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Friday recap: Google guide to closing your site for a day, 1 billion viewing hours for YouTube and AdWords updates for game developers

Google released some valuable information this week on how to temporarily close your site, whether it be for maintenance, site rebuild or just a break from your online store.

YouTube hit a massive milestone in the form of viewing hours, Instagram announced the roll out of some great new features and Google Assistant is going to be available to more Android users.

Game developers can also look forward to the introduction of some major updates to AdWords that will allow for better in-app ad engagement and measurement of results.

How to shut down your site (just for a day)

This week Google released a post explaining to webmasters how to shut down their site if they ever ‘need a break’.

The options given allow site owners to pause their online activity without compromising on search presence. The three options include blocking cart functionality, showing an interstitial or pop-up, and switching your whole site off.

To block people from using your checkout, Google says the best route is to just disable cart functionality. You can block your shopping cart pages from being crawled and indexed with certain file and meta tag types, explained in the official blog post. Once you’ve disabled these pages from being viewed by search engines, you can just add in a pop-up message for your users to explain that the cart is temporarily unavailable.

Showing an interstitial or pop-up with an unavailable message will return a 503 HTTP result code that tells Google not to index that content. This means you can display a pop-up message blocking your site that tells users it is currently unavailable, without Google indexing that pop-up as part of your site.

The Googlebot will keep trying to crawl the page for a week before registering the 503 result as a permanent error, so only use this option for short-term closures!

To switch your whole site off is a little more complex. You will need to have a temporary server available with the 503 code for all URLs, and then switch your DNS to point to that server during the site shutdown.

To get a more comprehensive breakdown of the options, visit Google’s blog post.

Google Assistant for Android

Google is making its artificial intelligence assistant available across more Android phones, including 7.0 Nougat and 6.0 Marshmallow.

Currently, Google Assistant is available on Pixel, Google Home, Google Allo and Android Wear. The AI platform allows users to communicate with the assistant to access their calendar, create shopping lists, communicate with friends or control other devices and products in their home. You can also, of course, use Google assistant to search the web and provide information.

Google assistant coming to more android phones

The Assistant will initially be rolled out in the US, and then Australia, Canada and the UK. For Android users, Google Assistant will automatically become available once it reaches their country.

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YouTube hits a milestone

The Google-owned video content-aggregator announced a major milestone this week – people are now watching a billion hours of YouTube every day.

To illustrate how big this number is YouTube provided some comparisons. If one person sat and watched 1 billion hours of videos, it would take them 100,000 years. YouTube also said that “If you spent 100,000 years traveling at the speed of light, you could travel from one end of the Milky Way to the other.”

YouTube first launched in May 2005, and has since acquired over a billion users from all over the world, which is nearly a third of all internet users. Despite rumours that YouTube could be threatened by new video content sharing sites emerging onto the scene, these figures suggest that its user base will not be abandoning it anytime soon.

YouTube finished up their announcement by thanking both creators and audiences for using its platform to share and view content.

Hyperlapse video on Instagram

To help businesses create smooth time-lapse videos, Instagram has introduced the ‘Hyperlapse’ app.

The app will help smooth out the kinks in shaky time lapse videos, so that brands can show off their products and services in a more professional, attractive way. You can choose the speed of the video that you want and the Hyperlapse app will automatically stabilise it for you. You can also share directly to Facebook or Instagram from the app, or save the video and the upload it to your Instagram Story.

Instagram shared content from a vintage electric bike company to give an example of how the Hyperlapse video can be used.

If you want to give Hyperlapse a try you can download it for both iOS and Android.

More content in one post on Instagram

Rather than just posting one photo or video at a time, Instagram now allows you to share multiple pieces of content in the one post.

You can choose the order in which you want the images or video to appear, and users just swipe from side to side to see all of the content. This update also applies to carousel ads but advertisers also have the option of selecting ‘dynamic ordering’, which will show the highest performing content first on the carousel.

To upload multiple items, select the blue icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. From there you can choose the content you want to upload and then drag and drop to reorder it. Currently, only one caption is allowed and content must be kept in a square format. Users will see only one image or video in their feed but an icon will be shown to indicate that more content is available if they swipe to the side.

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The feature will be available worldwide within a few weeks for both iOS and Android users.

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App developments for gaming

Google AdWords is rolling out a bunch of new features for owners of gaming apps.

According to the official blog post, gaming apps on mobile are expected to net approximately half of the global market for in-app purchases by 2020, which is a healthy share of $189 billion. To help game developers to realise this increase, Google will be updating the AdWords experience to improve the range of in-app advertising options across the 1 million plus apps in the Google Display Network.

The updates were announced at the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco this week and include changes to ad formats, monetisation tools and measurement insights. The intention is to help game developers to better leverage in-app ads to attract, retain and monetize visitors across the Google Display Network.

Google said that ad formats will include new playable and video options, new integrations to increase monetisation opportunities and insights that tell developers how players are interacting with the game.

For detailed breakdowns of each new update, visit the AdWords blog post.

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