News: Google Unveils New Look; Facebook Ad Targeting Weakens

Although it certainly felt like
Google Marketing Live 2019
took over the online advertising
world for a minute there, we’ve still got some important news
to talk about. Here’s the latest from Facebook, Instagram,
and—believe it or not—Google.

Google unveils new look for mobile search results

In order to free up space for more information and
on-SERP action buttons, Google has
unveiled
 their reimagination of the mobile search results.
Take a look at the image Senior Interactions Designer Jamie Leach
included in Wednesday’s announcement:

google-unveils-new-look-example-serp

The new look is on the right. Via Google.

As you can see, the “Ad” indicator and the display URL—which
often serves as crucial brand real estate—will move above the ad
headline. Publisher names and icons will move above the headline in
the organic results as well. Although the display URL we’ve come
to know and love has certainly done a good job of presenting your
brand name, the new look—rolling out in the coming days—makes
sure to position it even more prominently.

Leach explains the motivation behind this reimagination at the
end of
his blog post
:

“As we continue to make new content formats and useful actions
available—from buying movie tickets to playing podcasts—this
new design allows us to add more action buttons and helpful
previews to search results cards.”

Translation: Google wants to give users the most seamless search
experience possible. Whether you’re simply searching for
information or deliberately looking to make a purchase, Google
wants to erase as much pain from the process as
possible—especially when you’re on mobile (see: the new
gallery ad format
coming to the SERP later this year).

Now, I know what’s coming to mind for many of you:
traffic. After all, the more information Google
scrapes from your site, the less necessary it is for users to click
through. Although that’s valid cause for concern, I’ll say
this: Google reducing
friction
does not equate to Google eliminating
the need to visit your website. As you can see in this screenshot,
one type of button Google is aiming to make room for is essentially
the organic version of a
sitelink extension
:

google-unveils-new-look-organic-search

Friction-reducing? Quite. Traffic-leeching? Hardly.

Shifting back to the paid side of things, the addition of new
action buttons should do wonders for low-funnel search initiatives.
Whether you’re trying to book appointments or drive sales, the
erasure of steps required to secure a conversion is (almost) always
a good thing.

Facebook’s transparency measures may affect targeting

In a recent
blog post
, Facebook announced the imminent roll out of a new
tool that will enable users to see how advertisers are tracking
them and—if they so choose—to take this ability away. As soon
as a user disconnects their account from their online activity,
Facebook will no longer be able to use this data when serving your
ads.

For example, let’s say you’ve built a
custom audience
based on the people who’ve visited your
product page within the past 30 days. Up until this point, you’ve
been able to remarket to those site visitors with an offer for a
free trial. Once Facebook rolls out this new tool to users, your
prospects will have the opportunity to effectively remove
themselves from that audience.

google-unveils-new-look-create-facebook-audience

I think there are two things to keep in mind: (1) a
lot of Facebook users won’t take advantage of this tool and (2)
this is a good thing. As marketers, we should
welcome improved privacy measures with open arms. The more secure
people feel about the ways their personal data is being used, the
more favorably they feel towards advertisements. As I mentioned in
our recent
round-up
of Hero Conf 2019, Quora’s JD Prater shared the
rather unsettling news that the general public perceives
Congress more favorably than it does advertisers.

Evidently, we could use a bit of a boost in the court of public
opinion. If this new tool works as it’s supposed to, all of
us—consumers and marketers alike—will be better off for it.

Google discusses top 3 SEO ranking signals

Google Webmasters officially kicked off their new SEO
Mythbusting series by publishing
the inaugural episode
on YouTube. After discussing the basics
of search engines and crawling, the guest developer, Juan Herrera,
asked Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Martin Splitt, to name
the top three things he should focus on to improve his organic
search visibility
.

google-unveils-new-look-top-seo-signals

Because that’s a fairly broad and challenging
question, Splitt took a few minutes to articulate his answer.
Here’s what he said in a nutshell:

Create relevant, useful content. No surprises
here, really. Google has long said that publishing high-quality,
helpful content is paramount to all other ranking signals. If
you’re thoughtful about the keywords you target and
the user intent behind those keywords, you’re in good
shape. 

Optimize your meta data. The meta data for a
given page on your website includes things like the page title and
the page description. When a user is looking at an organic search
result, they’re seeing the publisher’s meta data. The blue
hyperlinked text is the title; the text beneath that (often with
parts of the search query in bold) is the
description. Optimizing your meta data is a crucial part of letting
both Google and users know what they can expect to find on your
page. 

Improve your site performance. Although
“site performance” is pretty vague, we can infer that Splitt
was referring to attributes like speed, security, and navigability.
Beyond publishing relevant content that matches
user intent
, maintaining a fast, secure, and intuitive website
is essential to your organic search visibility. After all, if
you’re not delivering a quality experience to visitors, why would
Google rank your site?

None of these signals are new or groundbreaking. However, it’s
not often that we hear a Google employee clearly outline the
factors that matter most to organic search performance. Make sure
to check out the episode for yourself, and stay tuned for more
great content!

Instagram redesigns the Explore tab

In order to incentivize users to adopt the properties
it considers most valuable—IGTV, Shopping, and
Stories—Instagram has
redesigned the Explore tab
. The section of the app that users
turn to when they want to discover new content from people, brands,
and content creators they don’t yet follow, Explore is used by
the majority of Instagram accounts every month.

First things first—we’ve got a new top navigation bar. Links
to IGTV
and Shopping are pinned to the front and followed by interest-based
categories like food, art, and travel.

google-unveils-new-look-instagram-explore-redesign

Via Instagram.

Like I said—this redesign is Instagram’s
not-so-subtle attempt to increase adoption of the features it
desperately wants users to adopt. IGTV, like Watch on big brother
Facebook, aims to keep people on the platform for longer periods of
time—and away, of course, from video behemoth YouTube. Elsewhere,
Shopping (otherwise known as Checkout on
Instagram
) is at the core of Instagram’s effort to make it as
much an ecommerce platform as it is a social platform.

Additionally, the redesigned Explore grid will feature
Stories content
as well as News Feed content. As we’ve
discussed repeatedly on the blog over the past few months, users’
news feeds—on both Instagram and Facebook—are saturated with
ads. Because this saturation places a constraint on monetization,
the continued profitability of the platforms depends on their
ability to move users and advertisers en masse to other
properties—including Stories.

If nothing else, the reimagination of the Explore tab gives us
insight into Instagram’s priorities going forward. If you’ve
got the resources, establishing a presence on IGTV, Shopping
(currently unavailable to most advertisers), and/or Stories is a
smart move.

Facebook stresses importance of valuable News Feed content

Just because the News Feed isn’t the way of the future
doesn’t mean Facebook is forgetting about it altogether.
Recently, the company has been
surveying users
to determine what makes for a good News Feed
experience—in terms of both interpersonal content and branded
content. Regarding the latter, the key takeaway seems to be the
importance of value. In other words, the
performance of your content in the News Feed depends on your
ability to deliver valuable, relevant experiences. If that sounds
familiar, that’s because it’s identical to the philosophy
behind organic search performance.

google-unveils-new-look-search-engine-land-post

As obvious as that may seem, it’s important to take
note of Facebook’s increased efforts to eliminate (or at least
disincentivize) spammy, self-serving content. In the past, you
could get away with sharing content focused solely on driving site
traffic or garnering user engagement. In fact, we still see this in
practice when publishers encourage users to tag their friends in
the comments section. Recently, Facebook has made it clear that
blatant attempts to hack the News Feed algorithm will have an
adverse effect on performance.

What does this mean for you? It means you need to be thoughtful
about the News Feed content you’re sharing. Nail down what your
audience truly needs or wants to consume and let that guide you
going forward. Say you’re using Facebook to promote private piano
lessons, for example. Rather than trying to reach as many people as
possible with comment spam, create educational content (blog posts,
tutorial videos, etc.) that teaches your followers new things about
the piano. In the long run, doing so will prove far more effective
and rewarding.

Read more: wordstream.com