Facebook Targets Promotional Posts and Launches the Groups App While Google Introduces a Mobile-Friendly Tag in the SERPs
In this fortnight’s digital marketing news, we take a look at Facebook’s update to its newsfeed, Snapchat's mobile payment system, ‘Snapcash’, Google’s Mobile-friendly tag and the discussion.
No More Promotional Posts Says Facebook
Facebook will be reducing the amount of promotional post impressions on Facebook, starting 1 January 2015.
As part of the ongoing surveys carried out on the Facebook’s News Feed, the social network found its users were less interested in promotional content and instead preferred information from their friends and pages they care about – perhaps unsurprisingly. Although Facebook ads already have an element of algorithmic control based on the quality of the advert, the level of engagement and the amount of times users ‘hide’ them, organic Facebook posts lack any such filtering.
So, if your company page pushes users to purchase a product use a service or install an app, but it lacks any context and reuses the exact same content from previous adverts, your post will see a significant reduction in organic distribution.
Facebook has provided the below examples of two organic posts that are deemed overly ‘promotional’:
In the above screenshot it’s clear that Bunny Puzzle’s only goal is to sell their products and to get users to download the app. This is a great example of what Facebook users want to see less of based on the survey results. You can find out more information from Facebook here.
How do you think this will affect businesses and marketing on Facebook?
Facebook Launches a Standalone Groups App
Over 700 million people are using Facebook Groups every month, but the feature has always been buried within the social network’s main app. As part of Facebook’s internal ‘Creative Labs’ team, a standalone Groups app has been released that includes:
- A sped-up customer experience
- Improved notifications
- A discovery section for groups you are not a part off
- Improved controls for group admins
The standalone app hasn’t changed how groups work, but what it has done is made the usage of them easier and quicker to access on mobile. Following a simple login through your Facebook account, all your existing groups will be laid out as seen in the screenshot below.
Last week Snapchat launched a mobile payment system. While a bit of a surprise initially, and only available in the United States to those 18 and over, the clever feature enables users to send money to their contacts via their debit cards using the now ubiquitous swipe functionality. For Snapcash, Snapchat partnered with the payment company, Square, which was set up by the co-founder of Twitter. With this announcement came the following brilliant advert:
Google Releases Mobile-Friendly Tag in Mobile Search Results
A few weeks ago we talked about how Google has been testing mobile-friendly icons in its mobile search results. Now, after months of testing different ways to show mobile users that a site will function correctly on their smartphone, Google has officially released a ‘mobile-friendly’ tag in its mobile search results, as shown in the below screenshot.
The tag will appear in front of the Meta description on organic results, which looks like this. The tag shows a visible advantage in the results pages over competitors.
Google has been supporting responsive web design for a while now, this update not only means it’s more important than ever for your website to be mobile-friendly, but it also confirms Google’s view on responsive design and the mobile experience in general.
The tag will appear if your site can tick all of Google mobile boxes:
- Links are separated enough on the screen so they are easily clickable with a finger
- Text that can be easily read without the need to zoom, but pinching in or out on the screen.
- Users do not have to scroll horizontally, meaning the content fits on the screen.
- The website does not use software that is uncommon on mobiles, like flash
The update will roll out throughout this week and this statement from Google shows that this is not a gimmick, and that it will have an effect on what users click on.
“We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”
It is advisable that if you don’t currently have a responsive website but hope to still rank well in mobile search, you should address this immediately. If you own a site that is not mobile-friendly you’re at risk of dropping down the rankings on mobile searches. The effect of this may not be immediate, but it’s important to be prepared for when it does start to affect rankings in order to keep up with your competitors and give an improved experience to your users.
So how do I know if my site is ‘mobile friendly’?
Google has also released a mobile-friendly tool, allowing you to test if a site is classed as mobile-friendly or not. The test gives you a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, and some basic advice on how to improve your mobile offering.
The tool can be found here google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly.
Here are some screenshots of the tool from searchengineland.com:
Is Google Really Ignoring ‘Click To Expand’ and ‘Tabbed’ Content?
In the past week, there have been many reports and blog posts surrounding how Google deals with ‘hidden’ content. With Google indexing the content that the user can see, it’s believed that the content that’s within ‘click to expand’ tabs may be ignored and not indexed because it’s not immediately visible to the user. This has been the subject of discussion on many SEO forums recently, with people believing they have to get rid of their ‘tabbed’ content; however we believe this is not strictly the case.
At this moment in time there is no sign from Google that this content is being deindexed, this video from John Mueller has caused a lot of people to jump the gun on the subject. In the video he’s questioned about the issue and replies that he ‘believes’ it isn’t being indexed but that he’s not 100% sure. He also states that he would wait for clarification from the team responsible for the issue. The video can be found here at 10:50 in - http://youtu.be/tFSI4cpJX-I?t=10m53s
It seems nonsensical for Google to start deindexing this content across the board when the idea behind using tabbed content is to provide a better user experience, particularly for mobile users. With Google promoting sites that offer a positive user experience, it seems unlikely that it would devalue sites using a tabbed content approach. Click to expand makes pages easier to browse and is a staple part of any intuitive website design, so we can’t see why Google would devalue these sites.
In a previous video from Matt Cutts in 2011 it’s clearly stated that anyone using ‘read more’ or click to expand windows should not be worried, as long as they are not used for black hat SEO purposes. If you have small, hard-to-see ‘read more’ boxes that are filled with pages of links, keywords and general spam then you will be penalized, but not if the content is honest and reasonable.
We ran an experiment on one of Google’s help pages to see if this deindexing is happening.
The page https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/1722047?hl=en contains expandable content (at the bottom of the page), explaining the effects of Google instant on ads. We then searched Google for the terms ‘google instant effect on ads’ (this query is directly related to the content in the tab) this returned the page in question at the top of the results, along with a relevant meta description.
The result below this was the URL: http://adwords.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/google-instant-more-innovative-approach.html. This result is a blog posts that covers the same query, but most-importantly it has no expandable content. It could be argued that the second result is more relevant. This may explain why John Mueller wasn’t 100% sure of his answers, and his uncertainty should be taken with a pinch of salt at this moment in time.