Digital Marketing 2019. All-year updates

And here we are!

The end of another glorious year.

There’s no denying that we have seen, heard and experienced a bunch of surprises this year.

There has been a LOT of changes and updates.

Below is the list of major amends across Digital platforms and functions.

SEO

Zero click searches are on the rise

Google displays answers to search queries in the SERP itself.

You get what you are looking for without “clicking” any site.

This is a zero-click search.

According to a survey, over 49% of Google Q1 searches were Zero click searches.

Bing introduces Domain Connect

You can verify your site on Bing using 3 options;

XML file, Meta tag, adding CNAME record.

This new method makes verification easier with the help of DNS.              

Google to roll out “badge of shame” for slow-loading websites

slow loading sites

Chrome may address and highlight websites that load slowly.

It is considering displaying a message like the below to users.

Bing allows site verification via Google Search Console

This would help site owners save time by skipping verification through importing.

Bing, although small compared to Google is still the world’s 2nd largest search engine.

And hence this feature would those who want to submit their site as well as run Bing ads.

Google changes “Nofollow” status from directive to hint

The search engine giant till now used to comply the rules specified by webmasters in the Nofollow tag.

Not anymore.

It is up to Google to obey this tag henceforth.

Google introduces Rel =”sponsored” and rel=”UGC”

Rel=”sponsored” tag is to identify links for which some form of payment is involved such as classic purchased links, referrals etc.

Rel=”UGC” is for user-generated content.

Search console provides same-day data

Search Console now has the ability to return fresher data in the Search Performance report.

Including same day.

This would help in

-Checking if traffic is rebounded after fixing a glitch

-Checking site stats any time

-Weekend performance as soon as possible

Google rolls out BERT

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

This is a huge update that helps Google understand query contexts better.

Keywords Everywhere” to be  paid tool

Due to bot activity and difficulty in controlling API usage, this amazing tool was made a paid one.

New snippets introduced: nosnippet max-snippet, max-video-preview, max-image-preview

Using this tag, you can now control which text should and should not appear in the featured snippet on SERP.

Moz launches Domain analysis SEO tool

The features cannot be compared to the paid tool but you’ll get a high-level look at a range of SEO metrics for your site.

Including your competitors’ sites.

To identify potential SEO opportunities.

Google tests search results without URLs

Only the website name will be displayed in the SERP.

This is in testing stages, but you can start to work on how this would affect your site.

Search console adds new reports for video search results

Visible in the left side under “Videos” for sites that have added video mark up.

These would be

Video Enhancement report – shows errors and warnings

Video Appearances in Performance report – Clicks and impressions videos got in search

Google stops indexing flash content

This includes not only websites fully designed on Flash but also those that have small portions of it.

You should work on HTML5 or Javascript as a replacement.

Google launches new SEO series for beginners

Topics covered here include

How Google Search works

FAQs

How to set website goals

Snippets among others.

Bing announces link penalties

Inorganic site structures will mainly be penalized here.

Includes PBNs (Private Block Networks), doorways, duplicate content etc

If a huge portion of the subdomain is spam, then this also will be penalized.

Messages – new Search Console feature

messages in search console

These messages can be checked through the bell icon located in the top right-hand corner.

PPC

Google Ads Overview page filters can be applied

filters in ad overview

You can apply filters like

Campaign

Campaign type

Device

Ad group etc

Bing Ads renamed as Microsoft Advertising

As part of restructuring, this new name is a signal from Microsoft towards a superior data-driven service.

Google Merchant center updates:

Automated feeds – Merchant Centre can crawl your websites for schema structured product data and extract it into an initial feed.

Automatic image improvements – promotional text in images will automatically be removed

Google to remove “accelerated ads” delivery method

google ads delivery methods

Google Ads had 2 options to deliver your ads.

Standard – it will spread your ad throughout the day

Accelerated – your ad rotation on search will be higher, faster. You will consume your budget quickly.

Only the standard delivery option will be available now.

Google removes the average ad position metric

Average Ad position, if you know is an order, not location.

It could be anywhere on the page.

This is now phased out as more accurate metrics are rolling in.

Changes in phrase match and broad match modifier

Earlier only misspellings and plurals were part of these two matches.

Now closely related words and synonyms will also be included.

You can read my post on all google ads keyword match types.

Creation of affinity audience in search

These are people that have shown interest in a particular topic.

This list is created with the help of browsing history, pages visited, etc.

Audience expansion tool

This is for display ads.

You can grow your display campaigns by reaching out to newer prospects similar to the users you’re already targeting.

Campaign level conversions

Earlier, there was no specific way to assign conversions to specific campaigns.

This new conversion metric will help in the optimization.

Introduction of lead gen forms extension

google ads lead form

You know about the different types of Google Ad extensions.

Like

Call extension

Sitelink extension

Location extension etc.

A new lead generation extension will now be added to the above list.

Which would be helpful in getting leads from search ads itself.

Bumper Ads

These are the six-second ads that play before YouTube videos.

If you have videos less than 90 seconds, then you can create these ads.

According to Google, these ads perform better than a single 30-second ad.

Gallery Ads

A brand new mobile-based ad type.

Images are gaining prominence more than ever.

Gallery Ads use image carousels with a brief description at the bottom.

ANALYTICS

New app + web property

Google analytics new property

Google Analytics will now provide data on both website and App data.

This has a new sets of reports with new look and feel.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook unveils new logo

Facebook new logo

Representing clarity, trust and optimism, the new logo is intended to distinguish Facebook even further.

A forward step from all the data privacy and security issues.

Quora to test lead gen forms for advertisers

A new Zapier integration is designed to bring leads.

Users will see the form after clicking on sponsored content with a CTA.

The test is running on both mobile and desktop.

Instagram launches Reels in Brazil.

As a competitor to TikTok, Reels is a 15-second video feature that can be edited with music.

Hashtags can be used to promote.

Snap introduces 3d effects for selfies

snap 3d on selfie

Available on iPhone X and above.

This feature adds depth to the photos taken.

The resulting photos change in appearance depending on how the phone is held.

snapchat 3d photo

YouTube to sell artists merchandise below videos

Youtube shopping ads

This is a collaboration of YouTube with Merchbar.

Artists with an official YouTube channel can promote merchandise like apparel below their videos.

Orders need to be completed via Merchbar.

LinkedIn creates new targeting tools:

Audience forecasting – understand more about target audience

-Precision targeting – reach more targeted people

Enhanced reporting – more metrics and data for analysis

YouTube to display shopping ads on home feed & Search results

Helpful during the holiday season, users will now see shopping ads on the home feed and during searches.

Shopping ads will be customised to individual users.

TikTok crosses 500 million users

With over 650 million downloads in 2018 and with a 6% increase this yes, TikTok is one of the highest downloaded app globally.

Reddit rolls out mobile landing pages

When users land on Reddit’s mobile platform, they will be redirected to a website where the ad continues to play uninterrupted.

Instagram phases out “following” feature

This Instagram feature apparently has been around since 2011.

This was removed to make the app as easy-to-use as possible.

Facebook to start hiding “like” counts on posts

Likewise, Facebook also started testing hiding “like” counts.

Snapchat extends video ads length from 10 sec to 3 min

Marketers can share longer stories now.

Users have the option to avoid it but this is also an opportunity for engagement.

LinkedIn creates user-verification skills

linkedin skill assessments

A new skill-assessment test from LinkedIn for users to add a badge.

Professionals can now validate their skills and have them on display on their profiles.

Pinterest adds shoppable pins to visual search

An advancement through Pinterest Lens capabilities.

The toll can now identify over 2 billion (that’s right) fashion products.

Users now save photos from their Lens searches and turn them into a Pin.

Twitter rolls out Hide-reply feature

The objective here is to get rid of offensive or trolling comments altogether.

And have more transparent conversations.

This is targeted to US and Japan.

Then worldwide, eventually.

New feature Boomerang on Instagram

Boomerang allows users to endlessly loop a video backwards and forwards.

Click here to check on how to use it.

Twitter creates 6 second video ad bids

This is to encourage more short-timed ads.

Ad bidding is on a cost-per-completed-view basis.

Short mobile ads have known to trigger emotional response.

Despite the lack of time.

Facebook ventures into Cryptocurrency

Called Libra, this will be Facebooks’ own currency.

Current plans to roll out in 2020.

Pinterest launches Pinterest shop for small business

17 different small businesses are currently listed here.

Businesses that make and sell unique goods and have uploaded their product catalogs to Pinterest.

Products are then converted into Pins.

Twitter closing accounts inactive for more than 6 months

Dormant accounts will first receive an email.

Lack of response for this would result in account closure.

Facebook launches tool to preview playable ads

This tool allows marketers to check an ad’s call-to-action implementation before uploading it to Facebook.

They can also test and validate Playable Ads before campaign creation.

TikTok to advertise users on other apps

This is an opportunity to reach users outside of the TikTok platform

A way to earn revenue through a native audience network.

LinkedIn creates central hub

This is mainly to gain marketing insights.

This would provide detailed information on audience, industry verticals etc.

YouTube will show abbreviated subscriber counts

The full count will be visible privately.

Ex: 6,238 subscribers will be displayed as 6.2k.

Facebook creates automated lead gen in Messenger

In Messenger, users go through an automated series of questions that can be answered with pre-filled or free form responses.

You can create high-quality leads at a lower cost than phone and have better engagement.

Facebook introduces dating app in US

The app is called Facebook Dating.

It displays a card of other opted members.

Your current Facebook personal friends will be excluded.

Snapchat adds DoubleVerify as safety feature

DoubleVerify is already partnered with Facebook & Instagram to provide viewability measurement.

This is a single platform to monitor viewability and ad fraud.

Twitter cancels political advertising

For the reason that political ads are risky with the challenges involved, Twitter has canceled these ads.

Facebook introduces 3 new ad reporting tools

These are:

Cross-Account Report

This provides metrics from multiple ad accounts in a single place.

Conversion Path Report

Multiple interactions that a customer undergoes before making a purchase can be tracked here.

Custom metrics

Custom metrics can be created across all reports.

Other Digital Marketing updates include:

Over 100 million people in the USA  use voice assistant

Google GO available worldwide

Google to foray into banking

Shopify introduces a chat tool for eCommerce

Google Adsense to identify invalid traffic. Ads will be blocked

Google announces new mobile conversion rate

Yelp introduces personalized search results

WordPress plugins hacked. Plugins include

-coming soon page & maintenance mode

-yellow pencil visual CSS style editor

-blog designer

-bold page builder

-live chat with Facebook messenger

-Yuzo related posts

-form lightbox

-Hybrid composer

-wp live chat support

-hybrid composer

-all former Nicdark plugins

Google creates new structured data for movie carousels

Microsoft launches Xlookup in Excel

Google launches Site Kit WordPress plugin

Google buys Fitbit for $2 billion

Whatsapp creates a catalog  for SMB products

Google co-founders step down

Google launches new publisher center tool

Reddit’s monthly users hit 430 million


Conclusion

2019 has probably seen more updates than the previous year.

One can only hope that 2020 will live up to its expectations.

And deliver updates and changes for the better.

Merry Christmas and see you in 2020!

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