October 2020 – SEO & Marketing News

Oct 23, 2020 by
October 2020 – SEO & Marketing News

Here we are at the month of Halloween, autumnal colours and, this year at least, renewed lockdown policies. We’re only halfway through October 2020 and it’s already looking like another challenging month for the UK. We are now officially in a recession and things are looking bleaker and bleaker by the day. But the digital marketing world continues to tick on regardless. Indeed, it could be argued that SEO, in particular, has proven almost immune to coronavirus. So, what has the SEO and marketing sector been up to this month?

Congress blasts tech giants as gatekeepers’ of the digital economy

According to a report issued earlier this month by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook wield monopoly power over their respective markets. Produced after more than a year of fact-finding and testimony the Congressional report recommends a host of remedies, including “structural separation” (divestiture) to restore competition and prevent a similar concentration of power in the future.

The more than 400-page report details alleged market abuses by each company with specific examples. It says that “as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have captured control over key channels of distribution, they have come to function as gatekeepers. A large swath of businesses across the US economy now depends on these gatekeepers to access users and markets.”

Google was the first to release a statement responding in particular to the idea of breaking up the company: “Americans simply don’t want Congress to break Google’s products or harm the free services they use every day. The goal of antitrust law is to protect consumers, not help commercial rivals. Many of the proposals bandied about in today’s reports—whether breaking up companies or undercutting Section 230—would cause real harm to consumers, America’s technology leadership and the U.S. economy—all for no clear gain.”

Facebook, Apple and Amazon will similarly dispute the findings and recommendations in the House report, which has no direct legal force. However, it will be broadly influential and potentially previews some of the arguments and evidence that might show up in the anticipated U.S. government antitrust cases, which appear to be imminent — at least against Google and possibly Facebook.

Web stories coming to Google Discover

Google is bringing the Web Stories feature (previously known as AMP Stories) to Google Discover. So not only can you find Web Stories in Google Search and some other supported platforms, but it is now also going to surface in Google Discover – in the Google iOS and Android app.

You can browse Google’s Web Stories when you tap on a Story on the shelf, you enter “an experience that’s full-screen and immersive”, Google said. Simply tap to move forward to the next page, or swipe to an entirely different Story in the carousel.

Microsoft expands digital marketing centre

Microsoft Digital Marketing Center (DCM) is now available in open beta in the U.S. The company had been piloting the free platform designed for SMBs to manage automated search and social campaigns across Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram since June. With the move to beta, Microsoft has added several new features, detailed below:

On-site analytics – Customer action tracking reports whether users complete the conversion actions you’re tracking on your websites, such as product purchase or lead form submission. Analytics also includes visits to top priority pages, average time on site and pages visited.

Search term control – AI determines which search terms will trigger advertisers’ on Google and the Microsoft Advertising Network (Microsoft Bing, AOL, Yahoo). These are reported in a new Search Phrases card, and advertisers can review and pause irrelevant queries that triggered their ads.

Ad reviews – Advertisers can input their text ads, but DCM also auto-generates text ads based on the website and business categories. Previously, advertisers had no visibility into the auto-generated ads. New Top ads reporting shows the top-performing automated text ads and allows advertisers to modify their copy. There is an option to view and edit all ads.

Customisable Amazon Sponsored Display ads go live 

Amazon has rolled out the ability for eligible advertisers to add their brand logo and customise the headline in Sponsored Display ads. The customized Sponsored Display units can run on product description pages, customer reviews, shopping results pages and under the Featured Offer. The ads render responsively to fit inventory units on the web, mobile and in-app.

Sponsored Display ads can target by views, product or interest. However, when a logo and headline are used, only product targeting is available. Product targeting for Sponsored Display launched in April for US sellers. It reaches people who are in-market, looking at your products and/or similar products and product categories. Sponsored Display product targeting is available to vendors and sellers enrolled in Brand Registry.

SEOs admit to bias and discrimination within the industry

BIPOC and white SEOs say they see more bias and discrimination in the wider SEO industry than they do within their own companies, according to the results of a recent Diversity and Inclusion in SEO survey. The report from Nicole DeLeon’s North Star Inbound indicates that many companies and agencies are addressing diversity, equity and inclusion within their cultures and with formal policies. Yet, nearly one-third of both BIPOC and white respondents said bias and discrimination are a moderately serious or extremely serious problem at their companies. Gender, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation are just some of the types of discrimination people can experience, according to a 2017 study.

In the SEO industry specifically, there was a striking increase in concern among both BIPOC and white respondents when asked about the SEO industry as a whole. Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) BIPOC SEOs said there is a problem, with 74% seeing bias and discrimination as a moderately or extremely serious problem in the industry. Among white respondents, 93% said bias and discrimination are a problem in the industry, with 67.5% saying it is a moderately or extremely serious problem.

Google Business tests new call history feature

Google is testing a new feature in Google My Business called “call history” which is designed to help businesses see and respond to missed calls coming from Google Search and Maps. It’s opt-in and currently available to “a select group of businesses in the US only” relies on basic call forwarding and doesn’t involve any of the advanced features of its former CallJoy virtual assistant service. There’s no call recording or transcription, for example.

In Google’s FAQs, it says that the forwarding number will be triggered by the “call” button on the business profile. The caller will see a local number with the same area code as the business. However, Google may also use a regional number or in rare cases a toll-free number. When a profile owner opens the GMB app there will be a calls tab. He or she will then see “a comprehensive list of the time, date, and phone numbers that called them.”

Missed calls will remain on the GMB app for 45 days. It’s effectively like the missed call log on your smartphone. If the call is answered, businesses will hear a recorded message that the call was initiated on Google. So this is both useful and intended to reinforce the value of Google in the mind of the business owner or local marketer. Google also explains that the feature will not track texts.