April 24ᵗʰ - 2019

Before we start with the news


Hi folks,

Got a month's worth of content in this newsletter so this is going to be a looooooooong one.

I have been using FOMO - a social proof service that pulls in profile pic for subscriber's (if they are publically avilable through sites like gravatar) and displays them on the site for visitors, it was brought to my attention that not eveyone will like that. Please reply to the email if you don't want to be shown and I will remove your profile from appearing. I will also update the welcome email to show this.

If you think any of your friends and colleagues in the digital marketing space will enjoy or benefit from these updates please do fwd this newsletter to them or better yet ask them to signup for it on tl;dr Marketing. 🤜🤛

Announcement
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AMP Stories To Get A Dedicated Section In SERP
twitter.com

Still, think AMP is not a ranking factor? Well, probably not in the traditional sense but a dedicated section on SEPR. Look at that result for AMPStories with a huge image, that bound to get the user's attention. I will take it any day over a ranking factor.

During ampconf Google announced that AMP Stories now appears in a dedicated section in search results for general queries such as "things to do in Tokyo". Will be launching in USA first.

SEO
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Bots Drove Nearly 40% Of Internet Traffic Last Year
thenextweb.com

Distil Networks today published its 2019 Bad Bot Report - email paywall, which looks at the current state of automated web traffic, both good and bad. The paper highlights some startling figures, including that bots accounted for 37.9 percent of all online traffic during 2018.

Surprisingly, 53.4 percent of all bad bot traffic comes from the United States, with the Netherlands, with 5.7 percent of all traffic, being the second most common country-of-origin.

Despite that, the most commonly IP-blocked countries are Russia and the Ukraine, highlighting the huge disparity in where people perceive attacks to originate from, rather than where they actually do.

General
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Study On What Features e-Commerce Sites Should Have In 2019
www.goinflow.com

This is a great list of things you might want to have on your eCommerce client's websites. Inflow does this study every year and this is the 2019 version. One big theme this year is consistent experience between your desktop and mobile site.

You can check out the spreadsheet here.

General
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Google Bug Temporarily Deindexes Sites
twitter.com

There is a bug in Google where some sites just drops out of the index when you search for it it will not show up. If you resubmit the site to be indexed in Search Console it comes back up.

This site was impacted by the bug. After Submitting it takes about 5-10 mins for the site to appear back in search. So if any of your clients have just lost all rankings (not moved down a few spots but gone completely), just resubmit the page to Google via Search Console or via the Indexing API.

SEO
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Rich Results And Ads Comes To Google Assistant On Android
www.blog.google

Google is adding more rich results to answers from your Google Assistant on Android. They have shared some before and after where we see how they are surfacing a lot more visually appealing results when you ask Google assistant a question. Also, if you look closely it looks like they will start showing ads in those results.

SEO
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Shortnames For AMB Profiles Starting To Rollout
twitter.com

Think of this as more than vanity URL's, this is an easy way to share your profile ( eg: https://g.page/BarbaraOliverJewelry ) and much better than a string of digits. Also, you can solicit reviews with a /review/ eg ( https://g.page/BarbaraOliverJewelry/review/ ). A short name has to be between 5-32 characters so basically, my attempt to claim "SEO" was a no go ;)

It's a gradual rollout so if it's not in you GMB dashboard, try after a while.

Some other points

  • AFAIK it's not available via the API yet.
  • Businesses will be able to change their short name, up to 3 times per year.
  • Short names have to be claimed individually per listing, no bulk claiming option yet.
  • more info
SEO
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Instagram Launches Shopping Checkout Feature Limited Beta
instagram-press.com

Instagram took its next step to becoming a full-fledged commerce business today, announcing that it is bringing a checkout feature to its mobile apps for customers in the USA. With checkout, you can store your payment information with Instagram to make purchases more quickly. In return, Instagram is charging retailers a selling fee.

Checkout tags will appear on feed posts, Stories and Explore content from the brands in the closed beta that Instagram plans to eventually open to more businesses. Brands in the beta include Nike, Adidas, Dior, H&M, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Uniqlo, Warby Parker, and Zara.

For now, only organic posts from the launch partner merchants will feature Checkout buttons, and ads aren’t eligible. Items eligible for in-app checkout now have a big blue “Checkout on Instagram” button below them. Tap it and you’ll be asked to provide your email address so that the seller can complete your order. From there, you enter your delivery information and payment method, and after reviewing your details you can place the order.

Merchants will only get the details necessary to fulfill an order, including contact info and address, but not your actual payment info. Users will see an opt-in option to share their email address with the seller for marketing purposes.

Users can pay with PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover.

Social Media
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Social Warfare WordPress Plugin Exploited In The Wild
www.wordfence.com

A stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability was discovered on the popular WordPress plugin Social Warfare. The plugin has an active install base of over 70,000 sites. The flaw allows attackers to inject malicious JavaScript code into the social share links present on a site’s posts.

This patch is now available in version 3.5.3, it's highly recommended you update it.

General
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You Can Now Remove Sitemaps From The New Search Console
twitter.com

Google has been slowly adding more and more features to the new Search Console. Looks like the basic functionality of removing an existing sitemap is now added to the new Search Console interface. Some of the other features include: - Opening the sitemap content in a new tab - Deleting a sitemap - Reviewing granular details for sitemaps with errors - Presenting RSS and Atom feed sitemaps

SEO
Testing And Debugging JavaScript Sites For Search
www.youtube.com

Google's Martin's latest post about JavaScript and SEO, this is the video on testing and debugging JavaScript sites for Search. He talks about using Mobile-Friendly Test, Search Console, Lighthouse etc. Also there is another one on Make your Angular web apps discoverable. More of these will go up here: Google Webmasters' SEO Javascript Series. Do you folks want me to add these here as they go up OR are you happy to see it in the playlist? Just hit reply and let me know.

SEO
Oops.. Google Forgot To Tell Us They Stopped Using rel=prev/next For Years
twitter.com

So it would appear that Google was not using rel=prev/next for years and decided to remove it from their documentaion.

For the uninitiated rel next/prev was a meta tag that used to signal the relationship between paginated pages, it was the recommended way to signal to Google and other search engines that the page is a part of a series.

Google is NOT asking you to use infinite scroll pages or anything like that. They feel that Googlebot is smart enough to find your next page by looking at the links on the page, they don't need an explicit "rel prev, rel next" meta tag to pick it up.

SEO
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Google Image Search Tests Article Slide In Feature
www.seroundtable.com

A new layout for Google Image search on mobile is letting you drag up the article the image is sourced from. In the example Google lets you drag up the Verge article from the bottom of the image preview screen.

SEO
Mobile Friendly And AMP Tests Tool Now Supports Code Editing
twitter.com

In Mobile Friendly Tool or AMP Tests Tool you can now drop HTML code instead of passing a URL to test if the code validates. Great little feature when you are debugging things.

I wish they gave you the ability to drop a URL, fetch the code and THEN gives you the ability to edit the code and re-test. Sadly that is not possible.

SEO
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Intelligent Answers Visual Search And More Gets Updated On Bing
blogs.bing.com

Bing has pushed out some updates to its Text-to-speech, Intelligent answers and Visual search offering.

For example, instead of the relatively simple answer to ‘what is the capital of Bangladesh’, Bing can now provide answers to more complex questions, such as ‘what are different types of lighting for a living room’, quicker than before.

SEO
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Add Keywords To Existing Campaigns And More Coming To The New Google Ads UI
searchengineland.com

The next time you log into Keyword Planner in Google Ads, you’ll see an announcement of several new features. Some of these updates are older features (“Add to existing campaign” is one) just now getting added to the new Google Ads UI.

  1. More seeds – You can now enter up to 10 seed keywords when searching for new ideas
  2. Keyword trends – View or download trends for individual keyword ideas
  3. Grouped ideas – View keywords by theme or add the set as an ad group
  4. Save an idea to an existing campaign – Add a new keyword idea to a campaign you already created
  5. Suggested budget – Get a suggested daily budget based on the max CPC bid and forecasted cost
  6. Competition value column – Get granular competition ranking across keyword ideas
Paid Media
Google Is Retiring The info: Search Operator
webmasters.googleblog.com

In a recent blog post, Google softly mentioned that they are retiring the info: search operator. This was a great command to check what Google considers to be the canonical URL for any given page.

Thankfully you can still check this by entering your page’s address into the URL Inspection tool within Search Console and it will show you the Google-selected canonical, even if they are from properties you don't manage in Search Console.

TL;DR: now you can only see the Google assigned canonical from domains you have access from search console, previously they were just an info: command away.

SEO
Google Ads Editor V1 Replaces AdWords Editor
support.google.com

Looks like the Google Ads rebrand has caught up with the Adwords Editor, it's now called Google Ads Editor and v1 was just announced. This supports things like cross-account management, improved design and usability and more.

Paid Media
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Google Tests Showing Icons For Various Segments Of Search
brodieclark.com

Google is testing new search menu icons for images, top story, local results and more. I have not seen them personally so it's probably an A/B test at this stage.

SEO
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AI Powered AMP Stories Comes To Google Arts Culture Content
twitter.com

Back in Sep last year Google announced more visual content in search and one of the features was using AI to intelligently construct AMP stories and surface this content in Search, it looks like that feature is now live with Google Arts&Culture content.

SEO
Can Google Really Take Credit For A Faster Web
webmasters.googleblog.com

Google says that since it made page speed as a ranking factor for mobile searches in 2018 they have noticed performance improvements for many pages across the web.

  • On a per country basis, more than 95% of countries had improved speeds.
  • For the slowest one-third of traffic, we saw user-centric performance metrics improve by 15% to 20% in 2018
  • a 20% reduction in abandonment rate for navigations initiated from Search
  • developers ran over a billion PageSpeed Insights audits to identify performance optimization opportunities for over 200 million unique URLs. ( I like to think SEO's played a part here ;) )
General
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Google Has Added User Reviews For Music Albums
twitter.com

Looks like Google users can start leaving reviews for music albums, they used to have a 👍 and 👎 rating system. Google used to offer user-generated reviews for Movies and TV shows. Looks like they are adding reviews for more and more verticals. Events, Books, Recipes what will be next?

SEO
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Bing Ads Launches Action Extensions
advertise.bingads.microsoft.com

Action Extensions allows you to highlight a clear call-to-action on your text ads to entice customers to immediately click and drive them to your website. Customers who have used this appears to have seen a 20% increase in CTR.

Action Extensions are available in all Bing Ads markets on both PC and mobile devices. Advertisers across many verticals can leverage up to 70 pre-defined Action Extensions in all Bing Ads supported languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), Dutch, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Danish, Finnish, and Norwegian). More info here

Paid Media
Google Ads API V1.1 Is Now Available
ads-developers.googleblog.com

With this version, you’ll continue pointing to v1 as your endpoint; however, you'll need to update your client libraries in order to use v1_1 features. They also have a bunch of new features compared to the older AdWords API.

Paid Media
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Google Tests Customer Testimonials As Google Post
twitter.com

In some countries, Google My Business now provides suggested posts to help you showcase positive reviews. These posts are automatically suggested based on 4 or 5-star reviews recently left for your business.

More Info

SEO
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Custom Audiences Using Select DMP Partners Comes To Bing Ads
advertise.bingads.microsoft.com

Custom Audiences allows you to remarket to your existing customers with messaging customized for each customer segment — platinum-level customers, loyalty program customers, highest lifetime-value customers, newsletter subscribers — or even customers you want to avoid targeting and exclude.

Advertisers in all Bing Ads markets except the European Union, Norway and Switzerland can now bring their own first-party customer data onto Bing Ads to target with Custom Audiences, using one of thie data management platform (DMP) partners: Adobe Audience Manager, LiveRamp and Oracle BlueKai.

Custom Audiences can only include your own first-party data, collected directly from your customers — for example, data that you collected from your own website or apps — to target on the search network. Buying or leasing third-party data to use in creating Custom Audiences isn’t permitted.

You can use Custom Audiences in both Bing Ads online and the Bing Ads API. Pilot participants saw up to 18% higher click-through rates (CTR).

Paid Media
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Vacation Rentals From Partners Are Now In Google Hotel Search
www.blog.google

In addition to standard hotel accommodations, users will be able to filter and browse through short-term rentals via a variety of partners including Expedia, HomeAway, Hotels.com, NextPax, RedAwning, Rentals United, TripAdvisor, VRBO and more right on Google Hotel Search. This is already available on mobile and will be coming to the desktop next month.

I am assuming Airbnb won't be too happy about this.

SEO
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ASOS Did A Boo Boo In SEO Plus Other Things And Profits Plunge 87%
www.bbc.com

To stay competitive, the retailer launched 200 localised microsites - smaller sites which perform alongside its main website - which had a negative effect on Asos' search engine rankings, there are rumors flying around saying they had some technical issues with hreflang implentation, etc. And SEOs are having a field day with it - 2.

SEO
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Discover Feed Stats Comes To Some Search Console Accounts
support.google.com

Discover feed shows users a mix of content based on their interactions with Google products or content that they choose to follow directly.

The Performance report for Discover feed shows important metrics about how your site performs in Discover. This report will only be visible if your property has reached a minimum threshold of impressions in Discover.

SEO
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Google Rolling Out Real URL For Cached AMP Pages On Chrome
blog.cloudflare.com

Usually, an AMP page served from Google’s cache has a URL starting with https://google.com/amp/ this can be incredibly confusing for end users. Starting today, when you use Google Search and click on an AMP link, the browser (only Chrome for now) will display the publisher’s real URLs instead of an “http//google.com/amp” link. Over time, the hope is they will expand it to other areas of the search results page including the “Top Stories” news area at the top of the page.

They use signed exchanges (mozilla considers this to be outright harmful for the open web) with digital signatures to make this happen.

Publishers will have to do a bit of extra work, and publish both signed and un-signed versions of their stories. Cloudflare users will find a new section on the Speed tab of your Cloudflare dashboard that will allow you to take advantage of this in a few clicks.

SEO
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google-speakr User Agent Is Now Called google-Read-Aloud
www.seroundtable.com

Looks like Goole has renamed their google-speakr UserAgent, you might start seeing that as google-Read-Aloud. This user-agent is used when Google Go fetches a page to make sure it has the most up-to-date information before it translates it to read aloud.

SEO
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Buy Tickets Feature Enabled In Local Panel For Business
blumenthals.com

Google has turned on their Reserve relationship with Trip Advisor allowing consumers to purchase tickets directly from the Business Profile (aka Knowledge Panel).

When the Buy Tickets button is clicked you are brought to an e-commerce interface allowing you to select the date, the type and number of tickets and then asked to pay with Google Pay. If you don’t have a Google Pay credit card set up yet, you are then directed to do so.

Unlike, the Reserve scheduling tools for spas, this completes the whole transaction from scheduling to the purchase for TripAdvisor and the venue directly on and within Google.

BUT at times Google gets it wrong and apprenlty, there is no option for the business to turn off this feature.

According to the Help files, to turn off bookings you need to “Contact your scheduling provider to remove online bookings through Google”.

SEO
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Linked In Adds More Reaction Options
techcrunch.com

LinkedIn has introduced four new reactions people can use in response to posts in their timelines. In addition to “like,” you can now react in four other ways to posts with icons that indicate “celebrate,” “love,” “insightful” and “curious.”

Social Media
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Google Search Console Performance Report Gets Android App Filter
www.seroundtable.com

Do you have an Android App associated with your website? In Search Console you can now see the app's clicks, impressions, CTR, and position with a separate search appearance in the Performance report.

SEO
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AMP Stories Support Comes To WordPress AMP Plugin
github.com

A new ALPHA version of the AMP plugin for WordPress supports the creation of AMP Stories. This works best with the latest version of the Gutenberg plugin and WordPress 5.2 Beta.

General
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Instagram May Hide Like Counter
techcrunch.com

In a move that will infuriate influencers, Instagram is considering hiding like counts on posts according to a hidden feature uncovered int he app's source code. The message that will show up for users who will be a part of this test reads as follows:

We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shared a post will see the total number of likes it gets.

Social Media
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by Saijo George






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