Hello Digital looks at the highlights from the week that was.

The digital landscape is always changing, so keeping on top of updates and innovations allows you (and us!) to stay ahead of the curve. The next installment of our Weekly Wrap looks at major changes to Google’s search term reporting, further criticism of Facebook’s approach to hate speech on the platform, and the next big Google algorithm change that could affect your rankings, among other news highlights. 

Take a look…

Google Ads announced they will limit Search Term reporting

Advertisers have been quick to criticise Google’s quiet announcement that they will limit their search term reporting when there isn’t significant data on the search query. The key word here (no pun intended!), and the one causing wide-spread confusion, is “significant”. Google has not clarified what they mean by significant, leaving people guessing on the data that will soon be hidden from them.

The update notice appeared for Google Ads users on the platform, essentially meaning that advertisers will have reduced visibility on which precise search terms trigger their ads, even if those search terms lead to a click or conversion. 

This will have a big impact on advertisers and small businesses that rely on low-volume search terms for a large percentage of their ad performance and revenue. It’s hard to tell the full extent of the impact this will have on campaigns and budgets until Google provides answers on their definition of significant. 

You can learn more about what the announcement means here.

Facebook ex-engineer claims the organisation is “profiting off hate”

Ex-engineer Ashok Chandwaney is the most recent Facebook employee to speak out against the company’s approach to hate speech on the platform. Chandwaney stated that they could “no longer stomach” working at a company “choosing to be on the wrong side of history”.

Their statement continued by stating that Facebook moves quickly to solve certain problems, but when it comes to dealing with hate speech, it is more interested in PR than implementing real change.

It has been a long-running issue at Facebook HQ and has garnered wide-spread criticism. Facebook have been dragging their feet when it comes to making any concrete changes to how they monitor and respond to hate-speech being shared on the platform. 

Issues with their handling of Donald Trump’s comments regarding the protests following the murder of George Floyd led several employees to leave, with others to stage walk-outs. Later in July, thousands of advertisers boycotted the platform over their approach to hate speech.

Ad spend on traditional media down in 2020, while digital spend forecast to grow

Digital ad spend has seen a bit of a shift this year, with some reporting that it’s stabilising and others reporting a modest growth, but what is certain is that spend is moving away from traditional media. While these are US figures, it’s a pretty good indication of digital wordside.

IAB projection shows that buyers appear to be moving away from linear TV, OOH, radio, direct mail and print and directing more spend to digital channels. It appears some traditional channels are down more than 30%.

While this doesn’t bode well for traditional media channels, it indicates that online channels are still healthy and growing, despite all the upheaval in 2020. 

Bing’s new Webmaster Tool will help identify crawling issues 

Bing has announced that it has added a tester to its Webmaster Tools that will allow SEOs to analyse robots.txt files and highlights things that will hinder Bing from crawling the files properly. The tester also provides the ability to edit robots.txt files and can check for URL errors instantly. 

The functionality of the tester allows users to check the submitted URL against the content of the editor, which can provide immediate indication of errors, saving SEOs and site owners valuable time.

This is an important addition to their Webmaster Tools, because the required formats and syntax related to robots.txt is quite complex and can be hard to follow for many. The changes will help users identify problems faster and easily make appropriate changes.

Google’s next big algorithm change is expected in 2021

Although it’s not recent news, let’s not forget Google’s next official ranking factor change is coming in 2021. 

The new ranking factor called Core Web Vitals will join Google’s group of metrics called Page Experience signals, which include things like mobile friendliness, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitials (pop-ups and slide-ins). 

Core Web Vitals will look at real-world experience metrics, such as: How fast does the page load? How fast is it interactive? How fast is it stable? 

Moz’s Cyrus Shepard claims it is going to affect all regular search results, on both mobile and desktop, based on certain criteria. But he also points out that Core Web Vitals are going to become an important criteria to appear in Google Top Stories. These are the news results that usually appear at the top of the search results page.

Google uses hundreds of ranking signals, so the impact of a change like this is not always easy to gauge. However if your website is particularly poor at some of these metrics, then it could make a very big difference to you. 

Now is the time to start preparing for the proposed changes coming next year. If you’d like to find out how we can help you prepare, give one of our experts a call today