The end of the year is almost upon us, which we’re sure many people are really thankful for, as 2020 certainly hasn’t been the most progressive year for business growth.
However, November gave a glimmer of hope, especially for those who are in the e-Commerce sector, as Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales boomed to a record $9 billion across the web; up by 22% from 2019.
Without a doubt, this year the pressure is on for all businesses to adapt or adopt a digital model, which means keeping up with the ever-changing digital landscape is business-critical.
Whether you just want to keep your finger firmly on the pulse or learn about the changes you need to make to keep your site in favour with Google; we’ve rounded up everything you need to know from November 2020.
November brings with it a whole host of SEO updates from Google that could prove to help boost your online visibility well into the new year. And spoiler alert – there’s a ranking update in the mix, just to make 2020 extra interesting.
Google Launches Crawl Stats Report
In November 2020, Google announced the launch of a new crawl stats reports in Google Search Console.
The new report makes it easier for web developers, site owners, and SEO’s, to discover any issues with Google crawling the website.
Google has provided a clear breakdown with groups with the report so users can instantly see where crawl requests have faltered. The groups are broken down by;
- File type of the fetched URL
- Purpose of the crawl request
- Googlebot agent
Going one step further, hosting issues are also uncovered with this report, so Google can reveal why it had issues accessing your site.
Core Web Vitals Will Become a Ranking Factor
In your current SEO strategy, you may be heavily focused on keyword optimisation, mobile responsiveness and backlinks, but Google also looks at the on-page experience.
Google’s Core Web Vitals has been introduced as a way for site owners to ensure that the on-page experience is providing the optimum performance for users.
The Core Web Vitals were launched earlier in 2020, but now these Core Web Vitals will become a new set of ranking signals that will be rolled out by Google from May 2021.
As Google explains;
“These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and contribute to our ongoing work to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web.”
The trickiest part of this ranking update isn’t to make the on-page experience better. With the data we now have available thanks to Google, this should be part of any SEO strategy. However the crux of this ranking signal is the fact it’s drawn from a users experience, and this could change. Therefore Core Web Vitals could change from year to year, as user expectations of web pages change.
As frustrating as this ranking factor could become, it is without a doubt one that will truly separate those who have their heads in SEO, and those who are a little too lax on all things digital.
Google Expands My Business Pages
If you’ve been following our news updates each month, you will have noticed a trend this year – Google is heavily investing in their Google My Business feature.
As we’ve mentioned many times, if you haven’t already claimed your listing and started to keep it up to date – what are you doing?
Google My Business page has been continuously updated this year with more features that are helping businesses to reach their audience – especially for super localised small businesses.
Now in November, we’ve seen yet another update take place, as Google has now introduced the ability for users to message businesses through the app.
This update is two-fold.
Businesses will be able to see more analytics on how customers are finding them on Google – which is always a bonus.
And users will be able to message a business directly on Google Maps or on their Google My Business profile.
Once a business turns on messaging from their Business Profile, they can start to reply to customers.
Wondering what happens if you miss a message?
Incredibly, in addition to this new feature, searches will also have the prompt to send a message to the business if their call is not answered.
Yet again, Google My Business is growing in strength, and we wonder if this feature may eventually make websites redundant? Who knows. But what we do know is this app is one you need to be leveraging right now.
Google Provided Help to SMB’s
Small businesses have taken a serious hit during the coronavirus pandemic, and many tech companies have been trying to do their bit to support the small independents we all know and love.
In an effort to bring reinforcements, Google has launched a new Small Business Advisors program to help SMB’s grow during the current time.
The program is currently in beta but offers small businesses a 50 minute individualised consulting session on a range of Google products. From Google My Business to Ads, Analytics and YouTube.
At present this program is only offered to US SMB’s in its beta test, but we’re hoping this will be rolled out globally if deemed successful.
Oh, 2020 – have we not seen enough change already!
For some reason, in November, it seems like all the social platforms were up to some kind of radical change. To the point where Instagram even experienced a full-blown down day due to their updates, making the news across the world.
If social is where you keep up with your customers and promote your products, then there are some serious changes you may want to get familiar with.
YouTube Launches Audio Ads
The rise of the podcast is ever-growing, and this update from YouTube just goes to show it.
In November, YouTube announced they would be launching audio ads on their platform to help creators promote podcasts and music.
It may sound odd that a video platform is launching audio ads, but according to YouTube themselves, it appears we’re now consuming more audio content than before. Perhaps another covid related trend.
The ads themselves will be a very simple format. A voiceover will deliver a message while a still image or animation is displayed on the screen.
We’re certainly keen to see how this evolves.
Instagram Launches Keyword Searching
Keyword searching in Instagram used to be a difficult task, but it appears the social media giant has finally realised the power of search without the frustration of using hashtags.
From November, Instagram has added the ability to search for content with keywords.
According to an investigation by TechCrunch, users are now able to search for posts just using keywords that may appear in photo or video captions.
This is an interesting move from Instagram as it’s not clear how Instagram determines what a post is about without relying on hashtags. When questioned about the update, Instagram was very vague, saying;
“The search is limited to general interest topics and keywords that are within Instagram’s community guidelines.”
We know that social platforms don’t give much away about their algorithm, but this does the beg the question as to whether this is now opening the door to social SEO?
YouTube Shows Ads On Non-Monetized Videos
YouTube is making some unhappy creators over on their platform as it was recently discovered that they were showing ads on non-monetised channels.
In an update to the site’s terms of service, it stated that ads would be shown on channels that haven’t opted into monetisation.
Traditionally creators would have to join the YouTube Partner Program in order to allow ads to be shown on their channel.
Of course, the main benefit of this, was that opting into ads, was the revenue. Many creators publish on YouTube to earn a living.
However, non-monetised channels will not have the opportunity to earn any amount of money when YouTube starts to display ads on their channel – so you can imagine how much this has angered creators.
More frustratingly for these creators, many of them can’t join the YouTube Partners Program (YPP) due to the restrictions YouTube has put on the program. For example, you must have 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months and have more than 1,000 subscribers.
There has been a huge uproar about this from all creators, even those earning revenue in the YPP as they’re concerned about the overall impact this will have on the platform.
Instagram Boosts User Generated Ads
Users on Instagram often create better content around products than the brands themselves, and Instagram has realised this.
In an interesting update, Instagram is now letting advertisers create posts with user’s accounts.
Branded content ads were introduced last year as a way for influencers to clarify when their posts are sponsored by a company or brand.
When brands then wanted to use the Influencers content as an ad, it would require a lot of coordination between the influencer and the brand. The content would have to be published as an organic post first, and then the brand would go through Instagram to promote the post as an ad.
As you can tell, there was a lot of effort on both influencer and brand.
Now, with this new update, Instagram plans on improving the process.
Instagram will now allow advertisers to publish branded content ads without the need for influencers to create the organic post first.
Advertisers can send requests for ad creation access by going to Settings > Business > Branded Content > Request Ad Creation Access.
For those brands who use Instagram heavily for product promotion, this update will come with a sigh of relief. Less effort, more creation has arrived.