Meta Smacked with EU Ad Fine

In another instance of the EU coming after Big Business (Meta in this case), they have slapped Meta with a $414m fine over their advertising practices – namely incorporating user consent for targeted ad practices within broader Terms of Service. This was found to go against the EU’s GDPR legislation.

Hooray! One side says “Meta can no longer track me”. Boo! Say they other side, “we can no longer generate targeted ads”. 

Okay, well. The sky is not falling quite yet. With all EU fines, there’s still a long way to go to actually change practices and impose fines. Meta can change its practices and avoid the fine, which it is likely to do, if it isn’t able to appeal first. Those changes will edge towards acceptance and we’ll all go round and round again. 

In the meantime, the costs of all this will be passed onto advertisers and ultimately to consumers. And as ads become less targeted, they’ll potentially get more generic, more desperate, more spammy and, does that really benefit users? I’m not so sure.

Keep a watching eye on the EU and Meta. Ad changes are coming and they will be less targeted than before, so you need to be ready with broader ads. Give me a shout about Paid Social Ads and using paid ads to drive sales. 

Google Ads Redundant Redundant Keywords Recommendations Changes

Google has decided to change the way its redundant Redundant Keywords Recommendations in Google Ads works. This switch is away from phrase and exact match recommendations to broad match recommendations and according to Google makes managing your account easier.

So, what used to be a recommendation to remove “ladies hats” if you had “ladies hat” as exact, or phrase now will switch to recommending you remove “women’s hats” if you have “ladies hats”. 

On the surface of it, these recommendations are useful, but when you dig into it, unless you are running very broad, large keyword campaign they are frankly redundant (see what I did there?). It is often better to keep an exact or phrase version in a campaign so you can get a feel for how it performs, and if you need to remove it, or modify the ad / copy that accompanies it. The other point about broad match is it’s great in theory, but Google’s synonym checker doesn’t always work as well as you might hope, and relying on it will leave holes in a campaign. 

Unless you trust Google, or are running very big, broad campaigns, I would keep ignoring Redundant Keyword suggestions, unless they make absolute sense to you. Let’s chat about PPC and paid ads. 

Nofollow Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

So recently, a webmaster wondered how a link which was “nofolllowed” showed up as a referring URL in Google Search Console’s “links that point to your site” section. 

In all the chatter, I’ve not seen anyone notice that “nofollow” applies to the passing of PageRank / or other value, but does NOT mean the Google will not crawl that target URL and index it. This is a very important reason why nofollow links can sometimes be useful. In a hypothetical situation, if you suddenly pick up 50 nofollow links from high-ranking websites, you will most likely get indexed and ranked, providing the links are editorial and not part of a scheme. That’s how PR / “buzz” works for new brands / crazes etc. 

I’ve also not seen anyone note that the GSC section where the link appears is not solely “nofollow” or in PageRank order, or anything really. It’s just a list of some URLs which point to your site. Google hasn’t given out any truly useful linking information since about 2005.

So, it’s important to actually understand how crawling, indexing and ranking actually work if you really want to do well on Google. Always remember that nofollow is a trust indicator. Contact me to discuss how crawling affects your SEO.

AI to take over search?

ChatGPT, based on Open AI, was all the rage last week as people tested out its recently released capabilities for content writing, essay answering, customer service and other assorted tasks. Naturally the forecast was doom and gloom, Google was set to Red Alert (apparently) and generally, the sky was falling. 

So, Microsoft’s little search engine Bing is supposedly jumping on the bandwagon and will be introducing features from ChatGPT in the near future to answer some queries directly rather than giving a series of links. 

Hmmmmm. At the moment, the content produced by these AI engines is useful for filler, or background stuff. It still needs a heavy edit and crafting, but it produces reasonably readable “decent” content. It’s not great however, and whether it’s quite prime time ready for search answers is up for grabs. Even Googles quick answers extracting content from pages is still hit and miss for a lot of queries.

It’s likely any AI generated search engine giving answers would end up on the blurry, generic side of correct, rather than an actual exact answer – for a lot of Customer Service chat bots that’s okay, but unbelievably annoying. For search results? I’m really not sure.

You should investigate the various AI platforms to identify where in your business they can streamline text / content production. Then talk to me about using AI for Digital Marketing.

Photos Help Local Reviews

The result of a small recent study was that Google Local reviews with photos tend to stay around longer and get more visibility than reviews without photos. 

I’d like to say I’m terrifically shocked, but I’m not, to be honest. Pictures always draw people in (1000 words and all that), even if text is the real driver of comprehension. So it’s no great surprise to find out they matter to the visibility of Local reviews. 

What this means is you should encourage users to give reviews using photos, of you, your business, its products. It’s a reasonable assumption to make that the more engaging a photo is, the longer the review will stay visible. If you’re not encouraging customers to give reviews, you should be. 

Talk to me about Local SEO, Google reviews and how I can help you stand out from the pack.