly contradictory guidance on AI content. Here is what the new guidance reads: “Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in search results.
  2. Hosting third-party content on subdomains (or on main domain) – There is a longstanding trend of hosting third-party content on the main part of a website or on a subdomain. An example of this is news media websites hosting third-party credit card affiliate content on a subdomain. The idea behind theses strategies may be that some of the main site’s ranking power would help the subdomain content rank better. Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content update has made a change that may negatively affect websites that host third-party content anywhere on their website. Now a new section added to the Helpful Content Update guidance advises: “If you host third-party content on your main site or in your subdomains, understand that such content may be included in site-wide signals we generate, such as the helpfulness of content. For this reason, if that content is largely independent of the main site’s purpose or produced without close supervision or the involvement of the primary site, we recommend that it should be blocked from being indexed by Google.” Gary Illyes from Google also posted on LinkedIn that reads: “We’ve heard (and also noticed) that some sites “rent out” their subdomains or sometimes even subdirectories to third-parties, typically without any oversight over the content that’s hosted on those new, generally low quality micro-sites that have nothing to do with the parent site. In fact the micro-sites are rarely ever linked from the parent sites, which don’t actually want to endorse these often questionable sites. The only reason the owners of these shady (?) micro-sites rent the sub-spaces is to manipulate search results.
  3. New warnings on attempts to fake updates to pages and faking freshness – Google added this line “Are you changing the date of pages to make them seem fresh when the content has not substantially changed?” under the avoid creating search engine-first content section. I see it all the time where sites will make a couple of changes to their content from years ago, update the date, and re-publish it. This is a common SEO “strategy” that is on Google’s radar.

So what is Helpful Content update? Google’s helpful content update specifically targets “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.” This algorithm update aims to help searchers find “high-quality content.” Google wants to reward better and more useful content that was written for humans and to help users. Searchers get frustrated when they land on unhelpful web pages that rank well in search because they were written for the purpose of ranking in search engines. This is the type of content you might call “search engine-first content” or “SEO content.” Google’s helpful content algorithm aims to downgrade those types of websites while promoting more helpful websites, designed for humans, above search engines. Google said this is an “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in search.” Google has provided a list of questions you can ask yourself about your content. Read through those questions here, and in an unbiased manner, ask yourself if your content is in sync with this update. You should also read this

Please note if this update has hit you, it can take several months to recover if you do everything right and make changes to your content over time. Here is what Google wrote on this: “If you’ve noticed a change in traffic you suspect may be related to this system (such as after a publicly-posted ranking update to the system), then you should self-assess your content and fix or remove any that seems unhelpful. Our help page on how to create helpful, reliable people-first content has questions that you can use to self-assess your content to be successful with the helpful content system.