The social media world has awoken from its January slumber and announced some important updates and changes this week.
SnapInc has released an update with the ability to create ‘Snapcodes’ that contain URLs, similar to how QR codes operate. Pinterest has announced the release of search ads, which now allows brands to purchase ad space within search results.
Also, Facebook has updated their News Feed algorithm again to make it even more refined to user interests, taking into account authenticity of content as well as real time posts.
Over in Google land, the AdWords experience has been updated, Google published tips for protecting sites against spam and a mobile friendly test API was rolled out.
SnapInc introduces Snapcodes for websites
With the new option to create Snapcodes for websites, SnapInc could start becoming a viable marketing option for a wider range of brands.
The Snapcodes appear the same as they currently do for individual users and perform the same function. When you take a photo of a user’s Snapcode, a pop-up window appears that suggests adding that person as a friend. With the new codes for websites, users will be given an option to open a URL inside the app, rather than a friend suggestion.
To create a code for a website, enter the Settings section of the app, scroll down to ‘Snapcodes’ and then ‘Create Snapcode’. Just enter the URL into the designated space and a website specific Snapcode will be generated. Alternatively, you can visit the desktop site to create them.
Until now, Snapchat really only served larger businesses with their services. Creating Stories, getting into the Discover section and brand specific filters are only really effective (or affordable) with huge brands that already have a well-established audience, like MTV or People Magazine.
With the new Snapcodes, smaller businesses can get in on the action and start driving users to their website.
Snapcodes for websites is only available with the latest version for iPhone users in the Apple store.
Pinterest Search ads
Announced on the Pinterest Business blog this week, brands now have the option of getting their ads into search results.
Unlike Promoted Pins, search ads will perform a larger range of functions that will allow content to become much more targeted.
Pinterest said they’re “rolling out a full suite of features, including Keyword and Shopping Campaigns that are shown in search results, along with powerful new targeting and reporting options.”
The post went on to detail some of the key reasons that they believe will make the ads effective, such as the strong visual aspect of the site, the searchers intent and brand discovery.
2 billion searches are performed a month on Pinterest, and 97% of the top searches from 2016 were non-branded. This means that a huge number of users are looking for a service or product regardless of brand, allowing start-ups and smaller businesses to appear in more search results.
To find out more about Pinterest search trends, check out the ‘A new take on search’ whitepaper.
Pinterest has not given any indication of when or where the search ads will be rolled out.
Facebook algorithm updates
Facebook has once again refined the News Feed algorithm to better organise posts for users.
According to Facebook’s company blog post, it has made two updates to the algorithm, one for authenticity and one that concerns timeliness.
The signals that identify authentic content have become more specific so that only the most genuine posts will be ranked in the Feed. Any content that is ‘misleading, sensational or spammy’ will not make the cut. Facebook will take into account the connection between the user and the Page or person behind the post, as well overall engagement.
Pages should be aware that Facebook has created some universal signals to cut out spam from the Feed, one of them being if a page openly asks for likes, comments or shares.
We’ve all seen those spammy posts that ask for ‘1 like to show you care’ or ‘share if you think that X, Y and Z’, but often genuine brands will ask their followers for engagement as well. Authenticity of Pages will also be determined by the frequency of users hiding posts from it.
The second update is to ensure that posts of interest gaining traction in real time are pushed to the top of the Feed.
To determine the relevance of posts, the algorithm will take into account recent activity with it, such as a friend commenting. This is now even more refined to also consider the amount of engagement with a post and whether this makes it a relevant topic of interest for a user.
Facebook said that “if a post from a Page is getting a lot of engagement, we can understand in real-time that the topic or Page post might be temporarily more important to you, so we should show that content higher in your feed.”
Pages shouldn’t see any significant changes from the update, although Facebook acknowledges there might be small increases or decreases in referral traffic and outbound clicks.
New AdWords experience
An updated AdWords experience will soon be available to more users.
Google has been continually working on improving AdWords since the last major update in 2016, seeking feedback from a wide pool of its users.
Three key areas were identified for improvement – the focus on business goals, accessibility of data and simple use of advanced tools. The new experience aims resolve these issues with a few updates.
The first is the introduction of an Overview page that will provide account insights. Navigation has been improved so that processes are more streamlined, and new tools are being conceptualised that will help users better reach their audience.
The updates will be available to more users within the coming months, but not everyone. Those who are given a trial of the new experience will either see it implemented straight away or will be offered to try it out via a message in their account.
Google tips for spam protection
This week the Google Webmasters blog has touched on an issue that is concerning (and, frankly, annoying) for many website owners: user generated spam.
You may have seen this kind of spam – it usually exists in the comment section or forum threads of your blog posts and looks a bit like the Google example here.
This is a shady SEO tactic designed to drive more traffic to the spammer’s sites through auto-generated keywords and links.
Google have provided some tips for securing your site against spammers. The first is to keep your security software up to date, as it is easier for spammers to get into sites with weak protection. It’s also useful to add CAPTCHAs to your site so that people need to prove they are not ‘robots’ to be able to post comments or engage in discussion. You can also turn off posting or disable replies for old threads that are unlikely to generate new comments (that are legitimate).
For the full list of tips visit the Google Webmaster blog post.
Mobile friendly Test API
As well as the mobile-friendly testing tool for checking mobile optimisation of individual pages, the test is now available via API as well.
The test will run various performance and validation checks on each of your pages that you run through the tool. Google said that “The API method runs all tests, and returns the same information – including a list of the blocked URLs – as the manual test. The documentation includes simple samples to help get you started quickly.”
Rather than having to perform manual checks on each page, Google tools will automate the process and make it much faster.
To check the mobile friendliness of your pages with API tool, visit the designated page in Google Search Console.