Well, we’re officially in the midst of the holiday season and before you know it, we’ll be ringing in the New Year. Before we break out the champagne and party hats, let’s take a look at the news stories that shaped the digital marketing landscape during the month of November.
PageSpeed Insights, now powered by Lighthouse
We all know the importance of pagespeed, but its importance was highlighted even more so this past summer when Google announced that it would factor into rankings on mobile search. But even before then, the company had a number of tools available for webmasters to test and track site performance. However, and in their own words, those tools would often deliver different recommendations because they were based on different data.
Not anymore, because the company announced in early November that their PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool is now powered by Lighthouse. According to Google, this will give developers the same audits and recommendations “on the web, from the command line and in Chrome DevTools.”
You can read more about how this changes things in the PSI FAQ at Google.
Google to let users leave comments on search results:
Google lets users comment on and review books, movie, restaurants, etc. but what about search results? Not quite. While there was a lot of news about Google opening up SERPs to comments and discussion, it turns out that these comments only apply to the sports answer box and only for live games.
In other words, if your favourite football teams are playing right now and there’s a box for it on the Google SERP, then you could potentially get into a spirited discussion with other users. Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz provided the France v. Crotia example, where you can see this for yourself if you click “More about this game” and then “Comments.”
It remains to be seen if this will be rolled out to all sports, all regions and, of course, other types of SERPs.
Google launches new hotel web search results pack
The Google SERPs for hotel-related queries just got a whole lot more attractive and user-friendly, especially for “hotels near me” (or similar). Previously, these queries led to a page that looked a lot like your standard “local results” SERP, but now they have received a facelift—of sorts.
It’s actually just quite similar to if you were to perform the same query in Google Maps, because you’re served a map filled with notations, prices, and of course a box to enter information for your upcoming stay. There’s also a pack of four hotels with the option to click and see the rest of the results.
Apparently this change was being tested earlier this summer, but now it looks like it’s here to stay. Go ahead, try it yourself.
Google search tests related videos query expansion feature
Another month, another expansion to the way Google serves search queries. This time, it was the team at SEMrush who spotted something new when performing a mobile search: two boxes for related videos. If this feature sounds familiar, that’s because it’s pretty similar to the “People also ask” block that delivers a batch of Q&A results related to the query.
🔎 We've detected something new in the #SERPS! #Google now shows related videos in the Videos block on mobile search 📱
Have you seen this before?@rustybrick @sejournal #SEO #mobileSEO pic.twitter.com/aTSuu7Rk14
— SEMrush (@semrush) November 21, 2018
This update is yet another change to the way people will experience and use Google Search, including what they actually search for and how often they click through one of the results.
We’ll keep an eye on this one and provide any updates in future roundups.
Facebook’s Portal and Portal+
Following the announcement of Portal and Portal+ in October, Facebook began shipping these smart video-calling products this past month in the U.S. They want to make video calls feel more organic and as if everyone is actually chatting in the same room.
In addition to other perks, the device utilises its smart camera to follow you as you move around during the conversation, pan out when more people are involved and even improve the sound quality of whoever is speaking at the time.
Facebook say they’re taking privacy very seriously with these products and that all of the calls made with Portal are encrypted and secure. Users may receive ads based on how they use the device, but not the content of the calls. Facebook gave the example of someone being served ads related to video calls based on them making a lot of calls.
You can learn more about the Portal privacy bits, including the ads users may actually see and how their information is (and isn’t) stored.
Instagram expand stories ads for brands to Facebook
After Instagram opened the doors for brands to advertise through its Stories feature, it was only a matter of time before Facebook did the same, right? Of course (especially given they’re part of the same company), and that time came in early November.
Instagram announced that advertisers could start using Facebook Stories as an additional placement as part of their existing Instagram campaign. This essentially makes for a more holistic ad experience for brands and better allows them to target users across the multiple platforms (most of whom reportedly use a Stories across three different apps).
Pinterest introduce new following tab updates for more discovery
After introducing the following tab this past March, Pinterest revealed several updates that aim to improve how users aka Pinners can scan “from idea to idea.” It’s all about providing them with more control over the experience, which means providing them with more options.
Pinners can now decide how they want to view Pins across their tabs and boards, including a chronological display, one that is crafted algorithmically, or a mix. This update coincides with the October’s Product Pins rollout, which streamlined the process of going from Pin-to-purchase on the platform. It also allows for single click-throughs and, as a result, more traffic to the original Pin creator’s website or other social platform.
You can read more about these changes to the following tab on Pinterest.
LinkedIn Pages to include Crunchbase insights
After revamping both the look and name of LinkedIn Company Pages—now known simply as Pages—the company is rolling out another update that goes beyond making it easier for businesses to communicate with users. Starting with LI members who have their language set to English, Pages will soon display information from Crunchbase to “integrate relevant funding insights and key investor information directly within a company’s LinkedIn Page.”
Essentially, this provides two groups of users with information to make better-informed decisions: job seekers and those who work in sales. Both groups may use the information they gather for different purposes, but they share a similar end-game: their decision to either pitch a company or apply for a job could hinge on how that company has been performing (which they’ll be able to see with the Crunchbase info).
Again, this info will only be available for English-language users in the coming weeks, but expect a global rollout in 2019.
Phone calls can now be counted as conversions through Google Ads
Google Ads account managers using location extensions in their copy have a new conversion metric that they can track—phone calls. Google rolled out this change in late November, when they revealed that calls through locations extensions can be tracked if you’re taking advantage of account-level call reporting.
As a default, calls are only counted as a conversion if they last for at least 60 seconds, though you’re free to change that time limit “based on your business goals,” according to Google. The company also added message reporting so you can see results based on chats initiated through Ads utilising the message extension.
If you’re looking to drive more calls to your business through Google, check out their guide.
The big debate – what’s your favourite Christmas ad this season?
With the Holiday season comes the annual, much anticipated Christmas commercials from some leading brands. But with that comes an even bigger debate: which is the best? Whether you’re after a heart-warming family story or a world-class sing-a-long, there’s always something for everyone. Which is your favourite?