It’s all change again – no we’re not talking about the kids being back at school, or more COVID-19 rule changes – we’re talking about the constant SEO and marketing fluctuations that keep the digital world turning.
Without these constant updates, the internet would not be the useful place we know it to be.
In September it felt like a shift was coming. Maybe it was just the optimism of the children being out from under our feet, or the fact a new season arrived, but as ever there is always so much more to learn as new changes come and go.
Wherever your business sits right now online, these are the SEO and marketing updates that can keep you ahead of the competition and ensure your visibility remains strong despite the coronacoaster.
In September it appears there has been a big push from Google in regards to eCommerce updates. This is not surprising with so many more businesses turning to online trading and with the festive season just around the corner.
For those of you running an eCommerce website, the season is now, as more people are shopping online, and the big Christmas rush will soon be commencing.
Do your work now on the seasons ahead so that you can thrive in the new online-first world we’re moving into.
The Local Trust Pack Launches
Local search just gained VIP status as Google has now launched the local trust pack, which gives local providers a green tick next to their service.
Just like the blue verified tick we see across profiles on social media, we have all become accustomed to seeing the tick as a big sign of trust and credibility.
With this in mind, Google has now launched a green tick on local services meaning your business can gain further trust on its Google My Business profile.
With the green tick next to your product or service you could see the phone ringing much more than your competitors.
Of course, Google isn’t going to make this an easy win. That’s not the point of Google. They’re looking to offer the best service to their users.
To gain the Google Guarantee or Screened badge, as it’s being called, you must undergo personal background checks, provide business documentation, such as insurance, certifications and other credentials in your industry.
And as ever with a coveted tick, this isn’t handed out quickly. Gaining a Google Guarantee can take weeks or months in some cases. Plus of course, there is no guarantee that after the process you will be awarded your green tick.
However, in our eyes, the process is well worth it as you’re able to boost your Google My Business profile, and truly stand out from other service providers in your local area.
Furthermore, those with a Google Guarantee have the ability to create Local Services Ads, an ad feature that is rarely used by service providers.
Without a doubt, this new trust pack launch is an interesting turn of events for Google and makes it feel even more like Google My Business is becoming a glorified business directory.
Nearby Arrives on Google Shopping
Let’s be honest, for most of our online shopping if we can collect from store and avoid shipping charges we do it. Those shipping charges can be expensive, plus there’s the pain of it arriving when you’re not home.
The fact is, this is increasing around the world, with data from Adobe’s Digital Economy Index revealing that “buy online, pick-up in store” grew by 250% since August last year.
The survey also revealed that 30% of us would now prefer to buy online and collect from the store.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Google itself has also reported a large rise in the search queries with terms such as ‘curbside pick-up’.
With all the data heading in the same direction, it’s no surprise that Google has now updated their shopping feature with a ‘nearby filter’, and labels for ‘instore pick-up’.
For example, if a user searches for a ‘mountain bike’ they will see the usual search listings; however, if they click on the shopping tab in Google they can then filter by ‘Nearby’. This feature will then provide the user with local listings that have these items in stock.
While this change may seem small, it’s a big nod towards how users are currently behaving and what they need.
If you’re an eCommerce website, these updates will make a big impact on your sales, and thinking about adding vital information such as in-store collection and stock quantities could help increase sales during this time.
Another Google Bug
Has Google got a case of COVID-19? – We’re starting to think so with the amount of bugs that have been reported over the past two months.
Yet again, in September there have been some unidentified changes in Google which have sent the rankings slipping and sliding all over the place.
On Friday 11th September Google confirmed that an indexing issues had lasted for four hours. In particular the problem was with content being shown in the Top Stories feature.
If you’re used to having content in this feature then you may have seen some big ranking drops occur on Friday.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only issue Google seems to be having trouble with, as the Search Console Index Coverage report is still taking much longer than usual to be displayed.
At present, the advice appears to be – keep calm and carry on.
Google My Business Adds Health & Safety
Continuing to make its Google My Business health and safety feature useful to both businesses and users, Google has now introduced a health and safety notification on all profiles.
As a business, you can now go onto your Google My Business profile and reveal the health and safety measures you are taking around COVID-19. You can label if your business now requires appointments only, masks and if your customers will get temperature checks.
Many businesses may be wondering what took Google so long to add this, but now the feature has arrived, we would recommend updating your profile with as much information as possible to assure your customers that you are open and operating under the current health and safety guidelines.
Putting Google down for a moment, September has also seen some major shockwaves in the realm of digital marketing as social platforms gather to support businesses and compete to stay relevant.
With more of us online now due to the current pandemic, it appears our attention is now shorter than ever, and all the channels must compete to get us to stay engaged.
Facebook Business Hub Arrives
If you run a Facebook Business Page, plus an Instagram page and Messanger, you will be relieved to know that Facebook is finally bringing everything under one management tool.
The Facebook Business Hub will now be the one stop shop where you can post across all three platforms, plus manage ads and gain insights.
The tool will be available on mobile and desktop allowing those managing multiple platforms to see all critical alerts in one place, and manage all activity.
To get full access to the Facebook Business Hub you will first have to ensure all of your accounts are connected and linked on Facebook.
TikTok Not Banned Yet
It was all a bit touch and go for TikTok as the chinese brand were almost banned from the US.
On September 20th, President Donaled Trump signed an executive order to ban the social media app from the USA after the president believed it posed a national threat to US security.
However, TikTik may now be purchased by a collection of US companies, meaning it’s ban may be lifted.
The details of the current proposal have been published by TikTok across social media, revealing that US companies Oracle and Walmart are all in talks to take shares in a new TikTok Global.
YouTube Tries to Compete with TikTok
With all the heat around TikTok, it looks like YouTube might be getting a little jealous!
In September YouTube announced that they would be launching YouTube Shorts, a new short-form video experience for creators and artists.
However, from glimpses of the beta-test in India, many are claiming that this is YouTube’s foray into trying to compete with the growing giant of TikTok.
With YouTube Shorts creators will be able to;
- Create and upload videos of 15 seconds or less
- Edit videos with an array of creative tools
- Stitch shorter clips together
- Add music to videos from YouTube’s Library
Once a ‘Short’ is published, the video will appear in a carousel on the YouTube homepage.
The new feature is currently in beta-test in India, but we will wait with bated breath to see how it’s official launch kicks off.
As it stands currently, YouTube has more active monthly users than TikTok which means it could quickly dominate the short video market.