Episode 186 contains the Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Nov 6-10, 2023.

1. Google’s Cookieless Future Unveiled! – As third-party cookies are being phased out, Google is introducing new, privacy-focused ad targeting methods that rely on first-party data and artificial intelligence (AI). This change, set to take effect in 2024, is crucial for business owners to understand and prepare for.

Third-party cookies have long been a staple in digital advertising, enabling brands to track users across websites and serve targeted ads. However, they’ve also raised privacy concerns. Google’s research indicates that a staggering 89% of internet users would trust brands more if they used privacy-safe technologies. In response, Google is transitioning to a cookieless future, emphasizing the importance of first-party data and privacy-preserving tools like the Privacy Sandbox’s Protected Audience API. This API introduces new techniques to limit constant tracking, such as minimum thresholds for ad targeting and shorter user data storage durations.

The shift to first-party data means advertisers will still be able to build audience lists, but with enhanced AI filling the gaps left by reduced tracking capabilities. Tools like Smart Bidding and Optimized Targeting are expected to improve ad relevance using internal algorithms. For instance, Optimized Targeting has already increased conversions by 50% for some Google Display customers. Additionally, Google is expanding capabilities like Customer Match, allowing personalized ad targeting based on an advertiser’s customer data.

This transition away from third-party cookies is part of a broader movement towards stronger data privacy protections. While some advertisers are concerned about the potential impact on digital ad revenues, the introduction of alternative targeting and measurement approaches offers a new way forward. For business owners, investing now in automated and consent-based solutions is key to adapting to this changing advertising landscape.

In summary, while targeting precision may decrease post-third-party cookie phaseout, the advancements in first-party data use and AI optimization present viable alternatives for online marketers. Embracing these changes and preparing for the cookieless future is essential for staying ahead in the digital advertising game.

P.S. The future of digital advertising is here, and it’s more private and user-focused than ever. Start adapting today to stay competitive!

2. Insights From Google Search Ranking Documents in Antitrust Trial Exhibits – Key documents released during the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust trial involving Google provide insights into Google’s search ranking processes, which are crucial for business owners to understand in order to optimize their websites for better visibility in Google searches.

Key Takeaways:

  • Three Pillars of Ranking: Google’s search ranking is based on three main factors: the content of the document itself, what the web says about the document (links and references), and user interactions with the document (like clicks and attention on a result).
  • User Interaction Signals: Google uses various user interaction signals, such as clicks, scrolls, and mouse hovers, to understand how users interact with search results. This helps them determine the relevance and quality of a document.
  • Importance of User Responses: Google doesn’t fully understand documents but relies on how people react to them. Positive reactions suggest good content, while negative reactions indicate the opposite. This approach is crucial for sustaining Google’s ability to deliver relevant search results.
  • Search Quality Aspects: The documents mentions 18 aspects of search quality that Google considers, including relevance, page quality, popularity, freshness, and mobile-friendliness. Understanding these aspects can help businesses create content that aligns with what Google considers high-quality.
  • Challenges with Click Data: Google acknowledges the limitations of using click data for ranking, as it can be hard to interpret and requires a lot of traffic to draw meaningful conclusions.
  • Continuous Manipulation Attempts: The documents highlight the ongoing attempts to manipulate search results, emphasizing the need for secrecy in Google’s search workings to prevent exploitation by SEOs, competitors, and others.

Implications for Business Owners:  It’s crucial to grasp these pillars. Your website content (Body), how it’s referenced across the web (Anchors), and how users interact with it (User Interactions) are all vital for your site’s search ranking. Ensure your website’s content is high-quality and relevant. This not only appeals to your audience but also aligns with how Google assesses and ranks content. User interactions are a significant factor. Pay attention to how users engage with your site and continuously improve their experience.

3. Google Claims That Core Web Vitals Save Decades in Load Times! – Every second counts, especially when it comes to website loading times. Google’s recent announcement highlights a groundbreaking achievement: Core Web Vitals (CWV) optimizations have saved Chrome users over 10,000 years in page load time in 2023 alone. This remarkable feat underscores the importance of optimizing your website for speed and user experience.

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics developed by Google to measure the user experience on web pages. These include Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which tracks load time; First Input Delay (FID), measuring responsiveness; Interaction to Next Paint (INP), assessing overall responsiveness; and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which gauges visual stability. By focusing on these metrics, websites can significantly enhance user experiences.

The time savings were calculated by Google’s Chrome team, analyzing data from millions of website visits. Specifically, optimizations related to CWV saved over 8,000 years on Android devices and over 2,000 years on desktops in 2023. These improvements are not just about faster loading times; they also include better page response metrics, contributing to a more seamless user journey.

Technical improvements in Chrome, such as preconnecting resources and rendering optimizations, played a crucial role. For instance, prioritizing image loading reduced layout shifts and improved LCP by over 5% on mobile. The broader web community, including platforms like WordPress and JavaScript frameworks like React and Angular, have also contributed to this progress.

Currently, over 40% of websites meet the CWV thresholds, indicating that there’s still room for improvement. As a business owner, this is a call to action. Optimizing your website for Core Web Vitals is not just about complying with Google’s standards; it’s about providing a superior experience for your users. This can lead to increased engagement, higher conversion rates, and ultimately, business growth.

In conclusion, Google’s Core Web Vitals are revolutionizing the way we experience the web. By focusing on these key metrics, you can ensure that your website not only meets Google’s standards but also delivers an exceptional experience to your customers.

P.S. Embrace the change and optimize your website for Core Web Vitals today.

4.  Boost Your Website’s Speed with Expert Tips from Google’s John Mueller! – The speed of your website is more than just a convenience; it’s a crucial factor in attracting and retaining customers. Google’s John Mueller recently shared valuable insights on improving website performance, specifically focusing on Google’s PageSpeed Insights (PSI) scores. This tool evaluates web pages’ loading speeds and provides a score from 0 to 100, along with recommendations for enhancement. For anyone involved in managing a website, understanding and improving these scores is vital for both search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience.

Mueller’s tips are particularly helpful for those who have tried common optimization techniques, like compressing images and videos, but haven’t seen the expected improvements in PSI scores. He suggests a more targeted approach: testing individual page elements on a noindexed page. This method allows you to isolate specific changes and understand their individual effects before applying them to your entire website. For example, if a test page with a compressed image loads faster but the live page doesn’t show similar improvements, it indicates other factors are slowing down the live page.

Mueller emphasizes the importance of focusing optimizations where they’re most needed. If your website’s page speed is already reasonable, extensive extra work may not be necessary. However, if improvements are needed, Mueller advises making a copy of the actual page, removing the elements you’ve already optimized, and then trying out changes on the rest. This step-by-step, selective process helps identify and address the real limiting factors affecting your website’s performance.

In summary, optimizing your website’s performance requires patience and incremental testing. By isolating webpage elements and evaluating their impact, you can make informed decisions about where to focus your efforts. Remember, achieving and maintaining high PSI scores is possible with the right strategies tailored to your website’s specific needs.

5. Google Updates Page Experience Report in Search Console – Google has recently updated the Page Experience Report in its Search Console, aiming to provide a more holistic view of page experience as part of the content creation process. This update is significant for business owners who rely on Google for online visibility and customer engagement.

The Page Experience Report now offers an informational page with links to relevant reports, making it easier for site owners to understand and improve their web pages’ performance. This change is part of Google’s ongoing efforts to evolve its understanding of page experience, which now encompasses more than just core web vitals and HTTPS.

One notable change is the removal of the “Good Page Experience” search appearance filter from the Performance Report in Search Console. This filter was previously used to identify pages that met certain criteria for a good user experience. With its removal, Google emphasizes the need to consider a broader range of factors in evaluating page experience.

The update also includes the retirement of the search appearance filter from the Search Console API, which will take effect in 180 days. This means that businesses and SEO professionals will need to adjust their reporting and analysis practices to align with the new framework.

For business owners, this update underscores the importance of focusing on comprehensive quality and user experience on their websites. It’s not just about meeting technical benchmarks but creating content that genuinely serves and engages the audience. Adapting to these changes in Google’s approach will be crucial for maintaining and improving online visibility and performance.

6. Google Shares How Your Feedback Shapes Search Results! – Recently, Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, revealed internal documents highlighting how Google incorporates feedback from SEO professionals into its search algorithms. This insight is vital for anyone looking to improve their website’s visibility on Google.

Sullivan’s documents show that Google actively listens to SEO feedback and considers it when updating its search algorithms. This process includes gathering opinions on various updates like the “Helpful Content Update” and “Parasite SEO.” For instance, Sullivan discussed the challenge of creating “people-first” content. He emphasized that content should be designed for readers, not just to rank well on Google. This is a fundamental shift from traditional SEO practices, where the focus was primarily on pleasing search engines.

Another key point Sullivan addressed is the misconception about old content being unhelpful. He clarified that Google does not penalize sites for having older content, as long as it remains relevant and people-first. This is reassuring for businesses that have a wealth of archival content.

Sullivan also touched on the idea of a “Helpful Content Tool,” a potential future feature that could help website owners understand what Google considers valuable content. This tool could be a game-changer for businesses struggling to align their content with Google’s guidelines.

The documents also debunked the myth that certain SEO tactics, like using schema and recipe sites, directly boost rankings. Sullivan’s insights suggest that while these elements are important, they are not the sole factors in determining a site’s ranking.

In summary, Google’s approach to SEO feedback is a dynamic process that involves constant evaluation and adaptation. For business owners, this means staying informed and adaptable is key to maintaining a strong online presence. Understanding that Google values user-centric content and does not solely rely on technical SEO tactics can guide your content strategy in a more effective direction.

7. Holiday Marketing with Meta’s Latest Lead Gen Innovations! – Meta (formerly Facebook) has recently announced several updates to their lead generation campaigns, which are particularly relevant for the upcoming holiday season. These updates aim to enhance direct customer engagement and streamline the lead generation process, making them vital for businesses looking to capitalize on the holiday rush.

One of the key updates is the expansion of Meta’s lead objective to Facebook and Instagram ads that initiate a WhatsApp chat. This feature allows businesses to tap into the growing trend of direct messaging (DMs) for customer engagement. With more people preferring DMs over public social media posts, this update offers a new avenue to connect with potential customers directly and personally.

Another development is the introduction of a question-and-answer flow in Instagram Direct ads, where businesses can offer coupons to customers who engage with the flow. This not only incentivizes customer interaction but also drives sales by offering discounts on future purchases.

Meta is also testing a new instant form ad format. This format allows users to submit their information to multiple related businesses at once, increasing convenience for customers and exposure for businesses. For example, someone signing up for a bridal hair trial can simultaneously share their contact information with related businesses like nail salons.

Furthermore, Meta is exploring the potential for businesses to make phone calls through Facebook, displaying their business name and information on the caller screen. While this might be more appealing to older demographics, it’s an interesting option for businesses looking to establish a more personal connection with their audience.

Lastly, Meta is testing full campaign automation for lead generation campaigns. This feature utilizes AI to manage various campaign elements, including targeting, creative content, placements, and budget. While it may take time for businesses to trust AI with these aspects, the potential for streamlined, efficient campaign management is significant.

In conclusion, these updates from Meta offer innovative ways to enhance lead generation and customer engagement. As a business owner, staying updated and adapting to these changes can significantly impact your holiday marketing strategy and overall business growth.

8. LinkedIn Update: Carousel Posts and Profile Videos to be Removed! – In a recent announcement, LinkedIn has informed users that  starting December 14, 2023, LinkedIn will remove all carousel posts and profile videos. This change is noteworthy because carousel posts have been a popular feature for engaging audiences with multiple images or slides in a single post.

LinkedIn introduced carousel posts in July last year, allowing users to upload PDFs with each page as a separate slide. This feature gained popularity due to its interactive and engaging format. However, LinkedIn has decided to discontinue this feature, along with profile videos, which were added in 2021 but didn’t gain as much traction. Additionally, the ability to embed clickable links within images or videos will also be deactivated. While the content itself will remain, the interactive links will no longer function.

This update is significant for businesses that rely on LinkedIn for marketing and engagement. Carousel posts, in particular, have been effective in generating high levels of user interaction. With their removal, businesses will need to adapt their content strategies on LinkedIn. The platform suggests reverting to the previous method of creating carousels by uploading PDFs, but this might not offer the same level of engagement as the native carousel feature.

For those who have used these features extensively, LinkedIn offers a solution to retrieve their content. Users can contact LinkedIn at contentsupport@linkedin.com by December 11th to request a copy of their profile video or files from their carousel posts.