April 2019 Digital Roundup

John Nixon
Reading time: 6 minutes
8th May 2019

The digital marketing world experienced a rocky beginning to the month of April when a bug caused Google to delist URLs from its search results. No one knows how widespread the issue was, but thankfully the problem was eventually fixed. While everyone cooled off from that, Google continued to dominate the search news cycle. And in the social media landscape, we have some big stories from four different platforms including one that’s trying to regain some momentum. Let’s get into it.

SEO stories

More images showing up in Google search results

It would appear that images are showing up more often and higher in the Google SERPs than ever before, according to a study by the team at seoClarity. After analysing data from this past February through April, they found that images appeared in the top 10 search results with a 34 percent occurrence—an increase of 10 percent overall.

Image: Google

Perhaps even more interesting, these same images are showing up in the top 3 positions almost 50 percent of the time. This is a significant change to the SERPs, and it’s one that remains open to interpretation as of this writing because Google hasn’t given an official response just yet. If nothing else, take this as a sign that you need to make sure your site’s images are optimised.

If you want to learn more about these changes, head over to seoClarity to read their study.

Google Search Console adds new Discover report

Google is making it easier for webmasters to track another potential branch of traffic with the new Discover report in Search Console. Discover launched in 2017 as a way to provide mobile users with relevant, up-to-date articles on the Google homepage. So, rather than needing to enter queries or even visit other websites, you’re served sites that may be of interest to you based on past usage.

Image: Google

And now, if you’re a webmaster using GSC, you can see specifically what Discover means for your website traffic. The report shows how often a site is served to users, top performing content, and whether there’s a difference between Discover and typical search results.

Of course, the report is only useful is a site actually shows up in Discover. It also only shows data going back to March 2019, so this report will only become more useful over time.

Google testing new version of Googlebot for rendering

Image: Google

Google was recently spotted testing a new version of Googlebot that can render the same type of content as the modern Chrome browser. That’s according to DeepCrawl, whose team have been “watching the features that Google’s renderer supports.” And in doing so, they came to the conclusion that the search giant must be using an updated renderer.

As pointed out at Search Engine Roundtable, there has been speculation about this change to GoogleBot’s renderer for more than six months. The only thing is, no one at Google will necessarily outright confirm whether this is true or not, nor will they say when the renderer will properly go into effect.

For now, you can play the waiting game while reading the full report on this news at DeepCrawl.

(Note: Just as we were publishing this post, Google revealed that Googlebot’s rendering service is the same as the current version of Chrome.)

Google fixes indexing bug

Google accidentally de-indexed a bunch of URLs from its index in early April, which understandably caused a huge uproar in the SEO and webmaster community. The company was quick to acknowledge the problem—and apologise for it—as they worked to fix the issue over the course of several days, though the damage had obviously already been done.

Image: Google

As you can imagine, the uproar was due to the fact that sites were losing traffic and potentially revenue as a result of not appearing in the SERPs. The actual impact of this delisting issue isn’t known because no one knows just how many pages were delisted and for how long, but hey, at least the bug got squashed, right?

Paid stories

Instagram influencer posts to become “shoppable”

Instagram announced at the end of April that they’re opening the “shoppable” post floodgates to influencers. Previously, only brand accounts were able to publish shoppable posts that allowed users to purchase items directly on the social media platform.

Image: Google

But starting in early May, there’s a long list of influencers who will be able to do the same. They include members of the Kardashian-Jenner clan and several notable fashion-leaning publishers, and Instagram sees this move as a “yet another important step in our shopping journey.” Of course, the businesses selling the products in the influencers’ posts must be part of the platform’s checkout beta for the process to work.

Image: Google

You can read more about this news at Instagram’s blog.

Snapchat adds new AR and gaming features

In the same month, it was predicted to continue losing users, Snap Inc. revealed new augmented reality (AR) and gaming features for Snapchat. The AR additions are varied and thusly provide different ways for users to interact with real-world images they’re viewing through their camera. For example, the Landmarkers feature allows users to apply animated imagery (think rainbows and pizza) to some of the finest feats of construction in the world, including the Eiffel Tower and Buckingham Palace.

Image: Adweek

As for the new “Snap Games” platform, it contains a batch of original games that are mostly made for users to play with and against one another. They all launch directly from the Chat bar, so they’re not separate downloads that require any further installation.

Could these new features provide Snap with the boost it needs? We’ll have to wait and see.

Quora announces Google Tag Manager integration, launches podcast

The increasingly popular Q&A platform Quora is joining the big boys of social media by integrating with Google Tag Manager through its own Pixel. For anyone using the Facebook Pixel, you’ll find a lot of similarities with how the Quora Pixel works when it comes to tracking data and targeting audiences. In other words, it makes advertisers’ lives a bit easier.

Image: Google

To coincide with the Pixel news, Quora also announced its own new weekly business podcast called Grow With Quora. According to the site, the episodes “will provide fresh perspectives from advertisers, content marketers, agencies, and brands using Quora.” Grow With Quora is already underway and you can listen to the first few episodes now on platforms like iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Facebook ad revenue continues to grow

As part of the first quarter 2019 earnings call, Facebook revealed that advertising revenue and usage is steadily growing on a year-to-year basis. Compared to Q1 2018 figures, the company saw ad revenues increase by 26 percent to $14.9 million. A whopping $13.9 million (or 93 percent) of that total came from mobile ads alone, which also saw a 30 percent increase year-over-year.

Image: Google

These impressive earnings come at a time when Facebook has announced plans to become more privacy-focused after facing issues related to security and privacy. While advertisers will, of course, have to adapt to these changes and how they impact targeting and audience building, CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t believe this shift toward privacy will hurt Facebook’s ad revenue. “It will strengthen people’s privacy without meaningfully affecting our business,” he said.

As always, we’ll stay on top of these changes and report on them in forthcoming digital roundups.

Written By John Nixon
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