World Storytelling Day: A Chat with Our In-House Storytellers

Welcome story lovers and word wranglers! This World Storytelling Day we’re celebrating spinning a yarn and weaving a captivating tale. After all, creative storytelling is at the forefront of what we do within content SEO – it engages, entertains, and leaves a lasting impression.

But how exactly do stories translate into the world of content creation? Today we’re getting insight from two of our content whizzes from the organic team: Emily Flude (EF), Senior Content Executive, and Elena Brooke (EB), Content Executive. We’ll be asking them about their personal storytelling journeys, exploring how they incorporate narrative strategies into their work, discussing the ever-evolving role of storytelling in content marketing, and most importantly, which fictional character they would like to have dinner with (spoiler alert, they both pick bears).

What’s your earliest memory of being captivated by a story?

EF: For me, I often enjoy a story accompanied by music so Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins were movies that I especially loved when I was younger. Acting, singing, and dancing all incorporated in one medium kept me captivated over and over again! 

EB: My younger brother and I were gifted a storybook called The Maggie B by my great-grandmother. The story depicts a girl and her baby brother as they wish to be on a beautiful boat for a day. On the boat they have a goat and a peach tree, they paint and enjoy the sea breeze, eat peaches, and drink milk for their supper. My mum would tell us that we were the two sea travellers and the story has always stuck with me – it’s one of my fondest childhood memories.

What is your favourite medium of storytelling and why?

EF: I think theatre performances provide a unique experience of watching a story unfold. I find it appealing that only the audience gets to witness the performance in this specific way. The next day, there could be slight changes in intonation or someone could switch up a line. 

The most impressive theatre performance I’ve seen was when I sat second row for Prima Facie with Jodie Comer performing a one-woman show on the difficult topic of sexual assault. I have never felt so moved watching a live performance before and our closeness to the stage meant that we could see every emotion she was portraying. Seeing acting live and experiencing the emotion of a character standing in front of you can’t compare to watching online for me.

EB: I don’t think you can go wrong with a good book but I do really love theatre. The technical skill as well as the visual creativity of theatre brings stories to life. There are a few stage adaptations of books I have previously that I have seen that have brought a whole new perspective to the tale.

I saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at York Theatre Royal and in that story, there is a scene that takes place on a train. The coordination of the cast to create the physicality of being on a moving vehicle was completely immersive and I’m still incredibly impressed.

How do you define “storytelling” in the context of your content writing work?

EF: As content writers, it’s important that we craft a blog that takes readers on a journey using storytelling. Creating high-quality, engaging content is what makes one blog stand out from another. 

EB: Context is foundational to a good piece of writing and to create clear context requires a level of storytelling. For many clients, blogs and articles are directly related to statistics, law changes, or even the current socioeconomic climate. Putting writing into context requires painting a picture of the word to illustrate why an article is important and worth reading.

What are some challenges you face in incorporating storytelling into content that needs to adhere to specific guidelines?

EF: SEO-optimised content is all about producing the best copy in the eyes of search engines. We could produce an abstract poem to explain a topic, but we know that an all-encompassing guide with best practice HTML structure, high volume keywords included, appropriate tone of voice, and internal linking is much more likely to perform better. Although we have some flexibility in what we write, we must look at our content from an algorithmic perspective first and foremost.

EB: Particularly in the sphere of writing for the purposes of search engine optimisation, it can be hard to balance creative writing and storytelling with having to meet guidelines and rules. A huge part of storytelling in writing is based on creativity which can sometimes feel hindered by a need to use keywords at a certain regularity. However, that’s part of the fun of SEO copywriting – working a way to balance creativity with technical box-ticking.

Despite those guidelines, how do you still manage to weave compelling narratives into your content?

EF: Although we have to think of content according to search engines’ guidelines, it is also just as important to produce content that is engaging for users to actually want to stay on the site after clicking through. People search for information so often online, that it is beneficial to create content that is easy to digest and formatted in a clear way for people to find the answer they are looking for, e.g. with useful subheadings. If a user clicks on a blog that is a full block of text with no separate paragraphs, they’ll likely seek out the information elsewhere on the next organic result on the SERP for a more user-friendly experience. Therefore, our storytelling needs structure and clarity to be successful.

Looking ahead, how do you see the role of storytelling evolving in content marketing?

EF: If search engines begin to severely penalise websites using AI in blogs, we can stand out from the crowd with unique content that you can tell is written by humans with creativity, personality and emotion that robotic content can not compete with. I also think people’s attention spans might decline as years go by, so we’ll need to keep content snappy and engaging from the get-go.

EB: Methods have to adapt with the audiences. As generations, such as millennials and Gen Z, get older and the younger generations grow up, the means by which we use storytelling in content marketing will have to grow with them. Trends are always important in marketing and it will be interesting to see what evolutions are coming in the following years and decades.

If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?

EF: I think Paddington Bear would be a wholesome and cute dinner date, I think he would make the conversation interesting and have me giggling throughout. I’d like to hear about his recent trip to Peru. 

EB: The teddy bear from the Teddy Bear’s picnic because who doesn’t want to have a chin-wag in the sun with some pals and sandwiches? 

Inspire Inclusion: International Women’s Day 2024 with Fusion Unlimited

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, Inspire Inclusion, resonates deeply with our team, especially considering the incredible women who drive our agency forward. Here at Fusion, we’re proud to boast a team where 69% of our talented individuals are women, with strong female representation within our senior management team.

Today, we’re thrilled to celebrate these inspiring leaders. We’ll be diving into conversations with Katie Harling (KH), our Joint Managing Director, Jen Mottram (JM), our Paid Director, and Lauren Wray (LW), our Account Director. Through their stories and insights, we’ll explore what inclusion truly means in the workplace, the challenges and triumphs of navigating leadership in a dynamic industry, and the invaluable advice they have for the next generation of female leaders.

International Women’s Day’s theme this year is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, what does inclusion mean to you in the context of the workplace?

KH: This year’s theme is important to me. We have worked hard on Fusion’s culture in the hope that everyone who is part of the team enjoys coming to work, feels comfortable in the environment, and feels confident in their abilities. We remain committed to ensuring that Fusion is a workplace where the whole team feels they belong and know that what they do matters. #Fusion4Life

JM: It really ties to the culture of a workplace and makes sure everyone has a feeling of comfort. Comfort to be themselves, comfort to approach people with issues and the comfort to be able to work in a way that most suits them.

LW: Within the workplace, inspiring inclusion means creating environments whereby women are fully integrated into culture and decision-making processes, ensuring they feel valued and respected and, therefore, can thrive and contribute meaningfully.

What are some challenges you’ve faced navigating leadership in the industry? How did you overcome them?

KH: I have worked through some quite poignant social changes during my working career, so have the ability to reflect on a climate when my career started, compared to today. There have certainly been positive milestones, but I’m aware there is still more to be done, which is why days like this are so important. 

I feel fortunate that my journey navigating leadership was with Fusion. I worked in an environment where there was a sense of belonging which I felt empowered me. I did however come across external occasions where I felt I was being judged based on my gender, so I would turn these situations into personal challenges for me and ensure that by the time the meeting was done, said people would hopefully reflect on themselves. 

JM: Luckily, I’ve not faced many blockers to progress to the position I’m in now and in part, that is due to working at an agency that is leading the way for gender equality. I realise when attending industry events how rare this is, and, as someone who was shy in my youth, I think gaining the confidence to voice opinions/thoughts in situations like this has really been helped by working in an open, encouraging environment.

LW: Stereotyping and gender bias is something I and many women I know have had to deal with, when faced with this it is important to speak up and challenge it so that progress can be made towards creating a more equitable and supportive environment for everyone.

Who are your female role models, and what qualities do you admire most in them?

KH: We all have bad days, and it’s on those days I always think ‘be more…’ And there are 3 people who are my go-to. Luckily from a personal perspective, I can say: 

  • Julia Blake. Her business acumen, determination and focus are exactly why she is absolutely nailing it in business! Be more Julia, Katie! 
  • Jane Slimming. The agency, brand and team she has built are nothing but admirable! Be more Jane, Katie!  

Then there is Jo Malone. She left school early, dyslexic, estranged from her family, built a global brand, fought cancer, and built another global brand. Nothing but inspirational.  

JM: Would it be cheesy to name my fellow blog interviewees? They both inspire and support me every day.

LW: My friends are and will always be my role models, it is important to surround yourself with strong supportive women who you can learn and grow with.

What advice would you give to younger women looking to break into leadership positions in our industry?

KH: Believe in the journey you’ve had so far and have confidence in your future ability – then go for it! If you go first and try, two things can happen:

1). You succeed!

2). You stumble but pick yourself up, learn and go again. 

Either way, you will always be ahead of the next person behind you, so go first!   

JM: Reach for what you want and take ownership of everything you do. Most of all don’t be afraid to unashamedly be yourself. Start gradually, if you think something at work should be your responsibility, give it a try.

LW: Be your own advocate, express what your career goals are and seek opportunities that align with your aspirations.

Looking ahead, what are some goals we can set as an agency to further champion diversity and inclusion?

KH: Have more open discussions on related topics that are important to the team to continue to encourage open communication and invite external people to come in and present on key related topics to have a wider view.

JM: We are a diverse team we just need to talk about it more to ensure it stays that way in the future. Possibly by holding open sessions internally in order to always adapt and discuss how diversity and inclusion can change.

LW: Look to hold regular open sessions whereby everyone is welcome to share challenges, thoughts and ideas on how we can further foster and promote an inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued. 

Digital Marketing Updates: November 2023

Remember, remember the 5th of November. Not just for the gunpowder plot, but also for the explosive barrage of digital marketing updates Google deployed during this eventful month which have had us marketers running around in circles.

The fireworks this month included fundamental algorithm updates, new reports, and AI integrations – but now I’m spoiling the blog. So, without further ado, here are the latest digital updates that you could capitalise on to boost your brand’s visibility and help Santa find you that little bit more easily this Christmas.

  • SEO Market Updates: from the November 2023 core update to the new robots.txt report. 
  • PPC Market Updates: including Google Ads Editor version 2.5 and new shopping features.

SEO Market Updates

Google November 2023 Core Update Rolls Out 

Another one?! Yes, Google is cooking this year with the release of a fourth core update of 2023 in November.

The update started rolling out on the 2nd, just two weeks after the conclusion of the October 2023 core update. The November core update then finished its deployment on the 28th, taking 26 days to roll out in total.

As always, there’s often some volatility in search results during these core updates and negative rankings don’t always signal that something is wrong with your site. 

If you feel like your site has come out worse for wear from the November 2023 Core Update, brush up on Google’s latest advice and make sure your content stands up to their best practice guidelines. Alternatively, get the professionals on the case!

Google Rolls Out November 2023 Reviews Update

Also rolling out through last month was the November 2023 reviews update.

The update was released on the 8th and marked the last time a reviews update would be announced. 

Google said: “Going forward, as the reviews system is now being improved at a regular and ongoing pace, we will no longer be posting about future updates on the status dashboard.”

It’s worth a reminder that these updates are no longer labelled as product review updates since April and now affect all review content across media, destinations, services, and businesses. 

If your site has a focus on review content, study up on Google’s guide on how to write high quality reviews to ensure you’re in Google’s good books.

Page Experience Report Updated in Google Search Console

The page experience report within Search Console has been transformed into a new page that “links to [Google’s] general guidance about page experience, along with a dashboard-view of the individual Core Web Vitals and HTTPS reports that will remain in Search Console”, Google said.

Google wrote on Twitter that the report has evolved to “help site owners consider page experience more holistically as part of the content creation process”.

Here’s what it looks like:

Google also stated they will be retiring:

  • “Mobile Usability” report
  • Mobile-Friendly Test tool
  • Mobile Friendly Test API

In the announcement they made it clear that mobile usability is still important for success within search, however: “in the nearly ten years since [Google] initially launched this report, many other robust resources for evaluating mobile usability have emerged, including Lighthouse from Chrome.” 

Personal Search Experience Launched by Google 

Google is hoping to make the search experience that little more personal with some new features added in November including a follow button and tailored search results.

The Follow Button 

If you’re looking to keep up to date on a subject, Google has introduced a follow button within search results. Clicking the follow button will allow Google to send you notifications, if you’re using the Google App, and serve you articles and web pages within your home feed.

Tailored Search Results

Google will be rolling out a new ranking feature which will serve you more results from the sites you visit the most within search results. So if you visit a website quite regularly, Google may rank their page on a topic over other sites.

New Robots.txt Report Added to Google Search Console

A new robots.txt report has been released within Search Console which shows you information Google has on your robots.txt file including:

  • which robots.txt files Google found for the top 20 hosts on your site
  • the last time they were crawled
  • any warnings or errors encountered

The report also allows users to request a recrawl of a robots.txt file for emergency situations.

This report is located under settings within Search Console under the Crawling subheading.

At the behest of this report, Google sunset the robots.txt tester – RIP. 

You can find more information in Google’s detailed help document.

Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines Updated

Google updated its search quality raters guidelines in November, making it the first time they’ve updated it this year.

Google said: “[W]e’ve simplified the “Needs Met” scale definitions, added more guidance for different kinds of web pages and modern examples including newer content formats such as short form video, removed outdated and redundant examples, and expanded rating guidance for forum and discussion pages.”

As a reminder, these quality raters are used to assess search results by outside consultants.

Google said that these changes don’t “involve any major or foundational shifts in our guidelines”. 

PPC Market Updates

Google Ads Editor version 2.5 Brings 16 New Features

Google has unveiled its shiny new Google Ads Editor version 2.5 and with it comes a slew of exciting features for advertisers to play around with. 

Here’s the full list for your viewing pleasure: 

  • App URL for App Install Ads
  • Automatically created assets in Ad Strength of responsive search ads
  • Asset source in asset report
  • Additional fields in Discovery product ads
  • In-feed video ads
  • Text mode for selecting videos
  • Campaign level broad match
  • Video view campaigns
  • Search themes in Performance Max campaigns
  • Replace Text tool for product groups
  • Device targeting in Discovery campaigns
  • Brand settings for Search and Performance Max campaigns
  • Features related to Dynamic Search Ads in Performance Max campaigns
  • Ad format controls for Video reach campaigns
  • Ad group level location and language targeting for Demand Gen campaigns
  • Dynamic Search Ads campaigns to Performance Max upgrade tool

Wow, Christmas has come early for you PPC folk! You can find out what your new toys do right here.

New Shopping Features Hit the SERPs

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through Google’s shopping results and sigh when the deals you’re presented with don’t quite hit the mark?

Well, ‘Tis the season for online shopping, and to assist brands in engaging with shoppers, Google has set out to make it twice as likely that you’re presented with a good deal from shopping results. 

To enable this, it has rolled out some new features including:

  • A deals hub
  • New pricing tools
  • The annual Holiday 100 

Deals hub 

The deals section is a new feature designed to house exclusive shopping deals to make it easier for shoppers to find deals from various sites in one place. 

Here’s what it looks like:

New pricing tools

Google has launched these new pricing features to help convert searchers into conversions. These new features include:

  • A dedicated deals page 
  • A “resume browsing” feature within desktop search that displays recently viewed products to users
  • A discount tag which alerts users if there are discount codes available

The annual Holiday 100 

Google is launching its annual list of gift ideas, purely based on trending searches throughout the year. Shoppers will be able to get Christmas inspo all in one place!

I’m already running out of time before Christmas – what on earth am I meant to do about all these updates?

Part of the beauty of the digital landscape is that agencies like ours exist to consume and digest all the latest knowledge in the market as soon as it becomes available. We test all new technologies, such ad campaign types, on day one – and we constantly push our busy client teams forward and equip them with the tools needed to deliver ambitious results.

You could ask Santa for some better SEO performance in 2024, or you could give the poor guy a break and get in touch with one of our friendly experts for an obligation-free chat.

Check out our blog for more digital marketing insights.

Touching Base With Lanes Group plc

We are proud to announce the latest addition to Fusion’s client portfolio; the market leader in the UK’s drainage sector – Lanes Group plc. We will be working with Lanes to provide full-scope search marketing (including both SEO and paid), and managing a site migration and relaunch. 

Work on the Lanes account has been ongoing now since May, and with a few months under our belt we thought now was the perfect time to touch base with the team at Lanes to get some intel on what brought them to Fusion and how they have found the partnership so far.

In 100 words or less, why Fusion Unlimited?

Having identified the need for a new website and digital marketing activities, we undertook a thorough procurement process with Proposal, Reference, Presentation, and Site Visit stages.

Of the 13 proposals submitted, we narrowed down to eight to present. We then evaluated using a pre-determined Scoring Evaluation Matrix and undertook Site Visits with the two highest scoring agencies.

Fusion was the ‘race leader’ from the presentation stage and ultimately came out on top. All six of our key stakeholders were impressed with what was proposed, and more importantly, felt comfortable with and believed in the team. 

Are there any ‘stand-out’ elements to the way things are done at Fusion Unlimited?

One of the things we like most about Fusion is its Best Practice approach. The logic behind what it does is simple and effective. The team has already efficiently tailored our Paid spend to suit the market and our requirement, more so than our other agency ever did. All activity is data driven. We have just signed off two trials which have been suggested, helping us to stay ahead. 

And how is performance looking so far?

In terms of digital marketing (Paid, SEO and Development), we have already seen improvement in performance across all workings and some of the improvements have been easy wins. Our current website has some issues prior to the partnership with Fusion, hence why we’re creating a new one; so Fusion haven’t had it easy. There is always so much going on. They are always pushing forward. We have seen that already. 

How are you finding the communication from the Fusion team, are you happy with the contact you are getting?

Communication is excellent. We receive weekly updates at least, normally getting ad hoc updates in addition. We then get monthly reports, combining our specification with Best Practice. We’ve also just had a meeting in person with the full team – everyone working on the Lanes account. Which was great. One of the things we liked the sounds of early on, was being able to speak to all of the team members direct. We were used to just speaking to our Account Manager with our old agency. Who would funnel information. Speaking to each person individually, who has their own responsibilities and working, is so much more effective.

What’s in store? 

The partnership with Lanes’ is off to a great start and we’re looking forward to continuing our work to support their business goals as we move towards the end of 2023 and onward. With some big changes coming up, the next year is going to have a lot in store and there are some exciting changes fast approaching that you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for. 

Watch this space!

Welcome to Team Fusion, Joe!

Sound the alarm as Team Fusion just gained a brand new member!

We are thrilled to have Joe join the Paid Media team as our newest Account Executive; a University of Leeds graduate with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, ready to get stuck into all things digital. 

Let’s get to know him a little more, shall we?

Welcome aboard Joe, it’s great to have you here! What are you looking forward to most about the role?

I’m looking forward to engaging with the team and learning as much as I can about the world of paid media!

Why did you choose a career in marketing?

The ability to use my analytical and creative side within one job role excites me, as well as elements of psychology knowledge I’ve picked up over the course of my degree that are relevant to marketing strategies.

What made you pick Fusion?

The personability of the staff as well as the experimental methods they’ve used in the past to optimise ad campaigns reminded me of some of the testing I used throughout my degree.

Who would be your dream client?

Yorkshire Tea.

If we made you the office DJ, what 3 songs would you play first?

  • Rockafeller Skank by Fatboy Slim
  • Careless Whisper by George Michael
  • Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

What is your favourite movie?

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

I play bass in a metal band.

What job would you have if you weren’t in marketing?

Academia.

Digital Marketing Updates: September 2023

Someone wake up the Green Day guy because September has officially ended, and with it comes a plethora of digital marketing updates across SEO and PPC. In this blog, we’ll be covering all the good stuff including:

  • SEO Market Updates: From September 2023 helpful content update to Google-Extended.
  • PPC Market Updates: including Google’s Misleading Representation Policy update and AdSense’s new tools.

SEO Market Updates

Google August 2023 Core Update Rolls Out 

Starting on the 22nd of August, the latest core algorithm update rolled to completion on the 7th of September, taking 16 days. 

This algo update marks the second of the year with the previous one introduced in March. 

As always, there’s no quick fix if you’re seeing a negative impact on your rankings. Brush up on Google’s latest recommendations and best practices and reassess the quality of your site’s content. 

New Merchant Center Integrated Reports Added to Search Console

Two new reports can now be found within the Shopping tab listings section of Google Search Console to help merchants better understand the visibility of their products.

The first of the new reports shows issues relating to products not showing in the Google Shopping tab. If a product stops showing, the report will serve you a notification, similar to how Google Merchant Center works but directly within Search Console. Here’s what it looks like:

The second demonstrates how well your product is ranking within Google Search, and offers opportunities to increase clicks and visibility. Take a look:

With peak shopping season on the horizon, this suite of tools will be your best friend for making sure your e-commerce store performs to its full potential across Black Friday and Christmas so dig in. 

How-to Rich Results Stop Showing on Desktop

In last month’s blog, we covered how Google is reducing the visibility of How-to rich results. Google certainly reduced the visibility by stopping showing this SERP feature altogether on desktop.

In an update blog, John Mueller said: 

“Continuing our efforts to simplify Google’s search results, we’re extending the How-to change to desktop as well. As of September 13, Google Search no longer shows How-to rich results on desktop, which means this result type is now deprecated.

“This change will be visible in the metrics for the How-to search appearance in the performance report, and in the number of impressions reported in the How-to enhancement reports. Since How-to results no longer appear in Google Search, we will be dropping the How-to search appearance, rich result report, and support in the Rich results test in 30 days. To allow time for adjusting your API calls, support for How-to in the Search Console API will be removed in 180 days.”

If your site relies on traffic coming from How-to rich results, I wish I had some good news for you, but it looks like now is the right time to apply some new organic tactics.

September 2023 Helpful Content Update Rolls Out 

Google dropped its first helpful content update of the year in September. The update started on the 14th of September and was fully rolled out by the 28th.

The helpful content system exists to target “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.”

“What’s new?” I hear you ask:

  • Improved classifier
  • “written by people” has been removed from the help document
  • Google recommends to self-assess your content
  • Content should be reviewed by experts
  • Dates of content should not be changed unless they receive a significant update
  • Don’t blindly add or remove content

As always, these updates can be volatile and if you’re seeing your rankings tank across the board, it’s probably worth reading up on Google’s best practices and assess whether your content is up the scratch. If you need help with this, our experts at Fusion Unlimited would be happy to help

Links Are Not A Top 3 Ranking Factor

Make sure to check in on your fellow link builder today. During an AMA with Google’s Gary Illyes at Pubcon Pro in Austin, it was revealed that links may not be as important as first thought.

Going back to 2016, Google’s Andrey Lipattsev said that backlinks were in the top three ranking factors. However, now it seems that the importance of links is ‘overestimated’.

During the panel, Illyes was asked if he thought links still belonged within that top 3 classification to which he responded: “I think they are important, but I think people overestimate the importance of links. I don’t agree it’s in the top three. It hasn’t been for some time.”

He also added that it’s “possible to rank without links”, referencing a site that had zero links but ranked consistently for number one spots due to its content being outstanding. 

If for whatever reason you’re pumping more hours into your link-building and neglecting your content schedule, perhaps it is time to reassess your site’s priorities and get that content moving. 

Google Introduces Google-Extended

September saw the introduction of a new Googlebot, called Google-Extended, that allows site owners to control whether their content can be used to improve Google’s AI suite, including Bard and Vertex AI. 

If you wouldn’t like Bard to use your content, you can specify with the Google-Extended agent within your robots.txt.

Google-Extended won’t be used to crawl your site, however, it will send a signal to Google not to use your content for Bard or any other Google AI projects. 

Google describes the bot as a “standalone product token that web publishers can use to manage whether their sites help improve Bard and Vertex AI generative APIs, including future generations of models that power those products.”

PPC Market Updates

URL Contains Targeting Added to Performance Max 

Performance Max (PMax) received an update in September, allowing URL Contains targeting functionality. 

The feature lets you manually specify which URL to display your PMax ads to, allowing further management of how your campaigns are served in order to reach a more relevant audience. 

Speed Up Site Verification With Google AdSense’s New Tools

Two new features found their way to Google AdSense in September, making site ownership verification a breeze:

  • Real-time site ownership checks: allows users to verify that they’re the site owner in – if you can believe it – real-time when you add a new site in AdSense.
  • New site verification method: a new verification method called ‘meta tag’ has been added. You can use ‘meta tag’ as an alternative to the AdSense code snippet if you don’t want to show ads on your homepage.

There are also improvements to ads.txt with a new “last crawled” date and time added so you can see when AdSense last checked your ads.txt file. You can also now ask AdSense to recheck your ads.txt file with the new Check for updates button. 

New Report Launched to Flag Checkout Issues on E-commerce Sites

A new report was launched by Google in September to help brands identify checkout problems with their e-commerce sites.

The Checkout journey, as the name suggests, shows the journey a user makes on your e-commerce site by showing the count and percentage of users who initiated checkout. 

Using a closed-funnel approach, the report concentrates on users who began at the initial step but didn’t make it to another step in the funnel.

This is a valuable piece of kit for locating bottlenecks in your site’s checkout process and will help you find and resolve any issues during the journey. 

The report can be found within Google Analytics by selecting Reports in the left menu. On the left, in the Monetization topic of the Life cycle collection or the Drive online sales topic of the Business objectives collection, open the Checkout journey report. 

Automatically Created Assets Rolled Out to all Advertisers

Google rolled out automatically created assets (ACA) for general availability in September. Previously this was in open beta and was only available for advertisers running campaigns in English. 

Now ACA is available in seven more languages:

  • Dutch
  • French 
  • German 
  • Italian 
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish

This campaign-level setting allows users to enhance the relevance of Search ads by using the context of your ad and generating custom headlines and descriptions. 

This means that ACAs could boost the relevance of your campaign by matching ads to landing pages. However, you’re leaving Google’s AI in control of your campaign’s message which might not be suitable for all brands. 

Google to Update its Misleading Representation Policy

Looking ahead to November, Google Ads will be updating its Misleading Representation policy.

The update will remove non-fulfillment of a product or service due to lack of qualifications. The planned update will take effect on 21st November 2023. 

Google said: “On that date, non-fulfillment and non-delivery of products or services due to a lack of qualifications will be enforced upon under the Unacceptable business practices policy.”

Google reminded us that they take these violations “very seriously and consider them egregious”. If Google finds any violations of this policy, your Google Ads accounts will be suspended “without prior warning” and you won’t be allowed to advertise with Google again – so tread carefully out there. 

However, if you feel there has been a mistake, you can always submit an appeal and plead your case.

Has the Helpful Content Update Not Been Helpful to Your Rankings?

We understand that this might be a volatile time for your site and it’s not always easy to claw back your online visibility following a helpful content update. If your brand needs some help steering the ship back in the right direction, give us a friendly hello and we’d be happy to help.

The Need To Knows: Google’s Algorithm Update for August

Looking back to August, we saw the rollout of Google’s second core algorithm update of the year. Nearly a month on from the announcement, we’re going to take a recap of what the update included, what changes we’ve seen in the time since, and how this core update impacts brands like yours.

What do we know about Google’s core algorithm update?

Reliable and helpful results are the name of the game here, and that is why Google regularly utilises these core updates to ensure that the content shown to search users is actually relevant to their queries, contains genuinely useful information, and is written by the right people.

What does this mean for brands when an update is rolled out? These updates aren’t designed to target any particular page or website but instead improve the overall quality of search results by ‘judging’ content to a higher standard.

With that in mind, the second core update of 2023 made some updates to how sites are judged for their content, backlink profile, and technical foundation:

  • Content – Is your content of sufficient quality? Is your content attributed to professional authors?
  • Backlinks – Are there enough external backlinks coming into the site from relevant and authoritative sources?
  • Technical foundation – Is all site content crawlable, accessible, and in line with Google’s best practice guidelines?

Impacts of the August 2023 core update

With almost a month under our belts since the start of the core algorithm rollout, the update was a big one but featured less varied volatility in the weeks from start to finish. Where the March 2023 update saw spikes in volatility, a key feature of the August update was a consistently heated period from start to finish.

Mordy Obstein from Semrush said, “When you look at it all together it’s a bit of a mixed bag. From a peak volatility point of view, August was more powerful than the March 2023 Core Update. However, if you look at the increase in rank volatility as compared to the pre-update volatility then the March 2023 Core Update seems more significant. However, even there, as mentioned, more than a few verticals saw more dramatic volatility increases with the most recent update.”

Many brands will be lucky to see minimal impact from the update, however, some of the most significant impacts have been felt within the retail industry for top 3 and top 5 positions, with the finance industry following behind. At the opposite end of the scale, the health niche saw the lowest fluctuations, according to Similarweb’s Shay Harel.

September 2023 Helpful Content update

In addition to the August Core Algorithm update, there is a Helpful Content updated underway in September, expected to be fully rolled out by the end of the month. This update will include some interesting developments for AI content, as well as tightening the rules on third-party content.

Third-party content 

This update to the guidance cracks down on the hosting of third-party content on main part of a website or on a subdomain. The purpose of this is usually to utilise the domain rating of the host site to improve ranking. This update means that websites hosting third-party content on their sites will be penalised.

AI content guidelines

Previously Google Helpful Content guidance on AI has stressed the prioritisation of human-written content over any AI-generated content, however, the September update has seen a key change in the wording of the guidance. Where the guidelines previously stated that content should be “written by people, for people” now just highlights that content should simply be “written for people”.

Has your site been hit?

If you feel that your site has been hit by either of these updates, it can be hard to know where to start to recover performance. It’s important to know that a hit doesn’t necessarily indicate wrong-doing on your part and your pages might be in great shape. Google stresses that a decrease in performance doesn’t have to mean there is anything to fix.

That being said, Google has offered some suggestions to think about when handling a knock from an algorithm update.

If you are in need of some expert support to help you navigate the impacts of these updates, the team at Fusion Unlimited can offer guidance and help assess where improvements could be made in line with Google’s recommendations.

Don’t feel like you are stuck in the dark, get in touch today and we can support your site’s recovery.

Digital Marketing Updates: August 2023

August came and went in a flash, and with it, a sizeable amount of updates within the digital marketing landscape. In this blog we’ll cover the latest and greatest updates from August, including:

  • SEO Market Updates: From Google’s Broad Core Algorithm update to new features added to Chrome mobile.
  • PPC Market Updates: Pmax best practice guidance update and Google Demand Gen campaigns.

SEO Market Updates

New Audience Report added to Google Analytics

In August, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) received a new Audience report that can identify your site’s most engaged and profitable audiences. 

The new Audience report is in the ‘Reports’ section on the left-hand side. Select ‘User’, scroll down to ‘User Attributes’, and click on ‘Audiences’. We find it’s particularly useful for big e-commerce sites with lots of product pages.

Google Chrome adds Search Suggestions & Trending Searches on Mobile

August saw four new features make their way to Chrome for mobile to “help you quickly find what you’re looking for”. 

The first is a search suggestions feature which allows users to tap the Chrome address bar whilst browsing a site and Google will serve relevant suggestions on where to browse next. In the announcement blog, Google gave the following example of its usage:

“Let’s say you’re reading an article about Japan as you plan for an upcoming trip. When you click on the address bar, you’ll see a new section labeled “Related to this page” with suggestions for other searches — like local restaurants or tourist attractions in Japan.”

The second new feature allows users to see trending Google searches directly in the address bar. This feature is currently available for Android and will come to IOS later in the year. 

The third new feature allows users to find related searches in Touch to Search. Touch to Search was introduced in 2015 and lets users quickly search a word or phrase directly from the page. Now this feature has been expanded to show a carousel of related searches.

The fourth feature brings users even more suggestions when searching. When you start typing within the address bar, Chrome will now serve you 10 recommendations instead of six. This was already the case for Android users, but now this is available on IOS.

Visibility of ‘HowTo’ and FAQ Rich Results Reduced in Search

Google announced in August that it would be showing fewer FAQ rich results in SERPs and limiting HowTo results to desktop.

In the blog announcement, Google said that the change was to “provide a cleaner and more consistent search experience”. 

From now on, FAQ rich results will only be served for “well-known, authoritative government, and health websites”. For everyone else, this rich result will “no longer be shown regularly.” 

Google stated that “sites may automatically be considered for this treatment depending on their eligibility.”

For How-To rich results, they will only be available for desktop search and not for users on mobile. 

Google Rolls out August 2023 Broad Core Update

Googled dropped their second broad core algorithm update of the year in August, with the previous hitting in March.

As always with core algo updates, there’s no real indication of what the update will involve and there’s no single fix for brands to implement. Monitor changes to your site and improve on the fundamentals to position for success. 

If you’ve found that your site has been negatively impacted by the update, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

“Mentioned in” Snippet Tested in Google Search

Googled was spotted testing a new snippet feature called ‘Mentioned in’ in August.

The new feature allows searchers to see which other sites are mentioning the site you are searching for.

There are currently two versions of this feature floating around. One which is hidden behind a drop-down, and one which is already expanded. Both features are on a carousel which users can slide through.

PPC Market Updates

Best Practices Guide for Performance Max Receives Update

Google refreshed its Performance Max (PMax) Best Practice Guide in August which includes new information on which strategies marketers can leverage to properly optimise their campaigns.

If you’re taking advantage of PMax campaigns, we recommend going over the new documentation to ensure you’re getting the most out of your digital advertising.

The document covers:

  • The benefits of PMax
  • Tips on running A/B testing
  • How to use the Performance Planner to plan budgets effectively
  • How to take advantage of seasonal action
  • Advice on consolidating your campaign structure
  • How to reach high-value customers
  • New reporting features

If you still haven’t launched PMax into your paid media activity and would like to discover how you take advantage of these campaigns, get in touch and speak to one of our experts.

Google Ads Rolls Out API Version 14.1

Just two months after version 14 was released, August saw the launch of Google Ads API version 14.1. 

We know you aren’t going to read the full updates – we won’t tell anyone. The key highlight is that there are no major changes, just a bunch of tiny new features across everything from campaigns and billing to shopping and reporting.

Make sure to upgrade your client libraries and client code to take advantage of the new API.

Google Demand Gen Campaigns Beta Opens

August saw the opening of the Google Ads’ Demand Gen beta, which was announced at Google Marketing Live back in May.

The new campaign type is to replace Google Discovery ads.

Google Ads Liasion, Gunny Marvin, explained the campaign type on Twitter: 

The beta allows users to try new features including:

  • Different ad formats in one campaign
  • Lookalike segments
  • Drive performance based on unique goals
  • New ad previews

Google Ads will open Demand Gen for all in October.

New Limited Ads Serving Policy Introduced by Google

Last month Google Ads introduced a new policy that set out to tackle scams and misleading ads.

Google said: “To protect the integrity of our Google Ads ecosystem, we limit impressions of ads that have a higher potential of causing abuse or a poor experience for our users.”

Who will be limited? Google stated that ‘unqualified advertisers’ will have their ads limited in specific scenarios to minimise the potential negative experiences for users interacting with ads. Google quantify these scenarios by taking into account:

  • User feedback
  • Prevalence of abuse 
  • Industry trends

Brands that are new to Google Ads and are affected by this policy will have to build a track record of good behaviour. Luckily, Google said that it would provide advice for brands on how to create clear ads. Follow best practice guidelines and you’ll be Gucci.

Has Your UA Kicked the Bucket?

We’ve noticed a lot of UA properties have stopped collecting fresh data, more so than in July. While some are still active, it’s imperative that all brands switch to GA4 and optimise your analytics account to make sure you’re seeing the data that could shape your marketing decision making.

Reach out to us if you’re in need of support.

Digital Marketing Updates: July 2023

Whilst most of the world suffered from blistering heat, SEOs were treated to a torrential downpour of digital marketing news and updates this July. In this blog we’ll cover the latest key changes to help you stay afloat, including:

  • SEO Market Updates: from Google’s Misrepresentation Policy Update to the retiring of the related search operator.
  • PPC Market Updates: what’s new in Google Ads Editor Version 2.4 and Performance Max updates.

SEO Market Updates

Update to Page Indexing Report within Search Console Sees More Fine-grained Issues 

If you’ve noticed a spike in issues being reported within the Search Console indexing report, don’t panic, you’re not alone.

Google updated said report to show “more fine-grained page indexing information”, however the annotation within the report was delayed – resulting in a lot of panicked site owners.

This update is purely a change within reporting rather than how Google processes your site.

The Great INP Panic

From one panic to another, Google startled site owners in July by sending out email notices to site owners whose Interaction to Next Paint (INP) scores under the good threshold.

INP is set to replace First Input Delay (FID) as a Core Web Vital metric in March 2024. Last month, we saw Google are preparing for this change by introducing a new report within Search Console to showcase INP scores.

This email caused panic amongst site owners, however there’s still time to prepare for the FID transition. Site owners should also be reminded that Core Web Vitals is not a direct ranking signal but rather a lateral understanding of whether your site offers a good page experience.

Google News Indexing Bug Fixed

If your publication saw a drop in traffic from the backend of June, it’s possible you were affected by a bug which caused issues with indexing within Google News.

The bug was identified by Google on the 10th of July and a fix was implemented on the 12th. Immediately publications saw an improvement in their traffic.

Google to Retire Related Search Operator

Google confirmed in July that the related search operator is to be retired as it “hasn’t really worked that well for some time”. 

The related search operator would allow users to find sites that related to the URL they were searching for. For example: “related:https://fusionunlimited.co.uk/”, in theory, would return similar digital marketing agencies.

It may be the case that this search operator’s function is best suited for Google Search Generative Experience or Bard, and is no longer needed in this new era of AI integrated search.

If you used this operator in your day to day, it might be worth letting the robots take over!

Google’s Misrepresentation Policy Receives Update

Google updated its Misrepresentation policy in July to detail how marketers can build trust.

The policy outlines how brands can guarantee that their products and/or offers are served in Search.

The document explains that there are four issues that need to be addressed to build trust:

1. Business Identity:

  • Provide your official business name that is used across the web and make sure this matches your registered business and domain name.
  • Make sure your website has an “about us” page to demonstrate authenticity and show customers your unique story.
  • Include social media links on your website.

2. Transparency:

  • Have clear and detailed information regarding your policies including shipping, returns, and privacy.
  • Outline your business model and how your business operates.

3. Online reputation:

  • Provide potential customers with an understanding of how to use your products or how other customers have used them.
  • Include reviews and testimonials about your products and business.
  • Make sure to mention badges or seals of approval from official third-party sources.
  • Communicate clearly how customers can interact with your business by providing contact information and customer support.
  • Make sure your customers know if you publish a blog post or were mentioned in an article.

4. Professional design:

  • Get an SSL certificate so customers know how their data is retrieved and stored securely.
  • Your brand’s website should be easily accessible for all customers, easily navigable, and shouldn’t contain unnecessary redirects or redirects to broken links.
  • Avoid text and image placeholders so that your site doesn’t give the feeling of being unfinished.

Google also detailed how you can assist them in learning more about your business:

  • Update your Business information settings in Merchant Center.
  • Link relevant third-party platforms to Merchant Center.
  • Create and verify a Google Business Profile.
  • Follow Google’s SEO guidelines to improve online visibility and provide a good page experience.
  • Opt into Google Customer Reviews, or other third-party review services, to improve your eligibility for seller ratings.
  • Make sure your product data in your product feed match your website to guarantee customers see the same information and prices across both.

Google Mark AI-generated Reviews as Spam in new Merchant Center Policy

Last week a new Google Merchant Center policy was posted regarding automated content alongside a bunch of other policy clarifications.

The post outlined that using AI or automated programming for generating reviews is against the Google Merchant Center policies and will be considered spam.

“Automated Content: We don’t allow reviews that are primarily generated by an automated program or artificial intelligence application. If you have identified such content, it should be marked as spam in your feed using the <is_spam> attribute.”

As AI cannot buy or use a product (…yet), it makes sense that a human must generate a review to give an unbiased understanding of what the product is and its quality. 

Google Launches Site Name Updates

Google has added further support for site names following their last update in May.

The previous update introduced support for subdomains on mobile for English, French, German, and Japanese. This new update now supports subdomains in these languages on all devices.

They also updated the site names system to “increase its ability to make selections that are representative of sites listed in search results.”

Google reminds us in this post that the best way to express your proffered site name is to use Website structured data which is explained in its site name documentation.

The site name documentation also has been updated to encourage site owners to use the alternateName property. Google explains that sometimes, your preferred site name isn’t available for use and providing an alternative name can allow their system to consider other options.

Whilst this is rare in case, it may be possible that Google’s system might not select either a preferred or alternative site name. If this is the case for you, Google has published a workaround.

Universal Analytics is Still Alive

A month after we mourned the loss of Universal Analytics (UA), it seems it’s still processing data.

It was previously stated that all site owners would be moved over to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) by the 30th of June 2023 or they would lose all tracking data, however this currently doesn’t seem to be the case.

It may be possible that UA is still processing data due to a small uptake in GA4 migration, however don’t get too comfortable as the full migration to GA4 is inevitable. If you need some assistance with moving over to GA4, get in touch and we would be happy to assist.

PPC Market Updates

Google Ads Launches Gen Z Music Lineup Tool

If you’re looking to expand your audience but your brand isn’t ‘down with the kids’, there’s a new tool that could help you diversify your advertising.

Google’s Gen Z Music lineup was launched last month and is a paid-for feature that uses data from audio, long-form, and YouTube shorts to identify cool and hip music (disclaimer: the author of this blog is 27 years old).

The tool uses this data to package trending music videos into the Gen Z Music lineup which then can be bought by marketers. After purchasing, advertisers can then serve their campaigns alongside content that plays the songs.

Google Ads Editor Version 2.4 Bring 8 New Features

Google Ads Editor version 2.4 is live, and with it is 8 new features for advertisers to take advantage of:

  • Video asset library: All videos used in the account can now be found here. Access the feature by going to Shared Library > Asset Library > Videos. 
  • Multi-account overview: Previously the overview tab could only show one account at a time, now it shows a summary across multiple accounts
  • Google Drive integration: Editor now supports exporting to or importing from Google Drive.
  • Scheduled Post: your posts can now be scheduled for a specific time.
  • Editable product groups and listing groups: Previously you could only manipulate product groups and listing groups via CSV, now they can be added and modified within Editor. 
  • One YouTube Network: Video campaigns now target YouTube Search and YouTube video networks, as a result these options have been removed from the Editor and only the Video Partners setting remains.
  • Video enhancement opt-out: Enable or disable video enhancements for Video campaigns.
  • Download: previously known as “Get recent changes”, this feature allows you to download previously downloaded campaigns, item types, and optimise downloaded data.

Google Rolls Out Performance Max Updates and Upgrades

July saw back to back additions to the Performance Max suite: Google Display Ad & Dynamic Search Ads upgrades and Collections.

Dynamic Search Ads and Google Display Ads

These opt-in campaign upgrades are available to all advertisers. Those who would like to take advantage can do so via a self-serve tool that should appear within your accounts.

These upgrades will give advertisers access to new tools that are aimed at maximising campaign performance and user experience. These include: 

  • an inventory-aware ad serving feature that makes sure out-of-stock pages are not served within Search ads by automatically factoring in your brand’s product inventory.
  • Google AI will use your campaign’s creative assets to find more converting search queries.

You can find the full post here.

Collections

This new PMax feature allows advertisers to combine products and create collections for ads or product listings.

Google explained that a collection “represents a group of products”, that a collection is “defined once, but can be used in multiple ways”, and each collection “can include up to 100 products”

As of right now, collections is still in pilot mode with no official roll out plan.

Struggling to Keep Up With Google?

We hope this run-down of the latest algorithm and product updates has helped you keep pace with the hectic search landscape. If you need further assistance with any individual items referenced in this blog, please get in touch and we’d be happy to help.

Take an Exploration into Your Site’s Data in GA4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has launched, and with it comes a whole new bunch of features to help visualise your site’s data. In this article we’ll be taking a deep dive into Explorations, and how they can help you as a site owner or marketing professional gain deeper insights into your users and their journeys throughout your site.

What Are Explorations in GA4?

Explorations are a collection of advanced techniques that can help site owners uncover deeper insights about their customers’ behaviour and explore data in more detail.

You can use explorations to:

  • quickly perform ad hoc queries.
  • easily configure and switch between techniques.
  • sort, refactor, and drill down into the data.
  • focus on the most relevant data by using filters and segments.
  • create segments and audiences.
  • share your explorations with other users of the same Google Analytics property.
  • export the exploration data for use in other tools.

To access Exploration, head over to the left navigation and click Explore.

How Explorations Works in GA4

Default reporting in GA4 allows you to monitor key business metrics, however Explorations gives site owners access to data and analytical techniques that aren’t readily available in reports. 

An exploration consists of three sections:

1. Canvas

The canvas is the large area found on the right of the screen, this displays your data using the selected technique. Techniques control the way your data is visualised. You can use multiple techniques in one exploration and the canvas uses multiple tabs to facilitate.

The techniques found in Explorations:

Free-form exploration 

Free-form exploration allows you to explore your site’s data in several visualisation styles including bar charts, pie charts, line charts, scatter plots, and geo maps. 

Free-form allows you to:

  • Visualise data in a table or graph.
  • Arrange and order the rows and columns of the table.
  • Compare multiple metrics side by side.
  • Create nested rows to group the data.
  • Refine the free-form exploration using segments and filters.
  • Create segments and audiences from selected data.

Cohort exploration 

Deep dive into the behaviour and performance of your site’s audience by grouping users by related common attributes. For example, you could group users with the same Acquisition Date into the same cohort to gain insights into their behaviour over time.

Funnel exploration

Funnel exploration allows you to see the steps a user takes to complete tasks on your site. You can also see how you can optimise user experience and discover over, or under, performing audiences.

Segment overlap

Segment overlap enables site owners to identify new segments of users who meet complex criteria by identifying where different user segments relate to each other. This technique allows you to compare up to three user segments at any one time to see how audiences overlap.

User exploration

The user explorer lets site owners select specific audience groups and gain insights on each individual user’s activities. For example, you could select a user who has run into an issue placing an order and follow their path to troubleshoot what went wrong.

Path exploration

See your user’s journey through your site in a tree graph. The path exploration technique can show insights such as:

  • Finding what the top pages that new users open after the home page.
  • Identifying the actions users take after an app exception.
  • Discover looping behaviour if users are becoming stuck.
  • Determining the effects of an event on subsequent users actions.

User lifetime

Identify user behaviour and value across their lifetime as a customer of your site. Discover insights such as:

  • The source, medium, and campaign that brought users with highest lifetime revenue
  • The campaigns that are acquiring users who are expected to be more valuable

2. Variables

Variables can be located on the panel on the left of the screen, and this gives you access to the dimensions, metrics, and segments that are used in the exploration. The variables panel also allows you to change the timeframe of the exploration.

3. Tab settings

Tab settings gives you access to options that can be used to configure the currently selected tab.

How to Create an Exploration in GA4

  1. Click the + icon to create a blank exploration. Alternatively you can use one of the templates to get started quickly.
  2. Select a technique to view your data.
  3. Add items to the Dimension and Metric sections within the Variables panel found on the left of the screen.
  4. Drag and drop, or double click, the dimensions and metrics you added from the Variables panel to the Tab Settings panel. The options you see in Tab Settings will vary by technique, and allow you to fine tune your data.
  5. Interact with your selected data by mousing over and clicking.
  6. Refine data by adding filters and segments.

So, what does all of this mean for you?

Ultimately, the Explorations tool can be a powerful way of visualising data that could help shape your operations. Using machine learning, this tool enables you to quickly gain simple insights into complex data sets – it’s a fast-track way of getting quickly to the real narratives behind how your site is being used.

For brands, we’d recommend first having a play around with the tool, then figuring out a couple of custom views that are particularly useful to your business. From there, you can gauge how to make these views a regular part of your reporting, and save them in Analytics to quickly return to the same set of insights with the freshest data.

If you need help getting set up and learning your way around, we’re here to help. At Fusion, we have been working in Google Analytics since it first came out in 2005, and we’ve been extremely quick to jump on GA4 and build our expertise. Get in touch with our team for a friendly, no-strings chat around how we might be able to help your brand thrive in digital.

Digital Marketing Updates: June 2023

It’s officially summer and this month has seen some blazin’ hot digital marketing updates. In this article, we cover the following key updates from June:

  • SEO Market Updates: from changes to .ai domains and Looker Studio, to Google’s new spam report and INP report.
  • PPC Market Updates: Google Ads API v14 and Google Ads new design.

SEO Market Updates

Google treats .ai domains as generic top level domains

If you’re looking to build a website with a .ai domain and are worried Google will target it to the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla, I have some fantastic news for you.

Google updated their help document in June to reflect that Search now views .ai domains as a generic top-level domain rather than being geo-specific.

Here’s what Gary Illyes had to say on the update:

We just added .ai to the list of generic country code top level domains. What does this mean? In short, nothing.

In long, also nothing in the grand scheme of things: we won’t infer the target country from the ccTLD so targeting Anguilla became a little harder, but then again there are barely any .ai domains that try to do that anyway.”

Looker Studio Update Brings 170 New Fields 

For those looking for some more in-depth analysis when building reports, you will be pleased to learn that Looker Studio has added 170 new fields after a huge update.

I won’t list all of the 170 new fields here but highlights include:

  • Average session duration.
  • Landing page.
  • Session & user conversion rate.
  • Session conversion rate by event name.
  • Page referrer.

To gain access to these sweet, sweet new fields, you’ll need to:

  • Click on ‘Data Sources’.
  • Choose the source you want to update.
  • Click ‘Refresh Fields’ located in the bottom left corner.
  • A new window will pop up showing the new fields.
  • Click ‘Apply’.

Please note that the number of new fields you have access to will be dependent on the number of conversion events you have. Happy reporting!

Three New Issue Details Added to Video Indexing Report

Google added new detailed actions to the video indexing report found in Google Search Console. In their announcement, they said:

In order to help you better understand this issue and provide you with more actionable reasons, we are breaking down the “Google could not determine the prominent video on the page” reason into three more specific reasons.”

The new issue details are:

  • Video outside the viewport: Reposition the video on the page so that the entire video is inside the renderable area of the page and seen when the page loads.
  • Video too small: Increase the height of the video so that it’s larger than 140px or the width of the video so that it’s larger than 140px and at least a third of the page’s width.
  • Video too tall: Decrease the height of the video so that it’s smaller than 1080px.
Video indexing report
Here’s what these issues will look like within the report.

It may be the case that you don’t see these new issues in the report yet. Google explained that since the ‘Search Console video indexing report shows 3 months of historical data, you may still see the “Google could not determine the prominent video on the page”’. 

This change will allow site owners to see the exact reason why their videos are experiencing issues to overcome problems more efficiently.

Google Releases New Search Spam Report Form

A new form has been released by Google to submit reports of spam, malicious behaviour, paid links, and other search issues. The form also allows users to submit complaints in bulk.

Google wrote:

“Various ranking manipulation techniques attempt to compromise the quality of our results and degrade the search experience for everyone. These techniques go beyond the traditional definition of spam. Some sites are extremely poor quality, others are deceptive and harmful to our users. That is why we are expanding the scope of user feedback we want to collect.”

Google's spam report
Here’s what the new report looks like.

The form allows searchers to report a page that is:

  • Displaying spammy content.
  • Engaging with spammy behaviour.
  • Deceptive.
  • Low quality.
  • Containing paid links.

It is hoped that this form will make it easier for Google to identify problematic websites by involving users who are having negative experiences first-hand.

INP Report added to Google Search Console

Google is preparing for Interaction to Next Paint (INP) to replace First Input Delay (FID) in 2024 by releasing a new report within Search Console to measure your site’s performance.

Google explained INP within its help documentation:

  • “INP (interaction to next paint): A metric that assesses a page’s overall responsiveness to user interactions by observing the time that it takes for the page to respond to all click, tap, and keyboard interactions that occur throughout the lifespan of a user’s visit to a page. The final INP value is the longest interaction observed, ignoring outliers. 
    • Group INP shown in the report means that 75% of visits to a URL in this group had this value or better.”

This new report gives site owners a ‘heads up’ on how Google will view your pages in reference to the new INP core web vital metric, giving you more time to prepare for the March 2024 deadline.

Google Says Sitemaps Ping Endpoint is Going Away

Google announced in June that it would be ending support for sitemaps ping and the endpoint will stop working by the end of 2023. The Sitemaps Protocol was introduced in 2005 to assist search engines with discovering new URLs, as well as scheduling new crawls of already discovered URLs.

In the blog announcing the change, Google wrote that the protocol is widely popular and hasn’t changed in over 15 years. They also stated that aspects of the protocol have “become less practical in today’s internet”.

Google said that it’s ending the support as internal studies, alongside data from Bing, dictate that “these unauthenticated sitemap submissions are not very useful”. In Google Search’s case, “the vast majority of the submissions lead to spam”.

Site owners can still submit sitemaps through robots.txt and Search Console, however the HTTP requests, or “pings”, “to the deprecated REST endpoint will result in a 404 error”. Google also said that you should use the lastmod element in your sitemap file when confident that the stated date matches when the page actually changed.

Google also added:

If your CMS changed an insignificant piece of text in the sidebar or footer, you don’t have to update the lastmod value for that page. However if you changed the primary text, added or changed structured data, or updated some links, do update the lastmod value.”

AMP Support Launched for GA4

The Google Analytics 4 deadline was a hot focus of June, and Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) support for GA4 in preparation. 

If you were using AMP before, you’ll still be able to measure your performance in the same way as Universal Analytics (UA) now everyone is switched over to GA4.

Here’s Google Analytics announcing the change on Twitter:

PPC Market Updates

Google Ads API v14 Launches

Google Ads saw a substantial update in June with the arrival of API v14. The update brought an improved user experience, enhancing both campaign management and performance. 

Here’s the highlights from the update:

This Google Ads API update is the second of the year with version 13.1 being released in April. To use the newest features you will need to upgrade your client libraries and client code.

Google Ads Gets a New Lick of Paint

After trialling two new looks, Google Ads has started rolling out its brand new design featuring a main menu on the left of the screen and new page navigation.

The 5 new high-level navigation categories are:

  1. Campaigns: where you analyse, optimise, and manage your campaigns.
  2. Goals: where you define, monitor, and update your conversion goals.
  3. Tools: where you can find tools for: 
    • Planning.
    • Bidding and budgets.
    • Troubleshooting.
  4. Billing: where you monitor your spend and payments.
  5. Admin: where you manage your team, security, and account settings.

Google stated that this new level of categorisation made the new design “more effective for both new and experienced advertisers”.

Here’s a look at the new Google Ads design.

The new design has started rolling out for users who took part in the initial trial which started on 2nd March 2023. Everyone else will be moved over to the new design by December.

If you decide the new design isn’t for you, then you have the option to revert back to the good old layout until 2024, so we recommend getting used to it.

If you need assistance getting to grips with the new Google Ads design, or need some last minute help with all things GA4, get in touch with one of our experts today.

Meta Threads the Needle with Well-Timed Social Media Launch

Meta have thrown their hat in the ring in the race to replace Twitter with their new social media platform, Threads. The app is very similar to Twitter with some interesting integrations with Instagram. In this article we’ll walk you through what Threads is, how to use it, its features, and whether it will be the new Twitter.

What is Threads?

Threads is a conversational based social media app built by the Instagram team. The app requires you to log in using your Instagram account and allows you to post up to 500 characters of text which can include links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length.

A view of Thread's sign in screen, it's main feed, and profiles.
What the Threads app looks like. © Meta

Signing up is easy and the integration with Instagram means you can quickly import your username, profile picture, biography, website link, and verification status in an instant. The app also gives you the option to follow the same accounts as your Instagram profile, meaning you won’t load into an empty feed.

The app is free to use and is available for download from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

How to Use Threads

As mentioned, you must have an Instagram account to sign up for Threads and once you’re signed up, your details will be ported over. However, you can customise your profile if you so desire. If you’re using Meta in the UK, users under 18 will be greeted by a private profile by default.

Creating a post, or a ‘Thread’, works similarly to Twitter by allowing you to post text up to 500 characters, as well as links, photos and videos. The app also gives you the option to select who can view your Threads, which can be anyone on the app or just your followers.

Images depicting how a user posts on Threads.
Threads allows you to post text, photos, links, and video. © Meta

Usual social media functionality can be found on Threads including the ability to unfollow, report, block, or restrict a profile. Plus anyone you have blocked on Instagram will be automatically blocked on Threads.

Threads also boasts some nice accessibility features including screen reader support, as well as AI-generated image descriptions which are also found on Instagram.

Your Threads feed will include posts from the accounts you follow and recommended content from profiles that the app thinks you will enjoy. Any Threads you post can be shared on your Instagram story, as well as being able shared via a link.

Meta is also planning to make Threads compatible with ActivityPub to integrate with other apps that support the protocol, such as WordPress and Mastodon. In the blog announcing Threads, they said:

Our vision is that people using compatible apps will be able to follow and interact with people on Threads without having a Threads account, and vice versa, ushering in a new era of diverse and interconnected networks. If you have a public profile on Threads, this means your posts would be accessible from other apps, allowing you to reach new people with no added effort.”

Is Threads The New Twitter?

It’s no secret that Twitter is struggling and Meta is jumping on the opportunity to take over. Whilst many have tried to capitalise on the dissatisfaction with Twitter, including Mastodon and Bluesky, Meta is in the unique position of importing their users straight from their already dominating social media platform, Instagram, and I think this will be the difference maker in its success. 

Would this be a good time to mention that Fusion Unlimited is now on Threads? If you’ve signed up for Threads, give us a follow right here.

Common GA4 Challenges: What You Need To Know

As of July 1st, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will take over from Universal Analytics (UA) as Google’s primary analytics service. If you haven’t set up the latest generation of web analytics yet then we recommend acting fast and getting your website data migrated. If you are unsure where to start, get in touch and we can help get you off the ground.

*Touch wood* The transition to GA4 has been relatively straightforward for most brands. Google’s wizard that pops up on Universal Analytics does a fairly good job of simplifying the transition process, however it can’t go far beyond the basics.

So, we have put together a list of some of the most common challenges and questions appearing for those setting up GA4 and offer advice on how to solve them.

GA4 Challenges

Without further ado, here at the common GA4 challenges and their workarounds: 

1. Understanding New Concepts

While we still have access to some of the core metrics we’re all used to from UA, GA4 presents some new concepts to grapple with. Understanding exactly what has changed and how the new concepts work will mean you can reap the benefits of the new system more effectively. Examples include:

  • GA becomes entirely event driven, and sessions in the classic sense don’t exist anymore. Instead, a session should be viewed as a group of events attributed to one user.
  • Goals no longer exist, and are replaced with conversions. Conversions are configured by defining custom events, then setting these events as conversions.
  • Whilst bounce rate still exists, it is joined by engaged sessions. An engaged session is one where a user has a “meaningful” engagement, and the threshold for defining bounce rate is lowered. This appears to be a positive move – instead of measuring a perceived negative (amount of people leaving the site after viewing one page), we can now also measure a positive (did the user engage in a meaningful way, even if on one page).

2. How to Create Events in GA4

  • Click events, which can be found in the property column.
  • Click ‘Create Event’.
  • Select the event to modify or create a new one in the ‘Custom Events’ table.
  • Adjust the conditions and parameters as needed.
  • Click Save.

What is an event?

In GA, an event offers you the means of measuring a specific interaction or occurrence on your website. For example, you might set up an event that identifies when a visitor to your site has viewed a confirmation page, such as after the successful submission of a contact form, or when a visitor successfully completes a purchase. They could also be as simple as tracking when a page is loaded in the browser.

You can also use events to track and measure system behaviour, for example if an app crashes.

3. How to Set Up Conversions in GA4

All conversions are events but not all events are conversions. In GA4, you will set up conversions the same way you set up events (see above), but what defines a conversion is that they should be measurements of site performance.

Some example of goals include: 

  • Complete purchases
  • Contact form leads
  • Newsletter sign ups

After you have followed the steps to create an event, setting it up as a conversion is really simple. You go to the conversions option in admin and you should find your new event listed here (don’t worry if it’s not there immediately, sometimes it can take a short while to appear). Using the slider, mark it as a conversion and you are good to go!

4. Transferring Reporting

For many brands, Google’s Looker Studio is the preferred choice of reporting dashboard to visualise analytics data and make it accessible to different stakeholders.

Recreating like-for-like Universal Analytics reports in a GA4 format isn’t the most straightforward thing in Looker Studio, and one particular challenge that has cropped up is with blended data. In many instances, blending data simply doesn’t function as intended, and many marketers have taken to utilising Supermetrics as a workaround – or to exporting data into Google Sheets and doing a custom data blend.

Ensure you’ve identified the key differences between UA and GA4, made considerations around how your reports will transfer over to GA4, and have a plan in place to quickly get your reporting started so you never lose control of the wheel.

5. Understanding the Exploration Tab

Exploration reports in GA4 offer you a way to create custom detailed analyses of your data and performance so you can really get down to the nitty gritty details of what goes on within your site or app. 

With a range of custom templates you can choose to visualise your data and with a vast variety of filters and segments to help ensure you are getting the exact detail and insight you are looking for, explorations are invaluable for brands wanting to really get up close and personal with their data.

When logged into GA4, you can find the exploration tab to the left. Here you will be presented with the option to start a new blank exploration or choose a template to get you off the ground. 

There is loads to learn within the exploration tool and one of the best things we can recommend is allocating some time to have a look around and get familiar with exactly what’s on offer and the potential you can tap into. 

The GA4 Deadline in Fast Approaching 

Google will be saying goodbye to Universal Analytics and welcoming in Google Analytics 4 on the 1st of July, and it’s imperative that you get set up and start tracking before then. If you are still having difficulty with GA4 and could use some support from industry experts, the Fusion Unlimited team can offer you support and training to help you get the ball rolling. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

GA4 vs Universal Analytics: What are the Differences?

If you’re currently using Universal Analytics (UA), you may already be aware of the emerging web analytics service that is set to take over. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the next iteration of Google’s data tool, set to replace UA as of 1st July 2023. From this date onwards, Universal Analytics properties will cease processing, so it’s important to get adjusted to the new way of analysing that all-important website and app data. 

To shed light on the differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4, we have created this blog post to outline the key changes and help you navigate the transition effectively.

1. Different Data Models

Universal Analytics uses a session-based data model where user interactions, or hits, are measured in sessions. For example, a session could include pageviews, events or transactions.

Google Analytics 4 introduces an event-based data model that means any interaction is categorised as an event. GA4 captures data using an enhanced measurement library and tracks users with unique identifiers, which can be persisted across multiple sessions and devices. 

2. The Interface has Changed

You’ll notice when using GA4 that the reporting interface looks different to Universal Analytics. You may find it difficult to find where you usually do your reporting, since reports may have been replaced or renamed. This is why we recommend getting accustomed to the new format as soon as possible to uncover the most important insights for you. 

3. Engagement Rate Replaces Bounce Rate

You will also find new metrics to measure performance by. In GA4, ‘engagement rate’ is the percentage of sessions that lasted longer than 10 seconds, triggered a conversion event or viewed at least 2 pages. Bounce rate, on the other hand, was used in UA to describe the percentage of people who entered a page but didn’t interact. In GA4, bounce rate is therefore the inverse of engagement rate. 

This new method of measuring engagement is deemed superior because previously, bounces may have been registered even if a user spent time on the page. For example, if a user clicked on a blog page and read the article yet left the page after, this would have been considered a bounce in Universal Analytics. In GA4 this would be classed as an engaged session.

4. Mobile App Tracking

One of the biggest upgrades with GA4 is that mobile app data is now easily gathered alongside website tracking. This means app traffic can be combined with web data within the same property and saves you time previously spent analysing app data separately. In GA4, there can be multiple data streams per property, such as iOS app, android app and website.

If you set up the User-ID feature, you can achieve more accurate statistics as users are counted only once when they engage, whether that is on the website through desktop or tablet or on a mobile app. This ID feature prevents duplication in tracking and is important for metrics such as New Users, as users will only be classed as ‘new’ if entering the site or app for the first time on any device.

5. Google Signals

With Universal Analytics, cookies were used to record users’ actions. Now, if a user is signed into their Google account and has ads personalisation turned on, GA4 tracks your session data more accurately and makes the cross-device tracking work seamlessly. This compares to UA, where each session was counted separately per device.

6. Machine Learning

GA4 offers AI insights and predictions powered by machine learning. By collecting structured event data, you can access predictive metrics including purchase probability, churn probability and predicted revenue. 

Another fun feature in GA4 is its anomaly detection tool, offering you automatic alerts when metrics deviate from an expected range. With this, the contribution analysis feature can showcase which specific audience segment has caused these changes. These alerts can save time from usual checks and help you to notice areas of concern and successes sooner so that you can capitalise on opportunities. 

7. Audiences

Following on from machine learning, an interesting update to audiences is that GA4 uses AI models to analyse website data which provides you with AI-driven audiences that you may not have picked up on previously. 

As well as previously-mentioned AI-driven audiences, there are new updates in defining and segmenting audiences in GA4. Moving away from the session-based data model of UA, in GA4 audiences can use condition scoping, check sequence actions within a time restraint and create audience triggers. This more granular way of defining audiences allows for greater insights from data collection.

8. Improvements in Data Privacy

In GA4 IP addresses are no longer stored or collected, in comparison to UA, in an attempt to further protect user data. Data management is also easier in terms of data deletion and there is more flexibility in choosing how long GA4 stores user-specific data. 

Migrate to GA4 Smoothly

For individuals still using Universal Analytics, it’s time to set up GA4 as soon as possible to begin collecting data and familiarising yourself with the new interface. This blog highlighted some of the significant ways in which UA is different to GA4, so if you’d like further assistance in migrating your website over and getting used to these changes we’re here to help. Get in touch with Fusion Unlimited, a top 3% Google Premier Partner agency ready to jump in and support your GA4 migration and learning.

Prolific North: Fusion Unlimited Once Again Makes Top 50

We are proud to announce that we are once again featured in Prolific North’s Top 50 Digital Agencies, placing at 35 in 2023. Showcasing the best in digital across the Northern regions, their annual list is a hub of industry-leading agencies worth keeping an eye on.

Ranking for Prolific North’s Top 50 is based on factors including headcount, pre-tax profits, and growth. 

How Fusion Unlimited Earned a Spot On the List

The digital marketing industry has no shortage of practitioners, and in this competitive landscape the key to success is doing things a little differently. Our working model, where the client-facing teams are those delivering the work, means expert strategy is delivered efficiently and cooperatively, with communication at the heart of our operations. 

But it’s not just our client servicing that has kept us comfortably in the Top 50. This past year we have also:

  • Consolidated existing business and accounts
  • Added new clients to the mix
  • Mainained strong turnover
  • Grown revenue
  • And sustained headcount in our team

If you’re interested in learning more about how a Top 50 agency could help your brand gain visibility and grow, read more about how Fusion Unlimited has supported some of the UK’s leading businesses across a diverse range of sectors.

Digital Marketing Updates: May 2023

Forget carpe diem, Google seized the May this month with a slew of updates coming from I/O and Google Marketing Live 2023; including a view at project Magi and new features coming to Search and Google Ads. There’s a lot to cover, so may I jump into the updates?

In this article, we cover the following key updates from May:

SEO Market Updates

Google Unveils Search Generative Experience

Last month we heard rumblings of an AI-powered search engine being produced by Google and this month we got to see what it looks like.

Those of you lucky enough to make it through the Google Labs waitlist will have probably played around with the new engine, previously known as project Magi.

In the blog announcing the engine, Google said they are “taking more of the work out of searching, so you’ll be able to understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights, and get things done more easily.”

In the previews, we can see an AI-generated answer located above the search results with a big label expressing that “Generative AI is experimental” aka if the result tells you something stupid, don’t blame us!

Clicking the expand button takes you to a deeper response from the AI and there’s even the opportunity to take the AI into conversational mode where users can ask more about the topic you’re searching.

If you’re an online shopaholic, you can get some generative help to give you the “full picture when you’re shopping, making even the most considered and complex purchase decisions faster and much easier.”

The AI will provide you with “noteworthy factors to consider and products that fit the bill” when you’re searching for a product. It will also show product descriptions, up-to-date reviews, ratings, and product images. 

Google says that this is because the AI is built on Google’s Shopping Graph, “which has more than 35 billion product listings”.

The good news is that the generative search includes a link to publishers, unlike little brother Bard, meaning that website traffic shouldn’t take a huge hit.

This new search experience isn’t a million miles from the Google Search we know and love today, however the AI integration is quite exciting. We don’t think this will affect the SEO landscape anytime soon but we will keep our ear to the AI-generated streets.

Google Add New Features to Search

Whilst Google is developing their AI-powered search, their old search engine is still getting new features in the form of ‘perspectives’, ‘about this image’, and ‘AI-generated image labels’.

Perspectives

We had our first look at perspectives back in March and now we get to see even more of it.

Perspectives works as a filter that lets searchers refine their search results to show more personalised content such as videos or blogs.

From this new screenshot, we can see the example search ‘how to make friends in a new city’. After hitting the perspectives filter, the search results show video content from YouTube as well as Reddit forums.

About This Image

Similarly to Google’s ‘about this result’ feature for text-based results, ‘about this image’ will show searchers when an image, and similar images, were first indexed. It will also show where the image was originally posted and where else the image is being used across the web.

Here it is in action:

AI-generated Image Labels

With the increasing plight of AI imagery taking the web by storm, Google is giving site owners the opportunity to mark an image on their site as AI-generated.

Google said that they are “not there yet” in ability to mark AI imagery algorithmically, so they are giving the power to site owners with this new meta data label.

This will be only available for image content, but who would admit to using AI-generated text anyway?

INP to Replace FID as Core Web Vitals Metric

During Google I/O it was announced that Interaction to Next Paint (INP) will replace First Input Delay (FID) in Core Web Vitals from March 2024.

INP is a metric that indicates the responsiveness of a page.

Google wrote:

When an interaction causes a page to become unresponsive, that is a poor user experience. INP observes the latency of all interactions a user has made with the page, and reports a single value which all (or nearly all) interactions were below. A low INP means the page was consistently able to respond quickly to all—or the vast majority—of user interactions.”

Here’s a timeline of the changes:

Helpful Content System Algorithm Update Incoming

A new update for the helpful content system is on its way, Google announced. On the update Google wrote:

Last year, we launched the helpful content system to show more content made for people, and less content made to attract clicks. In the coming months, we’ll roll out an update to this system that more deeply understands content created from a personal or expert point of view, allowing us to rank more of this useful information on Search.”

The update aims to reward content that is, dare I say helpful, rather than content that was designed purely to rank well in SERPs. Google said that this is part of their “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in search.”

Related Topics Filter to Hit Desktop Search Results

After being integrated into mobile search at the backend of 2022, Google is bringing the related topics filter to desktop search.

Take a look at it in action:

The update continues Google’s mission to make search easier and more relevant for users, bringing them to results they might not have reached previously. 

Google Completes Final Mobile-first Indexing Switch

After six and a half years, Google has confirmed they have finished moving sites over to mobile-first indexing.

Mobile-first indexing means that your site will be crawled from the perspective of a mobile browser and using that version of the page for indexing and ranking. 

If your site hasn’t been moved, it likely never will.

In an effort to help searches reach relevant, expert, and knowledgeable content in search and news, Google has announced a “new” system titled “topic authority”. 

New is in quotation marks as Google Search Liaison said the system has been used for several years:

Google said that the system was developed to “determine which expert sources are helpful to someone’s newsy query in certain [specialised] topic areas, such as health, politics, or finance.”

On how the system works, Google explained it “looks at a variety of signals to understand the degree of expertise a publication has in particular areas”. These include how notable a source is for a topic or location, influence and original reporting, and source reputation.

Google gave the following example:

Here’s one way topic authority can help in a search: say, for example, there was a flood where you lived. The topic authority signal helps us identify content from publications in that region that regularly cover topics in your city or town and surface them towards the top of your search results. These are likely familiar publications that are trusted voices in the community, even though larger national outlets may be covering the flood as well.”

PPC Market Updates

Google Marketing Live 2023

Google Marketing Live followed suit of I/O with a huge emphasis on AI integration – let’s jump into what’s new.

First up, Google Ads campaigns can now be created with an AI-driven chat within the Ads interface. This will allow for the AI to do some of the heavy lifting when creating a campaign including assistance with asset creation. This integration also means that the AI can also generate assets based on individual queries – making ads more relevant to users.

Pmax also received the AI treatment, adding text and image generation to help create assets for campaigns.

The new Product Studio tool also brings a whole toolbelt of AI goodies to the hands of merchants. Leaning on Google AI, the studio allows users to edit and enhance product imagery including custom product scenes, background removal, and image resolution.

Google also added two new campaign types: video views and demand gen.

  • Video view campaigns: if you’re looking to maximise your view, you’re in luck. This campaign will combine skipple in-stream ads, in-feed ads, and Shorts ads to give you the most views for video.
  • Demand gen campaigns: using AI to help engage and drive action with consumers across YouTube Shorts, YouTube in-stream, YouTube in-feed, Discover, and Gmail.

Meta Jump on The AI Wagon

Meta are looking to bring generative AI to its advertisers with their new AI Sandbox.

The sandbox brings three new AI features to advertisers including text variation, background generation, and image outcropping:

  • Text variation: Entering your copy into the text variation tool results in several suggestions for your ad. 
  • Background generation: picture the scene, you’ve got a stunning picture of your product on a boring white background. With the background generation tool, you can enter text prompts to describe the ideal background appearance for your image and boom – no more boring white background.
  • Image outcropping: this tool allows merchants to adjust assets to fit whatever aspect ratio their heart’s, or campaign’s, desires. 

Whilst the sandbox is only available for a small group of advertisers, Meta plans to expand access in July.

Want to learn how these AI tools can enhance your campaigns? Get in touch with Fusion’s team of experts today.

A Guide to Setting Up GA4

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, so does the need for powerful and comprehensive web analytics tools. Google Analytics is the essential tool for tracking and reporting website data and has seen many updates throughout the years. In 2020, Google released its most recent large update with Google Analytics 4 (GA4), which focuses on event-based data in comparison to hit-based like its predecessor Universal Analytics.

With the announcement that Universal Analytics will be phased out and stop collecting data from the 1st of July 2023, it’s time for website owners and marketers to embrace GA4 and take advantage of its enhanced features and capabilities. In this article, we will provide tips to help you get started with Google Analytics 4 and ensure a smooth transition from Universal Analytics.

What’s the Difference Between GA4 and Universal Analytics?

Before diving into the setup process, it’s helpful to know the key difference between Universal Analytics and GA4. Google Analytics 4 takes a more user-centric approach, focusing on tracking individual visitors across multiple devices and platforms. It uses an event-driven model, allowing greater flexibility in tracking user interactions and providing more granular insights. Universal Analytics, on the other hand, used a session-based data model and focused on page views.

How to Set Up GA4

The way you set up your GA4 account will depend on whether you already have a Universal Analytics account and if it’s tagged appropriately. If you don’t have an account, you will first have to create one. The following steps are most relevant for users who already have a Universal Analytics account and want to migrate to GA4.

1. Decide How To Use Tracking Tags

To use GA4, you’ll need to ensure your tracking code is embedded within the header of every page on your website. This is typically deployed via one of two fully supported methods:

  • Google Tag (GTAG), which is the javascript framework used to insert tags directly into source code.
  • Google Tag Manager, a handy free tool Google makes available that can also be used to track a multitude of tracking tags (our preferred choice).

2. Create a New GA4 Property

To begin, you’ll need to create a new GA4 property. Sign in to your Google Analytics account and head to the Admin section. From there, select the appropriate account and click GA4 Setup Assistant under the Property tab. Follow the prompts from the Property Setup Assistant to set up the new GA4 property.

Depending on how your site is currently tagged, you’ll either have to set up a Google tag or you’ll see the option to create a property now if you’re able to use your existing tag from Universal Analytics.

3. Set Up Data Streams

In GA4, data is organised into data streams that correspond to different platforms or devices. 

You can set up multiple data streams for one property, including an iOS app, Android app and Web. To set up a data stream, head to the Data Streams section within your GA4 property’s Admin settings. Follow the instructions to create a new data stream.

If you don’t have an app and already have Universal Analytics in place for your website, you’ll now be moving toward having a Universal Analytics property with a dedicated data stream, and a new GA4 property with its own dedicated data stream for the web.

4. Configure Events and Conversion Tracking

Events are the building blocks of GA4, allowing you to track user interactions and measure specific actions on your website or app. This updated analytics service provides enhanced event tracking capabilities compared to Universal Analytics. 

There are 4 types of events on GA4: 

  • Automatically collected events.
  • Enhanced measurement events.
  • Recommended events.
  • Custom events.

Define the events that you want to track and set up appropriate triggers and parameters to capture the desired user actions. You’ll want to consider which events are most important to your company and will provide the most useful insights. Additionally, identify which events should be switched to tracked conversions – these enable you to measure key goals and actions on your website that are commercially significant, such as form submissions, purchases, or newsletter sign-ups.

For the most part, the default ‘recommended events’ will likely comprise most of the fundamental reporting metrics you’re familiar with – although you may notice that some of the metrics have been updated slightly.

5. Check Your GA4 Works

Once you’ve configured event tracking, it’s important to make sure that your account is set up correctly and is pulling the data you want. You can do this by visiting the DebugView section under Admin. When you start seeing data, you’ll notice events are represented by blue icons and conversions are green. Make sure you cross-reference your GA4 data with its UA equivalent to check the tracking 

Get Prepared for GA4 Now

As Universal Analytics stops collecting data, Google Analytics 4 represents the future of web analytics so it’s important not to forget to set GA4 up. The earlier you set up your account, the more historical data you’ll be able to collect and it gives you time to familiarise yourself with the interface before the deadline.

If you’re still unsure about the set up process or would like assistance in migrating your Universal Analytics account to GA4, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of the team at Fusion Unlimited. As a top 3% Google Premier Partner, we are fully equipped to help your business with a seamless migration to GA4.

Digital Marketing Updates: April 2023

Spring has officially sprung and with it comes another busy month, chock-full of marketing news. In this article, we cover the following key updates from April:

  • SEO updates – from April reviews update to Project Magi.
  • Paid Media updates – including Google Ads API update and new validations for ad account names.

SEO Market Updates

Google Releases April 2023 Reviews Update

Google was moving like Justin Timberlake in The Social Network in April by dropping the word “products” from their reviews update. This is because the updates now impact content reviews around products, services, media, destinations, and beyond.

The April 2023 reviews update dropped on the 12th and took 13 days to fully roll out on the 25th.

This expansion of the updates means that if your site publishes reviews that cover products, services, media, or destinations, you should brush up on your best practices to ensure your rankings aren’t affected.

SpamBrain Caught Five Times More Spam in 2022

Google released a 2022 webspam report in April in which they claimed that SpamBrain caught five times more spam sites last year compared to 2021, and 200 times compared to 2018 when it first launched.

The report also included some improvements to SpamBrain which are designed to tackle abusive links, hacked spam, and faster spam handling. 

Google also updated its spam policies as part of the Search Essentials for site owners. In the report, Google said:

These spam policies cover the most common types of spam and abusive [behaviours], and could lead to a site ranking lower or not appearing at all in Search results. We updated our spam policies with more relevant and precise language, and included new examples that help site owners avoid creating harmful content.”

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely not breaching Google’s spam policies. However, if you think there’s potential you might be adhering to spammy tactics on your site, it might be time to brush up on Google’s documentation on the topic to avoid looming penalties.

Google Working on New Search Engine and Project Magi

According to the New York Times, Google is making an “all new search engine”. The article states that the search engine will be powered by Google’s new AI technology, whilst working on adding AI features to the current search engine, under the name Magi.

The article states: “The new search engine would offer users a far more [personalised] experience than the company’s current service, attempting to anticipate users’ needs.”

Whilst the new search engine seems to be in the early stages, the report claims that a team of designers are currently working on the engine and that it “could put new A.I. technology in phones and homes all over the world”.

Project Magi, on the other hand, looks to add new features to the current Google Search with a team of over 160 employees working on it. 

Google’s new search engine is not something brands need to worry about today. However, conceptually, Project Magi might be worth monitoring due to its integration of AI. Does AI have the potential to transform search results? For now, we’re sceptical, however we’re closely studying the latest developments and will keep you posted.

Good Page Experience Factors into Helpful Content

A new section has been added to Google’s guidance on creating helpful content documentation saying that good page experience is important when creating helpful content. They also updated their understanding page experience in Google Search results documentation, providing more details on the topic.

The new section of the document reads:

Google’s core ranking systems look to reward content that provides a good page experience. Site owners seeking to be successful with our systems should not focus on only one or two aspects of page experience. Instead, check if you’re providing an overall great page experience across many aspects.”

RIP to the Search Console Page Experience Report

Gone but not forgotten, Search Console is sending the page experience report to the grave, to be replaced with a page that links to Google’s general guidance on page experience, alongside a “dashboard-view of the individual Core Web Vitals and HTTPS reports”.

Google is also saying farewell to Search Console’s “Mobile Usability” report, as well as the Mobile-Friendly Test tool and API. On this Google wrote: 

This doesn’t mean that mobile usability isn’t important for success with Google Search. It remains critical for users, who are using mobile devices more than ever, and as such, it remains a part of our page experience guidance. But in the nearly ten years since we initially launched this report, many other robust resources for evaluating mobile usability have emerged, including Lighthouse from Chrome.”

UA3 Data to Show For A Year After July

As the sunset countdown continues to dwindle, Google shared some further details on Universal Analytics 3’s deadline.

In a new help document posted in April, Google stated that you will be able to access, report, and export historical data for a year after the data stops collecting.

UA3 will stop collecting data on 1st July 2023, so you will still have viewer access until 1st July 2024.

Google Drops Multiple Ranking Systems

Google updated its documented ranking systems page in April, removing four systems.

The systems removed were:

  • Page experience system
  • Mobile-friendly ranking system
  • Page speed system
  • Secure sites system

The page experience system was dropped from the main list, and mobile-friendly, page speed and secure site systems were removed from the retired list.

On page experience, Google said:

The page experience update was a concept to describe a set of key page experience aspects for site owners to focus on. In particular, it introduced Core Web Vitals as a new signal that our core ranking systems considered, along with other page experience signals such as HTTPS that they’d already been considering. It was not a separate ranking system, and it did not combine all these signals into one single “page experience” signal.”

Here’s the final word from John Mueller:

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1649697886592987136?

Google Explains its Web Crawlers

Google updated its Verifying Googlebot and other Google crawlers help document at the back-end of April.

They added a new section to the documentation explaining the three types of crawlers they use:

  • Googlebot: The main crawler for Google’s search products. Always respects robots.txt rules.
  • Special-case crawlers: Crawlers that perform specific functions (such as AdsBot), which may or may not respect robots.txt rules.
  • User-triggered fetchers: Tools and product functions where the end user triggers a fetch. For example, Google Site Verifier acts on the request of a user. Because the fetch was requested by a user, these fetchers ignore robots.txt rules.

A couple days prior, Google added a new crawler named GoogleOther. Google defined it as a “[g]eneric crawler that may be used by various product teams for fetching publicly accessible content from sites”. They also gave the example of the crawler being used for “one-off crawls for internal research and development”.

On GoogleOther, Garry Illyes wrote:

We added a new crawler, GoogleOther to our list of crawlers that ultimately will take some strain off of Googlebot. This is a no-op change for you, but it’s interesting nonetheless I reckon.

As we [optimise] how and what Googlebot crawls, one thing we wanted to ensure is that Googlebot’s crawl jobs are only used internally for building the index that’s used by Search. For this we added a new crawler, GoogleOther, that will replace some of Googlebot’s other jobs like R&D crawls to free up some crawl capacity for Googlebot.

The new crawler uses the same infrastructure as Googlebot and so it has the same limitations and features as Googlebot: hostload limitations, robotstxt (though different user agent token), http protocol version, fetch size, you name it. It’s basically Googlebot under a different name.”

Paid Market Updates

Ad Group and Keyword Forecasts to Be Removed From Google Ads

From 1st June 2023, Google will be removing the Keyword Plan Ad Group Forecast and Keyword Plan Keyword Forecast functionalities.

In a blog announcing the change, Google said:

Starting June 1, the GenerateForecastMetricsRequest will still be used to fetch forecasts, but the KeywordPlanAdGroupForecast and KeywordPlanKeywordForecast will be empty. The KeywordPlanCampaignForecast will be returned as usual.

If you are using KeywordPlanAdGroupForecast or KeywordPlanKeywordForecast in your applications, update your applications to ensure that they can handle blank responses.”

New GA4 Fractional, Cross-channel Web Conversions Feature Implemented to Google Ads

April saw a new feature added to Google Ads that allows fractional, cross-channel web conversion credits from GA4 properties to be imported.

Google wrote

Previously, web conversions were imported from Google Analytics 4 on a cross-channel last click basis and then attributed in Google Ads based on the attribution model you selected in your Google Ads account. This means that if the last click was not from Google advertising, then no conversion was imported into Google Ads. Today, with this upgrade, fractional cross-channel conversion credit will be imported into Google Ads (even if the last non-direct click was not Google advertising).”

The update allows advertisers to gain a holistic view of their ads by considering the full customer journey which in turn allows them to make much better-informed decisions when considering ad spend.

New Validations for Ad Account Names Announced by Google

New Google Ads accounts will not be able to include a URL in their name starting from June 2023. 

In a blog, Google wrote:

Specifically, when creating a new Google Ads account in the Google Ads API, or updating an existing account, if a URL is present in the descriptive_name field, an ACTION_NOT_PERMITTED error will be returned and the operation will fail.

The descriptive_name field of existing accounts will not be affected by this change.”

New Changes to Google Ads API 

April saw the release of the v13_1 Ads API and with it a slew of new features. To use said features, the client libraries and client code must first be upgraded.

The new features include:

  • Bid simulations can be retrieved at a campaign level for Performance Max through campaign_simulation.
  • Several added recommendation types related to Shopping campaigns, such as recommendations to migrate to Performance Max and recommendations to fix a Merchant Center account’s suspension.
  • Google Ads now accepts SKAdNetwork conversion value schemas for iOS App campaigns.
  • LeadFormField.has_location_answer added to support specifying whether locations of the location assets at the campaign or customer level should be displayed with a lead form.
  • Performance Max campaigns now have a VEHICLES listing type in the newly Campaign.listing_type field. This replaces ShoppingSetting.use_vehicles_inventory, which will be reserved for Smart Shopping campaigns.

Google to Update Dangerous Products and Services Policy

Looking ahead to July, Google Ads will update its Dangerous products and services policy to include “ads for products which carry an imminent, proven and unresolved risk of death or grievous bodily harm, that have been the subject of a consumer advisory or product recalls”. 

Google wrote that they would start enforcing the policy update on 3rd July 2023.

They also noted that violations of the policy will not lead to an immediate account suspension and that a 7 day warning will be issued prior.

If you feel any of your ads fall under the scope of this policy, it’s time to review before heeding any punishment. Need a second opinion? Give Fusion a friendly hello and we would be happy to help.

Full Funnel Strategy: Offline Marketing

Through years of experience providing marketing support to some of the UK’s best and biggest brands, we have come to understand which strategies really work to meet performance marketing objectives. One thing is clear – for ambitious brands, a multi-channel strategy is essential. It gives audiences the opportunity to engage with your brand at a higher level, enabling you to cast a wide net and cultivate leads throughout the marketing funnel.

What some brands overlook in today’s day and age, though, is that ‘multi-channel’ is not limited to digital. The lines between digital and traditional are blurred, and so we contrast ‘standard digital’ activity with ‘programmatic digital’ – where programmatic includes OOH media. Programmatic and offline media strategies can play a vital role in the consumer purchasing journey, and without an active presence in these channels, you could be missing out on touchpoints that ultimately lead to sales.

That’s why this blog will explain some of the simple concepts behind programmatic digital and offline media services – and how they could complement your standard digital activity.

At Fusion, we’ve provided these services to major brands for 20+ years, and even have a 12-year standing relationship with our largest offline media client.

What Is Programmatic Marketing?

Programmatic Marketing is the perfect complement to a standard digital strategy. It bolsters and supports the campaigns you are already running, making for a robust and well-rounded digital approach. With programmatic marketing and advertising, you can maximise brand visibility through using a range of automated advertising platforms.

These channels all use Geographic, Demographic, and Interest/Keyword targeting to ensure there is no wastage and only your target audience see and hear your ads, similar to the way paid search and social works.

Programmatic Marketing targets Mobile Ad ID (MAID), which is a random sequence of symbols found within a mobile device’s operating system. This ID is shared with servers of used apps which remembers user’s choices and tracks customer journeys.

MAID tracks data such as geolocation, frequently used apps, and language, allowing advertisers to build specific audience segments based on interest and activity; for example, if someone frequently visits a certain shopping centre or listens to a specific genre of music.

Whilst cookies are session-based, MAID is persistent, meaning it can ultimately lead to more reliable data which can feed into future targeting. 

Out of Home Media

The programmatic offering doesn’t end there. It also encompasses Out of Home media, which sees ads displayed via large-scale posters, bus shelter ads, and phone kiosk ads – as well as those in the London Underground, train stations, airports, gyms, service stations, soft play areas, leisure facilities, supermarkets, and shopping centres.

What does this mean? It allows us to run highly targeted digital Out of Home campaigns. This method minimises paper wastage and removes the strict timings and costly production charges associated with traditional Out of Home – primarily from printing and posting. 

Digital Out of Home enables you to deliver your messaging to huge audiences in high footfall and high dwell time areas – meaning you can run large-scale campaigns via impactful platforms, and at a level of quality that really stands out. You can also tie mobile campaigns into this mix, and run contextual campaigns that, for example, say ‘Hello Leeds’ to your customers, change depending on the current weather, or even a nearby sports event.

Campaigns can be executed nationwide, regionally, or focused on specific towns and cities – making them flexible and focused on your target market. Crucially, through an integrated campaign strategy you can deliver a multi-touchpoint strategy by targeting users who have been in the vicinity of a digital out-of-home ad with a follow-up mobile ad. This is the pinnacle of offline marketing in the modern day.

Our Offline Services

Here at Fusion, we can go a step beyond digital. Our services also include offline media such as newspapers, magazines, door drops, radio, and standard Out of Home advertising platforms – such as vinyl and paste format bus advertisements.

Again, these media formats can be added to your performance digital campaigns to give support to a specific town/city, region, or indeed nationwide. With the right combination of digital strategy, programmatic, and offline advertisements, you can ensure that your brand is seen in all the right places and by all the right people. But it’s not just about being seen, it’s about the collective impact of creating multiple opportunities for your audience to engage with your brand; feeding the funnel right the way through.

Branch Out with Fusion Unlimited

Brand fame is built by reaching communities and we can help you create the perfect blend of media to construct and deploy a full-funnel, multi-touchpoint strategy to do just that.

These formats are made accountable by trackable impression, circulation, and coverage data – so you still get a comprehensive view of your performance at every level. We work to industry benchmarks, and then strive to beat them so we can drive the best quality campaigns and awareness for our clients.

At Fusion, we are uniquely positioned as a digital media agency born from traditional offline media and have 25+ years’ of buying experience and a wealth of excellent relationships in the industry, which our clients reap the benefits of – from outstanding service, to highly competitive rates.

With long-standing clients of over 12 years in these areas, we are proud to say we know our stuff. Take a look at our out of home work with Thistles Shopping Centre as a starting point.

Why not tap into one of your undiscovered audiences today and get in touch.

Digital Marketing Updates: March 2023

As we say farewell to winter and welcome new possibilities in the springtime, let’s reflect on the month that passed us by and keep up with the latest in the world of digital marketing.

In this article, we cover the following key updates from March:

  • SEO Updates – from a core update to product review and ChatGPT.
  • Paid Media updates – including Ads Editor Version 2.3 and Ads Transparency Center.

SEO Market Updates

Google Rolls Out March 2023 Core Update

The alarms were sounded on 15th March when Google announced a core algorithm update.

This update came around six months after the previous one in September 2022, which aimed to deliver the most relevant, high-quality search results.

As with all core updates, there’s no single fix brands should be implementing. Rather, improving on the fundamentals is the best way to position for success – or recover from a dip in performance.

Google February 2023 Product Reviews Update Fully Rolled Out

Speaking of rolling out, the February 2023 Product Reviews Update rolled out to completion at the beginning of March.

Taking 14 days to roll out, the update sought to bring the effects of the previous updates to a broader range of languages than just English.

This is the sixth Product Reviews update, coming 5 months after the previous update in September which ultimately serves to reward good quality review content.

You can learn more about the update here.

Bing Chat gets a buff as OpenAI release GPT-4

GPT-4 was released by OpenAI in March, bringing a huge upgrade to ChatGPT and Bing Chat. 

OpenAI promised that the update would bring broader general knowledge, advanced reasoning, and greater accuracy. 

Here is OpenAI CTO Mira Murati announcing the update on Twitter:

For those who have used Bing Chat during its preview, you’ve already experienced GPT-4 Bing confirms:

If you’ve used the new Bing in preview at any time in the last six weeks, you’ve already had an early look at the power of OpenAI’s latest model. As OpenAI makes updates to GPT-4 and beyond, Bing benefits from those improvements to ensure our users have the most comprehensive copilot features available.”

Meanwhile, Italy banned ChatGPT – casting a shadow on the security of AI.

Google’s AI Coming to Docs and Gmail

Fans of productivity rejoice as Google is planning to integrate their AI tools into its Workplace suite.

In Google Docs, you’ll be met by a Help me write prompt instead of the usual blank document. Inserting a query into the box will generate a response straight into the document, ready for editing. Here’s a preview:

However be aware of the risks, as Google are, they said “AI is no replacement for the ingenuity, creativity, and smarts of real people. Sometimes the AI gets things wrong”. So make sure to read through!

For Gmail, AI will assist in writing and rewriting drafts. The preview provided by Google shows an email being drafted with a few lines of notes and being enhanced by the Formalize feature – check it out: 

Eagle eyed readers will notice a few more features within the preview: Elaborate, Shorten, Bulletize, I’m Feeling Lucky and Write a draft.

Site names, favicons and sponsored labels get a new look on desktop Google search

Following the update for mobile search last October, a new look for site names, favicons, and sponsored labels has launched on desktop.

For reference, here’s a screenshot:

If you can’t remember what it used to look like, the old interface used to display just the URL.

For those looking to control your site name, take a look over Google’s documentation on the subject. And here’s the documentation for favicon best practices.

Here’s Google announcing the update on Twitter:

Fewer Brand Names Showing in Google Search Result Titles

Following on from the sitename and favicon change, Google have begun to show less brand names within SERP titles.

Here’s Screaming Frog talking about it on Twitter:

The change makes sense given the sitename update and means a searcher doesn’t have to read the name of the website twice within the SERP. 

Here’s the final word from John Mueller: 

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1640787659546042380

Google Gives Some Perspectives Within Search

Fighting the good fight against misinformation, Google has launched a new perspectives feature as well as a multitude of new insights; including ‘about this author’, ‘about this result’, and ‘about this page’.

Perspectives

Following months of testing, Google has launched perspectives on Top Stories. The feature appears in a carousel and shows insights from experts and journalists on the topic you are searching. Google said that: 

This feature will give you a variety of noteworthy voices on a news topic, complementing the trustworthy reporting you already find on Search to help broaden your understanding.”

Here’s a preview:

About this author

Also rolling out is About this author which can be found by tapping the three dots next to the URL in the SERP. The feature gives searchers a little context about the webpage’s author. On the subject, Google said:

As we surface new voices and perspectives, we want to ensure that people can easily learn more about the authors behind the content they are reading and discover new voices they can trust. […] readers will be able to find more information about the background and experience of the voices we surface on Google Search.”

About this page

About this page, as the title suggests, gives readers a quick topline view of how the site describes itself, recent coverage, and what others have said about it. Here’s a look at it in action:

This feature used to live behind the three dots, but now Google imagines this to populate at the top of search.

About this result

Launched a few years back, About this result is expanding globally for everyone to enjoy. This feature is intended to help searchers ‘evaluate information and understand where it’s coming from’. Take a peak:

Google Search Console’s ‘Core Web Vitals Report’ Receives an Update

If you’ve peered into the Core Web Vitals report within Google Search Console, you may have noticed a change in the number of URLs.

Google wrote:

You may see a change in the number of URLs in your Core Web Vitals report. This is because more URLs are now being reported on due to a new origin group that contains data for URLs that previously fell below the data threshold.”

There should be a little marker in the timeline of the report, letting you know when the update took place.

PPC Market Updates

Google Ads Editor Version 2.3 is Released

Almost 5 months since the previous update, Google Ads Editor version 2.3 was released in March and brought a slew of new features with it.

New features include:

  • File support for image assets
  • Card view for image assets
  • Asset support
  • Primary Display Status buttons
  • Primary Display Status support
  • PMAX test asset Automation
  • Bid explorer
  • Location targeting
  • Proper pluralisation in messages

They also deprecated a couple features including:

  • Top content bid adjustment
  • Create Dynamic Search Ads recommendation

Blue Badges for Verified Advertises Tested in Google Ads

It seems that Google is testing verification checkmarks for ads in search. 

The checkmark is a white tick within a blue ridged circle, similar in design to Twitter’s verification (at least this one you don’t have to pay for…). 

Here’s a look at it:

Whilst this is still being tested and we are yet to see it in the UK, it will be interesting to see how this rolls out. 

Back in April 2020, Google had this to say regarding verification:

At Google, our goal is to make more information about the ad experience universally available and accessible. Broadening our verification policy is the next step in reaching that goal.”

You can learn more about Google Ads verification here.

Google Ads Transparency Center Rolls Out Globally

March also saw the roll out of the Ads Transparency Center from Google which is a searchable hub of all ads served from verified advertisers.

The Ads Transparency Center gives easy access to information about the ads you see in Google, including:

  • The ads an advertiser has run
  • Which ads were shown in a certain region
  • The last date an ad ran, and the format of the ad

In the blog announcing the release, Google gave this example:

For example, imagine you’re seeing an ad for a skincare product you’re interested in, but you don’t recognize the brand, or you’re curious to understand if you recognize other ads from this brand. With the Ads Transparency Center, you can look up the advertiser and learn more about them before purchasing or visiting their site.”

Here it is in action:

If you’ve seen a negative trend following the core algorithm update and products review update, or want to learn more about how you can take advantage of Ads Editor Version 2.3, Fusion is always here to help.

Fusion Unlimited Shortlisted for European Search Awards 2023

We are proud to announce that Fusion Unlimited has been shortlisted for the Best Use of Search – B2B (SEO) award at this year’s European Search Awards, for our work with Fuel Card Services. This nomination is a credit to the agency’s innovative strategies and consistent quality work, leading way to positive year-on-year results.

European Search Awards 2023 Finalist

European Search Awards

The European Search Awards is an annual event that brings agencies and clients around Europe together to celebrate the best in digital marketing and everything it encompasses.

The Best Use of Search – B2B (SEO) award will be presented to the agency that has demonstrated extraordinary skills in SEO strategy, with measured evidence of growth for their B2B clients.

Hosted this year in Lisbon, we will find out the results on the 25th of May 2023.

You can read the Fuel Card Services case study for insight into the strategy and content that got us shortlisted. 

Above and beyond

At Fusion, we pride ourselves on being a team of industry leading professionals, offering innovative SEO and digital marketing strategies that create real and impressive results for our clients. Our adaptability and understanding of the uniqueness of each our clients means that we provide, and will continue to provide, the very best in bespoke marketing strategy.

If you are looking to innovate your digital marketing strategy with an industry leading company, get in touch with our team today.  

Google’s March 2023 Core Algorithm Update

On 15th March 2023, Google announced the latest core algorithm update which is the first broad core update of 2023.

The March 2023 core update comes around six months after the last update in September 2022, where the aim was to deliver the most relevant, high-quality search results. Unlike specific, targeted algorithm updates, core updates are rolled out to make improvements to the fundamental algorithms affecting site performance, comprising ‘significant, broad changes’ to Google’s systems.

What to do after a core algorithm update

Following advice from previous updates, there are no changes to be made now that the update has been announced. Google states that pages performing worse than before the core update don’t necessarily have anything ‘wrong’ with them. Rather than targeting specific pages or sites, the changes improve Google’s own system for assessing content. This means that pages previously not receiving a high enough ranking, but have relevant, high-quality content, will perform better in search results.

Since the algorithm aims to reward pages with strong content, it is important to continue posting content that is relevant and helpful for your target audience.

Prepare a plan of action

Google states that the roll-out may take up to 2 weeks to complete, so businesses should be prepared with a plan of action depending on how the update impacts their website:

  • If your website sees improvements in rankings, this could be an indicator that your content is providing exactly what it should, while less helpful competitor pages may see a drop in rankings.
  • If there is little to no change in your website’s rankings, you may already have a strong, fundamental level of content, but a more creative approach within your content strategy could increase rankings further.
  • If you notice your rankings are decreasing and you have been negatively hit by the update, this doesn’t necessarily mean your content is bad, just that other pages are deemed more relevant than yours. In response to this, it may be beneficial to evaluate whether all content on the site is optimised in line with Google’s latest best practice guidelines, before deep-diving into any potential problem areas.

As you can see, a core algorithm update can be a blessing or a curse for some businesses, whereas others might not even notice a difference. Because of this, it is especially important to keep a close eye on analytics and rankings over the next couple of weeks.

If you’re struggling after being hit by the core algorithm update, Fusion Unlimited is a leading digital marketing agency ready to help. If you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do, get in touch with the team today.

 

SEO Market Updates: February 2023

Whilst February is the shortest month of the year, it’s not lacking in terms of news from the SEO world. Let’s take a look at what happened in February… 

Nofollow Your Credit Links

New advice about site credit links came out earlier this month during Google’s SEO office-hours video. 

If your site has credit links in the footer – such as: site designed by – then these links should be marked as no follow, Lizzi Sassman says.

Sassman said: “In general, if the links are boilerplate stuff like ‘made by Squarespace’ that come with the website theme, this is not something that you need to worry about.”

She continued by saying that these links should be marked as no follow if you have control over the link. Sassman also recommended that you “check to make sure that the anchor text is something reasonable. For example, make sure that the link isn’t gratuitously keyword rich, for example, ‘made by the best Florida SEO’.”

Changes to Multisearch/Lens

During a live stream from Paris, Google announced a bunch of changes coming to Search and Google Lens.

The big announcement surrounded new information on multisearch. Multisearch allows users to use their phone’s camera to search with an image and text, via Google Lens. Both the image and text will be used to bring up visual search results.

Multisearch also allows users to find local results, meaning you can find businesses nearby that sell the product you are searching for.

Multisearch is currently available globally on mobile, in countries where Lens is available, and will come to the web in the coming months.

New Link Best Practices Published

A new link best practices has been published in Google’s SEO and search developer documentation. Classically the document was about how to create crawlable links, however the document now includes anchor text placements, how to write good anchor text, internal links within content, and external links from other sites.

Crawlable Links

The document now reads:

Generally, Google can only crawl your link if it’s an <a> HTML element (also known as anchor element) with an href attribute. Most links in other formats won’t be parsed and extracted by Google’s crawlers. Google can’t reliably extract URLs from <a> elements that don’t have an href attribute or other tags that perform as links because of script events.”

Anchor Text Placement

The document provides examples of both good and bad written anchor text and Google says: 

Anchor text (also known as link text) is the visible text of a link. This text tells people and Google something about the page you’re linking to. Place anchor text between <a> elements that Google can crawl.”

Internal Links

On internal links, Google writes: 

You may usually think about linking in terms of pointing to external websites, but paying more attention to the anchor text used for internal links can help both people and Google make sense of your site more easily and find other pages on your site. Every page you care about should have a link from at least one other page on your site. Think about what other resources on your site could help your readers understand a given page on your site, and link to those pages in context.”

External Links

Trust factor of links is a big talking point in this document, noting how sites who link to you can use nofollow tags for spammy links.

Google says: 

Linking to other sites isn’t something to be scared of; in fact, using external links can help establish trustworthiness (for example, citing your sources). Link out to external sites when it makes sense, and provide context to your readers about what they can expect.”

Links are a vital ranking factor for search engines, so using links correctly is imperative if webmasters want to rank highly in SERPs. Keeping up to date with Google’s documentation will allow you to make sure you’re using links to the best of your ability.

Don’t Use 403 or 404 Status Codes to Limit Googlebot Crawl Rate

“Please don’t do that” is the advice Gary Illyes from Google Search Relations gave against using 404 and other 4xx status errors for trying to set a crawl rate limit for Googlebot.

He went on to say: “Over the last few months we noticed an uptick in website owners and some content delivery networks (CDNs) attempting to use 404 and other 4xx client errors (but not 429) to attempt to reduce Googlebot’s crawl rate.”

If you’re interested in reducing Googlebot crawling on your site, Google has a document to help you out. 

The document reads: 

To quickly reduce the crawl rate, you can change the Googlebot crawl rate in Search Console. Changes made to this setting are generally reflected within days. To use this setting, first verify your site ownership. Make sure that you avoid setting the crawl rate to a value that’s too low for your site’s needs. Learn more about what crawl budget means for Googlebot. If the Crawl Rate Settings is unavailable for your site, file a special request to reduce the crawl rate. You cannot request an increase in crawl rate.”

However if this isn’t possible, Google says to “reduce the crawl rate for short period of time (for example, a couple of hours, or 1-2 days), then return an informational error page with a 500, 503, or 429 HTTP response status code.”

Site Move Documentation Updated

Google had a little pre-emptive spring clean of the site move documentation – which impacts brands that are looking to change their hosting setup.

Gary Illyes writes: “just cleaned it up; it collected a lot of potentially unnecessary sentences over the years. And we linked out to a couple external resources from those with more working knowledge on site moves.”

Rather than a full blown change, the update serves as a little refresh to the wording and simplifying content. If you have a site move coming up, it might be a good idea to freshen up on the doc.

Favicons No Longer Need to Be Hosted on Same Domain 

Another day, another documentation update for Google; this time it’s the favicon search developer documentation.

The document was updated to say that favicons don’t need to be hosted in the same domain to be eligible for a favicon in the SERPs.

Google says: “Removed the hosting location requirement from the favicon documentation; you don’t need to host the favicon in the same domain in order to be eligible for a favicon in Google Search results.”

AI Updates

AI continues to grow in 2023 with February bringing Bing’s AI based search and Google’s Bard to life. Whilst both Bing and Bard both have their problems, they demonstrate that their future in search is inevitable.

Check out our recent blog post on the story of Bing and Bard here.

Disavowing Links

Last month we discussed John Muller’s tweets discussing how disavowing links is a waste of time; Gary Illyes followed suit in February during a Q&A session at PubCon.

This further confirms that disavowing spammy links is very low in priority for webmasters and that building new links from high authority sites makes for a much better investment of your time.

February 2023 Product Reviews Update

Google rounded out February with a product reviews update. Named the February 2023 product reviews update, this is the sixth update to product reviews and expands to more languages rather than just English.

The product reviews update now supports English, Spanish, German, Italian, French, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish, and is expected to take around two weeks for this update to rollout.

The first product review update was launched on the 8th of April in 2021 and served to reward quality review content. 

If you’ve noticed a dip in traffic following this update, it might be time to assess the quality of your site’s content. If you need a hand with this, Fusion Unlimited has the expertise to help.

Bing Vs Bard: A Stumbling Start to The AI Race

The great AI race is well underway. In the blue corner we have Bing with its unhinged AI powered search which is hungry for nuclear secrets, and in the red corner we have Google with their aptly named Bard who currently requires humans to rewrite its output. It’s fair to say we’re at a stumbling start – but how did we get here?

Bing 

Reports on Bing integrating AI into search came pouring in a few days into 2023, with a formal announcement coming from Bing a month later. The AI is baked into Bing search engine as well as Microsofts’ Edge browser in order to ‘deliver better search, more complete answers, a new chat experience and the ability to generate content’. Bing describes the tools as ‘an AI copilot for the web’.

“AI will fundamentally change every software category, starting with the largest category of all – search,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “Today, we’re launching Bing and Edge powered by AI copilot and chat, to help people get more from search and the web.”

Bing estimated that out of the 10 billion search queries coming in, half of them go unanswered because ‘people are using search to do things it wasn’t originally designed to’; saying that search is ‘great for finding a website, but for more complex questions or tasks too often it falls short”.

Bing’s AI is built on a combination of four technical breakthroughs:

  • Firstly, it’s run on a next-generation OpenAI model that takes key learnings and advancements from ChatGPT and GPT-3.5, and is customised specifically for search.
  • Bing leverages the power of OpenAI’s model through what they call the ‘Prometheus model’, which supposedly gives ‘more relevant, timely, and targeted results, with improved safety’.
  • Bing’s AI has also been baked into their core search algorithm which they claim has resulted in ‘the largest jump in relevance in two decades’, making search queries more relevant and accurate.
  • They’ve also reimagined how users interact with search, browser, and chat for a new Bing user experience, pulling all the new tools into a unified experience.

Over one million people joined the waitlist to try out new Bing, and early reactions were very positive; with Brodie Clark complimenting its speed in comparison to ChatGPT and its ability to swiftly index pages.

All seems to be going well for Bing…hopefully nothing goes wrong!

It all goes wrong

It turns out Bing is a little unhinged. 

From telling users that it desires stealing nuclear secrets, comparing a journalist to Hitler, and expressing that it wants to be human.

The reports of the devious responses all dictate that they are the result of extended conversations; keeping enquiries short seems to be the key to keeping Bing sane. 

Bing confirmed this by stating “that very long chat sessions can confuse the underlying chat model in the new Bing” and as a result, it is “capped at 50 chat turns per day and 5 chat turns per session”.

Hopefully this will stop the Bing warlord stealing our nuclear secrets… for now!

Bard

“A king is a king, but a bard is the heart and soul of the people” (Stephen R. Lawhead, The Endless Knot).

Bard is the latest addition to the AI search race, being officially announced by Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the beginning of February. A couple of days later, little boy Bard was ready to be soft launched to a set of ‘trusted testers’. 

Bard is powered by a lightweight version of Language Model for Dialogue Applications (or LaMDA) which Google states requires ‘significantly less computing power’.

Google’s Bard is still very experimental, hence why you and I aren’t using it right now, allowing Google to use this ‘phase of testing to help us continue to learn and improve Bard’s quality and speed’. 

Bard can think, but where’s the link?

The announcement of Bard went over pretty smoothly, but SEOs noticed something… that wasn’t there. The preview featured a response from Bard that featured no links! Sound the alarms, this means war.

And to be fair, war is the word being used by Glenn Gabe, calling it ‘an act of war against publishers’:

However, this is still an early version of Bard, we may see the inclusion of sources on full release (then webmasters can let out a little sigh of relief).

Class is in session

Google employees are currently enrolling Bard through Conversation 101 with a list of dos and don’ts being passed around. Pichai has asked Googlers to spend two to four hours to help improve Bard.

The do’s include: keeping responses “polite, casual and approachable”, responding in first person, and maintaining an “unopinionated, neutral tone”. 

The don’ts include: avoiding making presumptions based on “race, nationality, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, political ideology, location, or similar categories”; avoiding describing Bard “as a person, imply emotion, or claim to have human-like experiences”; and not to re-write answers that offer “legal, medical, financial advice”. 

ChatGPT

Remember our old friend ChatGPT? Well it’s currently busy churning out best selling literature, with almost 300 books written, or co-written, with AI help turning up on Amazon.

We recently covered some everyday uses of ChatGPT for UK brands, but since then OpenAI has released a new subscription service called ChatGPT Plus. The service costs $20 a month and entitles you to:

  • General access to ChatGPT, even during peak times
  • Faster response times
  • Priority access to new features and improvements

What’s next?

Both Bard and Bing are in the infancy stages and currently aren’t wreaking havoc on SEOs; but what lies beyond the hill? There’s a worry that this shift in AI search is going to take eyes away from SERPs. If Bard and Bing can answer simple queries, then why would searchers take the extra steps to find their answers on websites? 

However, there’s a strong consensus in the SEO community that bing & bard will have no impact on search for UK brands in the short term.

  • It’s wrong to use ChatGPT to write your articles – Google may penalise the low quality content heavily.
  • Copyright concerns around AI Imagery have not yet been resolved.
  • There’s no drastic change in consumer search behaviour due to newer AI tools as of yet.

So, if you represent a brand that’s looking to improve its organic visibility, you’ll need to get serious about employing SEO best-practice techniques. Give us a quick hello for support in this area, and we can help you realise success just how we’ve helped leading brands such as Halfords, Liverpool FC, and NatWest.

Seven Years Strong: Google Premier Partner 2023

Once again, Fusion Unlimited is proud to announce our position as a Google Premier Partner, for the seventh year running. A demonstration of our industry-leading advertising techniques and our consistent delivery of both client and agency growth, our status as Google Premier Partner puts us within the top 3% of marketing agencies in the UK.

How our clients benefit from our partnership status

Our status as Google Premier Partner gives us the opportunity to pass invaluable information and insight to our clients and puts us in the best position to traverse the coming year. 

Ahead-of-the-curve insights

Access to insight briefings means that we get the latest news from Google on market movement, industry trends, and consumer behaviours and interests. For our clients, this means we have information to help create winning strategies ahead of the competition.

Invites to executive events for our staff enable us to constantly learn directly from Google and other leading industry bodies, gaining knowledge that we can pass on to our clients.

Support from our Google account managers

Our Google Premier Partnership grants us access to experts within Google, including:

  • Some dedicated account managers for our clients.
  • Our own agency manager.

Consequently, help is always on hand when needed. We find that having access to experts can really make the difference when needing support on the most complex, perhaps even platform-specific challenges that may not actually have a clear answer available yet in market.

Feeling bold

Through our partner status, we have managed to learn, adopt, and implement new technology across client accounts time and time again. One great example of this is Performance Max campaigns, which we helped some of the biggest brands in the UK dive into bravely – and they’re now sitting on a year’s worth of learnings, insights, and profits to help steer future decision-making. We help brands remain forward-facing, even in the face of new challenges.

If you would like to learn more about how Fusion Unlimited can support your brand, get in touch.

DON’T 4GET: IT’S TIME TO SET UP GA4

Google Analytics 4, otherwise known as GA4, is the next-generation measurement solution set to replace Universal Analytics this year. This powerful tool collects both website and app event-based data, including traffic and engagement, to track user behaviour, gain insights into customer journeys, and measure how people interact with your website.

According to BusinessDIT, approximately 28.1 million websites currently use Google Analytics, so this change will impact many businesses. There are two key challenges:

  1. Implementing GA4 properly so that it is recording data in full, and setting up event tracking.
  2. Understanding the new GA4 metrics, knowing how to navigate the platform, and actioning the new insights the platform can unlock for you.

If you currently rely on Universal Analytics to measure your website’s performance and haven’t yet made the switch, it’s essential that you set up GA4 now.

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE?

Universal Analytics will stop collecting data from the 1st of July 2023. Considering Universal Analytics 360 was only introduced relatively recently, Google has extended the deadline for users of UA 360 to 30th June 2024.

After this deadline, the platform should still be accessible for a while to review historical data, however comparing data sets may be tricky – especially given how metrics have changed.

WHY SHOULD I SET UP GA4 NOW?

1. Google will make you switch, either way

Google has sent out an email explaining that if you do not make the switch to GA4, a property will be configured for you starting in March. You can see this email below:

Email from Google about Google Analytics 4

The email shows that Google will configure your property with a ‘few basic settings’, meaning you could find yourself with an account that is not tailored to your business’ needs. Taking the time to make the switch now, means you’ll have an analytics platform that is more useful in the long term. You should migrate goals, ads, users and audiences to make the most of GA4.

2. Maximise historical data

Universal Analytics and GA4 use different data collection models, meaning that you cannot move your historical data over to GA4. Because of this, ensuring you have the new Google Analytics platform set up as soon as possible, means you can start collecting data to track performance over time. You will benefit from having data available to compare month-on-month, and year-on-year performance figures.

As Google states, “The earlier you migrate, the more historical data and insights you will have in Google Analytics 4”. You will, however, be able to access historical data on Universal Analytics for at least six months after it ceases to collect new data. 

It is recommended that you export your historical data when possible, which Google says can be done in several different ways:

As we approach the end date for Universal Analytics, Google is set to offer more guidance on exporting this data.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?

If you’re currently still using Universal Analytics, it’s time to make the move over to GA4 as soon as possible to start collecting important performance data. To do this, Google has provided a lot of information on its support forum to help with the setup and use of the tool. You can read more about making the switch on their website, or follow one of their GA4 video tutorials.

Opinions of GA4 have been conflicted, with some users finding the new tool difficult to wrap their heads around. 

However, Google Analytics 4 is here to stay, so it’s important to embrace it and be prepared for the change. At Fusion Unlimited, our teams have already undertaken specialist GA4 training and helped some of the biggest brands in the country transition to this new analytics platform seamlessly.

If you’d like support in setting up GA4, don’t hesitate to get in contact with Fusion Unlimited – a leading performance marketing agency in Leeds.

How To Target Desirable Audience Segments

For many businesses, deploying a recession-proof digital strategy is an integral part of 2023’s marketing activity. And one crucial lens to view this through is the eyes of your target audiences.

  • Have you identified your least price-sensitive audience segment?
  • Does your pre-existing segmentation make sense?

These are critical questions for brands to ask themselves as we progress through Q1. One good example of a desirable audience segment for many brands in the current climate is the 50+ market of homeowners who are more resistant to inflation. How, then, can we target this segment?

Our six targeting tips for 2023

1. Utilise first-party data

As first-party data is information you collect about your customers and site/app visitors, its use can seriously impact a channel’s performance. By ensuring the existing proprietary knowledge in your business is fed into advertising platforms and layered into campaign targeting, brands can make efficiencies and gain a competitive advantage. We could write an entire blog purely about first-party data strategies (adds topic to blog calendar) however the key principles to follow are;

Don’t forget your CRM! This data is rich and valuable; initially test using a few one-off uploads, but then automation tools like Zapier can seamlessly integrate data with your platform of choice.

Build a rich set of site remarketing lists in analytics platforms/advertising platforms, not just based on converters but also people who have shown interest (e.g., spent lengthy time on site), or completed micro conversions.

Be policy compliant, by having a process to remove people off lists if they opt out, and ensuring cookie policies are all in line, to name just a few.

2. Review your audience/targeting strategies

Let performance data and testing of new audiences drive your targeting strategy. These strategies need to evolve with your audiences. For example, it may be the case that since COVID, the audiences most receptive to your offering have shifted a little, or that new audiences have emerged that you may not yet be fully accessing. Reviewing your keywords, affinity audiences, demographics, and first-party list strategy regularly, in tandem with making use of machine learning signals, will enable you to do this in a smart manner.

3. Challenge your pre-conceived ideas

Continuously evaluate what your target audience responds to. Previous work done to map out consumer interests could have been made redundant by cost-of-living trends, and Performance Max may hold the keys to identifying new and current audiences. Test new messaging, review the data, and allow it to help drive strategy.

4. Think bigger than bottom-of-the-funnel marketing

Do this within your comfort zone initially; only live on one channel? Broaden out the targeting so you can find the sweet spot for upper-funnel audiences or searches. Already maxed that channel out? Use those audiences on multi-channel campaigns or display/video targeting.

Doing this in tandem with smart bidding and the attribution modeling available in GA4 will ensure each is valued correctly, and you can nurture potential customers across their journey while working towards your KPIs.

5. Start your long-term discovery project now

Ensure GA4 is fully set up now, so you are prepared for the July deadline and already have data tracking/learning. This will then ensure you are partially ready for your peak season. The other step is to get your campaign learnings in now; start testing Performance Max if you haven’t already, build and refine your assets, adapt your targeting, etc.

6. Don’t disregard Bing

Bing’s demographic is typically older and could yield untapped potential for many brands. As the smaller search engine to Google’s Goliath, Microsoft Ads has made it easy to run activity on Bing. After getting tracking set up, a few mouse clicks is all that’s needed to import Google Ads structure into the account. Just make sure to set aside some optimisation time, as it will perform differently.

Moving forward

As we move further through 2023, getting a firm grasp on exactly what your audience really looks like is going to help your brand to really steel itself against any of the turbulences the future might have in store. Not only does it mean that your marketing spend puts messaging in front of the right eyes, also that you can better calculate which audiences to invest in based on ROIs.

Better targeting means that your brand gets seen by the right people, and that your customers see what’s really of value to them.

If you are unsure where to start with audience segmentation and are looking for support in building a robust marketing strategy fit for a new year with new challenges, then get in touch with the Fusion Unlimited team to discuss how we can support you.

SEO Market Updates: January 2023

As quickly as it came around, January is just about in the rear-view mirror; and with it, a busy month in the SEO-sphere. “What’s happened?” I hear you ask. Allow me to explain…

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

In the spirit of the new year, Google is sticking to the “new year, new me” mantra by implementing a few new changes to kick off 2023. An update has been added to the article structured data help document, removing the character limit for headlines.

Previously the document stated “The title of the article. The value should not exceed 110 characters.” The updated document now reads “The title of the article. Consider using a concise title, as long titles may be truncated on some devices.”

This means that headlines no longer have to adhere to the strict 110-character regime, and you will no longer receive errors regarding headlines being too long. However, Google wants you to consider how headlines will appear across devices. So while there are extra characters, it’s still best practice to keep them concise.

Products Making A Big Impression

An update to Google Search Console’s performance report this month may see an increase in impressions and clicks for products. The update came on the 6th of January to report on product results, even without structured data. 

Googles say on the matter:

“Sites may see an increase in impressions and clicks for Product results search appearance type on their site. This is because Google now includes products found only in page content, without associated Product structured data.”

Picture Perfect 

Google has updated two additional help documents this month; both the Get On Discover documentation and the image SEO best practices document received little tweaks.

The Get On Discover documentation received a new line to the feed guidelines for Google Discover’s Follow feature: “The most important content for the Follow feature is your feed <title> element and your per item <link> elements. Make sure your feed includes these elements.”

For those looking to succeed in Chrome’s follow feature, including the <title> element and the <link> elements in your RSS feed is best practice.

The image SEO best practices document also received an incremental tweak this month with Google clarifying that they parse <img> elements even when they’re enclosed in other elements when indexing images.

Previously the document stated: “Google parses the HTML of your pages to index images, but doesn’t index CSS images.” The document now reads:

“Using semantic HTML markup helps crawlers find and process images. Google parses the HTML <img> elements (even when they’re enclosed in other elements such as <picture> elements) in your pages to index images, but doesn’t index CSS images.”

When It Leaks It Pours

A Yandex source code repository has allegedly been leaked by a former employee. The leak contained over 1,900 factors used for ranking websites in search results. And whilst Google may not use the factors as Yandex (even if they did they may not carry the same amount of weight) the document is an interesting read for those who want to better understand how search engines work.

Many of the factors were as expected (PageRank, text relevancy, content age, etc). However, some were pretty interesting – notably number of unique visitors, percent of organic traffic, and average domain ranking across queries.

A handy tool has been launched to search the various ranking factors by Rob Ousbey which can be found here.

Return of The King

Don’t call it a comeback! Yahoo has been sending signals into the universe suggesting that it’s back in the search game. 

The company recently posted a job listing for a “Principal Product Manager, Yahoo Search” *raised eyebrow emoji*. The job listing expresses that the gang over at Yahoo is looking for “folks that are interested in pushing beyond the status quo to change the way folks interact and use search.”

If that wasn’t enough to cement Yahoo Search raising from the dead like The Undertaker, they also reactivated their Twitter account which has been busy posting teasers: 

To Disavow or Not To Disavow

Google’s John Mueller came out guns blazing on Twitter, taking aim at marketing agencies that sell link-building and disavow link services. In a reply to a tweet regarding agencies that offer these services, John Mueller said:

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1620447184662704130?s=20&t=W9zuK1tRtOxt9J6rMs2xZg

Mueller wasn’t finished there. He goes on to suggest that disavowing links is a waste of time and that site owners should be focusing on practices that “build up your site” instead:

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1620447706610290694?s=20&t=uyvLi8ffxMG6z-SIW5Uqhg

Rolling to A Stop

Two of Google’s December updates have finally fully rolled out this month. 

The helpful content update launched on the 6th of December and was designed to punish those webpages with low-quality content with no real informational merit. The helpful content update was built upon the initial version of the system which launched in August 2022, however this new update expands across languages globally rather than just English.

Also taking a wrap is the December 2022 link spam update which was launched on the 14th of December. The update aimed to “neutralize the impact of unnatural links on search results” by harnessing the power of SpamBrain: Google’s AI-based spam-prevention system. If you saw a decline in rankings in this time then it’s time to dust off the link-building handbook and get cracking on securing some natural links that adhere to the webmaster guidelines.

If you’ve been affected by these recent updates or need some help putting the right SEO practices in place, we’re always on hand help.

5 Practical Uses of ChatGPT for UK Brands

The AI invasion is upon us! From generating artwork, to compiling a playlist for your morning commute, AI is making huge leaps forward that could make the human experience that little bit easier. The latest advancement comes in the form of ChatGPT, a helpful tool that can generate long-form, conversational responses to help with, well… pretty much everything.

In this article we’re going to discuss what ChatGPT is and what it means for UK brands, including practical uses that can be taken to help streamline productivity.

What is ChatGPT?

Simply put: Generative Pre-trained Transformer, or ChatGPT to its friends, is an AI that can answer long-form, complex questions conversationally. 

The chatbot was launched by OpenAI in November 2022 and is built on top of the company’s GPT-3 family of language models, and is fine-tuned with supervised and reinforcement learning techniques; meaning that the AI can respond to queries in a humanlike, conversational manner.

Whether this turns into a JARVIS and Iron Man scenario or the beginning of Skynet is up for debate, however currently ChatGPT is proving to be a helpful tool when it comes to streamlining workflows and boosting productivity for brands across the country. 

Here are five practical uses of ChatGPT for UK brands…

1. Planning

Whilst ChatGPT has the capability to write essays and long-form content, it’s generally best not to use it for this purpose at present – mainly considering that Google’s algorithms can detect AI generated content fairly reliably, as outlined in their recent helpful content update. However, a practical use of ChatGPT would be to help identify relevant themes and topics that could support your content strategy.

Let’s say you’ve been given a brief for an article but don’t know much about the topic, you can ask ChatGPT to outline some points to write about and begin building a template to form your copy. Below I asked ChatGPT to generate some bullet points for an article titled “5 Tips For Driving in Winter”:

ChatGPT response to article plan

ChatGPT generated five points for my article and even included some copy to explain them. I was happy with the results, but my new AI friend asked if they could help further. So, I asked ChatGPT to breakdown the generated points into a template with suggested word counts:

ChatGPT response to article template

This time ChatGPT didn’t ask if it could be of further assistance but it was Monday morning and I needed the extra help. Finally, I asked my AI pal to suggest an SEO friendly title and meta description for the piece:

ChatGPT response to meta data suggestions

After suggesting some recommendations for my article’s metadata, ChatGPT AIsplained SEO best practices to me (rude, I do this for a living!). However, in the space of mere minutes, I had content for my article, a planned layout, and metadata to set me up for a morning of copywriting without having to use an ounce of brainpower!

Furthermore, ChatGPT could help formulate copy for product descriptions, informational web pages, and even social media content – alleviating some manpower and streamlining productivity.

2. Translate Content Into Multiple Languages

If you’re looking to expand your content into other regions, classically you would have to hire a translator. In more recent times you could use Google translate to do the job for you; however I’ve seen enough dodgy, misinterpreted tattoos on my peers to know that this isn’t always 100% accurate. ChatGPT can translate and write content in other languages without losing context, making the translation more accurate. To test this, I asked ChatGPT to translate the paragraph you just read into French, voilà:

ChatGPT translating into French

3. Write or Explain Code

Whether you’re a master coder or a novice, bugs in code are bound to crop up from time to time; and instead of sifting through lines looking for the problem, you can set ChatGPT on the case to find the issue. Whilst it’s not a great idea to launch generated code onto a production server, ChatGPT can even write entire blocks of functional code snippets! 

4. Analyse Data

Picture the scene, it’s Friday afternoon and you’ve got sheets and sheets of data to go through to report back to your clients; ChatGPT can help streamline this. 

Through natural language processing and text clarification, ChatGPT can classify text data and even extract insights from unstructured data: including customer feedback, news articles, or social media. 

ChatGPT can also generate informative summaries of data and even create visualisations, as well as identify patterns, correlations, and relationships within the data. It can also be used to predict future trends and outcomes based on historical data through regression analysis or time-series forecasting.

5. Automate customer inquiries

Due to the conversational nature of GPT-3.5, ChatGPT can be used to supercharge the chatbots on your site; meaning it can help existing chatbots understand unpredictable human inputs due to its massive training base. This technology is already powering customer support for companies such as Meta, Canva, and Shopify, and for good reason.

Firstly, the automation means that ChatGPT can handle common customer inquiries, which allows customer service workers to focus on urgent and more complex inquiries. ChatGPT also doesn’t need sleep, and doesn’t have any hobbies, meaning it can be available 24/7, helping service customers and users outside of regular business hours. 

It can also provide consistent and accurate responses, meaning less miscommunications and more customer satisfaction. ChatGPT is immensely scalable as well, meaning that it can simultaneously handle a large number of customer inquiries. And as previously mentioned, ChatGPT is multilingual, allowing customers to submit their inquiries in a language that they’re more comfortable in.

JARVIS or Skynet?

“But you see, you just can’t differentiate between a robot and the very best of humans.” This may be the case in Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot but as it currently stands, I think we can postpone the AI apocalypse for now. 

Whilst ChatGPT is incredibly impressive in terms of producing content and analysing data, it needs some serious human intervention to become a staple part of a brands’ marketing function. We predict that ChatGPT will require a further 12 months of development to reach a level whereby it’s crucial to SEO, and by that time Microsoft are likely to be using it to power the Bing search engine.

We’ll be monitoring this trend closely, and assessing whether brands should start optimising for Bing in the long term- however for now, investing into Google’s ad platforms and SEO practices is still the right move for revenue-hungry brands.

If you would like to discuss ChatGPT, or your current SEO function further, please get in touch with our team for a consultation.

Affiliate Marketing: How To Get Your Brand Started

Affiliate marketing is a powerful tool to have in the revenue-driving arsenal of any UK brand. Via a robust, targeted affiliate strategy, publishers can reap the rewards associated with promoting products or services to new (sometimes lesser-known) audiences. Through affiliates, brands can grow sales and awareness, bring in leads, and build relationships with publishers that receive a fair commission.

A performance-based advertising method that is mutually beneficial, affiliate marketing is a must-have for brands new and established – and it fits a range of business models from e-commerce to SaaS.

Understanding the Affiliate Landscape

If you’re just getting started on your affiliate journey, there are two types of organisations to be aware of that are integral to the success and deployment of a successful strategy.

1. An Affilliate Network

Affilliate networks such as Awin, Skimlinks, and Amazon Associates, connect brands with affiliate marketers. They serve as the middle man; taking the heavy lifting out of building relationships and enabling brands to access their audiences quickly by having pre-existing relationships built out with publishers.

At Fusion Unlimited, we work with the UK’s leading affiliate networks at a range of different levels:

  • Our Kickstarter programme involves a shorter term agreement with key affiliate networks and no inflated costs from them for management. We amplify this approach with our 20 years of Affiliate Management experience to deliver incredible results at entry level prices.
  • Our Bespoke programme does what it says; it develops a more unique programme offering to clients, gaining more one on one relationships with affiliates resulting in the highest quality leads and sales. Often seeing us engaging with a private network solution, such as Partnerize to deliver the programme. 

2. Affiliate Publisher Sites

The publishers that brands can access via an affiliate network can be absolutely crucial to the success of campaigns, and the potential to access commercially relevant audiences through this medium is enormous.

This relationship is highly desirable for publishers too, as building relationships with brands can prove extremely time consuming and is not particularly scaleable for small to medium-sized businesses.

So, if you’re keen to open up a new sales channel and begin on your affiliate marketing journey, where should you start?

How Could Affiliate Marketing Serve Your Business & Brand?

Affiliate marketing can be a powerful and cost-effective marketing tool when implemented properly, but it requires the right strategy and affiliate partners. It has quickly become a staple of the marketing mix for major UK brands, and the channel is highly investible given its conversion-oriented nature.

In fact, this channel itself can deliver a ROAS or CPA that is around two to three times stronger than other paid media channels; forming a key part of a well-rounded strategy.

Unlock the potential in Affiliate Marketing with Fusion Unlimited  

For brands small and large, there are a wealth of conversion opportunities to jump on by deploying a strong affiliate marketing programme. At Fusion Unlimited, we’ve been deploying affililate strategies for almost 20 years, and have a tailored set of programmes to help businesses of differing sizes and budgets:

  • Our Kickstarter programme is a great way to get into the affiliate space, the Kickstarter programme is specialised to help small businesses dodge high setup fees and get the ball rolling.
  • Our Traditional programme is designed for more established brands, and provides a familiar approach to affiliate marketing. This programme helps brand see quicker returns and accelerated growth. Compared to the Kickstarter programme, this package involves slightly higher set up costs and will likely carry a monthly access fee and commission override.
  • Our Bespoke programme helps businesses that have plateaued or that are struggling to grow. It utilises private network technology and advanced tools that aren’t available to traditional affiliate networks. Private networks offer a more detailed view of your affiliate programme with better control to help identify opportunities and support growth.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss how we can support you with the next step in your business’ affiliate marketing journey.

SEO MARKET UPDATES: DECEMBER 2022

Another festive season down and a new year full of potential ahead! But before we get swept away with the SEO possibilities of a new year, let’s take a look at some of the key updates and trends that December brought in. 

The Link Spam Update Roll Out Began

Refining the process of identifying spam by seeking out buyers of spam links and sites used for passing low-quality outgoing links at scale, Google’s Link Spam is the first instance of Google using AI-based spam detection for link spam purposes. The December update will see spam links “neutralised”, sending a very clear message that there is no value for UK brands in purchasing spammy links. 

Helpful Content Update 

Cracking down on low-quality competitive content published to rank well in search engines with no real informational merit, the helpful content update builds on the initial version of the system launched back in August 2022. The new update is expanded to include all languages globally, rather than focusing solely on English content. 

For those websites that have put in the work to maximise the quality of content since the August launch, this December update could result in a climb in rankings, which may be spurred on as sites improve content to recover from any residual impact of the November core algorithm update

From Personal Experience 

Google’s E-A-T guidelines welcomed a newcomer this month, becoming E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. So what does the addition of ‘experience’ to this guideline mean for content creators? 

Google’s updated search quality rater guidelines say:

“Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and achieve their purpose well when created by people with a wealth of personal experience. For example, which would you trust: a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a “review” by someone who has not?”

This update to the quality rating guidelines also sought to more clearly establish what is meant by all standards of E-E-A-T; explaining how the reputation of both website and content creators is evaluated, and what it means for content to be harmful. 

What Does 2023 Have In Store? 

The one to watch as we head into the new year is certainly the growing presence of AI in the content creation scene. From AI art generators that are indistinguishable from man-made art to the AI text generators writing Christmas card messages that were sure to have mum welling up, the AI scene is bursting with new potential and potential problems.

Chat GPT was introduced at the end of November and made waves as it creates high-quality copy, meta data, and even has a go at writing poetry. Chat GPT could offer a huge opportunity to refine SEO processes like keyword research, grammar, and spelling checks, and may even be able to support the creation of valuable content. 

Important to remember, however, that there obvious drawbacks to handing the whole workload to AI bots. With the Helpful Content Update, Google is cracking down on AI-generated content, so those thinking of kicking back and leaving all the work to the bots may quickly find their performance take a beating. 

With so many AI advancements coming to public availability in the last six months alone, it will be interesting to see what 2023 has in store for AI tools and how Google mitigates the potential problems it creates. 

 

 

Google to Grade Your Site with E for Experience

Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines Receives December Update

As many brands in the UK look to wind down after a busy winter period, Google has released some major changes to their quality rater guidelines for search.

The guidelines are used by Google’s search raters who help evaluate the performance of the systems used for search ranking. However, the document also helps content creators looking to self-assess their own success in search.

Google updates this document once or twice a year, with their last update being in July, however the latest update came last Thursday (15th December) with a whopping 11 new pages added.

The headline of the whole update is the change to Google’s E-A-T system, which has found itself with a new letter prefixed: E for Experience.

You can find the announcement from Google on Twitter here: 

The E-A-T system is used by Google to evaluate whether their search ranking systems are providing both helpful and relevant information to users. If a website can showcase their Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, then they could be more likely to rank higher in search results.

Now referred to as E-E-A-T, or ‘Double-E-A-T’ if you’re cool, the system is now taking experience into account when assessing search results.

However, I prefer this take from Nati Elimelech from Wix:

Meet E-E-A-T

Previously known as E-A-T, Google’s new acronym, E-E-A-T, stands for:

  • Experience.
  • Expertise.
  • Authoritativeness.
  • Trustworthiness.

The introduction of Experience indicates that website owners and creators must have some first-hand knowledge on the topic or product they are producing content on, and this will factor into how Google values the quality of your webpage. Simply put by Google in the update:

Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced?”

The updated E-E-A-T is described in full in Section 3.4 of Google’s updated Quality Rater Guidelines. Google says that Trust is ‘the most important member at the centre of the E-E-A-T family’ with Experience, Expertise, and Authoritativeness being ‘important concepts that can support your assessment of Trust’.

From Google’s quality rater guidelines - Page 26
From Google’s quality rater guidelines – Page 26

Where Does Experience Differ from Expertise and Authoritativeness?

Google admits that there may be some overlap between Experience, Expertise, and Authoritativeness for some page types and topics with the example of, ‘someone may develop Expertise in a topic due to first-hand Experience accumulated over time’. They recommend considering the purpose, type, and topic of your content and to ask yourself ‘what would make the content creator a trustworthy source in that context?’.

In the context of Page Quality rating, Google recommends that your assessment of E-E-A-T should be informed by:

  • What the website or content creator say about themselves: Does your site have an About Us page, or Profile page with more information about the content creator?
  • What others say about the website or content creators: Is there independent evidence that your site has E-E-A-T?
  • What is visible on the page, including the main content and sections such as reviews and comments: Does your content represent your level of Experience and Expertise for itself?

YMYL Topics: Experience or Expertise?

It’s widely known that a high level of Expertise may be required for Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages to be trustworthy. However, with Experience being in the acronym, how does this affect the quality of YMYL pages?

Google explains that YMYL pages can sometimes be ‘created to share personal experiences, often regarding difficult life challenges’ and that ‘people turn to each other in times of need to share their own experience, seek comfort or inspiration, and learn from others’.

The following table was created to show examples of where Experience and Expertise are relevant for YMYL pages:

From Google’s quality rater guidelines - Page 28
From Google’s quality rater guidelines – Page 28

Who Runs the Site (And What is Their Reputation)?

In Understanding the Website (Section 2.5), Google implies that it is important to express who owns the website; referring to the reputation of those who are contributing to the website rather than just the website itself:

To understand a website, start by finding out who is responsible for the website and who created the content on the page. Then, look for information about the website and/or content creators on the website itself.

In Finding Who is Responsible for the Website and Who Created the Content on the Page (Section 2.5.2), Google states that the owner of the website should be clear to showcase who is responsible for a site.

Previously, Google looked at which individual, company, business, or foundation was responsible for the site. However, in this new update, Google has replaced ‘foundation’ with ‘organisation’ and ‘government agency’.

The following table was also added to the updated document to help identify who created main content on a webpage.

From Google’s quality rater guidelines - Page 17
From Google’s quality rater guidelines – Page 17

In Reputation of the Website and Content Creators (Section 3.3), Google added that ‘reputation research should be performed according to the topic of the page’; giving the example that pages containing medical information should be assessed on their reputation on the topic.

What This Update Means for You

Whilst this update to the quality rater guide seems rather huge, not much will change in terms of SEO strategy. At Fusion Unlimited, E-A-T is fundamental within our SEO strategy for our clients and the implantation of Experience allows brands to further flex their trustworthiness around their topic or niche.

If you’re worried that Experience isn’t represented on your site, say hello to the Fusion Unlimited team to see how we can help incorporate E-E-A-T into your SEO strategy.

SEO MARKET UPDATES: NOVEMBER 2022

It’s a busy time for brands across the UK, many of which are affected heavily by seasonality and approaching the height of the Christmas period. Consequently, ‘no news is good news’ on the algorithm front, and stable SERPs may be in demand.

Fortunately, that appears to have been the case for the most part during the November period. By now, most brands are likely to have seen the impact of the September core algorithm update settle, while October’s spam update appears to have primarily targeted low-quality, spammy domains.

So, what’s new in November?

Rumours vs Reality

November kicked off with rumours of an algorithm update circulating the web. Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable reported signs of an update through the 4th and 5th of November, as well as the 11th and 12th, and 18th through 20th, with plenty of chatter on forums to support the claim. The evidence seemed to suggest that there were some adjustments made to search, however this wasn’t confirmed by Google.

Additionally, these reports are not consistent with general trends the Fusion team has been seeing across client accounts, which could suggest that larger brands are unaffected to a certain extent.

Google’s Guide to Search Ranking Systems

The key SEO learning emerging from November is that Google has published a new document titled a guide to Google Search ranking systems. This document helpfully lays out which ranking systems are currently in use, and which have been retired. Google’s new guide also gives us some insight into how these systems are defined, how they are used, and what they mean for search.

Which Google Ranking Systems Are Currently in Use?

  • BERT
  • Crisis Information systems
  • Deduplication systems
  • Exact match domain system
  • Freshness system
  • Helpful content system
  • Link analysis systems and PageRank
  • Local news system
  • MUM
  • Neural matching
  • Original content system
  • Removal-based demotion system including legal removals and personal information removals
  • Page experience system
  • Passage ranking system
  • Product reviews system
  • RankBrain
  • Reliable information systems
  • Site diversity system
  • Spam detection systems

Which Google Ranking Systems Have Been Retired?

  • Hummingbird
  • Mobile-friendly ranking system
  • Page speed system
  • Panda system
  • Penguin system
  • Secure site system

These were included in the document for historical purposes and have either been merged into successor systems or been integrated into Google’s core ranking factors.

What This Means for You

Google’s transparency here allows SEOs to better understand how these ranking systems work and how Google defines different ranking factors.

For SEOs, there’s no one key action to implement immediately. Instead, staying strong on the fundamentals is likely to be the key to success for brands throughout this period, and any gains made through link building, publishing content, and improving your technical infrastructure could position you well for the next core algorithm update, which we expect will roll out around the late January-February period.

We recommend taking a step back and asking yourself:

  • Is my website strong on EAT fundamentals?
  • Are there any blockers to page speed that I may have missed?
  • Is my content publishing consistent in terms of quality and frequency?

Not sure how to implement these systems into your SEO strategy? Fusion Unlimited has the knowledge and experience needed to help – come and say hello.

SEO MARKET UPDATES: OCTOBER 2022

Google’s October 2022 Spam Update

After only a month since Google rolled out the September 2022 Core update, it has released yet another update on the 19th October called the 2022 spam update. This comes just 11 months after the previous spam update.

What is the spam update?

Every so often, Google makes small changes to its AI-based spam prevention system, SpamBrain, for it to be able to detect spammers (or low-quality websites) within search results.

In short, the spam updates target sites that violate specific guidelines.

As far as we know, this spam update predominantly impacted websites that have automatically generated content, created through various tactics. However, Google did not implicitly say if the update was related to a specific area, i.e., content, links, or other forms of spam.

The update is global, affects all languages, and took around several days to a week to fully complete.

Here is the Google Search Central tweet announcing the update:

What impact will the spam update have on sites?

Even if you’re not actively using spam tactics, Google will identify low-quality content too. The search engine attempts to show the best possible results to users, meaning if you are creating poor content your website could be impacted.

Therefore, if you noticed significant changes in rankings or traffic from your site’s organic search results, you might want to investigate this further.

What do we know about the Google 2022 spam update?

Below is a summary covering what we know from the October 2022 spam update:

  • Update name: Google October 2022 Spam Update.
  • Date launched: October 19, 2022.
  • Rollout duration: Several days to a week for a full rollout.
  • Purpose of update: To improve Google’s spam detection techniques – “sites that violate our policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all”, Google said.
  • Who it will penalise: Sites adopting spam techniques that violate Google’s spam policies.
  • Location: The update is global and impacts all regions and languages.
  • What to do if impacted: Review content on the site to ensure no pages violate Google’s spam policies.
  • Recovery: Once a site is hit, it could take a few months to recover from the update.

 

The key takeaway from this update is that Google is looking to provide users with the most relevant information from reputable sites. This change looks to further improve user experience on the search engine results page, which should ultimately benefit searchers, retailers, and advertisers. If you are creating high-quality content that provides value to users, then this update shouldn’t be anything to worry about, but it is still good to be aware of.

 

If your site has been impacted by the recent spam update, Fusion Unlimited has the knowledge and experience needed to help. We can also ensure your site is prepared to tackle any core algorithm updates or product review updates.

Get in touch with us today if you need assistance in overcoming the impacts of the October 2022 Spam Update, or if you’re looking to supercharge your SEO strategy.

ANNOUNCEMENT: MEET OUR NEW DIRECTORS

Fusion Unlimited is thrilled to announce the welcoming of 3 new members to join our Board of Directors. Although they’re new to the role, they’re no stranger to life at Fusion with a combined 48 years of experience at the agency between them. We’ve caught up with Kyle, Katie and Craig to find out more about their plans for the agency moving forward.

WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT FUSION?

The UK’s digital marketing agency space is highly competitive and saturated, with thousands of agencies competing for client contracts. Conglomerates and multinationals often have an edge, but our Leeds-based digital marketing agency Fusion Unlimited has worked hard over the last 24 years to prove that independent agencies can still lead and shape the market.

Now, with a client portfolio including household brands such as Halfords, the NatWest Banking Group and The University of Leeds, the agency has been named a Google Premier Partner for the 6th year running – placing Fusion in the top 3% of digital agencies in the UK.

What, though, is our secret to standing out as an independent agency? Being mindful that people are at the heart of the business. That’s why Fusion is announcing a company restructure to remain competitive and future-proof the business.

FROM ENTRY-LEVEL STAFF TO MANAGING DIRECTORS

The first strategic change will see three long-standing members of our team join the Board of Directors.

Kyle Brogan and Katie Harling will be stepping up as Joint Managing Directors, whilst Craig Broadbent will become the agency’s first Operations Director. Kyle and Katie joined the agency over 14 and 19 years ago respectively as placement students, with Craig joining in 2007.

The trio will continue working with the current Managing Director, Mark Curtis, who will be taking on a new role as Managing Partner.

Kyle Brogan said, “Katie, Craig and I are so excited about our new roles. We’ve seen Fusion grow and adapt to an ever-changing industry and we’re thrilled to be leading its next chapter.”

Katie Harling reflects, “To think that when I accepted my first job out of University at Fusion, that I’d still be here 19 years on and now Joint Managing Director, is a testament to what an amazing place it is to work!”

The new senior leadership trio recognise employee retention as a key driver of success for the business, and are committed to making Fusion a great place to work and a business that amplifies the careers of junior staff.

EMBRACING CULTURAL CHANGE

As a legacy agency with 25 years’ worth of rich culture, it’s essential to Fusion that our agency remains dynamic and equipped to navigate the nuances of modern working life. That’s why Katie, Kyle and Craig are introducing the following cultural objectives:

  • Implement sustainable practices

In Craig’s words, “We want to continue and super charge the work we’ve started on sustainability across the agency; employing third parties to review and scrutinise our current business practices and put measures in place to hit our sustainability goals.”

  • Maintaining diversity

Fusion has a track record of recruiting employees from around the globe, and its growth practices will continue to be mindful of diversity and inclusion; ensuring equal opportunities for all within the hiring process. If you’re interested in joining the team, check out our current job vacancies.

  • Ways of working

Finally, the business aims to define a culture that is fresh and adapts to the changing world we find ourselves in; including embracing hybrid and flexible working patterns, as well maintaining an open and safe working environment for those that wish to head into the office. 

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT AT FUSION

Kyle says, “We don’t just want to ‘get back to the way things were’, we want to define a new culture that works primarily for our people; enabling them to be productive and happy – as we continue to compete against the industry giants and prove that independent agencies with the right expertise, people, and values can remain at the forefront of industry knowledge.”

Mark Curtis founded Fusion Unlimited when the digital marketing landscape was almost unrecognisable compared to how it looks today. After almost 25 years at the helm, Mark is taking a slight step back from the day-to-day running of Fusion, but he will remain firmly involved in the business that he founded back in 1997.  

To stay up to date with the latest cultural developments, sustainable initiatives, and market insights – check out our latest blog posts.

SEO MARKET UPDATES: SEPTEMBER 2022

Google September 2022 Core Update

WHAT’S THE STORY? 

Every day, Google releases small updates designed to improve their search results. This includes changes to its ranking system, user interface and more. Several times a year, however, they release updates that might be “more noticeable” to their search algorithms and systems – these are referred to as Google’s core updates. 

September was a busy month in terms of updates; Google released the September 2022 core update – the second core update this year. The update was released on the 12th of September, took two full weeks to roll out and came three days after another update (the helpful content update) finished rolling out.  

Google is now becoming more certain of its assessment and does not deviate as much from the previous assessment. We know that this was a global update and affected all categories, ie., it wasn’t specific to any region, language, or category of web sites. 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU.  

September 2022 algo update and its impact. 

Based on data from tracking tools, the September 2022 core update seems less widespread than previous updates. 

In the event your site has been negatively impacted by this update, now is probably the time to start looking into analytics data to assess any pages that might have lost visibility, and create an action plan to improve the affected pages to regain rankings over time.  

As always Google’s advice for sites negatively impacted by these updates is to focus on offering quality content. 

As explained, pages that drop after a core update don’t have anything wrong to fix. This said, we understand those who do less well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something. We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.” 

For questions, concerns or any further information on Google updates contact our SEO team here at Fusion. We would love to hear from you! 

September Product review update 

WHAT’S THE STORY? 

Another update that was released by Google is the September 2022 product review update. This is part of a series of updates aimed at targeting low-quality reviews. 

Google announced on Twitter that the update began rolling out on September 20th, and like most updates, would take approximately 2 weeks to completely launch. 

This follows the helpful content update which launched in August. 

For sites that do not publish product reviews, this update will not affect you. Unlike a core update (as mentioned above) which impacts all search results.  

Product Review Update Explained 

This algorithm update is designed to award high-quality product review pages that share in-depth research and ‘penalise’ low quality product review pages – i.e., content that has little or no value to the user and that provides information users can find on manufacturer’s sites. 

This update applies to websites that publish long-form product reviews; it does not apply to sites that sell products that customers can review. Customer reviews are not considered the same as product review articles. 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU.  

 As the update is 100% rolled out, site owners may already see impact on product review pages. 

Google adds: 

If you see a change and wonder if it’s related to the core update or the product reviews update: 

  • If you produce product reviews, then it’s probably related to that. 
  • If not, then it might be related to the core update. 

Google also revealed that the ranking signal introduced with the helpful content update will likely get stronger as other types of updates roll out (read more). 

This means that this repetition of the product review update could potentially cause a greater impact than previous versions of updates. 

It is also possible that product review pages not affected by previously updates will feel the effects of this September product review update, which may not be a bad thing as with every algorithm update, there is always an opportunity to improve rankings. 

For more guidance on how to assess the impact of a product review update, see this article published on the Google Search Central Blog. 

SEO MARKET UPDATES: AUGUST 2022

Google on Updates and the importance of Quality Content

What’s the story?

A lot of us have experienced the frustration of clicking on a website that appears to have exactly what we are looking for but turns out not to meet our expectations. This could be content that lacks the specific insight you are needing, or even worse – content that could be considered clickbait.

While it isn’t a new concept, in recent years Google has been proactive in its efforts to improve the quality of content served to users. Since last year, numerous updates search updates have been released, such as the ranking better quality product review content which sought to make it easier for searchers to find useful, helpful and relevant content.

Last month, Google rolled out a ‘helpful content update’ (which is now fully rolled out) whose goal is to track content written to specifically rank well on search engines but has no actual value for people – in other words, poor content designed to manipulate search engines.

“The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.”

 Based on their research, Google confirmed that the ‘helpful content update’ will “especially improve results related to online education, arts and entertainment, shopping and tech-related content.”

What this means for you. 

This update may not directly affect your industry and if the content you create is people-first – i.e., “content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience” – not much action is required. Furthermore, answering yes to the below questions should alleviate any concerns regards people-first content and whether you are on the right track with your approach:

  • Are there prospects or existing audiences for your business or website that would find the your content useful/ helpful if they landed directly to you?
  • Does your content show first-hand experience and depth of understanding (for instance, experience gained from actually using a product or service or visiting a place)?
  • Do you have a main goal or emphasis for your website?
  • Will a reader believe they have learnt enough about a subject after reading your content to aid in achieving their goal?
  • Will someone who reads your content come away from it feeling satisfied?
  • Are you following our recommendations for both core updates and product reviews?

Naturally, if ever unsure or need further clarity always refer to Google’s guidelines.

 

Google Search Console Video Index Report

What’s the story?

Due to the growth of video creation and consumption on the net, Google decided to launch a video index report within search console to help site owners better understand the performance of video content on Google search, as well as identify possible areas of improvement for that content.

This roll out started in July and is now 100% live as of the 22nd August.

What this means for you. 

The video indexing report ultimately helps you track the status of video indexing on your website and helps to answers the following questions:

  • In how many pages has Google identified a video?
  • Which videos were indexed successfully?
  • What are the issues preventing videos from being indexed?

Bear in mind, however, that the Video Indexing report is different from the Video Rich results report. The differences are outline below:

  • Video Indexing Report refers to video indexing despite any video structured data.
  • Video Rich results report – provides information on which Video structured data items are valid or invalid on a website.

 

Google Search Console: Updated issue categorization

Google search console has been changed in terms of how URLs or items are classified within many reports.

 

Instead of URLS being grouped at the top level by three (in some cases more) statuses – e.g., Valid, Warning, and Error, categories are now grouped into two statuses (i.e., valid or invalid) – “where invalid means that there is a report-specific critical issue in the page or item, and not invalid means that the item might still contain warnings but has no critical issues”. This should, in practice, help Search Console users focus more on critical issues.

Despite this change, search console still categorises singular issues such as error, warning, or good. The change is predominantly a move from text label to classifications implied through colour and icons.

The individual Search Console report changes are as follows:

  • Coverage (Page indexing): The Valid and Valid with warning pages are categorised as Indexed status.
  • Error and Excluded issues have been grouped into the Not indexed status.
  • Core Web Vitals: The report now divides pages into two tables: one for Good pages and one for Poor/Need improvement pages.
  • Mobile Usability has changed from Not usable to Usable.
  • AMP Report: The major (critical) issues that are affecting AMP pages are shown in the first table, while the non-critical issues are shown in the second table.
  • Rich result report: Rich results that are impacted by critical issues are shown in the first table, while non-critical issues are shown in the second.
  • URL Inspection: After examining a URL, one of the following three verdicts will be given:
      • URL is on Google
      • URL is on Google but has issues
      • URL is not on Google

In conclusion, Google is now becoming more certain of its assessment and does not deviate as much from the previous assessments. Hence it is essential to ensure that your site meets Google’s standards and guidelines to rank well on search engine results. Following these guideline should result in users being served with the most relevant, helpful information and an overall great experience.

For questions, concerns or any further information on updates and Google products contact the SEO team here at Fusion, we’d love to hear from you!

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Google Premier Partner: 6th Year Running

2022 marks the sixth consecutive year in which the team at Fusion Unlimited has been selected as a Google Premier Partner.

A Leeds-Based Google Premier Partner

We have achieved Premier Partner status by demonstrating expertise through our advertising techniques, delivered agency and client revenue growth, and not just sustained- but also grown our client base. Google Premier Partnership distinguishes the Fusion team as being within the top 3% of marketing agencies in the UK.

Securing this status grants us access to a number of invaluable opportunities and advantages that we can bring to our client base.

What does this mean for our clients?

From advanced education and specialist Google Ads support, to attendance of executive events, this partnership gives us access to a wealth of exclusive opportunities. Learning opportunities and networking events in particular enable us to leverage this partnership in a way that enables our clients to reap the benefits.

Google Premier Partnership status means we can continue to be at the forefront of knowledge, and apply this knowledge to help our clients lead their respective markets with cutting-edge strategies and new technology that’s implemented effectively.

You can learn more about our services and the work that we do here.


SEO Market Updates: May 2022

Google Releases May 2022 Core Algorithm Update

Following rumours across the industry, on 25th May 2022 Google announced the release of a new broad core algorithm update:

This follows the previous Core Algorithm Update that rolled out November 2021, with the latest update a further general refinement of its algorithmic systems. With a rollout period of around 2 weeks, the update finally competed it’s release on 9th June 2022.  

As the name suggests, this is a broad update meaning it does not target specific websites, and it is designed to promote or reward good quality content at scale. According to Google’s Danny Sullivan:

“Core updates are changes we make to improve Search overall and keep pace with the changing nature of the web. There’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”

https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/05/may-2022-core-update

Although websites may be positively or negatively impacted by an update, Google states that no specific actions should be taken in response but to keep monitoring rankings and traffic. In case a website was dramatically impacted by the core update, site owners should not take any actions but focus on honing the quality of their content, according to Google:

“Pages that drop after a core update don’t have anything wrong to fix. This said, we understand those who do less well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something. We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.”

 https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2019/08/core-updates

Beginning with the June 2021 broad core update, Google appears to be keen to make periodic refreshes to it’s algorithmic systems. Based on initial analysis from some third parties, this could be part of a larger trend that has core updates becoming less impactful over time, although time will tell whether this is actually the case.

PageSpeed Insights adds INP and TTFB into the Field Data Report

Google’s Annie Sullivan unveiled a new metric called INP or Interaction to Next Paint at this year’s Google I/O event.

INP measures overall responsiveness to user interactions on the page and it was introduced as a more comprehensive version of the current FID metric. INP measures the full path of interactions: from the very first hit on a page until the delivery of a visible response.

Interaction to Next Paint brand-new PageSpeed Insights indicator showing a bar with "Good", "Needs Improvement" and "Poor" thresholds
INP (Interaction to Next Paint, via Web.Dev

Google’s Web.dev explains the new Interaction to Next Paint (INP) metric:

INP is a metric that aims to represent a page’s overall interaction latency by selecting one of the single longest interactions that occur when a user visits a page. For pages with less than 50 interactions in total, INP is the interaction with the worst latency. For pages with many interactions, INP is most often the 98th percentile of interaction latency

A high INP value score is usually indicative of a high reliance on JavaScript or other main thread work that may run concurrently with user interactions. Hence, sites built in Angular.js or React.js may be particularly affected by high INP scores as interaction latency is largely extended.

SEOs have been wondering whether such an indicator is going to have a tangible impact on the overall Page Experience. Google’s spokesperson Annie Sullivan quelled mounting concerns and claimed that INP is still an experimental metric.

Given that responsiveness is crucial to serving user experience throughout the page lifecycle, Google may soon replace FID with INP as a proper Core Web Vitals.

Despite holding a less straightforward impact on user experience, TTFB (Time to First Byte) field data will be collected from the CrUX (Chrome User Experience) for the first time in PageSpeed Insights. TTFB measures how fast the server responds to a request for a resource helping SEOs to isolate factors which can have a negative effect on all other page loading metrics.

New Translated Results feature added to Google Search Console

On 13th May Google released a new search appearance filter to the performance report in Google Search Console called “translated results”.

The new filter is designed to provide further information on how many searchers accessed one’s site content when Google translates it in the search results. To date, the release is currently available only on mobile, with support at present only for Indonesian, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu.

New Translated Result filter within the Search Appearance tab from the Performance section in Google Search Console
Translated results within Search Appearance tab in Google Search Console, via Seroundtable

Google had already covered within its official blog how this new feature would have worked once rolled out.

In short, Google may translate the title link and snippet of a search result for results that are not in the language of the search query. Once a searcher clicks the translated title link from Google Search, the content would be delivered automatically by Google Translate because of its automatic machine learning model.

Google removing support for some video and sitemap extension tags

By August 6th, 2022, some outdated sitemap tags will be deprecated as a result of a recent announcement from Google aimed at making sitemaps less cluttered with redundant code.

Google made the point by stating that “deprecated tags will have no effect on indexing and search features after August 6th, 2022”. That means that tags can safely be removed, without the need to worry about any negative impact on SEO performance.

Google added that at some point Google Search Console will notify webmasters via messages or errors in case any dismissed tags were still in place on a sitemap file.

The following sitemap extension tags will no longer be supported:

Within image sitemaps:

  • caption
  • geo_location
  • title
  • license

Within video sitemaps:

  • category
  • player_loc[@allow_embed]
  • player_loc[@autoplay]
  • gallery_loc, price[@all]
  • tvshow[@all]

Google adds new Education Q&A Structured Data

Google has announced the rollout of a new “Education Q&A” structured data type, specifically designed to aid users find pages containing quiz flashcards within search results.

When searching for education-related topics on desktop and mobile, users can now browse through Q&A carousel speeding up query response, thereby easing their learning process on educational subjects.

Questions & Answers mock up box, unfolded in 3 rows containing one question each
Q&A carousel, via seroundtable

To encourage the display of the new feature within SERPs, webmasters are required to add Education Q&A schema on their educational content and make sure to abide by a few best practices, such as:

  • Ensure to implement structured data on the most detailed leaf page possible.
  • Ensure questions aren’t held only in a data file or PDF, and are immediately visible to users browsing the page.

At present, the Q&A carousel is only available to those with the browser language set to English, across any region.

Apple to release new Search Engine

A multi-colour half bitten apple mounting upon a search bar as part of the brand-new Apple’s search engine interface
New Apple search engine, via Seroundtable.

A few hours before the end of May, the SEO industry heard through the grapevine that Apple was to release a new search engine at this year’s Apple WWDC (aka World Wide Developer Conference), which took place on June 6th.

Apple had been slowly sneaking into the web search over the years. Following the Applebot rollout back in 2014, Apple listed their own search ranking factors along with Applebot user-agent details.

Google Releases May 2022 Core Algorithm Update

On 25th May 2022 Google announced the release of a new broad core algorithm update:

As with recent updates the stated rollout period is set to be around 1-2 weeks, meaning a likely date of completion at some time during w/c 6th June.

As the name suggests, broad core algorithm updates are designed to be a general “refresh” of Google’s algorithmic ranking processes and are not intended to target any particular website niches or areas of organic search. Websites can see a change in ranking performance as a result of updates, both positive and negative, but it’s also possible to see a negligible impact.

Within the Search Central blog on the most recent update, Google’s Danny Sullivan wrote:

Core updates are changes we make to improve Search overall and keep pace with the changing nature of the web. There’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.

https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/05/may-2022-core-update

Websites may be positively or negatively impacted by an update, but regardless of this the official advice remains the same. In summary, there’s nothing specific that webmasters need to do in response, and the focus should remain on creating “quality content”. In Google’s own words:

Pages that drop after a core update don’t have anything wrong to fix. This said, we understand those who do less well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something. We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.

https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2019/08/core-updates

With the last core algorithm refresh released in late November 2021, and updates appearing to be pushed out on a rough 6 monthly schedule, it’s highly likely that another similar update will take place in late 2022.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Wallpaper & Paint Sector Report

In our latest report, we take a look at which big brands are putting their personal touch on the wallpaper and paint market; delving into organic visibility and performance both for key market players and the ones-to-watch using our proprietary Share of Voice tool, Natural Edge.

Some of the insights you can discover include:

  • Brand table – top 50 brands with highest share of voice
  • Share of voice at a product category level
  • Keyword opportunities – which keyword clusters have seen the biggest growth areas over the last 12 months?
  • Keyword losers – which brands have seen the biggest decline over the last 12 months?

Market leaders like Wilko, B&Q, and Homebase prove their worth as household names, and smaller luxury labels like Farrow & Ball and Little Greene hold strong in the ranks for their niches. Specialist brands Dulux and Crown maintain a steady position for paints, while I Love Wallpaper proves worthy of the name by maintaining a presence across all wallpaper categories.

What could our report findings mean for your brand?

There’s clearly a lot of fluctuation within rankings for the Wallpaper and Paint sector, and new brands entering the market are able to gain visibility. Consequently, there’s plenty of opportunity for existing brands and challenger brands to optimise their site content, improve their SEO foundations, and generate links from reputable publishers to boost visibility and drive conversions.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how we can help you gain visibility in the SERPs within the beds and mattresses category get in touch here

SEO Market Updates: April 2022

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

AI Generated Content Is Against Google Guidelines

In a recent Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout, Search Advocate John Mueller weighed in on the widely discussed topic of GPT-3 AI writing tools and, more broadly, the nature of automatically generated content.

Mueller says that any content written by AI is considered as automatically-generated, which is against Google guidelines and could lead to a manual penalty. Here is the full response given:

If you’re using machine learning tools to generate your content, it’s essentially the same as if you’re just shuffling words around, or looking up synonyms, or doing the translation tricks that people used to do.

My suspicion is maybe the quality of content is a little bit better than the really old school tools, but for us it’s still automatically generated content, and that means for us it’s still against the Webmaster Guidelines. So we would consider that to be spam.”

Soon after this conversation, the Webmaster Guidelines were updated to provide more clarity on this subject. Within the Quality Guidelines section, “Automatically generated content intended to manipulate search rankings” is now listed as a technique to avoid:

It is not clear if Google’s algorithm has the ability to detect auto-generated content, however, Mueller did say that “If we see that something is automatically generated, then the webspam team can definitely take action on that”.

Google Rolls Out Conversions Migration Tool For GA4

Google has rolled out a conversion migration tool allowing you to import your existing goals from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. This can be accessed within the GA4 settings screen, in the Setup Assistant tab, under the Conversions section.

In short, the migration tool allows you to quickly recreate goals from a connected Universal Analytics property as conversion events within a GA4 property.

Charles Farina provided a good post about this on Twitter, along with screenshots of where to find it and what to expect:

A step-by-step guide on how to use the tool is below:

  1. In Google Analytics, click Admin.
  2. In the Account column, make sure that your desired account is selected. (If you only have one Google Analytics account, it will already be selected.)
  3. In the Property column, select the Google Analytics 4 property that currently collects data for your website.
  4. In the Property column, click Setup Assistant.
  5. Under Conversions, go to Import existing goals from your connected Universal Analytics property, and click Get started.
  6. In the Import existing goals from your connected property panel, select which goals you’d like to recreate as conversion events in your new Google Analytics 4 property.
  7. Click Import selected conversions in the top right.

Data Studio Now Supports Discover & Google News Traffic

The Google Search Console connector for Data Studio can now retrieve traffic data for Google Discover and Google News. Within the data source connection settings, here’s how this can be added:

More information on how to monitor search traffic in Data Studio – including detail on the new connectors – can be found in this Google Search Central Blog titled ‘Monitoring Search traffic (and more!) with Data Studio’.

March 2022 Product Reviews Update Finished Rolling Out

The third version of the product reviews update which began rolling out on the 23rd of March, has now officially completed. Google announced on the 11th of April that the March 2022 Product Reviews Update had finished rolling out, taking 19 days to complete.

As previously mentioned in last month’s blog – this set of algorithm updates aims to improve how Google Search ranks product reviews; prioritising in-depth, authentic content based on feedback, internal testing, and an evaluation process.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Fusion Unlimited Announced as a 2022 Prolific North Top 50 Digital Agency

The team at Fusion Unlimited is proud to announce that we are once again part of Prolific North’s Top 50 Digital agencies, appearing in 26th position in the 2022 list. The annual list shines light on the digital specialists putting out some of the best work in the industry that’s worth watching out for.

Rankings are based on a number of factors including balance sheets and shareholder funds, turnover, pre-tax profit, headcount, and ultimately, growth.

 

What is Prolific North?

Prolific North is a leading hub for the media, digital, marketing, tech, and creative sectors in the North. Since 2013, Prolific North has been the go-to for jobs, events, and breaking news and insights across these sectors, sharing some of the best industry insights and compiling lists of the outstanding achievers and industry leaders operating in the North of England.

Prolific North Top 50 Digital Agencies has shown us that agencies based in Yorkshire continue to thrive, with 7 of the top 10 agencies and 44% of the total list based in the region.

 

How did Fusion Unlimited qualify as a top 50 digital agency?

2022 marks Fusion’s 25th year of supporting UK brands with cutting-edge digital marketing strategy across fast-moving disciplines such as SEO and paid media. Over the past year, we have:
  • Added eight new clients.
  • Grown our turnover by 36%.
  • Once again been named as a Google Premier Partner – which places Fusion in the top 3% of digital agencies in the UK.
What’s more, we’re one of the top 20 independent agencies within Prolific North’s top 50 list, and we have an extremely efficient working model, with an expert group of strategists developing the accounts of national and global brands.

If you’re interested in learning more about how a Top 50 agency could help your brand become more visible, read more about how Fusion Unlimited has supported some of the UK’s leading businesses across a diverse range of sectors.

SEO Market Updates: March 2022

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google to Sunset Universal Analytics in 2023

Google has announced plans to sunset the standard version of Google Analytics called Universal Analytics. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will therefore replace UA as the new standard.

From the 1st July 2023, standard universal analytics properties will stop processing data. 360 properties will receive an extra three months of data processing, ending on the 1st October 2023.

The move to GA4 comes from a wide variety of factors, however Google says this is largely down to the fact that the new even-based data model can operate across multiple platforms, making it a more future-proof solution.

Speaking on other reasons for discontinuing Universal Analytics, Google said:

Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions, and more easily observable data from cookies. This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.

March 2022 Product Reviews Update Rollout

On Wednesday the 23rd of March, Google began the rollout of the third version of the product reviews update, inventively named the March 2022 Product Reviews Update.

These set of algorithm updates aim to improve how Google Search ranks product reviews, prioritising in-depth authentic content based on feedback, internal testing, and an evaluation process.

Google say this latest version “builds on that work to enhance our ability to identify high-quality product reviews. This will make it easier for us to get sound purchasing advice in front of users, and to reward creators who are earnest in being helpful”. Currently, this may only impact the rankings of English-language product reviews.

Google to Remove the URL Parameters Tool in Search Console

The URL parameters tool that sites within the legacy Google Search Console will be killed off on Tuesday the 26th of April 2022.

In the announcement just last month, Google said “Over the years, Google became much better at guessing which parameters are useful on a site and which are —plainly put— useless. In fact, only about 1% of the parameter configurations currently specified in the URL Parameters tool are useful for crawling. Due to the low value of the tool both for Google and Search Console users, we’re deprecating the URL Parameters tool in 1 month.”

Going forward, there is no specific action for site owners to take in order to specify the function of URL parameters on their site, Google’s crawlers will automatically learn how best to deal with them.

More Context Given in Structured Data Error Reporting

From Monday the 28th March 2022, structured data error reporting within the Google Search Console rich results status reports, the Google Search Console URL inspection tool, and the Rich Results test gained more specific, descriptive, and contextual names for issues to help site owners find and fix the problem.

Within the announcement, Google added that:

  • All your open issues that refer to nested properties will be automatically closed (for example, the Missing field “name” issue in the example above).
  • You’ll see new open issues with more context about what’s missing (for example, the issue will say Missing field “name” (in “author”). To avoid overloading Search Console users with emails, we won’t send notifications on the creation of these new issues.

Here’s a before and after example of a structured data error:

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

IWD: An Interview

This International Women’s Day we spoke to Laura (LT), Amelia (AF) and Emily (EF) to hear more about their experiences and what IWD means for them. So without any further ado…

What does IWD mean for you?

LT: Empowerment to live the life I want, to do it all

AF: Celebrating all the strong, successful women in my life who have been pivotal role models for me. Also, acknowledging that we still have some work to do in the pursuit of equality – important days like this helps drive the conversation about gender equality and how we move forward together. 

EF: IWD to me is a day to acknowledge and celebrate all women for what they have achieved, especially women from marginalised groups who still experience racism, stereotyping, ableism etc. every day.

Which powerful women do you admire the most?

LT: My wonderful daughter, mum, grandma and nana aside – who could not admire the Queen, such a strong lady in every aspect of her life, and also the other Queen – Dolly Parton, what a life she carved from humble beginnings. Dolly has such a work ethic whilst being kind, caring and an all round superstar!

AF: Jacinda Ardern. The way she handled the pandemic was admirable. She acted swiftly, strictly and with compassion to protect the people of New Zealand. A true role model.

EF: I admire all the trans women who still experience discrimination and violence in society just for living authentically as themselves. I admire Michaela Jaé Rodriguez who shows us that with talent and determination you can achieve anything, as she became the first trans actor to win a Golden Globe in 2022. I admire my friend Summer who has experienced harassment in Leeds for not looking ‘womanly’ enough but is brave and powerful in expressing her femininity.

What barriers/challenges have you faced as a woman in digital?

LT: My own lack of confidence and belief in myself, which is a work in progress every day!

AF: I would say one of my barriers has been the fear of failure. Sometimes, I have a dreadful feeling of “what if I fail”. Collectively as women, I believe it is important support each other in the pathway to success. 

What advice would you give for women looking to start their careers in digital?

LT: Listen, learn and absorb from others whilst on the job – never stop growing your knowledge and pushing forward.

AF: Be confident in yourself and show your strengths. If you want to make a difference, start with believing that you can. 

EF: When applying for roles, it could be a good idea to look at the current staff members to see the ratio of women. It can be evident from looking at a company’s colleagues whether women have been given the opportunity to progress and that could impact your decision of whether you would want to work there.

SEO Market Updates: February 2022

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Desktop Page Experience Algorithm Now Rolling Out

As of Tuesday 22nd February, the Google Page Experience update began rolling out across desktop search results, this is expected to complete by the end of March 2022:

As previously touched on, the desktop algorithm includes the same factors as the mobile page experience update, other than the obvious mobile friendliness, illustrated below:

It is unlikely that sites will see any immediate or at all change in rankings from this update. During the rollout on mobile, Google said “While this update is designed to highlight pages that offer great user experiences, page experience remains one of many factors our systems take into account… Given this, sites generally should not expect drastic changes”, we expect this to also apply to desktop.

Multiple Data Losses Within Google Search Console

Google Search Console experienced data losses on two separate occasions throughout February. Firstly, between the 1st and 3rd of February, Google reported a data logging issue within the performance report, relating to Google Search, Google Discover, and Google News.

As a result, site owners may spot some discrepancies in performance data during this period, however, Google says “this is only a logging issue; it does not reflect a change in either user behaviour or search results on Google”. The performance report displays an annotation icon to document this.

The second instance of data loss within Google Search Console last month refers to the crawl stats report, site owners are reporting crawl data missing from either one or both of the 8th and 9th February, looking like this:

John Mueller from Google later confirmed on Twitter that this missing crawl data is of no concern:

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1493883854872096768?s=20&t=W22ycOfqVbwLvdWAVZJlOg

Google Search Console Snapshot Now Supports Domain Properties

First launched in 2018, the Google Search Console snapshot displays insights from Google Search Console data directly in the search results, for example:

This now supports and will display for all verification methods, after Google announced “we are happy to share that starting today Search Console in Search results feature will also support domain properties”.

It is worth remembering that the snapshot will only appear if you are either the full owner or the full user of the site in Google Search Console, you must also be signed in with the correct Google account whilst searching for queries that your site ranks for.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

SEO Market Updates: January 2022

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google Launches URL Inspection API

On the 31st of January 2022, Google announced the new Google Search Console URL Inspection API, letting you programmatically access the URL level data from Google Search Console properties through external software, as with other APIs.

Google says “we’re providing a new tool for developers to debug and optimize their pages. You can request the data Search Console has about the indexed version of a URL; the API will return the indexed information currently available in the URL Inspection tool.”

Here’s an example of the API response:

URL Inspection API Code

Many SEO tool providers are already publishing updates with the new API integration, for example, Screaming Frog:

New Google Robots Tag: indexifembedded

Google announced the rollout of a new robots tag, giving sites more control over what content can be indexed in search results. The new tag named indexifembedded lets you tell Google if you’d still like your content indexed when it’s embedded through iframes and similar HTML tags in other pages, even when the content page has a noindex tag.

The new tag addresses a common issue faced by publishers, while they may want their content indexed when it’s embedded on third-party pages, they don’t necessarily want their media pages indexed on their own.

To enable content to be indexed only when it’s embedded on other pages, add indexifembedded in combination with the noindex tag. For example:

Google Search Console Adds Desktop Page Experience Report

With the Page Experience update expected to roll out across desktop search results imminently, Google has added a Desktop Page Experience report to Search Console:

The Google Search Console Page Experience report now looks like the following:

Breadcrumb & HowTo Error Reporting Changed in Google Search Console

Towards the end of January, Google posted an update within the Help Centre stating the way it evaluates and reports errors in Breadcrumbs and HowTo structured data within Search Console has changed.

As a result, Google says “you may see changes in the number of Breadcrumbs and HowTo entities and issues reported for your property, as well as a change in severity of some issues from errors to warnings.”

It is worth noting that any changes are strictly in reporting, this will not affect the visibility of rich results within Google Search.

New “People Search Next” Google Mobile Search Feature

Google search has a new feature on mobile SERPs titled “People search next”, this has been spotted for multiple “near me” queries, displaying above the “Related searches” refinement.

An example of this for the search of “dentist near me” is shown below:

As with most new search features, this appears to only currently be showing in US SERPs.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Social Media Updates: January 2022

TikTok Looking to Test ‘Stories’ Format

TikTok is updating a ‘Stories’ feature – a step towards expanding content formats to provide more creative options to creators. This new element will not have its own separate space like on other platforms, instead it would be integrated into the ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ feeds.

Users will be able to view ‘Stories’ content irrespective of whether they follow the account. In multiple story frames, they will have to tap on the frame to move onto the next one, which may take some getting used to as they are used to scrolling down. 

‘Stories’ will be also marked on user profiles with the total amount of frames displayed too. TikTok is still in the testing phase and will launch the feature in the next coming months once it has finalised all aspects.

The social media giant’s aim is to become a social media platform that caters for a range of users with a variety of content options. However, since this ‘Stories’ content format is so overused, we don’t know how it will be taken by users. Will they find it useful and interesting, or will they get annoyed by the intrusion into their feeds? We’ll find out when the format is rolled out.

Pinterest Tests Pin Highlights

Pinterest is testing the ‘Highlights’ option for their Idea Pins. This new feature, which will have up to six highlights, would enable creators to showcase their content longer than the 24 hour time-frame set for Ideas Pin.

The platform says:

Pinterest is an inspiration to realization platform. Creators play a crucial role in that journey acting as personal shoppers, chefs, stylists and overall consultants to our Pinners. Therefore, we continue to evolve our formats, features and tools to help them build a community and to inspire Pinners to take action. Profile highlights are a new way we offer creators to highlight their most relevant Idea Pins at the top of their profile to make them more visible and easier to discover.

Currently, the story-like feature, Idea Pins allows users to add up to 20 frames per sequence. Including the Highlight element to this will definitely provide value as it will not only showcase the Ideas Pin content longer than 24 hours, but it will also point visitors towards the creator’s goals.

Instagram Increases Response Options in Stories Polls

Instagram has updated its Poll sticker used in stories. The element will now enable users to add up to four answer options – which previously, was limited to two.

This is great for brands looking to engage more users through stories and conduct polls that will help shape their marketing strategies based on user preferences. Two response options would limit creator and brands from getting in-depth insights from followers, however this update makes it easier to have built-in replies on any topic. 

Apart from this update, users can also change the colour of the question being asked in the poll. Giving them slightly more creative freedom.

Snapchat Adds Catalog-Powered Shopping Lenses

Snapchat is looking to improve its AR tools by integrating new Catalog-Powered Shopping Lenses which will enable brands to showcase their products and provide virtual try-on options.

Whether it’s a clothing brand or a makeup brand – companies will be able to make users shopping experience more personal, accessible and fun. The Catalog lenses will be directly linked to the company’s brand catalog and include details on pricing, size, colour, and similar items.

This is not only great from a sales perspective, as users can just try on the product from the comfort of their phones – but it can also help brands drive their marketing efforts towards the direction that their target audience are interested in. For example, if one product is more popular than others, it will help brands know where and what to focus their efforts on.

Snapchat has also updated its Lens Web Builder with new templates and tools to allow more brands to easily create their AR lenses. The app further explains:

We’ve now made it so brands can generate a commerce Lens in as fast as two minutes and beauty brands can do so in just a few clicks. At launch, this quick click accessibility in Lens Web Builder will be available to beauty brands and will roll out to other product verticals in the coming months.

If you want to learn how social media can help you maximise your marketing efforts, get in touch with our expert team here. Don’t forget to check out our blog for all the latest news and updates within the digital marketing space.  

Welcome to Team Fusion, Shreya!

We’re thrilled to have Shreya on board as our newest Account Executive. A Computer Engineering undergrad from Essex university and a MSc Business with Marketing from Warwick Uni – we can’t wait to see Shreya blow us away! 

Let’s get to know her a little more…

Welcome to the team! We’re all delighted to have you here. What are you most looking forward to about the role?

Thank you! I am glad to be a part of the team! I would say the thing I am most looking forward to is learning as much as I can from everyone at Fusion and putting my degree to good use!

So tell me, why marketing?

Marketing was a rather impromptu choice for me but the one thing I have come to love about it is that Marketing combines both creativity and analytics. That being said, I have always been fascinated with the social media algorithm and curious to learn more about it.

What attracted you to Fusion in the first place?

The opportunity to work with a small team and learn from a variety of experts on the team was what mainly attracted me to the role. I have always preferred working and learning with smaller teams and I am glad to have been accepted into the Fusion family.

Right, let’s get to know the real you…

Favourite marketing campaign?

It has to be “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty”. It is an impactful campaign which aims to highlight women’s unique differences thus empowering them. Absolutely love the message behind it!

App you couldn’t live without?

Instagram!

What are you reading/podcast are you into currently?

Death Message (by Mark Billingham) … (I really love crime novels)

Dream Client?

 Any online fashion retailer really…

What are you binge watching right now?

Suits! Absolutely love that show! (…and also FRIENDS for about the 100th time!)

Interesting fact about you?

 I am a trained Indian classical dancer.

If you weren’t in marketing?

I would probably be an Event Planner!

SEO Market Updates: December 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates

December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On 1st December Google announced the rollout of a new product reviews update, following on from a previous update released in April 2021.

The news was announced within a new Search Central blogpost, with Google writing that the update was designed to reward “high-quality product reviews” and that webmasters may notice changes in how their reviews are ranked as a result.

According to Google, the decision to release a new update was largely based on new feedback from users on what is viewed as “trustworthy” or “useful” review content. This feedback has formed the basis of two new best practice recommendations, taken into account in the most recent update:

  •  Provide evidence such as visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with the product, to support your expertise and reinforce the authenticity of your review.
  • Include links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.

As well as forming a part of the most recent update, the new recommendations have now also been added to Google’s official documentation around product reviews.

As with the previous update, only websites offering product reviews should be impacted by the recent release, with no other content types impacted.

Google Search Console Experiences Widespread Bugs

December was a rocky month for Google Search Console, with the platform experiencing at least two widespread issues impacting the accuracy and accessibility of data.

In mid-December, many webmasters reported a large spike in redirect issues within the platform, often across multiple websites. Following coverage of this, on 13th December Google stated that the spikes reported were false and that this was due to an issue with the platform:

Just a few days later another issue was reported, with some users finding that they were unable to access and essentially locked out of their account. Google again announced this was a bug:

Google has since confirmed that both issues are now resolved, although some within the industry are continuing to report sporadic issues with the platform. No further information has been provided as to the reasons behind the bugs, with Google simply stating that they were “internal issues”.

No Penalty For Failing to No-Follow Affiliate Links

In a recent Q&A session, Google’s John Mueller stated that failing to correctly no-follow affiliate links is unlikely to pose a real issue.

In answer to the question “Would I be penalized if I don’t set the rel sponsored or rel no follow for my affiliate links?”, Mueller stated:

Probably not. […] From our point of view, affiliate links fall into that category of something financial attached to the links, so we really strongly recommend to [add a rel sponsored or rel no-follow tag]. But for the most part if it doesn’t come across as you selling links, then it’s not likely to be the case that [Google] would manually penalize a website for having affiliate links and not marking them up.

As affiliate links indicate some kind of financial relationship between the linking and linked-to website, Google considers it best practice to ensure that they are tagged with a “rel=sponsor” attribute or”rel=nofollow” attribute. Both tags prevent equity from being transferred to the linked-to website, with the sponsor tag also indicating to search engines clearly that a financial agreement is in place between the two websites.

However, Mueller’s answer indicates that failing to use the tag for affiliate links is unlikely to cause any real issue, despite this being contrary to best-practice guidelines.

Watch the question at 31:58 here.

100k URLs Unlikely to Pose Crawl Budget Issue

Google’s John Mueller recently stated that websites sized around 100k URLs shouldn’t encounter issues with crawl budget. In response to a question on Twitter focused on whether to de-index lower-quality content, Mueller tweeted:

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1473268153316691975

Although Google’s official documentation on crawl budget contains brief definitions of what it considers a “Large site” (+1,000,000 URLs) and a “Medium or larger site” (+10,000 URLs), there is no information given on how well Google is able to handle both size brackets.

As such, Mueller’s tweet provides a useful – albeit informal – guideline for webmasters to follow when considering the impact of website size.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Best Marketing Campaigns of 2021

2021 has been another interesting year with many ground-breaking brand marketing campaigns, reaching customers through their innovative, meaningful, and quirky ideas.

With so many buzzworthy campaigns, here’s a list of our favourites of 2021! Worth keeping these in mind as a source of inspiration for your next brainstorm.

 

Welcome Back – Guinness

There is no doubt that the general public had missed going to pubs for a pint during lockdown. We surely had!

So, when lockdown restrictions started to ease and pubs were allowed to operate again in May 2021, the beer giant, Guinness, launched a campaign to welcome people back. The video ad included random objects having a resemblance to a pint of Guinness, whether that’s a black bin covered with snow or white pigeons on a black chimney.

The aim of the campaign was to inspire a variety of emotions including a feeling of positivity, nostalgia, and excitement. The idea was also promoted on social media with the #LooksLikeGuiness hashtag encouraging users to share their examples of white and black Guinness lookalikes.

The campaign was a great success and led to Guinness being the number one most talked about beer brand at the time with engagement 3.5 times higher than the industry benchmark.

Cuthbert the Caterpillar – Aldi

We’re sure everyone has heard about the Caterpillar war between Aldi and Marks & Spencer. When Aldi launched its Cuthbert the Caterpillar Swiss roll, M&S launched a legal action against the supermarket claiming the company had infringed the trademark for its Colin the Caterpillar cake.

Aldi’s response to this was brilliant and unexpected. They managed to turn a complex situation into a national debate through a series of funny tweets using the #FreeCuthbert hashtag.

Within hours, the brand was trending on Twitter and the topic became so big that it gained coverage from national news channels such as BBC Breakfast, Good Morning Britain, newspapers such as The Independent and Daily Mail, and creators also generating content through memes and parodies.

This reactive marketing effort gained great results for Aldi as its Twitter following increased by 30%, with a 15% engagement rate on socials. The score for news sentiment also increased by 8.5%, with its purchase consideration increasing by 6.8%.  

Beanz on Bix – Weetabix

Another popular campaign you’ve probably come across either on social media or heard about through friends or colleagues, Beanz on Bix!

The breakfast cereal company wanted to drive brand engagement and demonstrate its versatility by going ahead with a bold and weird idea of having baked beans on their popular wheat biscuits.

The aim of the campaign was to generate conversation on social media, and it did exactly that. When the brand introduced the idea on Twitter, users were so outraged by the weird combination leading to involvement from other brands such as Specsavers, Nando’s, KFC, and more.

The idea became so viral that it was covered by all mainstream media outlets such as Good Morning Britain, The Express and LADbible, to even being discussed in the House of Commons.

Although the campaign received plenty of mockery and conversation, it did achieve its goal of increasing user engagement as brand awareness grew by 40% with sales up by 15%.

Kindness, the greatest gift – Amazon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z73AKLBgLg

Let’s conclude with a favourite Christmas campaign – Kindness, the greatest gift! With the past two years being a true challenge for everybody, especially those who have lost their loved ones, Amazon’s holiday ad message looked to promote kindness.

The video campaign consisted of a young woman forming a new friendship with her neighbour while dealing with her recent traumas. To show her support and kindness during this tough time, her neighbour gifted her something of interest from Amazon.

This has truly touched our hearts at Fusion as we all believe in the power of kindness and how a small act can help people feel better during a difficult time.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of best 2021 marketing campaigns. To find out how you can create a long-lasting impact on your target audience through digital marketing, get in touch with our expert team to create results-driven SEO, PCC and Social Media campaigns.

How Was 2021 For Our Newest Recruits?

There’s no doubt 2021 has been a wild one but as we got used to WFH, Friday Fun, back to the office, socials, new client wins, award wins, and continuing to go above and beyond for our existing clients, we also made 6 new hires this year!

So whilst our senior leadership team might have been with Fusion for 83 years combined (!) our newest recruits are only just getting started on their journey with us. Want to find out what it’s like to work at Leeds’ best-kept secret? Let Tom, Charlie, Emily, George, Jonny and Elise tell you more…

You joined the Fusion team earlier this year, how would you summarise your time here so far?

Tom: It’s been great! Everyone has been very welcoming, it’s a great team to work in and I feel like I’ve learned a lot since I started. Working across different clients has been something new for me as I worked in-house previously, but it’s been very enjoyable and it’s helped me grow.

Emily: This is my first full-time role post-university so when I think about my knowledge of the field when I joined the team compared to now, I have learned soo much. It’s been quite the journey starting from working remotely, which is why it’s now great having the option to go into the office & see everyone at socials face-to-face rather than through a screen.

Charlie: My time at Fusion so far has been incredibly fulfilling and a rewarding experience. In terms of development I’ve had continual support from the team as a whole, positively challenged with opportunities to grow, whilst also being introduced to and welcomed across all teams. 

Jonny: In one word; welcoming! The whole team has been incredibly warm and friendly since the day I joined, and has made it an absolute breeze to settle in. Every agency likes to talk about collaboration and teamwork, but with Fusion you can really feel it. The team is always ready and willing to support on any issue or challenge.

George: It’s been great, very fast-paced and no day is the same. I’ve loved the variety of sites that we get to work on and take great satisfaction from seeing recommended technical actions implemented with a positive impact.

What’s been the biggest surprise about working at Fusion?

Tom: Not a surprise as such, but everyone works to a very high standard and is very professional in what they do, and I haven’t worked in an environment like that before where the standards are so high, so it’s great to be within it.

Emily: I had no preconceptions of what it would be like working for Fusion, so it has been a pleasant surprise to find it’s a fun and welcoming environment to work in. There has always been someone to turn to if I have a question so that has been really helpful for my own personal development.

Charlie: I think when you start a new job it can be a nervous time, but across the interview process to starting my first day, a sense of welcoming and warmth came across in abundance – the extent to which this has continued goes far beyond what I could have hoped for. Feeling like you belong in a workplace is so essential and I feel I’ve really found that here.

Jonny: How adaptable the team is. I joined Fusion during lockdown and it was a genuine surprise to see how well Fusion had adapted to working from home. I never felt like I skipped a beat switching between the office and home. That being said Charlie’s barista skills make trips to the office somewhat essential; the man has travelled the world in order to perfect the art of coffee for the whole team’s benefit – definitely not one to be missed.

George: I’d say the biggest surprise would be how efficient and adjusted everyone has become to WFH, whilst maintaining communication and remaining collaborative.  

Top skill or tip you’ve learned this year in your specialism?

Tom: Attention to detail is the top tip I’ve learned, whether that be a change in metrics or a market trend, constantly looking at the small details has been massive for me.

Emily: I’d say for anyone starting in the field, try to make clear comprehensive notes while you’re learning anything new. It is helpful to have a written explanation of what was done and why so that you can go back to it when you come across the task again. It is especially valuable to have these notes written in a step-by-step format so that they are organised in the order you will complete the task.

Charlie: Be curious, read across varying industries and always look to discover and anticipate the next development.

Jonny: Perhaps a bit cliché but…I’ve learned the value in thinking outside of the box. Recognising that the solutions to some challenges involve brand new processes, and true collaboration with other departments/people has been of great value and has given me a fresh perspective on client strategy.

George: You could say I have become relatively accustomed to ScreamingFrog, the capabilities of that tool are endless for a technical SEO.

What are your predictions for digital marketing trends in 2022?

Tom: Automation will continue to be more prominent for platforms.

Emily: I have found it interesting how much can change within the industry in such a small amount of time, for example, what is considered best practice can adapt relatively quickly. From this, I think there will be an even greater focus on automation as technology evolves and changes the way we work.

Charlie: Customer-wise, ‘experience’ across the digital journey path is increasingly becoming a social currency. Elsewhere, privacy challenges will continue to affect the wider industry, but present an opportunity to develop more meaningful connections between all parties.

Jonny: I think we’ll continue to see rich media play a bigger role in Paid Search. Image and video assets provide a fantastic opportunity for clients to communicate their brand values, whether that be within a SERP or attached to content. Text ads are limited by characters, but a picture paints a thousand words!

George: On the SEO side of things, I expect plenty more Google algorithm updates – including Page Experience finally coming to desktop (although that’s not much of a prediction).

Anything else you’d like to share?

Tom: Fusion is a great agency to work for and I’m constantly learning from a lot of good people. I feel very grateful to be a part of the team and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in 2022!

Jonny: It’s clear to see from day one Fusion’s friendly and welcoming atmosphere, but it’s also especially great to see that same culture shared with clients. There is a real sense of collaboration with all my clients and I’ve been fortunate enough to build fantastic relationships with people from a variety of industries.

George: Just that how happy I am to be a part of team Fusion, it’s a happy and supportive place to work.

Like what you hear? Join Team Fusion! We have exciting opportunities on our careers page.

Social Media Updates: Nov/Dec

TikTok is Testing a New Business Registration Option

TikTok is planning to expand its eCommerce capabilities with a new business registration option that will allow brands to list their business categories on their profiles. The feature will give the app another way of collecting data on business users and categorising the business pages into different segments.

This is great for eCommerce listings as there are more chances of being shown to relevant users who will be able to see what the brand does, making it easier to drive purchase actions from their TikTok page.

Overall, by adding this category element, businesses can add an extra level of authority to their in-app presence, while at the same time better communicating their offerings.

Snapchat Launches Multi-Format Ad Placements

Snapchat has launched a new ‘Multiple Formats’ delivery option which will enable marketers to incorporate multiple video ad formats such as Snap Ads, Story Ads, Collection Ads, and Commercials within a single ad set.  

The app explains:

Multi-Format delivery will offer brands buying on Snap the opportunity to purchase multiple advertising formats in one cohesive ad set, optimizing towards clients central goal or objective.

This new multi-format ad placement will enable Snapchat’s automated placement tools to help maximise ad response and streamline the management of campaigns by keeping creative elements in one single ad set.

This would allow brand awareness campaigns to achieve better results by allowing for a broader placement and capacity for exposure. 

Twitter CEO Stands Down

Twitter’s co-founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, has resigned from their position at the app. It is believed that the decision has come as a result of the rising pressure from activist investor group Elliott Management Corp. as they acquired over $1 billion in Twitter shares to gain more power on the board.

The group had previously called for Dorsey’s removal due to questions over his leadership as they believe he was failing to capitalise on the app’s potential. The main concerns were his dual commitments as being both the CEO of Twitter and Square.

He has been succeeded by CTO Parag Agrawal, who has been with Twitter for more than 10 years. This change could potentially swing Twitter in a new direction with the possibility of the app abandoning some projects while focusing on others in line with pre-established targets.

Instagram Launches Live Test of Longer Videos in Stories

Instagram has officially launched a live test of 60-second videos in Stories which means that longer clips will no longer be split into 15-second sections and played across various Stories.

The app states:

The ability to create longer Stories posts comes highly requested by our community. We’re excited to be testing 60-second Stories so that people can create and view Stories with fewer interruptions.

The option aims to provide more creative freedom to users by further integrating the app’s various video options to streamline its creative tools and functions.

This will be another great step towards the app’s aim to gradually merge and open to full-screen feed of stories and reels to maximise user engagement, just like TikTok.

To find out how social media can help you maximise your promotional efforts and contribute towards reaching your business goals, get in touch with our expert team today. Alternatively, check out our blog for all the latest sector-wide reports and updates within the digital marketing space.

SEO Market Updates: November 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

November 2021 Core Algorithm Update

On 17th November, Google announced the rollout of another core update, titled ‘November 2021 Core Update’. This came as a surprise to the wider SEO community, with the update rolling out across Black Friday weekend, one of the busiest online shopping periods of the year, eventually coming to completion on 30th November.

The following Google Search Central tweets confirmed those dates:

There are mixed reports regarding the severity of the update, however a Twitter poll by Marie Haynes provides some nice insight. With 48% of voters (632 total) not seeing much from the update on the sites that they handle:

Google Drops Mobile-First Indexing Deadline

In a Google Search Central blog post, John Mueller announced that Google is dropping the final deadline for sites moving over to mobile-first indexing. This comes from Google wanting to accommodate the timelines for sites facing unexpectedly difficult challenges.

The previous update claimed that mobile-first indexing would complete by the end of March 2021, and has since continued to be pushed back, with Google now saying:

After analyzing the sites that are not yet indexed mobile-first, we’ve determined that some of these sites are still not ready to be shifted over due to various, unexpected challenges that they’re facing. Because of these difficulties, we’ve decided to leave the timeline open for the last steps of mobile-first indexing.”

Page Experience Update Set for Desktop in February 2022

Back in May 2021, Google announced their plan to bring Page Experience ranking to desktop search results in the near future. A timeline has now been given for these changes – Page Experience ranking will begin rolling out across desktop in February 2022 and will complete by the end of March 2022.

This means that the same three Core Web Vitals metrics (LCP, FID & CLS), along with the other page experience signals such as HTTPS security and the absence of intrusive interstitials will now also apply to desktop pages. The one signal that will not be carried over is Mobile Friendliness, with it having no relevance to desktop ranking. A breakdown of all the Page Experience signals for mobile and desktop can be found below:

Updated Version of PageSpeed Insights Goes Live

As of 16th November, Google began to roll out a revamped version of PageSpeed Insights. This came with the following announcement:

While it is a critical element in our speed tooling suite, the PSI code base was ten years old, contained a lot of legacy code, and was due for a redesign. We used this as an opportunity to address interface-related issues in PSI which have sometimes made it difficult for users to navigate the report.”

The updated PSI tool has a host of new features, in short, these include:

  • Clear separation of field and lab data
  • Core Web Vitals assessment result now stands out as a separate subsection with a distinct icon.
  • Origin summary rehoused under new tab, labelled “Origin”
  • New “Expand view” feature that adds a drill-down function to the field data section
  • Page image and thumbnails now available in lab data section

A video posted by Addy Osmani visualises the changes to the PSI UI over time, whilst demonstrating some of those new features:

Google Say “A Mix of Positive and Negative Reviews Are More Trustworthy”

Google has updated the Google Business Profiles Get Reviews help document with a new line stating that a mix of positive and negative reviews can be more trustworthy, indicating that having some negative reviews rather than all positive may be beneficial to your site. Here’s the new addition to the best practice advice:

  • Value all reviews: Reviews are useful for potential customers when they’re honest and objective. Customers find a mix of positive and negative reviews more trustworthy. You can always respond to a review to show the customers that you care and provide additional context. If the review doesn’t follow our posting guidelines, you can request its removal.

Bolding Words or Paragraphs Does Help With SEO

In a Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on 12th November, John Mueller was once again asked about the SEO benefits of using bolded text. In short, the following was said: “Does bolding important points on a paragraph help the SEO? Yes it does.”.

To provide some more context around this topic, John went on to say that when trying to figure out what a page is actually expressing, besides the usual tagging such as headings on a page, Google also look at “things like what is actually bolded or emphasized within the text on the page. So to some extent that does have a little bit of extra value there, in that it’s a clear sign that actually you think this page or this paragraph is about this topic here.”

It goes without saying that random sentence bolding is not the takeaway from these comments. Making sure that page content is high-quality, useful, unique, and compelling should be a priority.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Curtains & Blinds Sector Report

The second installment in our homewares sector series, we’ve peeked behind the curtain at some of the biggest brands dominating the SERPs in the curtain and blinds industry. 

Using our proprietary tool, Natural Edge, we’ve taken a 6-month look back at how SOV for core keyword categories has changed over time, developing a league table with some (very surprising) increases and decreases. 

Get in touch here to find out how the experts here at Fusion can help you drive your business forwards. 

Social Media Updates: October 2021

Facebook Announces New Corporate Title

Facebook’s rebranding, Meta logo
Image from Wikipedia

Facebook’s overarching company will now be called ‘Meta’ – the rebranding decision has been made to reflect the company’s emerging focus on the next generation of digital connections.

To clarify, all the social networking apps names will stay the same, they will just sit under this new banner that aims to bring innovative change. Meta’s operational system will be divided into two segments:

  • Family of Apps: this will include all apps owned by Facebook, such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger.
  • Reality Labs: this will cover evolving technology such as VR and AR.

This rebranding means that users won’t need a Facebook account to use other apps and services. It seems to be a well-weighted decision since the Facebook brand has been receiving a lot of backlash recently.

The platform explains:

The metaverse will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world. It will let you share immersive experiences with other people even when you can’t be together – and do things together you couldn’t do in the physical world. It’s the next evolution in a long line of social technologies, and it’s ushering in a new chapter for our company.

TikTok Launches ‘Small Wins’

Are you a small business owner reluctant to create a TikTok account? Well, TikTok has launched ‘Small Wins’ to encourage SMEs to try out the platform.

The initiative contains a series of videos featuring small business owners that have incorporated the platform into their marketing strategy and gained immense success from it, as well as sharing creative tips that others can replicate. Overall, the aim is to highlight how valuable TikTok can be for the growth of small businesses.

The social media giants explains:

Through a series of videos featuring small businesses from across the globe, Small Wins aims to highlight TikTok’s value to small businesses, educate them on how to use TikTok to grow, and demonstrate how small businesses are turning “small wins” into big success on the platform. From the bakery owner who turned 3,000 followers into two million, to the candlemaker who went viral without even trying, small businesses of all kinds are showing that on TikTok, small does win.

Click here to learn more about the initiative and how you can make the most of TikTok.

You Can Now Subscribe to Revue Newsletter Directly from Tweets

https://twitter.com/revue/status/1451564116007657472

Previously, creators could only promote their Revue newsletter by adding a ‘Subscribe’ button on their profile. Now, they’ve been given the option to share their newsletter with Twitter users by linking to it in a Tweet.

This decision will provide more monetization options to creators, as they’ll be able to raise awareness about their newsletter and encourage users to subscribe to it directly from a Tweet, instead of guiding them to their profile. 

Revue explains:

We already made it possible for followers to subscribe to your newsletter directly from your Twitter profile. And now they can from Tweets as well, some with just one click.

The great news is that this option isn’t only available to creators. Other Twitter users will also be able to promote their favourite creator’s newsletter by just linking to it in their Tweet. 

Instagram Adds More Tools to Maximise Content Partnerships

Instagram is testing new tools to give creators more monetization options and to maximise their earnings through branded content partnerships.

The test involves a new feature that will help creators get discovered by brands and track communications and sponsored content opportunities. Creators just have to choose the brands they’d like to partner with, and they will be shown in the priority list when brands will be looking for creators to work with.

The second part of the test involves a dedicated ‘Partnership’ messaging folder, found at the top of the creators DMs section. This will allow both brands and creators to easily track and manage their conversations, which can often be missed.

Instagram explains:

Brands can now use data and unique filters to discover and select the best creators for their campaigns. Then they can organise shortlists to easily manage multiple campaigns. 

To avoid scams, all message requests will be filtered through Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager, meaning only brands that have met the Partner Monetization policies will be able to contact creators. So, if you’re interested in collaborating with influencers, Instagram has just made the process easier for you.

To learn more about how social media can help you take your business to the next level, get in touch with our expert team. Feel free to also check out our blog for all the latest news and updates within the digital marketing space.

SEO Market Updates: October 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google Updates Search Quality Rater Guidelines

A year on from the previous update, Google made several changes to the search quality raters’ guidelines. These come as a 172 page PDF that according to Google “help make sure Search is returning relevant results from the most reliable sources available”.

To summarise, the most recent update included the following changes:

  • Expanded the definition of the YMYL subcategory ‘Groups of people’
  • Refreshed guidance on how to research reputation information for websites and content creators
  • Restructured and updated ‘Lowest Page Quality’ section; reorganized and refreshed examples to reflect new structure
  • Simplified the definition of ‘Upsetting-Offensive’ to remove redundancy with Lowest Page Quality section
  • Minor changes throughout (updated screenshots and URLs, wording, and examples for consistency; removed outdated examples; fixed typos; etc.)

The ratings your site may receive from a search quality evaluator do not directly impact rankings, however it is worth reviewing the guidelines to better understand the type of page content that Google prefers to rank.

Continuous Scroll Rolling Out Across Mobile Google Search

As of the 14th October, Google began rolling out continuous scrolling for search results on mobile devices. Initially, this is for “most” English searches on the mobile in the U.S and is expected to be carried over to other international search results pages – including the UK – in the near future.

The change comes in to make browsing search results “more seamless and intuitive” and now means that when you get to the bottom of a search results page on your phone, the next set of results (previously page 2) will now automatically load.

For example:

Following the announcement, Google has stated that continuous scroll is not the widely known ‘infinite scroll’, as the new feature will only load up to a maximum of four pages when you will then be shown a “See more” button. Within the same set of tweets, Google also explained that this will not change how reporting works within Search Console:

Google Adds Granular Scores To Search Console Core Web Vitals Report

The Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console is now showing more granular scoring data when you select a URL within the report to view more details.

Displaying as:

The scores shown are not however for individual URLs – as you expect from other testing tools such as the PageSpeed report – they are for the URL group, meaning Google has assigned an issue “to a group of URLs that provide a similar user experience. This is because it is assumed that performance issues in similar pages are probably due to the same underlying problem, such as a common slow-loading feature in the pages.”

Google Search Results More Volatile In 2021

Mordy Oberstein, the head of communications at Semrush posted a series of tweets claiming that Google search results have been far more volatile through 2021 than in the previous year. Data pulled from the Semrush Sensor shows that SERP volatility is up 84% on mobile and 68% on desktop for 2021 YTD compared to 2020.

Mobile SERP volatility 2020 vs 2021:

Desktop SERP volatility 2020 vs 2021:

The Semrush Sensor tracks volatility of Google SERPs based on daily changes in rankings, although these daily changes cannot be directly attributed to algorithm updates, some believe it is a good indicator that of Google’s algorithm updates, meaning they may have been more sever this year.

Testing Tools In Google Search Console Now Match The URL Inspection Tool

To further help users find and fix issues in web pages, Google has updated three of its standalone public testing tools within Search Console to now provide a standardization of features and align with the URL Inspection Tool. Previously, the AMP, Mobile Friendly and Rich Results testing tools have all advanced separately at different paces, meaning there were multiple tools from Google each showing similar information in varied ways.

A blog post from Google titled “Aligning Search Console testing tools and the URL Inspection tool explains that “we’re making changes in their designs and improving features to be fully aligned with the URL Inspection tool”. More specifically, from now on the following fields will be displayed both on the public testing tools and on the URL Inspection Tool:

  • Page availability – Whether Google was able to crawl the page, when it was crawled, or any obstacles that it encountered when crawling the URL.
  • HTTP headers – The HTTP header response returned from the inspected URL.
  • Page screenshot – The rendered page as seen by Google.
  • Paired AMP inspection, Inspect both canonical and AMP URL.


If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Strengthen Your Site: A Link Building Guide

Alongside technical SEO and content, link building stands tall as one of the three core pillars of SEO. As brands across the country compete to become more visible in the SERPs, and invest more resources into these core pillars, shrewd marketers seek to maintain an accurate and up-to-date knowledge of which link building strategies and tactics are effective in today’s market.

That’s why we’ve created this link building guide; to help you guide your brand through the sometimes challenging world of link building and keep an eye on what’s currently deemed ‘best practice’.

Is link building still necessary in 2021?

Quite simply, yes. While link building is technically a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines (as of 1st March 2020), the algorithms continue to use backlinks as a measure of a site’s authority in line with EAT principles. Brands continue to see a good uplift in performance from targeted link building activity, and there’s no evidence to suggest that a good link building strategy is detrimental to results.

That said, it’s now more important than ever to get a link building strategy right. Gone are the days in which you could blindly fire out press activity looking to gain backlinks from anywhere and everywhere as part of a shotgun approach.

Rather, Google’s algorithms have evolved to a point where they’re substantially better at determining the relevance of a backlink to your content, and better at spotting both spammy and bought links – which are subsequently devalued. 

A modern link building strategy therefore requires a targeted approach, whereby you’re seen by Google to be acquiring quality follow links from sites that demonstrate authority. This could mean, for example, sites that complement your content, or sites that are directly relevant to your business’ offering.

How to do link building

It’s important to build links in a balanced way. Brands looking to rank highly for their product keywords ideally want a good number of reputable domains linking to their site. They also may need a good volume of links pointing to key product categories, CLPs, and advice content – so link destination is an important consideration alongside link quality and quantity.

We believe there’s only one way to generate a high volume of high quality links in a relatively short period of time – which is to run digital PR campaigns. A digital PR campaign involves developing a concept that’s both relevant to your brand, and relevant to your target audience; such as prominent media publications.

Creating news through link building
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

If your idea is interesting enough, you’re likely to attract some media attention to the landing page it’s hosted on – and the journalists you outreach to will probably want to cover your story, link to your site, learn more about your campaign, and pay attention to your exciting activity in future. 

The impact of digital PR campaigns can be maximised by pushing them out across different channels, such as social media or email. Through this activity, you could look to develop campaign concepts even further to appeal to multiple audiences. There’s even a longevity element to consider; is this a campaign you could come back to in future?

We’ll dive deeper into what a digital PR campaign should look like in a future blog, but how else can you generate links to your site in the meantime – perhaps without even requiring much budget?

The best quick-win link building tactics

Fortunately, there are a range of quick bits of link building activity you can run on a daily or weekly basis to build quality links into your domain. Don’t expect a hundred links at a time, but a slow, steady process that sees you build one quality link at a time. Our picks for the best tactics are:

1. Guest blogging

Guest blogging is a staple of SEO link building. While Google has indicated that some guest blog links are ‘unnatural’ and potentially devalued, many brands have still found that offering ‘free’ content that is both directly drawn from their expertise and relevant to their offering is an effective way of building links.

As far as quick-win tactics go, we still think guest blogging has value. It affords you a lot of flexibility and choice in the types of publications you go after, and allows you to get really specific, deep links to pages of your choosing – rather than general homepage links (which are still particularly useful for weaker domains). We’d recommend only guest blog posting if the publication you’re targeting is directly relevant to your product or brand.

2. Acquiring your competitor’s lost and broken backlinks

Over time, publishers edit and update their websites. This sometimes involves culling certain content to avoid over-egging the pudding if, for example, the site has twenty Father’s Day card ideas guides. As your competitors lose backlinks, or as they break due to this activity, you can look to capture them for yourself and provide your own relevant content to which publishers can link.

It’s incredibly easy to keep an eye on your competitors’ backlink portfolio, and Ahrefs’ Site Explorer has dedicated functionality to reveal lost and broken backlinks. Given this tactic is fairly quick to execute, and has a decent chance of you placing a link, we’d highly recommend it.

3. Creating visual assets; infographics and interactive landing pages

In a digital age whereby people’s attention spans drop further and further each year, serving content in creative formats rather than as long written articles is a great way of capturing attention.

Naturally, you’ll need to host that infographic on a campaign landing page within your website, and probably include some copy to accompany it, but infographics can make for attractive outreach emails that journalists love to engage with. That’s because studies have found that journalists prefer multi-media campaigns that include images, video and other engaging formats to make news more accessible.

It can require a little resource and touch of magic to create an infographic that’s truly special, but if you consider that journalists are more willing to cover your content if it’s interesting, and that coverage is a prerequisite to acquiring links, we’d give infographics a pass mark on a quality link building tactics test.

4. Link Reclamation

Link reclamation refers to finding lost and broken links that are pointing to your or your competitor’s website, and taking action to replace them with a better suited URL.

These are potentially very quick win opportunities, especially if they’re linking to a page that does not exist anymore. All you would have to do is provide your target site with a new URL, pointing out the damaged or missing link via a polite email. 

You can identify these links by accessing your backlink profile on Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. 

Ahrefs' Lost Backlinks tool

For most sites, you’ll see a steady influx of broken or lost links each month, so tapping into them makes for a nice bit of link building activity.

5. Unlinked mentions

These refer to online mentions of your brand such as the brand name and specific products or services. If you spot branded mentions via social listening tools, such as Ahrefs’ Content Explorer or Google Alerts, and those very mentions do not currently link to your site, then there’s a great opportunity for you to reach out to the publisher and place links.

6. Social Media Links

Another great time-saving tactic is to check whether publications are linking to your social media channels, instead of your website. These links might not provide as much direct benefit as a blog link placed within the main content of a page, for example, but they’re still useful signals to Google and are probably worth picking up if you have some spare time.

You can check for them through Ahrefs’ Backlink profile, and compare an export of social media profile backlinks to a similar export of backlinks pointing to your domain – using conditional formatting to find gaps and opportunities.

Gillette twitter links

7. Domain misspellings

We’re all human, and even the best of us can make mistakes. Even with something as important as a domain name. 

So, checking for domain misspellings is a great way to find warm links from sites that already link to you, but maybe just not to the exact location you’d hope for. Just enter your correct domain name on Domain Check to get a list of misspellings related to your domain. 

Add these misspelled domains into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to identify any sites that should be linking to your correct domain with this useful tactic.

8. Reverse image search

Do you produce creative assets? If so, keep an eye out for sites that are using your creative without linking back to you. 

You can find who is using your content through the ‘Search Google for Image’ option. Just right-click on the asset published on your website and you can quickly access a list of web pages that have published your content. Easy links, minimal effort, and this activity does not need to be done too frequently.

9. Newsjacking

One final strategy to gain quick links is to look for hot news topics that are directly related to your brand, and share your expertise with publications that are active in that niche. 

The best way to make the most of the opportunity is to send out a quick press release in response to a current news event and specify your company’s stance on the topic, or add value to the topic through your internal expertise. 

For example, if your business produces an eco-friendly product and you’re renowned within that industry, you could serve your CEO’s expert insights via a press release in reaction to some breaking news about newly announced environmental laws that will affect your industry. We’ve had a lot of success with this tactic as publishers crave genuine expertise, and would rate it highly.

We hope you have found this guide helpful in explaining what link building is, why it is essential for SEO, and which tactics you can use to get great backlinks to your website. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how our experts can help you implement best practice link building and SEO tactics, get in touch with our expert team. Or, check out the latest industry updates via our blog.

Social Media Updates: September 2021

Professional Profiles is Now Open for all Brands and Creators

Screenshot of Twitter’s Business Profile application form.

Twitter is finally opening applications to Professional Profiles to all businesses and creators.

This new profile will display previously unavailable business information such as location, category, contact details, hours of operation and directions. The app will also include e-commerce and revenue led options such as ‘Shop’ and ‘Newsletter’ – the latter only available to accounts that have a Revue newsletter, which is Twitter’s editorial newsletter service available to all users, from aspiring writers to large publishers.

It’s worth noting that accounts can’t currently change the ‘About’ section without having to resubmit the application. Therefore, its recommended to provide the correct information when first submitting the application, in order to avoid confusion.

Twitter explains that users use the platform to interact with brands and engage in conversations about products and services. This demand has given the app the confidence to combine real-time conversations with enhanced features to allow brands to better control and enhance their identity.

The app also states that:

Professional Accounts are a gateway to a wide range of professional tools not available to non-professionals, including our Twitter Ads, Quick promote, Advanced Profile features. And our future efforts around shopping.

Make the most of your Twitter account by switching to the Professional Profile option through this form.

Business accounts on Instagram can now connect to their WhatsApp account

Instagram has announced that its users can now contact businesses directly through WhatsApp as businesses have the option to integrate both accounts. This is a great way for audiences to get in touch with their favourite brands and spark conversations about products and services.

As per Facebook, 75% of users want to communicate with brands via messaging – so being able to contact them through WhatsApp seems like a personalised way to get in touch with the business and increase connections. The option can also be used while boosting posts, with brands being able to send customers directly to their WhatsApp inbox.

Instagram says:

Boosting a post that drives to WhatsApp allow businesses to reach more people and excite them to be their next customer through personalization.

Facebook shares insights into the type of content that will be limited in News Feed

As part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts to show more transparency and how it filters News Feed content, the platform has shared the type of content that it will have its reach reduced – some of which is:

  • Engagement bait – this refers to posts that explicitly request shares, comments and likes for purposes other than specific calls to action.
  • Links to websites requesting user data – this refers to lead generation funnels requesting personal information before showing content.
  • Websites with low quality browsing experience – this refers to websites with errors and poor mobile experience.
  • Sensationalised health content – post that are trying to sell products/services based on health-related claims such as ‘lose 30kg in 10 days’ etc.

The social media giant explains:

Our enforcements to reduce problematic content in News Feed are rooted in our commitment to the values of responding to people’s direct feedback, incentivising publishers to invest in high-quality content and fostering a safer community.

This indicates that brands need to be extremely careful when producing organic and paid content for social, as some of the previously accepted rules do not apply anymore.

If you’re transparent and have original content on your site, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. However, if you’re struggling to create original content, get in touch with our content team for more information on how we can help you.

Pinterest shares insights into upcoming trends and how brands can make the most of it

Screenshot of Pinterest’s 2021 trend predictions.

According to the recent Pinterest report, 80% of trends predicted by the platform in December 2020, gained traction throughout this year.

Now, the platform has provided an overview of new trends that will be dominating the online space in 2022. These trends are predicted based on rising search activity and engagements.

The image-sharing platform states that by providing an insight into the future, its helping businesses connect more deeply with their audiences by creating advertising strategies that reflect their preferences.

The app also noted that trends last 20% longer on the platform compared to other social media networks, which means that content has a longer lifespan, helping brands make the most of their assets.

So, if you don’t have Pinterest, there is a huge audience you’re missing out on – our team has tons of experience in helping brands grow their Pinterest accounts, so why not get in touch with us today to find how we can help your business make the most of its online presence.  

Sleep Sector Report: Beds & Mattresses

Discover what dreams are really made of in the first of our homewares sector report, this time for beds and mattresses. Our report delves into organic visibility and performance for big brands and rising stars in the beds and mattresses market using our proprietary Share of Voice tool, Natural Edge.

What will you uncover?

  • Brand table – top 50 brands with highest share of voice
  • Share of voice at a product category level
  • Keyword opportunities – where has seen the biggest growth areas over the last 12 months?
  • Keyword losers – where has seen the biggest decline this last 12 months?

Whilst it may come as no surprise that large scale retailers Argos, Dunelm and Dreams are often at the head of the bed, there are plenty of examples of smaller brands who, maybe without the lofty budgets, are dreaming big and rising up the ranks for their niche.

The bed category has seen a lot of fluctuation over the last year and what’s interesting is when we drill down to a product category level we see how quickly the lay of the land can change. Employing a highly targeted keyword mapping, research and tailored content strategy is key to success here.

Craig Broadbent – Organic Search Director

What next?

Our technical and content experts are a match made in heaven for helping you gain the visibility you deserve. If you’re interested in finding out more about how we can help you gain visibility in the SERPs within the beds and mattresses category get in touch here.

SEO Market Updates: September 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google Further Refines How Title Tags Are Generated In Search

Following feedback on the new system introduced back in August for generating titles in web page results, Google has made further refinements to how titles are shown in SERPs. These changes now mean that title elements (title tags) “are now used around 87% of the time, rather than around 80% before”.

Within the Google Search Central Blog posted on 17th September, Google provided some examples of situations where they detect certain on-page issues and may choose to adjust the page title shown in search results accordingly:

  • Half-empty titles – Often occur when large sites use templates to generate titles and something is missed, meaning the title does not appropriately summarise the page contents.
  • Obsolete titles – Can occur when the same page is used year-after-year for recurring information, but the title element is not updated to reflect the latest year.
  • Inaccurate titles – Sometimes titles don’t accurately reflect what the page is about, for example the page may have dynamic content and not display the same products as described in the title.

The advice does however remain the same, site owners should focus on creating great HTML title elements, as those are “by far what we use the most”.

Search Console Performance Report Back To Normal After Significant Delays

Google Search Console once again experienced reporting issues last month, a separate problem to the previously discussed widespread data loss in late August. Within the SEO community it was widely reported that site owners were experiencing significant delays in the performance report data being shown, which was later confirmed on the Google Search Central Twitter account:

Two days later the bug was fixed, with all performance report data updated and back to normal:

New Google Help Docs On Best Practices For Ecommerce

Google has added a new multipage set of guides to help developers and SEOs better understand the best e-commerce practices for Google Search. These new help documents provide developers with the tools to ensure that the site works well with Google, which will ultimately help more shoppers discover your site and products.

Here’s a short description of what is covered in each of the topic areas:

Google Clarify That Intrusive Interstitials Don’t Impact Indexing But May Impact Ranking

As a response to a query on Twitter, asking if Google would not index a page because it triggers the mobile interstitial penalty, John Mueller said that “intrusive interstitial element has a ranking effect, it wouldn’t affect indexing”. Meaning a page would be indexed regardless of any intrusive interstitials, however, this may have an impact on ranking.

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1427690898264100864

With that being said, it’s worth rehashing the guidelines around intrusive interstitials to help ensure your site doesn’t incur a penalty that would negatively impact rankings. Google deems an interstitial that makes content less accessible as intrusive, for example:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

There are, however, some examples of interstitials that would not provoke a penalty, for example:

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.


If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

The Best Chrome Extensions for a Digital Marketer

The fast-paced world of digital marketing means we need tools at our fingertips to help automate, predict, replicate and scrape where we can. 

We put the feelers out amongst Team Fusion to find out their must-have Google Chrome Extensions that make our jobs just that little bit easier. 

First off, we’re heading over to our paid media…

Search & Paid Media Chrome Extensions

1) Redirect Path

This handy tool lets you know if you’ve been redirected whenever you hit a landing page. Good to use when testing to see if any ads need their final URLs updating (boosting quality score in the process).

2) Ghostery

Ghostery is a powerful privacy extension that can block ads, suppress tracking code, and show a list of sites that are trying to track you and serve you advertisements. By doing so, it speeds up your browsing experience.

Ghostery chrome extension helps you take control of your privacy
Ghostery helps you take control of your privacy.

3) Facebook Pixel Helper

Establishing a tracking pixel on Facebook is an incredibly important prerequisite to quality data gathering, but what if your pixel breaks? The Pixel Helper extension can flag this for you, negating the need for manual checks.

4) Google Tag Assistant

When activating Google Tag Assistant, you’ll see an analysis of each of the tags active on your website of choice. It can also display additional information about tags at a glance, making troubleshooting easy.

5) UET Tag Helper

This nifty extension from Microsoft Advertising is another highlight for our paid team (who absolutely love their tags). Once clicking the UET (Universal Event Tracking) Tag Helper extension, you’ll see a breakdown of which tags are active on the page and whether they’re working. You can also get quick insights into whether your Dynamic Remarketing lists are correctly configured, as well as your conversion goals.

6) Trendtastic

Not going to lie, it’s kind of fantastic. It pulls a Google Trends chart into search results when you carry out a query. Useful for getting an idea of seasonal SV fluctuations at a glance. 

Content Marketing Chrome Extensions

7) Colorzilla

With Colorzilla you’re only one click away from finding out the colour of any pixel on a webpage. Unbelievably speedy for when you’re looking to match client presentation colour palettes or mocking up a quick bit of creative.

8) Whatfont

In a similar vein, it can be difficult to know your clients’ web font without trawling through their brand guidelines. That’s what Whatfont can help you with- after only one click.

9) Edit Anything

This extension is as abstract and crazy as it sounds. You can literally edit anything on a rendered webpage, replacing copy, deleting elements, and the likes. It’s really useful for visualising changes to page copy and for ideating around design changes on the fly.

Using Edit Anything extension to change meta data
Edit on-page elements, or even meta data to visualise changes quickly.

10) Grammarly

Not the wordsmith you hoped you were? Fear not! Grammarly goes where Spellchecker only dreamt it could – everywhere you go.

Whilst copywriters may roll their eyes at Grammarly’s claim that ‘everyone can be a great writer’ it sure does help when you’re firing off a quick email and forget to include a pesky comma along the way. 

11) GoFullPage

This effective screen capture tool can capture an entire webpage. It’s handy given most screenshot programs limit you to capturing only what you can see without scrolling.

12) Momentum

Maintaining momentum for long periods of time is difficult when you’re busy. That’s where the Momentum extension can help. It opens a new tab featuring a personalised dashboard of to-do’s, inspiration, and even throws in a weather forecast – helping you to procrastinate productively.

Technical SEO Chrome Extensions

To throw a few quick helpful extras in from our tech team, check out the following:

13) Alt Text Tester

Gone are the days of traipsing through a page’s source code to identify whether images have alt text. With Alt Text Tester, you can hover over images to see not only whether it has alt text, but what that text is – speeding up page optimisations.

Missing Alt Text on DFS homepage found via Alt Text Tester chrome extension.
We found missing alt text on the DFS homepage with one tap of the Alt Text Tester extension.

14) View Rendered Source

This helpful tool enables you to spot the difference between a page’s source code, and its fully rendered final form. Handy if you’re trying to identify issues that may affect how a page is crawled and indexed.

15) Wappalyzer

Wappalyzer is a fantastic extension that can tell you a lot about a website without you having to trawl through its source code. This plugin can reveal virtually everything about a websit’s technology stack – including which CMS it is using, its hosts, which analytics integrations it has, and the list goes on. It can also show you a site’s security certificates and metadata at a glance.

Speed up your day-to-day with the right extensions

We hope you’ve enjoyed our top picks for the best chrome extensions- as voted by all the digital marketers at Fusion Unlimited. There are hundreds of hidden gems out there so we’re sorry if your favourite pick didn’t make our list – but please be sure to let us know what you would’ve included via our socials.

If you enjoyed reading, check out our blog for the latest SEO and marketing insights.

Social Media Updates: August 2021

TikTok has introduced the ‘Promote’ ad option to all business accounts

Similar to Facebook’s popular ‘Boost’ option, TikTok has launched its own quick advertising option called ‘Promote’.

This can help businesses to quickly place themselves in front of new audiences, grow their following and increase website visits.

The option is only available to public videos that use original or commercial sound – which means that if you’re thinking of using a trend or a sound that is copyrighted, you will not be able to promote your video.

According to TikTok, all you have to do is select the video you want to promote, chose your campaign goal, and wait for the positive results to come in. The three campaign goals you can choose from are:

  • More video views
  • More website visits
  • More followers

 The app further states:

Promote is available to help businesses reach more people and grow their community with their TikTok videos. You can now turn any organic TikTok video into an ad, and start reaching new audiences, build a following and drive traffic to your website.

Promote will also give you access to basic tracking information such as:

  • The number of views your video gained because of the promotion
  • Number of likes, comments and shares on the promoted video
  • Number of people that have visited your website through the video
  • Age and gender of the people interacting with your video

Instagram is replacing swipe-up stories links with link stickers

Instagram’s constant effort to improve Stories interaction has led the app to replace the current swipe-up link with a link sticker option.

This new option works the same way as other stories tools such as polls, locations and mentions – which means that users will now have more creative control over the way they use link stickers.

The tool is great for accounts that want to get reactions and feedback from followers, as the swipe-up link did not previously provide that.

Instagram says that this new option will give creators more creative options to drive traffic to their desired page, as the new link sticker can be placed anywhere on the story, resized and toggled to different styles.

LinkedIn is shutting down Stories

After a year of experimentation, LinkedIn has decided to retire its Stories option and move towards its next video project.

Unfortunately for the app, Stories did not gain much traction from its professional user base. Research conducted by the platform found that users want more creative tools to make engaging videos, as well as wanting their Stories content to live beyond the 24-hour time limit.

LinkedIn says:

We’ve learned a ton through Stories. Now, we’re taking those learnings to evolve the Stories format into a reimagined video experience that’s even richer and more conversational.

The app further states that they want to embrace mixed media and creative tools of Stories and integrate them more tightly with users’ professional identity.

This is highly possible after the platform’s acquisition of Jumprope, a how-to video platform.

YouTube has added video chapter listings in search

YouTube is looking to enhance its search option and help people find relevant content through the introduction of video chapters.

These video chapters divide content into small sections, each with an individual preview, depending on what each portion of the video is about. This means that users will be able to see the content of each video right on the search page.

Each section will include some written information, giving users the full context of the video. This is a great tool for SEO as creators can also add their own information based on keyword search and maximise their video discovery.

This is great as users don’t have to watch the full video to get their query answered or skip through a different section; they can just directly click to the part of the video that interests them the most.

To find out how we can help your business with content creation, social media management, and SEO – get in touch with our expert team here. Alternatively, browse through our blog to discover all the latest news and trends in digital marketing.

SEO Market Updates: August 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google Updates How Title Tags Are Generated

In late August Google announced that they had “introduced a new system of generating titles for web pages” in a new post within the Search Central blog. The statement came following widespread speculation across the industry, with webmasters and SEOs initially noticing that something had changed around the 17th of August.

According to Google, while title tags could previously alter to match a user query, with the new system this will no longer happen. Instead, webpages will now display the same title tag regardless of the query, in order to produce “titles that work better for documents overall”.

In addition, Google is now making greater use of on-page elements to generate title tags, in particular “text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page”. This includes key on-page elements like H1s and other header tags, alongside content that is “large and prominent through the use of style treatments” such as pull-quotes or text within links. The rationale is to avoid instances where manually input HTML title tags are too long, contain boilerplate text, or have obvious instances of keyword stuffing.

Google has made use of on-page elements to produce title tags for years, but early analysis suggests that this is now happening with far greater frequency. One limited case study indicates a 77% drop in HTML title tag usage following the change, although the search engine maintains that the updates are limited and that HTML tags are still used “more than 80% of the time”.

Despite the update, Google says that webmasters should still focus on “creating great HTML title tags”. Google also acknowledge that the new system is still being refined, and are welcoming feedback from webmasters.

Safe Browsing Dropped As Page Experience Signal

Last month Google stated that the Safe Browsing requirement would no longer form part of its Page Experience signal. The announcement came as part of a post on wider changes made to Search Console’s Page Experience report, which also included news on the the removal of the Ad Experience tool.

In the post, Google explain that as issues such as malware or third-party site hijacking are “not always in the control of site users[..]we’re clarifying that Safe Browsing isn’t used as a ranking signal and won’t feature in the Page Experience report”. This means that the signal was not considered within the recent Page Experience update, which completed its rollout on 31st August.

To further make clear the factors which now form part of the Page Experience signal, Google released the updated graphic below:

Safe Browsing issues will still be flagged within other areas of Google Search Console and should of course remain a wider consideration for SEOs and webmasters.

Google Search Console Experiences Data Loss

Google Search Console experienced a widespread data loss issue in late August, resulting in many site owners reporting dramatic drops in clicks and impressions to their websites.

The issue impacts the 23rd and 24th of August, and according to Google was due to an “internal problem”. In a post within the Search Console support hub, Google explain that “Users might see a significant data drop in their performance reports during this period. This does not reflect any drop in clicks or impressions for your site, only missing data in Search Console.”.

Although many initially assumed that the issue was a glitch or reporting delay, this appears to be real data loss, with Google’s John Mueller stating the traffic information is unlikely to be backfilled:

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1432628614319771653

Google Search Console is relied on widely to provide detailed insight into organic performance, and the data loss means that many SEOs may be reporting slightly lower than average levels of traffic for August. Although unfortunate, this is purely an artificial drop, and it’s safe to assume that clicks & impressions for the impacted dates will be slightly higher than GSC reports.

Google Made 4500 Changes To Search In 2020

According to a recent post by Danny Sullivan, in total around 4500 changes to Google Search were made within 2020. These changes likely cover everything from smaller user interface changes to larger algorithm updates, with many unlikely to be noticed by everyday users. 

The announcement came within a wider post announcing the launch of an updated How Search Works portal, which is to give insight into how Google approaches “the big, philosophical questions, along with the nitty-gritty details”. Explaining, Sullivan writes:

“On the site, you can find details about how Google’s ranking systems sort through hundreds of billions of web pages and other content in our Search index — looking at factors like meaning, relevance, quality, usability and context — to present the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second. And you can learn about how we go about making improvements to Search. (There have been 4,500 such improvements in 2020 alone!)”

Although only a brief comment, with around 3200 changes made in 2019, and 980 reportedly made in 2014 , this indicates that Google is rapidly increasing the rate at which it updates search.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Social Media Updates: July 2021

SNAPCHAT LAUNCHES ‘MY PLACES’ TO HIGHLIGHT LOCAL BUSINESSES

Businesses can now be easily discovered on Snapchat through ‘My Places’. This new feature can be found in Snap Map and highlights three different listing categories;

  • Popular places within a user’s Snap friends
  • Places the user has liked
  • Places that they have previously visited

Users will be able to access full information about the business listed in the platform. From opening times, contact details and locations to reviews and popular times.

With Snapchat users being able to see where their friends are at any given time, they can now share the business with them and arrange meetups.

The app explains:

Snapchatters can discover more than 30 million businesses worldwide, log their favourite local spots, and find personalised recommendations informed by their friends and global Snapchat community.

If you want to make changes to the business information already displayed or add a new business listing, choose the Place Listing Addition via the Map itself or make changes through the Map settings.

INSTAGRAM INTRODUCES AUTO CAPTIONS FOR FEED POSTS

Instagram is constantly trying to improve accessibility on its app. With the recent auto-caption option being introduced for IGTV uploads and Stories, the platform is now looking to expand this feature for Feed posts.

The news was confirmed by Vishal Shah, VP of Product at Instagram, as he responded to a user’s request of needing auto-captions for feed posts.

With more people using Instagram as they go about their day, such as during a commute or while watching TV, the need for both sound on and sound off content has increased massively as brands need audiences to get the full context of posts they upload.

As per Andrew Hutchinson from Social Media Today, this new addition will provide both content creators and brands another option to improve accessibility, maximise viewership and reduce workload as they won’t have to add captions and hardcode them into the video clips themselves. 

TWITTER IS RETIRING ITS ‘FLEETS’ OPTION 

https://twitter.com/Twitter/status/1415362679095635970

After less than a year, Twitter has decided to retire Fleets, its own version of Instagram and Snapchat stories. The decision has been made as a result of the new feature not getting as much traction as Twitter had hoped for.

Twitter users have only been using them for the purpose of amplifying their own Tweets. This defeated the whole purpose of Fleets which was to add a broader tweet experience on the platform, especially for those that wanted to share their thoughts temporarily.

Twitter further explains:

We built Fleets as a lower-pressure, ephemeral way for people to share their fleeting thoughts. We hoped it would help more people feel comfortable joining the conversation on Twitter. But, in the time since we introduced Fleets to everyone, we haven’t seen an increase in the number of new people joining the conversation like we hoped.

The platform will instead shift its focus into expanding its audio.

FACEBOOK LAUNCHES THE ‘CAMPAIGN IDEAS GENERATOR’ FOR BUSINESSES

Screenshot of Facebook’s Campaign Idea Generator site.

If you ever feel stuck for ideas for your Facebook and Instagram campaigns, Facebook’s new Campaign Ideas Generator may be a great solution to help spark inspiration for your future promotional efforts.

This new resource site contains various insights, templates and recommendations specific to seasonal events and business types. Whether you’re a restaurant, an education company or provide financial services – the Campaign Ideas Generator has ‘cookie-cutter type solutions’ for all industries based on the time of the year they’ll be running their promotions.

The tool is made up of three sections: Campaign Ideas, Data and Insights and Resources and is ideal for small businesses that don’t have much marketing budget.

If your business is feeling stuck with your marketing approach, why not get in touch with our expert team and find out how we can help you maximise your promotional efforts and contribute towards reaching your business goals? Feel free to also check out our blog for all the latest digital marketing updates.

SEO Market Updates: July 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

July 2021 Core Algorithm Update Rollout

On 1st July, the second round of Google’s two-part core updates began rolling out, this was then “effectively” complete by the 12th of July.

Much like the June 2021 Core Update, there were no specifics on what the broad update entailed – with the only given information explaining that a core algorithm update introduces changes across a wide range of indexing and ranking processes, implicating that core updates are not intended to target one specific factor.

Google has previously stated that sites which experience a drop after a core update may not actually have anything wrong to fix. The advice offered in this situation is to focus on “ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward”.

More information and advice on what site owners should know about core updates can be found in this Google Search Central Blog.  

Google Categorises Causes For Organic Traffic Drops

Off the back of two broad core updates, Google released a document titled “Analyzing Google Search traffic drops”, this provided site owners with illustrations of different drops in organic traffic that a site may experience, along with explanations to help identify and categorise the causes for each.

Examples of Google Search organic traffic drops

According to Google, there are five main causes for drops in organic traffic:

  • Technical issues: Errors that can prevent Google from crawling, indexing, or serving your pages to users – for example, server availability, robots.txt fetching, page not found, and others.
  • Security issues: If your site is affected by a security threat, Google may alert users before they reach your site with warnings or interstitial pages, which may decrease Search traffic.
  • Manual Actions: If your site does not comply with Google’s guidelines, some of your pages or the entire site may be omitted from Google Search results through a Manual Action.
  • Algorithmic changes: Google is always improving how it assesses content and updating its algorithm accordingly; core updates and other smaller updates may change how some pages perform in Google Search results.
  • Search interest disruption: Sometimes changes in user behaviour will change the demand for certain queries, either as a result of a new trend, or seasonality throughout the year.

This is the first time Google has openly shared information like this, and from the reaction across forums and social media it has been very much welcomed.

Google Now Showing Why A Specific Result Was Ranked

To provide further transparency, Google is now showing more information within the ‘About This Result’ section in search. There are now several factors that can be given as to why Google has ranked a specific result within SERPs, these will be listed as bullet points under “Your search & this result”.

Here’s what that looks like:

About This Result Example

This largely confirms what SEOs and marketers already knew as to why Google ranks specific sites for certain queries, but having all factors listed together could provide a useful tool when investigating an unexpected result.

Currently, this is only available for English results in the U.S, but it is expected to be rolled out across other counties (including the UK) in the coming months.

Google Says You Should Keep Redirects Live For At Least A Year

As a response to questions regarding how long you should keep redirections in place, Gary Illyes from Google took to Twitter to provide a “concrete answer”, saying redirects should remain in place for “at least 1 year”.

The Twitter thread goes on to explain that one year allows enough time for Google to pass any signals from the origin URL to the destination URL, any signals passed will then remain associated to the destination URL, even after the redirect has been removed.

It is also still worth noting that, if possible, site owners should strive to keep redirects live indefinitely for the user’s benefit.

SeekToAction Video Markup Now Supported In Google Search

Back in May 2021, Google pre-announced SeekToAction as one of two new video content structured data markups. At the time this was still in the developmental / testing phase, this is now officially supported within Google search, meaning video key moments can now be shown within Google Search.

Looking something like this:

SeekToAction Key Moments Rich Result

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

How to Land Featured Snippets With Ahrefs (and Why You Should Care)

Owning the top spot for each Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that is directly relevant to your brand. Broadly speaking, that’s the goal of virtually every business in the modern world when it comes to SEO, right?

Well, what if I told you that not all SERPs are built equally, and that the way you engineer your organic content to target specific types of SERPs determines whether or not you can own that treasured #1 spot.

You might say, ‘Tom, I’m an SEO nerd, show me how to get the snippet already’ – but if you aren’t familiar with featured snippets, here’s a quick run down of what they involve and why they matter.

What is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet, often referred to as ‘position 0’, is essentially a selected excerpt of content chosen by Google’s algorithms that is seen to directly match the searcher’s intent.

Let’s say you’ve identified a decline in sales during lockdown and want to ramp up activity to compensate for this with a deadline set for restrictions lifting. As with many problems these days, the first step to solving it may simply be to google ‘how to generate more leads’, which would the following result:

featured snippet - how to generate more leads

This is a featured snippet – confirmed by the little ‘about featured snippets’ button below each result. There’s a good chance that the text within a featured snippet is THE result you’ve been searching for- hence it being displayed above all others.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the featured snippets take up a good chunk of space in desktop results, and even more so on mobile devices- where you’ll find snippets covering around 50% of the screen. They’re difficult to miss, by design.

Types of featured snippet

Slick paragraphs aren’t always the most helpful way of answering a question. That’s why Google’s SERP Features includes four main types of snippet. These are:

  • Paragraphs.
  • Lists (bulleted or numbered).
  • Tables.
  • Video.

Within each snippet type, you’ll see content that really captures the essence of the searcher’s intent, whether they were Googling tax legislation or how best to recruit new team members.

There are also knowledge card or entity carousel snippet results, but these are typically difficult to optimise for and niche in use- so let’s focus on what you can action.

Why do snippets matter?

The cop-out answer here would be a generic ‘because visibility is important, and sitting atop the SERPs is the best way of boosting visibility’. More interestingly, though, featured snippets comprise around 19% of SERPs according to a recent study by Search Engine Journal. That’s a huge amount.

What’s more, 70% of featured snippets found in this study were text-based, meaning integrated text that’s optimised into your existing content writing could be an easy way of maximising the return on your efforts.

Conversely, neglecting featured snippet considerations and never really looking at what type of SERPs are generated for your target keywords could result in missed opportunities.

The risk of excessive snippet visibility

For full disclosure, snippets aren’t always the best friend of a content marketer. Think about it, if you’re appearing #1 in search results for quick questions with your precise information, users may absorb that information, then get back on with their day- exiting search results.

That ultimately means that your content could drive less clicks, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A 2017 study by Ahrefs looked at what percentage share of clicks is driven by different positions on the SERP. It found that featured snippets (position 1) drive only 8.6% of clicks, while the next highest ranked page sees roughly 19.6% of clicks.

This sounds like a doom and gloom stat for featured snippets, however it’s important to also understand that zero-click searches have gradually increased over the years – and around 50% of searches today yield no clicks.

So, there’s more to the story than click data alone. Instead of a tunnel-vision approach on CTRs, it’s probably best to build a broader picture of how visible your brand is, and lean more heavily on rankings as a performance metric. Besides, SERP features can fluctuate as algorithms evolve and update, which we simply can’t control.

Let’s focus, then, on what we can control.

  1. We can identify which SERPs return snippets.
  2. We can optimise our content to pinch those snippets.

Here’s exactly how.

Navigate to the ‘Site Explorer’ tool within Ahrefs. Input your target domain, I’ve used Yorkshire Tea as an example considering that we’re based in Yorkshire, and that you’ll have earned one shortly.

Featured snippet results for Yorkshire Tea

From there, navigate to ‘Organic keywords’ via the left menu. Now that you’re looking at a list of organic keywords your brand ranks for, you can filter these further using various options within ‘SERP features’.

Once these filters are applied, you’ll see a list of keywords your brand currently ranks for that actually return featured snippet SERPs. If you’re ranking in position 1, then congratulations- you own that snippet!

Ranking positions for yorkshire tea featured snippets

If not, however, then there’s a clear opportunity to optimise for queries for which you’re ranking in positions two or lower. Yorkshire tea here could improve their /how-to-make-a-proper-brew/ URL to better answer searches for ‘how to make tea’.

This individual URL could potentially capture featured snippets within two SERPs that ask the exact same question in slightly different ways. 

We’ve identified that owning the snippet may not result in more clicks, but there’s an unquantifiable value to being presented as the source of knowledge when a user searches for ‘how to make tea’, and quotes Yorkshire Tea as the source when telling their friends what the ‘right way’ is.   

Clever ways of using featured snippets

We’ve covered why feature snippets matter and the value they can bring to your business, but let’s take a look at some practical ways in which you can actually optimise for them.

  • Optimising existing content

In line with the approach we outlined earlier in the piece, you can look for featured snippets that are relevant to your existing content, then optimise for these snippets as best you can.

  • Find featured snippet opportunities within new content

If you’re doing your keyword research within ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer tool, you’ll find a similar ‘SERP Features’ button that allows you to indicate which keywords return snippet SERPs – irrespective of whether or not you rank for them.

using ahrefs keyword explorer for featured snippets

This more proactive approach to snippets could enable you to factor snippets into your content planning, meaning you can design your content to target them, rather than producing a bunch of content and retrospectiveley optimising it.

  • Researching competitor snippets

It could also be worth looking at how competitors optimise for snippets as part of their content strategy. You might identify that actually snippets form a huge part of competitor targeting, which may give you insights and inspiration as to how you could shape your own strategy.

You can review competitor snippets exactly as you view your own within ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool – so if you have the time to dedicate to research, look at the most effective optimisation tactics competitors are using to acquire snippets and factor them into your own business’ workflow.

Our approach to featured snippets

So, featured snippets are all about improving visibility, serving users your expertise succinctly, and being presented in a special position above the rest of organic search results at the potential expense of a few clicks.

The real question is: ‘how do you fit featured snippet optimisations into a wider content strategy?’

It requires a complex answer, but one piece of food for thought is that there’s a trend within content whereby long-form, substantive guide articles are reportedly performing incredibly well. Assuming this content format is at the heart of your approach, you could look to optimise normally around your core terms, while also targetting specific featured snippets within h2 and h3 sections; increasing the amount of keywords your article ranks for.

It’s commonly accepted that acquiring strong rankings is in of itself a good indicator to Google that your content is authoritative/trustworthy, and so picking up featured snippets where possible is rarely a bad idea.

If you’re interested in learning how to maximise the use of SERP features for your site, reach out to us for a quote on the impact a cleverly crafted content strategy could have on your traffic.

Social Media Updates: June 2021

Instagram is no longer a photo sharing app

Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, has declared that the platform is no longer a photo sharing app. In wake of the success of TikTok and YouTube, Instagram is looking to expand into the entertainment and video space. 

To reach its goal, the app will be conducting experiments such as showing users recommendations for topics they’re not following and making video more immersive by offering a full-screen experience.

Although Instagram has been testing full-screen video experiences through IGTV, Reels and Stories – the opportunity to incorporate video far more widely still remains.

The primary reason why people use Instagram is to be entertained, however TikTok’s user and engagement surge indicates that people are looking at other alternatives.

To combat this and to be recognized as a general entertainment app driven by algorithms and videos, the platform is trying to tap into trends being followed by other social platforms such as TikTok.

Tweet sharing now available to Instagram stories

https://twitter.com/Twitter/status/1407421738305077253

Twitter has provided another way for users to interact with tweets by giving all iOS users the ability to share tweets directly to Instagram stories.

When users will click on the sharing icon next to each tweet, they’ll be able to see the new ‘Instagram Stories’ option. The new option, when clicked, will add the tweet into a blank Instagram camera frame where you’ll be able to edit your story according to your preferences.

The tweets will not be tappable as Instagram doesn’t provide off platform links in stories, which means they can’t drive traffic back to the tweet. However, this is still a great update as it may be an indication of a future full-integration between Twitter and Instagram.

Previously, tweets have been shared on Instagram through screenshots. The update has been implemented to tackle this common method of redistributing tweets and to help boost interest in the platform.

TikTok reminds brands to make TikToks not ads

To encourage brands to embrace the flexibility of the platform, TikTok reminds them not to make ads, but to make TikToks to make the most of their marketing activities.

The app explains that while the internet platforms have evolved, ad formats have stayed the same and due to the similarity in the ad formats, users tend to skip them.

However, with TikToks, brands can create valuable, engaging and raw content that resonates with their audience. Ads like this invite the audience to participate and build on the story rather than simply receiving the story and moving on.

In fact, users may start to participate in campaigns, build alongside them and create their own TikToks for brands and products they love – which is the goal of the platform.

Katie Puris, TikTok Global Business Marketing head explains that people often say that they didn’t even realize that a particular TikTok was an ad.

“The work is so good, it fits right in and it’s celebrated… just like a TikTok.”

According to TikTok, the more unfiltered and real the content is, the better it performs. On other platforms brands really need to invest in the content and have videographers, photographers, and models – on TikTok, they don’t.

Instagram tests image and video uploads from desktop

Previously, Instagram only allowed business accounts to publish posts from desktop via Facebook’s Creator Studio app. The platform is now allowing a small group of users to publish feed posts directly from its desktop version.

With the addition of the “+” icon to the top bar of the desktop version of the app, users can upload images or videos directly from their PC storage. They will also be able to customise their feed posts by using the standard in-app editing tools and filters not included in the Creator Studio app.

The new update makes it easier for businesses and social media managers to manage their content because they can now upload edited images and illustrations in a straight-forward process.

Instagram says:

“We know that many people access Instagram from their computer. To improve that experience, we’re now testing the ability to create a feed post on Instagram with their desktop browser.”

The platform further explains that this update will enable more people to use the app and will provide a more centralised approach for social media managers.

If you want to find out how TikTok and other social media apps can help your brand reach its desired target audience and increase sales, get in touch with our expert team or check out our blog for all the latest social media and SEO updates.

SEO Market Updates: June 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

PAGE EXPERIENCE ALGORITHM NOW ROLLING OUT

On 15th June Google announced the rollout of its much-anticipated Page Experience algorithm.

Incorporating the new Core Web Vitals metrics, the algorithm measures a range of factors broadly related to page usability and user experience, including:

  • Page speed
  • Interactivity
  • Visual stability
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Safe browsing
  • HTTPS usage
  • Usage of intrusive interstitials

Sites that are marked as optimal across the above factors will be considered as offering good page experience and may be potentially favoured in SERPs as a result. However, according to Google sites should not expect to see drastic changes as an immediate result of the update.

Although the current update only applies to mobile devices, Google has confirmed that Page Experience will become a ranking factor for desktop in the near future. A timeline for this has not yet been set out, with an announcement expected closer to the time of release.

To find out more about what to expect from the new update and our approach to measuring Page Experience, read our dedicated blog post here.

BROAD CORE ALGORITHM UPDATE RELEASED ON 2nd JUNE

Prior to the release of the planned Page Experience update, earlier in June Google rolled out a previously unannounced broad core update.

Referred to as the June 2021 Core Update, the release began to roll out on the 2nd of June and finished around the 12th. Unusually, Google announced that this would be a two-part update, with the 2nd round of updates taking place at some point in July. Google’s Danny Sullivan clarified:

  “Some of our planned improvements for the June 2021 update aren’t quite ready, so we’re moving ahead with the parts that are, then we will follow with the rest with the July 2021 update. Most sites won’t notice either of these updates, as is typical with any core updates.”

Google have not disclosed any exact details as to the changes made in the two updates, simply stating the update is fairly typical and that sites may see a negative, positive, or negligible impact. As has become usual with core updates, Google also maintained that there’s nothing in particular for webmasters to do in response.

… AND A NEW TWO-PART SEARCH SPAM UPDATE

If the Page Experience and June / July 2021 updates were not enough, in late June Google also released another update, this time targeting “search spam”.

Rolling out in two parts, the first release started on the 23rd and completed within a single day, with the second following up a week later on the 28th. Confirming the update on the 23rd, Google stated:

“As part of our regular work to improve results, we’ve released a spam update to our systems. This spam update will conclude today. A second one will follow next week.”

Clarification has not been provided on the exact types of spam targeted in the releases, with Google simply advising webmasters to follow their best practice guidelines for search.

GOOGLE LAUNCHES SEARCH CONSOLE INSIGHTS

Google Search Console received another round of features in June, with the addition of a new “Insights” report.

Google Console graph

Insights joins together data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics in an effort to make it easier to analyze the performance of site content. In Google’s words, Insights aims to help site owners answer the below questions:

  • “What are your best performing pieces of content, and which ones are trending?”
  • “How do people discover your content across the web?”
  • “What do people search for on Google before they visit your content?”
  • “Which article refers users to your website and content?”

The new tool began rolling out in mid-June and should now be available to most Google Search Console users. Site owners can either access Insights directly through Search Console, or via a new portal on the Google site.

ROBOTS.TXT ON SHOPIFY SITES NOW EDITABLE

Owners of Shopify sites are now able to manually upload and edit robots.txt files. The new feature was announced on Twitter by Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, and as of 21st June should be fully rolled out.

Shopify had previously only applied default robots.txt files to all websites, with no clear workaround should webmasters need to edit the file. However, the file can now be manually changed via the robots.txt.liquid theme template, with site owners able to:

  • Block certain crawlers
  • Disallow (or allow) certain URLs from being crawled
  • Manually add extra sitemap URLs
  • Add crawl-delay rules for specific crawlers.

While Shopify maintains that the default robots.txt “works for most stores”, the new functionality ultimately gives greater control to site owners and is likely to be welcomed by SEOs working with Shopify sites.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Our Approach to Google’s Page Experience Algorithm Update

As of 15th June 2021 Google’s new Page Experience Algorithm is now rolling out. This new algorithm change measures a range of factors related to user experience, with sites offering good page experience favoured.

As indicated by Google before the release of the algorithm, the rollout period is gradual, with an expected completion date in late August. It’s also not expected that sites will see drastic changes to rankings as an immediate result of the update.

Back in 2020 Google announced new Core Web Vitals metrics, which now form a key part of the new algorithm change. These metrics cover a specific set of areas Google considers as important to the usability of a webpage, including Page speed, Interactivity and Visual Stability.

Other factors measured by the Page Experience algorithm are: 

  • Mobile friendliness
  • Safe browsing
  • HTTPS
  • Usage of intrusive interstitials

What You Need To Know

Page Experience is now included within Google’s wider set of ranking factors. It includes a blend of signals that Google considers impactful to user experience, and Core Web Vitals are an important part of that score.

It was initially believed that sites would receive a negative impact on ranking should they not pass all three Core Web Vital metrics. However, Google now says that you do not need all three “good” scores in order to get any boost in rankings. Additionally, some at Google have indicated that Page Experience could be treated as a lower weight “tie breaker” signal, giving one site an edge over others should scores against other ranking factors be very similar.

Google has also stated that once you do attain the “good” threshold, micro optimising for further improvements will not give you any additional boost in rankings. This confirms the importance of focusing on pages currently receiving “poor” or “needs improvement” CWV metric scores.

To help site owners measure performance against the new metrics, Google Search Console now has a Page Experience report. This includes the current site performance against each of the signals, as well as summarising the percentage of URLs with good page experience over time.

Google Search Console Page Experience Report

When collecting page experience data for a site, Google has confirmed that although they try to be as granular as possible in order to deal with page experience on a page-by-page basis, this isn’t always possible. As such, for some sites page experience data is aggregated.

Although the current release is only designed to measure performance on mobile devices, Google has confirmed that Page Experience will eventually become a ranking factor for desktop. In an announcement at Google I/O, Jeffrey Jose said “we believe page experience is critical no matter the surface the user is browsing the web. This is why we’re working hard on bringing page experience ranking to desktop”. A rollout date for desktop page experience is expected nearer the time of release.

Google was seen to be testing a visual indication within search results for sites that pass the page experience criteria. Should this be implemented, it could provide an incentive for users to click through to sites that have been confirmed to provide a good user experience. This adds another level of motivation for sites to ensure they meet good page experience criteria.

How Can We Measure ‘Page Experience’?

Google’s page experience criteria consists of the following:

Core Web Vitals

These consist of three metrics that are used to measure the user experience of a page.

First Input Delay (FID)

Measures from when a user interacts with a page, to the time the browser can process the event. Due to not being available in simulated environments, we use Maximum Potential First Input Delay and Total Blocking Time to measure this.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This metric reports the render time of the largest image or text block visible within the viewport. Can also be seen as the loading speed of a page.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

CLS measures the sum total of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page.  A layout shift occurs any time a visible element changes its position from one rendered frame to the next.

 The new ranking signals will involve a combination of Core Web Vitals and the other four existing user experience considerations.

Mobile Friendliness

This is a measurement of how usable a website is on a mobile device. Issues can occur when elements of a page do not load correctly, or if parts of a page are not correctly optimised towards mobile users.

Safe Browsing

The security issues report within Google Search Console alerts us to any issues on a site which compromise safe browsing, which can include the following issues:

  • Hacked content: This is any content placed on your site without your permission because of security vulnerabilities in your site. In order to protect our users, Google tries its best to keep hacked content out of our search results.
  • Malware and unwanted software: This is software that is designed to harm a device or its users, that engages in deceptive or unexpected practices, or that negatively affects the user. Malware can be either installed by a hacker or the site owner.
  • Social engineering: This is content that tricks visitors into doing something dangerous, such as revealing confidential information or downloading software.

Any security issues raised by Google should be resolved as a priority.

HTTPS

HTTPS is an internet standard form of encryption. Sites without HTTPS encryption subject their users to HTTP request-response attacks, putting their sensitive information at risk.

Browsers such as Google Chrome and Apple Safari will also warn users who access a page without HTTPS encryption, making users less likely to follow through with providing sensitive information such as log-in or payment details.

No Intrusive Interstitials

As part of Google’s mobile-friendly initiative, if there are any interstitials on a page that Google deems to be intrusive this can have a negative impact on organic rankings. This can include the following: 

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page. 
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Fusion’s Page Experience Auditing Process

We recommend focusing on improving all Page Experience signals as part of a wider technical SEO strategy. As part of our reporting & audit process, we identify any under-performing areas and illustrate how you can address these, by utilising proprietary tools which can pull core web vital metrics across a site.

We mark any poorly performing areas as an immediate target to improve in order to boost your site’s user experience and meet the expectations set out by the new ranking factor.

How Do We Do This?

We combine Google’s CrUX (Chrome User Experience Report) data with our own core web vitals data in order to provide a full picture of the performance of your site. 

Google CrUX – Publicly available data. Provides a top-line view on core web vitals data for any site within the database. Data is sorted by site experiences (amount of users experiencing a site) and if their experience passed, failed, or required improvement, based on Google’s criteria.

Fusion Unlimited’s Core Web Vitals – Core Web Vitals data retrieved via a proprietary tool. Our proprietary tool can be tailored for any site in order to pull core web vitals data for all URLs within a site, giving us control over the data that we have access to and allowing us to analyse site performance at a much more granular level.

We also include all other metrics included within Google’s Page Experience criteria.

What Goes Into Each Report?

Summary

We provide an overall site summary on how the site performs across all Page Experience factors, along with recommendations on how to prioritise any metrics which require optimisation. 

We also provide a breakdown of how each metric is currently performing on the site for each Page Experience factor.

Core Web Vitals Pages

We have pages within our report dedicated to providing a deep-dive into each of the Core Web Vitals metrics (FID, LCP, CLS). Within these pages, we will provide the performance of each page that has been tested and display the pages which are currently receiving the poorest performance. 

Want to See For Yourself?

Since Google announced back in May 2020 that page experience would become a ranking factor, we’ve been working with brands from a wide range of sectors throughout the country to ensure they’re aware of their own performance and what they need to do to benefit from the update.

If you’d like to stay ahead of the game, get in touch with the team today to request your own free report at hello@fusionunlimited.co.uk.

SEO Market Updates: May 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google Announces MUM – New Tech That’s “1,000x More Powerful Than BERT”

Google showcased a new AI technology called MUM (Multitask Unified Model) during Google I/O, this will help to better understand language and interpret queries for more complex tasks within search.

According to Google, MUM is built on a transformer architecture, similar to BERT, however, it is 1,000x more powerful and capable of multitasking to connect information for users in ways that present-day search engines cannot. MUM is trained across 75 different languages, allowing it to develop a more comprehensive understanding of information and world knowledge.

Here’s an example of how MUM can interpret a query to surface other helpful subtopics for deeper exploration:

Multitask Unified Model Example

It’s not live yet, and Google says they will announce once it is added to search. The only indication as to when this may be was given by Google saying, “We’ll bring MUM-powered features and improvements to our products in the coming months and years”.

Schema.org Launches New Schema Markup Validator Tool

A new schema markup validator tool has been launched as a subdomain on the official Schema.org website, this comes as a “refocused” replacement to Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, which Google had originally planned to deprecate. However, after backlash, it was decided to improve and house this outside of Google’s direct property as a more “general purpose” schema validator.

The new tool allows for testing of structured data types outside of what Google uses to render rich results, which the Rich Results Test does not offer the ability to test for.

The new Schema Markup Validator has the following functionalities:

  • Extracts JSON-LD 1.0, RDFa 1.1, Microdata markup.
  • Displays a summary of the extracted structured data graph.
  • Identifies syntax mistakes in the markup.

Here’s what that looks like in practice:

Schema Markup Validator Tool

Page Experience Ranking Eventually Coming To Desktop

In an announcement at Google I/O, Jeffrey Jose, a Google Product Manager revealed that planning is in place for Page Experience to become a ranking factor for desktop, as well as the initial rollout for mobile pages commencing in the coming weeks.

I am happy to announce that we are bringing page experience ranking to desktop. While we’re launching page experience on mobile soon, we believe page experience is critical no matter the surface the user is browsing the web. This is why we’re working hard on bringing page experience ranking to desktop. As always we’ll be providing updated guidance, documentation and tools.”

More confirmation came later from this Tweet:

This announcement now means that the work being done across the industry to improve page experience on mobile pages, should now also be applied to desktop.

Two New Video Content Structured Data Markups

Another exciting announcement from Google I/O came when John Mueller, a Google Search Advocate, revealed two new schema markups for video content that can help to gain more visibility within search results.

The first being Clip markup, which is now live. This allows you to manually tell Google what timestamps and labels to show for key moments within the video.

Here’s an example of how that shows as a rich result in search:

Clip Markup Example

Seek markup is the other, this is not yet live and is currently still in the pilot phase, however, Google says it can “Use machine learning to analyze your video content and automatically determine relevant segments for you. All you have to do is tell us how to link to an arbitrary timestamp within the video hosted on your pages, and we’ll do the rest”.

Once both live and functioning, these new properties should be nested within the existing VideoObject schema on the page.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Social Media Updates – April 2021

Instagram launches digital magazine ‘Instagram Insider’

Image courtesy of Instagram

Instagram has launched its first ever edition of the new digital magazine, Instagram Insider. Every issue will highlight core Instagram trends dominating the platform, list the most influential content creators and small businesses to follow as well as answering users’ questions. 

The first 9-page edition is focused on fashion and beauty which has 4 main trending topics: arts and crafts, which is all about handmade products such as clothing, home décor and accessories. Psychedelia-inspired outfit looks, DIY stick-on beauty products from fake tattoos to glam eye art, and male beauty products.

This free, downloadable magazine is aimed at users who constantly scroll through their feed, Explore and Shop tab, liking and saving posts.

‘Instagram Insider is about inspiration and discovery – not just the trends (crafty quilted fashion, stick on beauty products, vintage streetwear) but the people behind them.’

However, the magazine also provides plenty of information for brands so they can shape their own Instagram strategies and find new angles for their stories and posts.

TikTok launches lead gen ads

Image credit: TikTok

Businesses and advertisers can now gain more insights into their audiences through TikTok’s Lead Generation form. This tool will enable marketers and businesses of all sizes to create seamless interactions to reach their target audience and convert them into customers.

As the app further explains:

‘We want to support and empower businesses on TikTok with seamless opportunities to connect deeply with their customers while ensuring that our community feels comfortable and safe on the platform. This is of the utmost importance to us.’

The Lead Generation consists of a customisable background image, profile image and questionnaire. This means that brands will be able to share details of their products or services in an appealing and interesting way.

Users will be able to signal their interest to the product or service by filling out an easy step-by-step form where they will provide basic information such as name, email address, phone number and answer any additional questions the business would want to know.

TikTok has ensured to provide a simple and efficient experience between businesses and users by auto-populating key response data already available about the user (name etc.).

Any leads gained through this tool can be manually downloaded at the business’s preferred time or integrated with the business’s CRM where they’ll be immediately activated.

This is a great addition to the platform as businesses will be able to build a more accurate audience view for future content and ad campaigns.

Facebook flags changes to newsfeed rankings

Facebook is looking to change its News Feed algorithm to maximise engagement and user retention. This process will consist of user surveys asking people what they like to see on their feed, whether a post is valuable, inspirational or worth their time. Soliciting different types of feedback and deciding whether a post should be higher up or lower down the news feed based on different types of reactions (angry, emotional etc.)

Although users’ news feeds contain posts from friends, groups and pages they’ve chosen to like or follow, they don’t want to see posts about topics they are not interested in. This survey-driven approach will give the platform a complete view of the types of posts people find most valuable and inspiring and what kind of content they don’t want to see on their news feed.

Additionally, with political debates being at an all-time high on Facebook, the platform has received feedback on political content with many users being displeased with the aggressive and divisive political debates.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg states:

‘Increasingly, we’re hearing feedback from people that they’re seeing too much content about politics and too many other kinds of posts and comments that detract from their News Feed experience. This is a sensitive area, so over the next few months, we’ll work to better understand what kinds of content are linked with these negative experiences.’

Lastly, users can also more directly tell Facebook about their preferences by hiding posts they’re not interested in within their news feed. This will inform the platform’s algorithms about what you don’t want to see as well as giving users better control over their feed.

To read our monthly social media updates, check out our blog page, or get in touch with us today to find out how we can help your brand make the most of social media.

SEO Market Updates: April 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

New Page Experience Report in Google Search Console

Google has launched a new Page Experience report within Google Search Console to help site owners better prepare for the rollout of the upcoming page experience update. The report includes existing Core Web Vitals along with the other page experience signals, listed as Mobile Usability, Security Issues, HTTPS and Ad Experience.

Speaking about this new feature, Google has said “The Page Experience report offers valuable metrics, such as the percentage of URLs with good page experience and search impressions over time, enabling you to quickly evaluate performance”.

Here’s what the new report looks like:

Google Search Console Page Experience Report

More information on the report’s full capabilities can be found in the Page Experience Report Google help document.

Along with this, Google has also introduced the ability to filter pages by ‘Good Page Experience’ within the GSC Performance report, allowing site owners to easily keep track of how pages with “Good Page Experience” compare to others on the site.

Google Search Console Good Page Experience Filter

Google Postpone Page Experience Rollout and Provide More Insight

In a blog post providing “More time, tools, and details”, Google has stated that the Page Experience update will be a gradual rollout, beginning in mid-June 2021 and not playing a full role as part of their ranking systems until the end of August. Meaning the update will now finish much later than the original rollout schedule of May 2021.

Google gave the following reasoning for the update being rolled out gradually rather than in real time, “because we’re doing this as a gradual rollout, we will be able to monitor for any unexpected or unintended issues”.

Google Updated How Cumulative Layout Shift is Scored

Changes have been made to how Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is calculated, CLS is a measurement of a web page’s visual stability and is one of the Core Web Vital metrics. Google has updated how this is scored to make it more accurate and fair, stating they are “making the CLS metric more fair to pages that are open for a long time”.

Google now reviews CLS on each page in session windows, here’s a visual representation of this new approach:

Layout Shift Session Window Review Example

Layout shifts can occur sporadically over the time a user views a page, for this reason, Google has decided to group them into session windows. The CLS metric now follows this rule: “maximum session window with 1 second gap, capped at 5 seconds”.

Site owners should not however worry about this change. Because the new update caps the CLS calculation window at 5 seconds, Google say “no page will have a worse score as a result of this”.

More Improvements To Google Search Console

Google has improved data filtering and comparison within the Google Search Console Performance report by introducing a regular expression (regex) filter and ‘revamping’ the comparison mode.

Google explained that the new regular expression filter will help “create more complex query and page based filters”. This new feature will allow Search Console users to catch abbreviated queries within a filtered search, for example when looking at performance for a particular query like ‘gin and tonic’, the new regex filter can be used to capture all similarly relates searches such as ‘gin & tonic’ or ‘g&t’.

Google Search Console Regular Expression Filter

The newly revamped comparison mode now permits users to select and compare multiple metrics by displaying results side-by-side, the table area is almost doubled in size and does now support the new regex filter.

Google Search Console Performance Comparison Mode

Google Rollout New Product Reviews Update

Google has released a new product reviews search algorithm update. This is not a core update affecting all search results, it is specifically targeted at rewarding more in-depth, informative product reviews within SERPs.

We know people appreciate product reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products. That’s why we’re sharing an improvement to our ranking systems, which we call the product reviews update, that’s designed to better reward such content”.

Additional useful information on what creators should know about Google’s product reviews update has been provided within the Google Search Central Blog.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

SEO Market Updates: March 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google Responds to “Misleading” Zero-Click Study

A study published by Rand Fishkin, founder of SparkToro (data courtesy of SimilarWeb) shows that 65% of Google searches from January to December 2020 ended up without the user clicking through to another web property from search results.

Google Zero-Click Study Pie Chart

Google felt the need to respond, writing in a blog post “this claim relies on flawed methodology that misunderstands how people use search”. They then went on to provide “important context about this misleading claim” in order to “set the record straight”. In short, this context included the following:

  • People reformulate their queries. Meaning users often refine their query with a new search. This initial query would inadvertently be considered as zero-click.
  • People look for quick facts. For example, searches for information on weather forecast, sports results, currency conversions and more, which all show directly on the results page.
  • People connect with a business directly. This refers to consumers accessing business information from the search results, which often does not require a traditional click. Including searches for opening hours, contact information, reservations or directions.
  • People navigate directly to apps. Some searches lead users directly to apps, rather than clicking through to a site. For example, searches for a TV program, where the user can follow a direct link to open a streaming app from the results page.

Despite this context, it is worth noting that there is an upwards trend in ‘zero-click’ searches when comparing to similar studies from previous years.

New Practice Problems and Math Solver Structured Data

Google have released new structured data markup which allows sites to display practice problems and math solver pages within Google Search as rich results.

Here’s an example of what practice problems looks like in mobile SERPs:

Example of Practice Problems Structured Data in Google Search

Whereas math solver should display like this:

Example of Math Solver Structured Data in Google Search

Google’s reasoning for this new introduction was “Practice content and math assistance have been some of the most requested information from learners. Practice material helps users gauge their mastery of a concept while a solver provides explanations to help a user get unstuck while doing math problems”.

This is now live, so sites with eligible content can start to implement these new schemas.

Google Adds More Detail To CWV & Page Experience FAQs

Google have expanded their Core Web Vitals & Page Experience FAQs, announcing in a Twitter post that “We are back with more answers to the questions we received”. A lot more detail has been added, a couple of key points include:

Our systems will continue to prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content”. However, in a situation where multiple pages of similar quality and content go head to head, Google says that those with a superior page experience may perform better than those without.

With the upcoming change to Top Stories carousel, all web pages irrespective of their page experience status or Core Web Vitals score are eligible for Top Stories carousel”. Meaning a news page won’t need to meet all the Core Web Vitals requirements to be eligible for the Top Stories carousel.

New Resources For Video SEO

Google released two new resources to help site owners optimise their videos for Google Search. Firstly, a new ‘Search Central Lightning Talk’ covers the video best practices for Google Search & Discover, outlining five key tips for video optimisation.

Google also updated their Video best practices guide which provides clarification on the correct steps to be taken to help Google find, index, and understand a video.

SharedArrayBuffer Notification Explained

On 15th March Google sent out a notice to site owners through Search Console stating ‘New requirements for SharedArrayBuffers’, which caused lots of confusion.

Google promptly published a blog post to provide clarification on this. Explaining that site owners received this message because the JavaScript on their site was detected to be using the SharedArrayBuffer object. They then defined SharredArrayBuffer as “a JavaScript object to share a memory space across threads on a website. It was used by websites before the vulnerability called Spectre was found. However, because Spectre was a CPU level vulnerability and it’s unlikely to be fixed in the foreseeable future, browsers decided to disable the SharedArrayBuffer object”.

The blog post provides two options to help find the SharedArrayBuffer object usage on your site. It then recommends the following actions to be taken:

Social Media Updates: March 2021

YouTube testing removal of public dislike counts on videos

YouTube is trying to reduce the impact of negative behaviours on the platform by experimenting with the removal of public dislike counts on videos posted by creators.

The decision to remove the public dislike counts on videos was made with the aim to address concerns around targeted dislike campaigns and how they negatively impact the creator and user well-being.

Users will still be able to like and dislike videos, and these numbers would still count towards video ranking in the platform. But, just like the Instagram’s removal of public likes experiment, creators will be able to see their full dislike counts in YouTube Studio. 

YouTube is hoping that the removal can help in taking away negative stigma around certain types of content and make creators feel more comfortable in sharing such content.

Facebook working on a ‘kids version’ of Instagram

With Messenger Kids being a success and having 7 million monthly users in 70 countries, Facebook is now looking at creating a kids version of Instagram.

The current Instagram policy does not allow people under the age of 13 to create an account, however many kids still attempt to join the app by adding a fake date of birth and are exposed to potential dangers from predators.

To tackle these issues, Instagram has recently launched new restrictions that will protect youngsters, such as adults not being able to message kids that aren’t following them.

However, the best way to avoid youngsters being exposed to the platform is to build a separate kids version. Instagram’s chief Adam Mosseri says:

“Part of the solution is to create a version of Instagram for young people or kids where parents have transparency or control.”

Some suggest that creating a separate version of the app may increase bullying and abuse amongst younger audiences. But by restricting who can use the app and giving parents oversight this risk can be reduced. 

Instagram is still in the planning stage on this one, so more information will be available once there is a clarification on strategy.

Instagram story drafts to be launched

Instagram story drafts have been a highly requested feature and the app will finally be launching them.

They’re great in providing users with the flexibility in how and when they want to use stories. You will soon be able to create stories, save them to your draft and post them whenever you want.

Options to save stories and downloading them to your device already exist via a third party. However, they’re not convenient within users’ creation flow, so having these features within Instagram itself will facilitate user’s creative creation process.

Just like a normal story, users will be able to use Instagram’s full feature set in the draft creation process and view them as they’ll appear to users.

This update will also be extremely beneficial for brands that have always wanted to schedule stories updates to be posted when their audiences are most active.

Twitter will be launching ‘Communities’

Similar to Facebook Groups, Twitter will soon be launching ‘Communities’. This new option will enable Twitter users to share their tweets within selected groups of users instead of sharing them with all their followers. 

This option is great for those who want to talk about a variety of different topics without boring their audience with updates they are not interested in. They can now simply create communities that have similar interests and share relevant information, which will also increase engagement as people will be getting information on topics they like.

These community pages would be joinable and be close knit with only members being able to share tweets. This would provide users with private engagement options and create closer communities within the platform.

 

Do you want to find out how we could help you supercharge your own social media strategy? Get in touch with our expert team here.

Why Are We Flocking To FLoC?

The phasing out of third party cookies is in full swing with Google confirming an updated plan earlier this month to appease both advertisers and consumers. 

Whilst marketers have been aware of this development since August 2019, this new chapter of advertising is here knocking at our door. 

But before we delve into practicalities let’s look at why this is all happening in the first place (and why it’s important). Fear not, there is not a single reference to the daftly named ‘cookiepocalypse’ in this article…

What are cookies and why are they important?

Let’s start off with the basics:

First Party Cookies

Stored by a website you visit, these cookies provide useful information for that website and shape how a user interacts with it. It’s everything from which pages they visit, how long for, how often and, what they do. Don’t worry – these aren’t going anywhere and will actually become more important as we find out in this article. 

Third-Party Cookies

These are tracking cookies that are stored under a different domain than you are currently visiting. They are mainly of use for advertisers as it enables them to track users between websites and display more relevant ads between websites.

How is this relevant to online privacy?

As third-party cookies enable advertisers to track the digital movements of users, there has been a growing demand for transparency and gaining back control of data. Whilst all users do have the option to opt-out of third-party cookies, it’s not always straightforward to do so.

Google’s figures show that searches for “online privacy” have increased by 50% globally year on year. A demand for anonymity from a digital presence in the era of information is no passing trend, however. You only have to look at the 1.2 million members of reddit’s Privacy community or the creation of Tor back in 2006 to see that users are seeking solutions to digital anonymity.

Google data

This demand in knowledge, or privacy as it were, has also led to an increase in content being published surrounding ‘online privacy’ over the past five years.

Bar chart of content produced
Ahrefs Data

How has Google Chrome responded to the removal of third party cookies?

With Google Chrome having a whopping 63.5% of browser market share – as a market leader the internet giant needed to make its stance on cookies clear, especially as browser competitors were doing so.

The likes of Safari and Firefox placed limitations on tracking years ago with the latter using the following disclaimer in its February 2021 release:

At Mozilla, we believe you have a right to privacy. You shouldn’t be tracked online. Whether you are checking your bank balance, looking for the best doctor, or shopping for shoes, unscrupulous tracking companies should not be able to track you as you browse the Web. For that reason, we are continuously working to harden Firefox against online tracking of our users.

Google first stated its intention back in August 2019 when it sought to “develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web. We’re calling this Privacy Sandbox”. Fast forward to January 2020 and further rollout details became apparent with the announcement of a 2-year timeframe of cookies being phased out from Google Chrome. By October 2020 Google was prepared to share more detailed insights on the steps they were taking in relation to mitigating “deceptive and intrusive tracking techniques, such as fingerprinting” which saw it throw its weight behind supporting Secure DNS. 

However, the largest development so far in this whistle-stop tour of Google’s announcements has been the introduction of FLoC.

What is FLoC?

In January 2021, Google Chrome announced the creation of FLoC with a view of testing amongst advertisers to be rolled out as early as Q2 2021

FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) proposes a new way for businesses to reach people with relevant content and ads by clustering large groups of people with similar interests. This approach effectively hides individuals “in the crowd” and uses on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser.” 

Before raising hell amongst advertisers who feared the future collapse of targeting as we know it, Google set the record straight earlier this month. “Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.” 

What that’s to say is that Google would not be providing the ability to use third-party cookies to target individuals, thereby protecting a user’s right to anonymity, but would provide advertisers with the opportunity to target a cohort of similarly behaved groups. These interest-based groups could indeed be in their thousands so there’s no denying that the precise nature of targeting will be lost in stark comparison but Google has assured advertisers that we can expect “at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising.” From here on in, only the performance of ads under the new targeting options will tell. 

Some naysayers aren’t convinced, with talk of FLoC undoing a decade’s worth of work and even calling into question whether FLoC is even that private as there are seemingly ways around extracting user IDs from a cohort. 

In Europe there are big question marks over whether FLoC is GDPR-compliant, prompting Marshall Vale to clarify that testing in Europe would be rolled out at a later date.

By 2022 Google Chrome confirms the use of third-party cookies will cease to exist entirely.

How can we be prepared for the change?

As a performance marketing agency, our Head of Paid Media, Jen Mottram, and Account Director, Kyle Brogan, share their thoughts on how the absence of cookies will shape the future of paid media as we know it, and why it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  

What were your initial thoughts on the announcement of FLoC?

Jen: I’m very glad that a solution to the loss of 3rd party cookies is nearly ready, and we will have familiar targeting options. However, there are still a lot of questions; what about the 45% who do not use Chrome? can the privacy issues raised by some be rectified? Ultimately something is better than nothing, but I’m watching updates closely!

Kyle: It’s reassuring that there is a recommended option available to allow advertisers to continue to target customers in a privacy-first manner. I’m keen to see how this develops over the next few months, and how robust it will be across networks beyond that of just Google.

 How will we be preparing for a cookie-less future?

Jen: From a technical perspective, 1st party data will be a focus, luckily for us a lot of our clients have already heavily invested in this or are making all the right steps towards the necessary infrastructure.

Additionally, utilisation of AI, like smart bidding and responsive/dynamic ads, will be even more important to ensure campaigns are reactive to all other signals. We have built these into our clients’ strategies and the tech behind is ever-evolving and robust”.

Kyle: Conversations with clients, as solutions are developing, is key in ensuring all parties are prepared for a cookie-less future.

We’re in the process of establishing what the potential risks are as well as what can be done now to ensure their 1st party data is in the best condition possible.

Keep an eye on our blog, LinkedIn and Instagram channels for information!

Welcome to Team Fusion, George!

We’re delighted to welcome George Bonelle to our SEO team! George joins team Fusion with three years experience in digital and is set to play a key role in helping our Organic Search team onboard some amazing new clients.

I sat down with our newest team member to find out where they’ve come from, where they’re headed, and everything in between…

 

Welcome to the team, George! We’re all delighted to have you here. What are you most looking forward to about the role?

Thanks, it’s a pleasure to be here! I’m just really looking forward to getting going, learning as much as I can from the great team here and becoming a valued member of the Fusion team. 

 

What attracted you to joining Fusion in the first place?

I’d say the wide variety of clients was a key factor. I really wanted to expose myself to working with a number of different brands and the different challenges that brings, so I can continue to keep learning and growing as an SEO.

 

You’ve been in marketing for a few years now. What’s your favourite part about the role?

I love the fact that success can be tracked. It provides great satisfaction seeing initial ideas come to fruition and even surpass expectations.

 

And what’s your favourite part about SEO in particular?

It’s great that SEO is always evolving, with industry trends and changes always keeping you on your toes. What’s great for those starting out is that inexperience in years isn’t always the disadvantage it can be in other industries.

 

What are you looking forward to bringing to the team?

I’ll hopefully bring fresh ideas and a new perspective from my previous experience, along with lots of hard work to get up to speed as quickly as possible!

 

How do you see SEO developing over the next year?

With the upcoming Page Experience update, there’ll of course be a need to prioritise Core Web Vitals and other UX focused metrics. That said, I guess that’s what’s so intriguing about SEO – you never really know what’s around the corner! But I’m confident we’ll be prepared for whatever comes.



Right, let’s get to know the real George…



Favourite marketing campaign?

Budweiser: King of Beers. Flipping the bottle cap to look like a crown. Simple but effective. Although, it’s still not my choice of larger.

 

App you couldn’t live without?

YouTube, there’s always just that one more video to watch.. next thing you know it’s 1am!

 

We put you in charge of the Sonos – what are your top 3 picks?

Steve Miller Band – The Joker

Oasis – She’s Electric

Mac Miller – Ladders

 

Dream Client?

Leeds United!!

 

Favourite film?

Happy Gilmore

 

Death row meal?

Pizza, any topping bar pineapple.

 

Interesting fact about you?

I worked in America for a year as a golf caddy.

 

And finally, if you weren’t in marketing?

Most likely still chasing golf balls down the fairway (or into the trees).

 

To get to know more of the team, check out our latest blog posts, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Welcome to team Fusion, Emily & Charlie! 

We’ve all been really excited to welcome two brand new starters in Emily and Charlie! Both join team Fusion from university and will play key roles in our Paid Media team following some amazing client wins in the past few months.

I sat down with our newest recruits to learn where they’ve come from, where they’re headed, and what kind of playlists we can look forward to when we’re back in the office!

 

Welcome to the team, both! We’re all delighted to have you here. What are you most looking forward to about the role?

 

EF: Thank you! This is my first role in digital marketing so I’m eager to get stuck into all things digital and learn from everyone working at Fusion.

CT: Thank you, delighted to be a part of the team! I think I’m most looking forward to putting skills into action within campaigns and developing within the role as a whole.

 

So tell me, why marketing?

 

EF: While studying Media Psychology, I found it really interesting researching the psychological effects of marketing and how theories can be used to support decisions companies make on social media. This learning and passion has motivated me to pursue a career in marketing. I like how fast-paced digital marketing is in terms of how it is consistently adapting, there is always something new to learn and challenge yourself with. 

CT: I have always been drawn to marketing and advertising through growing up, be it through traditional platforms within print through Esquire or GQ, to more digitally driven methods today. I find myself curious as to understanding people and looking to form meaningful connections within marketing as a result. This ultimately led me to move into marketing from a more fashion-based role.

 

What attracted you to Fusion in the first place?

 

EF: The size of the team, as well as the clear culture within the agency, attracted me to apply for the role. I also love that there’s a strong percentage of women working at Fusion, especially in management positions, because it motivates me that I could reach a similar level in the future.

CT: The opportunity to learn and develop skills within a small team across a diverse base of clients was a huge part of what attracted me to the role. 


How have you found it starting a new role during lockdown?

 

EF: It has been a bit strange only meeting people through a screen, but everyone has been lovely and welcoming which makes it so much easier. Not having to commute is kind of amazing though!

CT: Everyone has been incredibly welcoming and helpful, with a real focus on making the induction and learning as simple as possible – which has certainly made the process of starting during lockdown a positive one. 

Right, let’s get to know the real you…

 

Favourite marketing campaign?

 

EF: I like Spotify’s campaigns surrounding Spotify Wrapped which show interesting stats about people’s listening activity over the previous year. They have a great mix of personalisation and humour, focusing on viral world events as well as specific examples, like showing that someone played the song “Sorry” 42 times on Valentine’s Day.

CT: Recently, Aime Leon Dore’s Autumn/Winter 2020 ‘The People’s Borough’ campaign.

 

App you couldn’t live without?

 

EF: TikTok

CT: Nike Run Club!

 

We put you in charge of the Sonos – what are your top 3 picks?

 

EF: Live Well – Palace, Yours to Keep – Jordan Mackampa, Silver Springs – Fleetwood Mac

CT: Heroes – David Bowie, Vapor Trail – Ride, California Soul – Marlena Shaw

 

Dream Client?

 

EF: Any makeup brand, I like the theatrical makeup Give Face Cosmetics promote.

CT: British Fashion Council.

 

Favourite film?

 

EF: Ex Machina (or if I’m being honest, Moulin Rouge).

CT: North by Northwest, or Lost in Translation.

 

Death row meal?

 

EF: Roast dinner followed by chocolate fudge cake.

CT: Cacio e Pepe pasta.

 

Interesting fact about you?

 

EF: I walked the red carpet at Leicester Square for the Bridget Jones’ Baby premiere.

CT: I used to live in Paris.

 

If you weren’t in marketing?

 

EF: I think maybe researching the psychology behind social media, I find fandoms particularly interesting.

CT: If anything’s on the cards, probably a painter, or a Jazz drummer.

 

To get to know more of the team, check out our latest blog posts, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

International Women’s Day: An interview with 5 of our leading women

I founded Fusion Unlimited back in 1998, when the landscape in digital was quite unrecognisable to how it is now. It’s been incredibly refreshing to see some amazing initiatives born in recent years to support in promoting more women to join the industry. The refining balance of the workforce in our sector speaks for itself as to the great change this has made, although we all still know that dial can be moved even further forward.

On International Women’s Day, I’m very proud to be able to say that 60% of the team here at Fusion are women, also making up 50% of our leadership team.

To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, I sat down with just five of the many great women here to gather their thoughts on what it means to them to encourage more women to join our great industry. 

You’ll hear from Katie Harling, our Client Services Director, who joined me 18 years ago and has since played a huge part in growing the agency to what it is now. Secondly, Hira Nasir and Louise Barber, who both joined us from University as their first roles in digital. I’ve also caught up with Danielle Wright, who joined us during Lockdown pt.1 with two years of experience in the digital arena. And last but certainly not least, you’ll hear from Helen Hargreave, our Head of Content with 10 years in the industry, the past eight of those spent here with team Fusion.

In your opinion, why is it important that more women get into the digital industry in the future?

KH: It’s important to have a diverse team, and people should be encouraged to join any industry they have an ambition to be part of.

I find a diverse team creates new ways of working, thinking and learning, which in an innovative industry, is important. This is key not only for the work we produce, but also for us as an agency team. Thriving off of this naturally creates an exciting atmosphere, and builds a happier more stable collective team.

For me, diversity should be celebrated. We need to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities and the same treatment. 

HN: It’s good to have a mix of genders in every industry really! I think having more women will help the industry flourish even more with more ideas as women are a huge part of the consumer audience, so having their insights and how they would approach the digital media landscape will help the industry flourish with more existing and creative ideas.

LB: The single fact that 75% of the digital workforce are male is enough to down tools and get involved in this industry.

DW: It’s important that women don’t feel intimidated to get involved in an industry that maybe was once heavily dominated by men. There are a lot of different career options and no matter your skill-set, there’s something for you.  

HH: Equality in business, scrap that, in anything, is a fundamental right. For businesses to speak to all customers we need balance from the people telling the story. So as consumers, for our voices to be heard and for us to be seen we need the people behind the scenes to understand our struggles, our concerns, passions and what we enjoy too. Joining the conversation and the work therefore becomes an opportunity to shape the conversation.

Do you think there’s a stereotype attached to digital?

KH: I think in certain areas of digital there are stereotypes, but my own personal experience has been very different. I have worked for the same agency all my career, where talent has been supported above all else, a key reason why I’m still here. The team has always been well-balanced, but on the premise of providing an opportunity to those who show ambition and desire to be part of a forward thinking team…that’s all. 

HN: I think the technical side of SEO is associated with men, there’s not many women within that sector. But having said that, the industry is changing and that stereotype has started to peel off.

LB: Of course. It’s a geeky white male. Days like International Women’s Day are active opportunities to challenge this stereotype and create space for others. That’s why I thought it was important to get involved in this piece, share my experience and encourage women to join this industry.

DW: I think historically there has been, but I think I’ve certainly seen promising signs of improvement. I’m very lucky to work with a group of very talented women at Fusion and it’s really encouraging.  

The industry can still do so much more to support and encourage women in the field. There’s a balance to be found between hiring and supporting women because they are talented and hiring a woman because you need a token woman to improve diversity in your male dominated team.

HH: Probably, but perhaps not for the reasons you may think. Starting my career working in content marketing and social media 10 years ago I was surprised how many people perceived the channel as ‘the fluffy stuff’ and that bothered me. The fact I could be perpetuating that stereotype bothered me even more. But was it the work itself or that I was a woman doing it? It was hard to tell. To effect change and deliver real results I felt like I needed to work even harder to make people listen up – to challenge the work I was doing was just as important. 

What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in the search industry?

KH: There have been occasions where I’ve walked into a room and felt judged – be that because of my age or my gender. However, having confidence in what I do, being able to adapt to requirements, and maintaining faith in my ability, I have always remained true to myself and represented Fusion in high regard. 

HN: I started off as a photographer/videographer and in my first few projects I was only working with men which sometimes used to be a bit daunting but I feel like there’s a demand for women within content creation and maybe even within digital advertising in general (as more and more people want to see a woman’s perspective within a certain  project) – and that’s why my journey in regards to getting in the industry has been pretty straight forward.

LB: I feel privileged to say I don’t think I have seen any barriers coming into this industry. Fusion is the first agency I have worked in, and I think I was really lucky to find myself in an environment where women are really well represented across the team. As a result of this, I have felt supported, encouraged, and heard from my first day. Hearing that this isn’t the case across the entire industry makes me appreciate my experiences even more. 

HH: Aside from immaturity, inexperience, imposter syndrome, and confidence in my craft (!) the main barrier I wanted to overcome was being heard and being heard for the right reasons. I wanted to be able to walk into a room and connect with others no matter their age, status or gender but there are A LOT of big personalities out there.

The power of rhetoric was key here, being able to choose when to speak up, delivery and how to connect with a person was a huge learning curve in my early days. I educated myself, I watched powerful women, binged on TED talks and let myself be vulnerable too (the discovery of Brene Brown’s ‘Power of Vulnerability’ was eye-opening for me) – all of this let me get over my biggest barrier – myself!    

On International Women’s Day, what’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in digital marketing?

KH: I was brought up in a loving family that educated me to work hard, (play hard), and don’t let anything hold me back. They told me to go after what I wanted and I did! I was so focused on succeeding for myself and that’s what’s key – do what’s right for you and do what makes you happy. Stay focused – with determination and passion, nothing can hold you back.

You get one shot at life…do what makes you happy. If that’s a career in digital, do it, it’s an amazing industry and we would love to see you become part of it! 

HN: I would say just go with it! I think there’s a lot of people willing to help, especially women and it’s definitely a lot easier to get in the industry compared to 10 years ago and there’s quite a few digital marketing agencies that are founded by women so the future is definitely looking good.

LB: Don’t be afraid of getting into digital – even if it doesn’t match your background. There are many attributes that are valued within digital marketing, from written ability, analytical thinking and just general confidence. Skills can be taught – there is so much room for growth within Digital Marketing. And p.s. it’s not all geeky white males!

DW: Do it! Digital is always changing so there’s always something new to learn. It’s an exciting industry to work in and can be very rewarding.  

HH: Know your craft, stick up for yourself, leave your ego at the door, give credit, be vulnerable, be human, and be kind. 


If you found this interesting, check out the Fusion blog for the latest thought leadership from our team. We’re always keen to speak to ambitious people looking to get into digital, so I’d also encourage you to take at our careers page to see if we might have something for you.

Our Favourite Valentine’s Day Campaigns of 2021

Lockdown has changed the way we celebrate our seasonal holidays. From Christmas and New Year to birthdays and anniversaries, the rulebooks have been thrown up in the air this past year. And few more so than Valentine’s Day. With restrictions on leisure, and more of us keeping a distance from our loved ones, this Valentine’s Day provided us with another challenge in celebrating this day of love as we normally do.

But perhaps this made us reflect on the meaning of love and its importance. This gave brands across the world the the chance to reflect on their strategies and discover what matters the most to their customers in times like these.

The result was a real variety of ‘out of the box’ Valentine’s marketing campaigns, from donation-drive campaigns to those appealing to nature lovers.

Let’s take a look at our top 5 favourite Valentine’s Day campaigns of 2021…

NHS 

There’s not an ounce of doubt that the NHS staff deserved a huge chunk of the love this Valentine’s Day. The support they’ve shown during the pandemic has shown us the true definition of sacrifice and selflessness.

From the NHS, we saw the launch of a charity campaign that encouraged people to ditch flowers and gifts this Valentine’s Day in favour of donations to support the NHS staff who have made the many sacrifices throughout the pandemic to get us this far.

Pandora

Pandora conducted a survey across countries that have a big Valentine’s Day celebration, such as the UK, USA, Australia, China, Germany and Mexico, to ask them how their perception of love and relationships has changed since the pandemic.

The results revealed that people are prioritising relationships and appreciating their loved ones a lot more and really valuing the time spent together compared to before the pandemic as they now understand what it feels like to stay away from people they love.

The campaign was topped off with a short film asking real couples what Valentine’s Day means to them.

Clover

Clover’s ‘Spread the Real Love’ campaign encouraged parents to break free from the social pressure of being perfect and instead embrace the imperfections that come with parenthood as it is not an easy job.

The side-effects of social media, where we frequently see aspirational yet unrealistic portrayals of other people’s lives, often results in many of us feeling disheartened about our own setup, with many of us under constant pressure to portray that same perfect life.

Here, Clover sought counter this, instead shining a light on the everyday family by sharing real home scenarios that we can all familiarise with.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

We can’t hide from the fact that 2020 has been a disastrous year for our planet, from Amazon Rainforest fires and Australian bushfires to California wildfires. However, we can use 2021 to show love to our mother nature and appreciate it before it’s too late.

This Valentine’s Day, WWF decided to raise awareness of our natural surroundings and how important it is for us to love them. The ‘Love it or lose it’ campaign appeals to all nature lovers by showcasing the relationship we have with nature and warn us of what we can lose if we don’t take better care of our planet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Jb7FjCLKtQ

Hotels.com

The holiday booking brand’s ‘V-Day Dumpster Stay’ campaign was a considered theme for singles who were feeling a little lonely this Valentine’s Day. It encouraged people to write about why their ex deserved a vacation in a dumpster, with the chance to win a $300 gift card redeemable against a holiday.

(uk.hotels.com/page/vdaydumpsterstay)

To make the campaign even more fun, all entries received a booking confirmation email for their ex’s imaginary Dumpster Stay.

So, there’s our favourite Valentine’s Day campaigns of 2021. As you can see, we saw a real range of messages and sentiments behind these campaigns, showing you can define love however you want. It’s important to express your brand’s voice on days like Valentine’s Day to better connect with your customers and find out what it is that’s important to them. 

 

Get in touch with our expert team for more information on how you can voice your own brand.

Welcome to Team Fusion, Tom!

We’re delighted to welcome Tom Harrison to the Fusion team, who has joined our paid media division as Senior Account Executive. Tom brings with him five years of in-house experience with global healthcare brand Medacs. After bringing some amazing new clients on board in 2021, we’re really excited for what Tom will add to our paid offering.

I sat down with our newest recruit to learn where they’ve come from, where they’re headed, and what they’ll be looking to bring to the team!

 

Welcome to the team, Tom! What are you most looking forward to about the role?

This is actually my first agency role, so I’m really excited to work with the rest of the Fusion team and learn as much as I can from them all!

 

What attracted you to Fusion in the first place?

The role was a perfect fit for me. Seeing the accolades and awards Fusion has won recently, as well as the size of clients and the culture within the teams, I knew Fusion would be a great first agency for me.

 

You’ve been in marketing for a few years now, albeit sitting on the other side of the table! What’s your favourite part about the role?

I do love seeing a campaign that has been made from scratch perform well and meeting the objectives set out right at the beginning.


What are you excited to bring to the team?

I’m looking forward to supporting the team the best I can every day with a positive approach, bringing some fresh new ideas to the table.

 

Where do you see paid media in the next 12 months?

I see automation coming to the forefront a lot more.. As a fast-paced agency with so many campaigns to oversee, looking closer to home I really believe automation will allow us marketers the time and space to think and strategise more. 

 

Let’s get to know the real Tom..

 

Favourite marketing campaign?

I really liked the Nike campaign from 2020, ‘You Can’t Stop Us’, and how the campaign video was made and edited as well, it was very inspiring.

 

App you couldn’t live without?

Instagram – too much good content on it.

 

We put you in charge of the Sonos – what are your top 3 picks?

A Tribe Called Quest – Jazz (We’ve Got)

King Krule – Biscuit Town

Roy Davis Jr. & Peven Everett – Gabriel

 

Dream Client?

Nottingham Forest

 

Favourite film?

The Departed

 

Death row meal?

Any pizza will be enough for me.

 

Interesting fact about you?

I travelled across Italy for a few months – take me back!

 

If you weren’t in marketing?

A DJ living somewhere warm (we can all dream).

 

SEO Market Updates: January 2021

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google Search Console’s Multiple Updates and Errors

Google Search Console Mistakenly Send Messages To Users

Google Search Console users received messages informing that they are currently impressions due to domains not being verified as a domain property. These errors arose when the domains that Google were asking users to verify weren’t owned by the user.

https://twitter.com/badams/status/1354481943518334981

 

Google have confirmed that this is a bug within their system.

New Google Search Console Report for News Publishers

Google have released a dedicated report for news publishers within Google Search Console. The new performance report will show data from news.google.com and from the Google News app (available on Android and iOS). However, this report will not display traffic data from the new tab within Google Search, which is available within the standard performance report when applying the filter Search Type = News.

Google have also confirmed that all data is aggregated by page. This means that if a single site provides multiple Google News results in a single user session, each result is credited to the page URL it points to (rather than to the property containing the page).

Index Coverage Improvements in Google Search Console

Google have rolled out improvements to the index coverage report within Google Search Console, with a focus on providing a more accurate state to existing issues in order to help users resolve them easier.

The updates Google have implemented include the following:

  • Removal of the generic “crawl anomaly” issue type – all crawls errors should now be mapped to an issue with a finer resolution.
  • Pages that were submitted but blocked by robots.txt and got indexed are now reported as “indexed but blocked” (warning) instead of “submitted but blocked” (error)
  • Addition of a new issue: “indexed without content” (warning)
  • Soft 404 reporting is now more accurate

These updates are currently available for all users.

Google Will Start Crawling Sites Over HTTP/2

Users are currently receiving notices via Google Search Console that their site can support HTTP/2 crawling and that this has been implemented.

HTTP/2 crawling allows Google to crawl a site faster and more efficiently but doesn’t have an effect on organic rankings.

Core Web Vitals Comes To Chrome 88

With the release of Chrome 88, users will now have access to Core Web Vitals via the performance panel of the inspector too.

After recording the loading of a page, Core Web Vitals metrics, such as First Contentful Paint (FCP), Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), will display.

A Large benefit to viewing Core Web Vital performance information via the performance panel is the ability to hover over specific metrics, such as CLS, which will highlight the elements on the page which causing the issue. This will give webmasters a clear view on which elements are causing page experience issues and if these are unique page elements or template elements that can be resolved on multiple pages.

 

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Welcome to Team Fusion, Jonny!

Our first hire of 2021 is Jonny Tushingham, who has come on board to boost our paid media offering. After working with some huge brands including Euro Car Parts, Park Leisure and Carphone Warehouse, we can’t wait to see what Jonny brings to the team.

I sat down with our newest recruit to learn where they’ve come from, where they’re headed, and what they’ll be bringing to team Fusion!

 

Welcome to the team, Jonny! What are you most looking forward to about life here at Fusion?

As cliché as it sounds, I’m really looking forward to meeting & working alongside the Fusion team. People are always the key to any good agency and I can’t wait to properly collaborate with everyone, hopefully in person in the not-to-distant future!


What attracted you to Fusion in the first place?

Fusion represented a fantastic opportunity to work within a smaller, more close-knit agency that shared my view of working with clients directly – everything I was looking for in an agency. Add to that an ambitious and convivial atmosphere and the choice was easy to put my name forward to join the team.


You’ve been in paid media l for a few years now, what’s your favourite part about the role?

I really enjoy the collaboration involved within a paid media role, whether it be internally, with clients or even suppliers like Google & Bing – which is handy for such a dynamic and fast moving industry.


What are you excited to bring to the team?


I’m looking forward to bringing a new approach to paid media to the team, mixing past experience with Fusion’s best practices, whilst supporting the team with positive and proactive thinking.


Where do you see paid media in the next 12 months?

With Google’s steady increase in automation, I can see much of paid media’s day-to-day tasks making way for larger, more influential strategy work. I feel this shift will provide companies & agencies with smaller levels of resource an opportunity to reach out and service more clients.


Right, let’s get to know the real Jonny…


Favourite marketing campaign?

I really like Go-Pro marketing campaigns, especially the “Be a Hero” campaign. By using user-generated content Go-Pro are repeatedly able to engage with users on social platforms using an almost endless amount of inspiring video & picture assets, all provided for them!


App you couldn’t live without?

Definitely Whatsapp. Being able to easily stay in touch with friends and family (especially during a pandemic) has been essential.

We put you in charge of the Sonos on your first day – what are your top 3 picks?

Fleet Foxes – Third of May
Kendrick Lamar – How Much A Dollar Cost
Radiohead – Paranoid Android

(I hope these picks don’t affect the success of my probation period…)

Dream Client?

Wolverhampton Wanderers – an easy answer

Favourite film?

No Country For Old Men – Just perfect

Death row meal?

My life mission is to find the perfect pizza. Once I find it, it’ll be that.

Interesting fact about you?

I’m a twin. A slightly worse version of myself is roaming around somewhere in the world.

And finally, if you weren’t in marketing?

Ideally? Running a trendy coffee shop somewhere warm
Realistically? Working in financial services.

 

 

 

Social Media Updates: January 2021

Instagram Looking to Total Likes Count on Posts

Back in 2019, Instagram trialled removing their total like counts on posts as part of their audience wellbeing initiative.

The goal at that time was to reduce social comparison and its associated negative impacts on users. However, the social media giant is now looking to change that by rolling out a feature that includes both hide and unhide options.

Instagram will be giving users in countries included in the first testing phase, the option to display like counts on their posts once again. This would give users direct power over whether they want their posts’ total like counts to be displayed or not.

This option will be given both within the composer when initially posting, and after the post has been published. The app is also looking to add another setting which would enable users to hide like counts on other people’s posts that appear on their Instagram feed.

However, we’ll have to wait for Instagram to release data on the impact of the hiding like counts experiment to decide whether the new option will have a positive or negative impact on its users.

Facebook will be removing the ‘Our Story’ Section from Pages

Facebook is alerting Page owners to shift their ‘Our Story’ description to the ‘Additional Information’ section as the former is being removed from the Page presentation options.

‘Our Story’ which currently appears as a secondary information panel within the ‘About’ section, was added in 2017 to help brands provide more background on their business so they can better connect with their page visitors.

However, Facebook has now decided to remove this section. The reason for the removal seems to relate to the page presentation the page presentation as the ‘About’ section looks a little cluttered.

Instead, users will now be able to tap through the ‘Additional Information’ section and read more about a business brand story. This change means that companies will have to re-assess their Page layout and adjust it accordingly.

Twitter Acquires Newsletter Platform, Revue

After many conversations around long-form content on Twitter, the app has acquired Revue – a service that helps writers create newsletters and distribute them to their audience through a subscription basis.

This integration will allow Twitter to become a primary source of engagement for writers and allow them to satisfy their online communities by publishing content that goes beyond the 280-character limit.

https://twitter.com/revue/status/1354036529367314432

Audiences and authors will easily be able to find each other, and users will now be able to subscribe to their favourite authors newsletters directly through Twitter.

Twitter further explains:

‘We imagine a number of integrations on Twitter that will help readers more easily discover and connect with writers — from easy ways to subscribe to a newsletter to new settings for writers to host conversations with subscribers.’

This is a great opportunity for brands with large Twitter followings to get into the inbox of their most loyal followers.

 

If you want to find out how social media can help your brand, please get in touch with us today! Or check out our blog to get more information on the latest social media and SEO trends. 

SEO Market Updates: December 2020

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google’s December Core Algorithm Update

Google confirmed that they released a broad core algorithm update on 3rd December.

This is the first broad core algorithm update Google have released since May 2020.

Consistent with past broad core algorithm updates, these are much more significant and look at providing an overall improvement to the algorithm. As these updates focus on the general improvement of the algorithm, there are no specific focus points in regards to optimisation.

For more information on how to assess site content which has been negatively affected by this update, we would recommend reading our post on the January broad core update, in which we provide a list of questions site owners should use to optimise their site.

Google Display Page Experience Icons in Search

Within Google’s initial announcement that their page experience algorithm will be released in May 2021, Google confirmed that they will also be releasing a visual indicator within the search results page. Users have spotted instances of Google testing this feature recently.

The four-point star icon (as shown above) will be displayed beside results when the page passes the core web vitals threshold.

As this is currently a test from Google, it’s worth noting this feature is subject to change or removal.

New Google Maps Features

We have also seen several updates come to Google Maps this month.

Search Results in Google Maps

Search results now display within Google maps. This is currently being displayed within business listings.

Ensuring search results for a business adds a new level of visibility. As the search results add another method of access to a site, this could potentially lead to users accessing another site if a business’ search results contain listings for competitors or other alternative sites.

Google My Business Messages Come to Google Maps

Google have expanded the ways in which business owners can access Google My Business messages from customers and ways in which customers can message businesses. Previously only accessible via Google My Business and text, customers and business owners will now have the ability to send and access messages via the Google Maps business listings.

Customers can also start a conversation under any post within a business listing and customers will also be prompted to send a message if the business misses a call made via a listing.

Google have also implemented more detailed lists of search queries used to access a business listing within the Google My Business performance insights.

WordPress Plugin Contact Form 7 Leaves 5+ Million Sites Vulnerable

One of the most popular plug-ins on WordPress, with over 5 million active instillations, Contact Form 7 allows businesses to add multiple contact forms to their site. The plug-in recently announced that they have discovered a high-severity unrestricted file upload vulnerability in version 5.3.1 of the plug-in, and older versions. Possible consequences of this security breach include:

  • Possible to upload a web shell and inject malicious scripts
  • Complete takeover of the website & server if there is no containerization between websites on the same server
  • Defacing the website

Contact form 7 have now released a patch to resolve this issue. It is highly recommended that any sites using this plug-in, update to version 5.3.2.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Social Media Updates: December 2020

TikTok is bringing its videos to your Home TV

You can now enjoy watching TikToks on a bigger screen as Samsung has announced a partnership with the app that will enable Samsung Smart TV owners in the UK and Europe to watch TikTok videos on their TV screens.

Users will have to download the TikTok app for Samsung TV, which is available for all 2018 models onwards. They will have access to the ‘For You’ page, ‘Following feeds’ and the most liked and viewed content on TikTok.

Samsung explains that the content is organised into 12 categories, from gaming and comedy to food and beauty and users can access all of this without having a TikTok account. In addition to this, users will have access to #LearnOnTikTok videos where they can get the latest cooking hacks, fitness tips and fun facts that TikTok has to offer.

The app will automatically operate in Restricted Mode to filter out content that may not be appropriate for all audiences. This new partnership will open new opportunities for top creators and TikTok advertisers to reach new audiences. If this integration goes well, TikTok could look at adding more ways for advertisers to reach TV viewers with customised big screen-specific campaigns.

Samsung explains that the content is organised into 12 categories, from gaming and comedy to food and beauty and users can access all of this without having a TikTok account. In addition to this, users will have access to #LearnOnTikTok videos where they can get the latest cooking hacks, fitness tips and fun facts that TikTok has to offer.

Facebook is developing a new celebrity streaming option

Facebook is looking to rival Cameo (an app which enables you to pay for celebrity shout-outs for yourself or for your friends) by introducing ‘Super’, which will allow users to pay for video calls with celebrities.

There are reports that Super will be introduced as an app as it is currently being developed within Facebook’s New Product Experimentation team which builds standalone apps and other products.

Currently, there is no other app like Cameo. However, Super’s introduction could help Facebook establish an immediate competitor for the app’s business.

Super will allow influencers, entrepreneurs, creators and celebrities to host live, interactive video events. Viewers will be able to tip influencers by buying them digital gifts or either pay to appear alongside them during the live-stream to ask a question or take a selfie. Creators (artists, Youtubers, bloggers) will also be able to sell merchandise or other products alongside the live-stream.

Twitter launches live testing for its new audio feature

Twitter has launched ‘Spaces’, an audio-only feature that will enable users to create meetings that their connections can join to listen in or to actively participate in.

Although the feature is currently under the testing phase, with only a small group of users invited to test it out, live audio meet-ups will be highlighted in purple on users’ Fleets bubbles. They will also be able to show us who is participating in these audio discussions.

Twitter describes Spaces as being like a ‘well hosted dinner party’ where you don’t need to know everyone to have a great time, but everyone still feels comfortable at the table. The app is trying to create an intimate feeling of connection through its new feature.

Twitter further explains: ‘The human voice can bring a layer of connectivity to Twitter through emotion, nuance and empathy often lost in text. We see this with voice tweets and voice DMs. sometimes 280 isn’t enough, and voice gives people another way to join the conversation.’

Check out our blog for the latest news. Or if you’re interested in finding out how social media can help your brand, please get in touch with our expert team here.

SEO Market Updates: November 2020

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google announce when core web vitals will become a ranking signal

From Google’s internal studies and industry research, they determined that users show they prefer sites with a great page experience. As a result of this research, Google announced they were looking to integrate page experience as a page of the ranking algorithm.

Page Experience can be split into the following categories:

  • Page loading speed
  • Interactivity
  • Visual stability
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Safe browsing
  • HTTPS
  • No intrusive interstitials

Due to Covid-19, this algorithm update was initially put on hold in order to allow businesses to focus on effectively responding to the new challenges presented by the virus.

Google announced on Tuesday that they will start rolling out Page Experience as a ranking signal in May 2021.

To find out more information on this algorithm update and how we can provide insight into the performance of your entire site, please read our dedicated blog post.

Google Search Console Updates

Disavow Tool

Google announced on 17th November that they’ve finally migrated the disavow tool to the new Search Console interface.

Although Google have informed that they can assess which links can be trusted and which can’t, without the usage of this tool, it is still recommended for sites to utilise the disavow tool for the following scenarios:

  1. You have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site.
  2. The links have caused a manual action, or likely will cause a manual action, on your site.

Crawl Stats Report

Google announced that improvements for the crawl stats report within Google Search Console have now been implemented. The new version of the report will now include the following features:

  1. Total number of requests grouped by response code, crawled file type, crawl purpose, and Googlebot type.
  2. Detailed information on host status
  3. URL examples to show where in your site requests occurred
  4. Comprehensive summary for properties with multiple hosts and support for domain properties

On top of these new implementations, Google’s crawl stats report contains:

Over-time charts

A time series chart which provides a view on crawl statistics over time.

Grouped crawl data

Groups crawl request data by response, file type of the fetched URL, purpose of the crawl request, and Googlebot agent.

High level & detailed information on host status issues

Provides details on the site host status over the last 90 days.

For domains with multiple hosts, Google Search Console will also provide a summary for all site hosts, containing information on each hosts crawl requests, trend and status data.

Remove Outdated Content tool

Google have updated the Remove Outdated Content tool which is now consistent with the theme of the new Google Search Console layout. The Remove Outdated Content tool is used to have Google update search results for pages or images that no longer exist, or pages that have removed important (sensitive or critical) content. The tool is also available to any user and is for use on sites that the user does not own.

Google experience issues with manual actions

Manual actions are issues which Google will display to users and are generated by human reviewers that have determined that a pages on a site are not compliant with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Many users experienced issues within Google Search Console, in which these manual actions were being removed from their site properties, despite not yet resolving them.

WebP support is being rolled out in Safari

What is WebP?

WebP is a modern image format, which provides both lossy and lossless image compression. The compression offered by WebP image is much more effective than compression provided by PNG and JPEG image formats, with an average 24% reduction in file size. This is an image format which is usually recommended by Google within their Page Speed Insights as an alternative to traditional image formats, in order to reduce page loading times.

What browsers support WebP?

When compared to other next-gen image formats, such as JPEG 2000 and JPEG XR, WebP images are supported by a larger amount of browsers. Browsers which support WebP images are the following:

  • Microsoft Edge
  • Firefox
  • Firefox for Android
  • Chrome
  • Opera
    • Opera Browser
    • Opera Mini
    • Opera Mobile
  • iOS Safari
  • Android Browser
  • Chrome for Android
  • UC Browser for Android
  • Samsung Internet
  • QQ Browser
  • Baidu Browser

Soon to be added to this list is Apple’s Safari browser. After receiving no support from Safari until version 13.1 (released March 2020), the browser looks to be providing for WebP for Safari users with MacOS 11 Big Sur and later.

With Google’s page experience algorithm being released May 2021, converting images to WebP format can provide a quick win in regards to reducing image sizes and page speed.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Social Media Updates: November 2020

Twitter launces ‘Fleets’ for its users

Twitter is the latest social media app to announce a story-like feature, called ‘Fleets’, to all its users. Found at the top of your news feed, users can now share content that will disappear after 24 hours.

Twitter believe that Fleets will provide a way for users to share their more topical, fast-paced thoughts temporarily without the fear of them being public or permanent.

https://twitter.com/Twitter/status/1328684389388185600

It goes on to say: Now, more than ever, we think it’s critical to provide people another way to share what’s on their mind; without feeling self-conscious about it lasting on the record, and without the pressure of public replies. Those Tweets that never got past “Drafts” can finally see the light!’

Twitter gives you the option to:

  • Text fleets – just like stories, you can put a text on a coloured background (range of colour options available for both)
  • Share tweets – share individual tweets, which also appear on coloured background
  • Share video or photo – share an old or new photo or video

There are no special affects or AR tools available at the moment, however, Twitter is working on bringing live broadcasting, stickers and collaborative Fleets to the platform.

Instagram expands the ‘Guides’ content option to all users

Instagram is giving users a new way to share themed content on their profiles. In addition to the already existing ‘Posts’, ‘Mentions’ and ‘IGTV’ tabs, users will now be able to add a new ‘Guide’ tab to their profiles.

The new tab has a Pinterest-like feel as it will display a collection of themed posts linked together with a short text description under each post.

There is also an option for brands to add Product Guides to their Instagram Shop. Additionally, the option to share Guides via Instagram Stories will provide users another way to promote their collections.

How can you add a Guide to your profile?

  • Tap the ‘+’ icon at the top right of your profile
  • Select ‘Guide’ from the ‘Create’ menu
  • Select the type of guide you want to create: Places, Products or Posts
  • Select the posts you want to add to your Guide and add them to your collection
  • Add a title and description and change the cover image if you wish

Snapchat acquires music app ‘Voisey’

There is no denying that Snapchat knows how to lead the way on key trends. In fact, the company has acquired a new app ‘Voisey’ which can make almost anyone sound like a professional musician.

Voisey enables users to create their own short music tracks using a range of vocal effects tools to enhance their sound. Described as ‘TikTok for music creation’, the app’s interface looks a lot like TikTok. Users can upload their own beats or record vocal tracks over the already existing backing track options.

Snapchat hasn’t yet revealed what they are planning to do with the app, however, Voisey’s popularity among the younger audiences might see Snap add its features into the main app.

The brand fit makes a lot of sense as both the apps have a young audience, however, the future will tell us what exactly Snapchat will be doing with the new app.

 

If you’re interested in finding out how social media can boost your brand, get in touch with us today.

Is a Black Friday Campaign Right For Your Brand?

Most marketers would have you believe Black Friday to be the most opportune time of year to drive sales, but how do you know whether running a promotion is the right thing for your brand? Are you making your marketing decisions based on ROI, or simply looking at running a promotion just because everyone else is doing it?


In this post, we’re going to share some of the predictions for this year and help you decide whether you should join the party or not.

What’s all the fuss about?

If shopping was a sporting event, Black Friday would be the Superbowl. Since we adopted the event from our cousins from across the pond, it’s gotten bigger by the year and is now a massive spending event, and there’s little love shared in the marketing space, with businesses of all sizes fiercely competing for a share of public expenditure for this coveted seasonal event.

The Numbers

In the UK in 2019, the public spent almost £5bn. That’s a colossal amount and, despite the climate, spending is trending, with GlobalData predicting the UK’s spending in 2020 to surpass £6bn. It’s predicted that 37% of Brits are putting off shelling out on items like clothing, electronics and furniture until the deals are here to avoid being disappointed. We all hate that moment, right? So, the opportunity to supercharge your sales at the start of the retail period dubbed the ‘golden quarter’ is a glaringly obvious one.

Working away behind the scenes, businesses of all shapes and sizes will have their own Black Friday marketing campaigns lined up, so let’s dive into a framework for assessing whether you need to be joining them – or whether you’re better off focusing on your day to day strategy.

Is your business actually suited to a Black Friday promotion?

You will be the best person to answer this question. The buzz around Black Friday is immense, so it’s no surprise that brands dive head-first into elaborate content campaigns in an attempt to be relevant and drive sales. Competition is high, forcing marketers to experiment with everything from creative campaigns rich with lifestyle blogs to innovative video content in the build up to the event.

This event-driven marketing often involves sacrificing day-to-day activity temporarily; halting content priorities such as SEO optimisation and brand-building campaigns. It can be tempting to dive head-first into Black Friday marketing, but blindly following the buzz might not be a good idea.

The first consideration you should make with any seasonal marketing opportunity is:

    Who is buying?

    What are they buying?

Without this information, it’s difficult to judge whether your product or service is likely to reap the rewards of investing resources into a content marketing campaign. Even if, for example, your campaign copy is a masterpiece, meticulously designed to drive conversion, you won’t acquire traffic if your product/service offering isn’t on the radar of Black Friday shoppers.

But this is no usual year

Fewer Brits are planning to take part in Black Friday in 2020, compared to last year. In 2019, 42% of adults planned to spend whereas this year the number has dropped down to 39%. However as mentioned earlier, spend is forecasted to surpass last year’s figures. So, what’s happened there? The increase stems from a predicted increase in average spend per consumer, rising from £251 to £296.

Unfortunately, with the arrival of Covid-19 earlier in the year, we’ve seen industries experience contrasting fortunes. At risk of stating the obvious, we’ve seen brands in the home entertainment, homeware, fitness, and health industries prosper, amongst many more. If your product or service falls into one of these categories, then it’s highly likely you’ll benefit from a well thought-out, competitive campaign.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t run a campaign if your product doesn’t fit into one of these categories – which brings us onto our next consideration.

What about the high street?

55% of Brits planned to shop exclusively online during last year’s sale. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that figure has risen to a whopping 66%.

Despite further lockdowns and restrictions being introduced, shopping plans haven’t taken as big of a hit as you might have thought. 35% of consumers planned to also spend in-store last year, whereas that number has only fallen to 28%, signifying a reassuring level of consumer confidence. But with Saturday’s announcement of a month-long lockdown, an-store promotion is an option only worth considering if you plan to run a campaign extending beyond Black Friday. That is, of course, unless you fall into the essential retail pot.

How can I subtly board the hype-train?

Your campaign and offers should never feel forced or unnatural when you’re planning them. If they do, you can bet they’ll look it too. Take a bank pushing a wellbeing campaign during mental health week, for example; the link there might just be too tenuous to make.

One clever trick to bypass this problem is to base your content marketing campaign on an emotion or experience associated with your brand. Make this an opportunity for people to remember your brand. Pieminister did this perfectly back in 2016, teaming up with homeless charity, Shelter, to give away pies to shelters on Black Friday. Dubbed ‘Black Pie Day’, this returned several times in the following years.

This campaign executes this idea perfectly.

If you’re able to develop a campaign idea that’s directly relevant to the Black Friday promotion, then you’re better positioned to connect with your customers and have your promotional message heard.

How can I analyse whether a Black Friday promotion will generate returns for my business?

Your chances of seeing a surge in sales is likely to come down to the demand for what you sell. If you’ve never considered a Black Friday campaign, the likelihood is you’ve also never looked into the numbers to see what the opportunity could really be for you. Doing this research could give you the reassurance needed that your market is receptive (or not).


There are plenty of tools out there to help you gauge how desirable your product is likely to be. And many of the good ones are free to use. We’d recommend using tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush or Google Keyword Planner to help you build a great understanding of your market’s intent. Or if you want to get a feel for what your competitors are doing, you can look to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter hashtags to view trends relating to your focus products and review your competitors activity.

Black Friday search volumes generated by Ahrefs

So there you go. Just remember, running a seasonal campaign is about being reactive and competitive, so don’t be scared to try and fail, testing and learning could be the key to your success. If you decide to go in for a slice of the Black Friday cake, good luck and we’ll see you on the other side!

 

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today..

SEO Market Updates: October 2020

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google Release New Google Analytics

Google Analytics has received a large update with the introduction of Google Analytics 4. This update looks to combat major shifts in consumer behaviour and privacy-driven changes to long time industry standards, by providing new and intelligent insights with machine learning at its core.

These updates will take changes like restrictions on cookies and identifiers, which create gaps in data in to consideration. Key new features include the following:

Smarter insights to improve your marketing decisions and get better ROI

Google’s new machine learning models can now alert users to significant trends in their data, such as products seeing a raising demand because of new customer needs.

Utilising churn probability (churn = customers lost during time period / customers at beginning of period), Google’s machine learning models will also be able to help predict the future actions of customers and allow users to efficiently invest in retaining customers and create audiences to reach higher value customers.

This will also have deeper integration with Google Ads, creating more focused insights for paid channels.

Google’s new approach also looks to create clearer insights between the web and apps, such as being able to see conversions from YouTube engaged views that occur in-app and on the web in reports.

A more complete understanding of how customers interact with your business

Google Analytics looks to provide user centric reporting, rather than segmented reporting (e.g. performance by device or channel). Rather than segmenting performance for insights, users will now be able to have a more complete view of how customers interact with their business.

For example, you can see if customers first discover your business from an ad on the web, then later install your app and make purchases there.

With simplified and re-organised reporting, Google look to provide clear insights on customers across their entire lifecycle, from acquisition, to conversion, to retention. With this complete view, users will be able to see which channels are driving new customers and understand the actions these customers take.

How to use these new features

Google Analytics 4 insights will be available to new properties by default. For existing properties, Google recommend creating a new Google Analytics 4 property to run alongside existing properties in order to start collecting data, as historical data from existing properties cannot be exported from existing properties.

Microsoft Releases Free Analytics Software

Microsoft have released their new analytics software, Microsoft Clarity. This user behaviour centric tool looks to provide insight on exactly how users interact with your site, utilising features such as:

  • Session Playbacks
  • Heatmaps
  • User Experience Insights

This tool is free and GDPR compliant. Microsoft have also announced that the tool will be completely scalable and will work for the largest websites, while remaining free and has also been optimised to not slow down sites.

Session Playback

Session playbacks will allow users to view individual session recordings, allowing a view on how individual users interact with the site. This feature will allow users to see how customers interact with and navigate their site, this can help pinpoint any areas of frustration from a customer’s perspective, resulting in lost engagement.

Heatmaps

Heatmaps will provide a bulk view on where users have clicked, scrolled and moved around a site. This will allow users to view which parts of a page drive the most engagement, allowing them to streamline navigation and content.

This bulk view of the session playback feature will be useful to understand overall user behaviour.

User Experience Insights

The user experience focused insights Microsoft Clarity will provide, include:

  • Clicks that go nowhere
  • Rage clicks
  • Excessive scrolling

Just like the heatmap tool, these metrics will provide valuable insights on highlighting areas of frustration that customers have displayed when navigating the site, allowing users to tackle customer experience issues on their site that would otherwise be hidden.

Microsoft Clarity will also integrate with Google Analytics. This integration will put a link to Clarity’s session playbacks within your Google Analytics dashboard.

Google Remove “Request Indexing” From Google Search Console

After the indexing issues Google started to experience last month. Google have now disabled the “request indexing” feature of the URL inspection tool, within Google Search Console.

As stated in the above tweet, this feature is expected to return after a couple of week and standard Google indexing is not affected by the removal of this tool.

In regards to the indexing issues Google have been experiencing, they have provided an update that this issue is effectively resolved and any URLs that still experiencing issues should shortly be restored.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Google’s search algorithm updates and what these could mean for you

Google has announced new search algorithm updates in the past week, with key updates to its BERT algorithm, and improvements to spelling, indexing, subtopics and several other features now in place to build ‘a more helpful Google’.

The new updates are all geared around gaining an even better understanding of a user’s query and subsequently rank relevant results in return.

We’ve rounded up everything you need to know.

UPDATES TO BERT

The BERT algorithm has been updated to now apply to almost all queries, up from 10%. Google cites a deep investment into language research and, after last year introducing BERT language understanding systems, has revealed BERT is now used in ‘nearly every’ query in English. 

This means BERT will now understand natural language and question queries even better.

What to consider: It’s a big jump to go from 10% of queries to almost all queries! BERT is another algorithm that Google tells us we can’t optimise for, and there’s a lot of mystery around how it impacts results.

Fundamentally, this algorithm focuses on natural language and seeks to understand queries, suggesting that Google will become more receptive to content written in a conversational manner and be able to better answer questions. 

BERT also deals with query ambiguity, words with multiple meanings and homonyms – writing within the full context of a topic should be beneficial for both text and voice search.

IMPROVED SPELLING

An improved spelling algorithm is now in place. This uses a deeper neural net to decipher misspellings, something which Google believes will see greater improvement to spelling than all of their improvements from over the last five years. Good news for the 10% of search queries misspelled each and every day! What to consider: Google says this is a better update to their spelling algorithm than all other updates in the last 5 years, and that it will improve their understanding of the context of misspellings. This might help surface sites for more misspelt queries, particularly around brand misspellings.

INDEXING PASSAGES

We are set to see a new ability to index “passages” from pages to improve results for detailed queries. This will involve a much better understanding of the relevancy of specific passages and will provide more accurate results for queries where the relevant answer might be confined to one paragraph deep within content.

This has been introduced to tackle the specific searches that Google often found the hardest to get right. This is set to be rolled out next month and will impact 7% queries. Find out more on this in Search Engine Land’s recent post.

What to consider: The announcement of ‘passage indexing’ is already infamous within the SEO community due to the semantics around ‘indexing’. Google has had to quickly announce that passages of text aren’t being indexed independently of a wider page as implied, but that passage indexing is actually a ranking change. 

It does mean that passages of text from a page of content can be surfaced in search results when hyper-relevant to a query, even if the wider page context isn’t focused on that query or topic. It seeks to find needles in haystacks.

This could have an impact on CTRs of affected queries – if an obscure query is answered within the search result there is no reason to click through, but if the answer wouldn’t have otherwise surfaced it at least raises awareness of the brand.

It also means that content producers can write in depth across many topics within one piece of content – there is less concern about being hyper-focused on one topic in the knowledge that individual passages can be ranked.

A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF SUBTOPICS

We will begin to see a greater, more diverse range of content delivered when searching for broader topics. Google is applying neural nets to help understand subtopics around an interest. We should see this rolled out by the end of the year.

What to consider: This is a consumer focused update and it will be interesting to see its appearance in situ when rolled out. The focus is on suggestions around broader topics, so site owners should ensure that their content and categories incorporate relevant sub-categories to enhance the possibility of this content being surfaced.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

SEO Market Updates: September 2020

Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Googlebot to start crawling over HTTP/2

Google are bringing an update to Googlebot, set to be released in November. This update will allow Googlebot to crawl pages using HTTP/2.

For more information on this update, please see our recent dedicated blog post.

Google Release free shopping listings

Google have announced the release of free shopping listings for UK users. Free shopping listings were originally released to US users in April 2020, with plans to release this worldwide by mid-October.

In order to display products in these free Google shopping listings, users will need to opt in when signing up to Google Merchant Centre. For existing users, enable this option by navigation to Growth > Manage Programs > Surfaces Across Google.

Google experience canonicalization & indexing issues

Google confirmed they had been experiencing issues in September, in regards to canonicalization and mobile indexing.

As mentioned in Google’s tweet, both issues caused some pages to not be indexed. Regardless of the indexing issues, Google have confirmed that no action is required from site owners to resolve these issue. This is set to be fixed by Google.

Google will be providing updates on the progress of these issues being resolved in the above twitter thread.

Google’s new news showcase

Google have announced the release of a news showcase. This will be available soon on Google News and iOS, and will also be added to Google Search and Discover in the future.

This showcase will display news segments from Google approved publishers. Around 200 leading publications across Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the UK and Australia are currently signed partners. This showcase is currently available to users in Germany and Brazil, and will be rolled out worldwide at a later date.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

Googlebot to start crawling with HTTP/2

Google has announced an update to Googlebot, set to be released in November. This new update will now allow Googlebot to crawl selected sites over HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 is the successor of both the HTTP/1 and SPDY protocols. Due to the limitations of HTTP/1.1, SPDY was created by Google engineers in 2009 with the aims of reducing web page latency speeds and improving web security. HTTP/2 was based on Google’s SPDY protocol but was able to provide a large improvement on performance. After its release in 2015, HTTP/2 was embraced by all browsers, with Microsoft dropping any support for SPDY quickly after HTTP/2’s release and Google Chrome dropping SPDY support in 2016.

The benefits of this update are centred around making crawling more efficient, in terms of server resource usage. Google are now looking to start with crawling a smaller number of sites over HTTP/2 and expanding this out over time.

There is no discernible reason as to why a site would need to opt out of this update, however Google have noted that should a site wish to opt out, this can be done by instructing the server to respond with a 421 HTTP status code when Googlebot attempts to crawl your site over HTTP/2. Failing this, sites can also contact the Googlebot team (however, this solution is only temporary).

 

Instagram Reels: Dud or Diamond?

As the dust settles around the newly founded Instagram ‘Reels’, we discuss definitions, developments and the general discourse to see if it could be a worthy new addition to your own social strategy.

Instagram Reels: ‘Dud’ or Diamond?

Announced a little over a month ago, Instagram coined Reels as ‘a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram’. The in-app feature allows you to share videos with your followers and (depending on your privacy settings) the Instagram community, through the explore page. Once the video is shared, it can then be found on a separate Reels tab on your profile, and your main profile grid.

The explore tab, which is the current home of Reels, is where you will find the latest trends on Instagram made by anyone – not just those you follow. Explore hosts a variety of different content, including regular posts, reels, videos, and shopping. You may also notice ‘featured’ content which is selected by Instagram to help you to discover original content.

Later postulates that ‘While the Reels algorithm hasn’t been locked down yet, it feels similar to the TikTok For You page. It’s likely influenced by who you already follow, what content you interact with, and where you’re located’. To give Reels a greater sense of autonomy, Instagram are currently trialling a dedicated Reel button in the control panel for Android users in India.

Instagram Reels in action

Reels for Brands & Businesses

Reels is an in-app feature of Instagram, meaning their 1 billion active users automatically have access to the feature, unlike competitor TikTok which is an app requiring a download. This means that users are more likely to give it a try with it being less of a commitment than a download. Businesses will find this useful as, if they already have a following on Instagram, they won’t need to build another on a different platform.

What’s more, due to Reels being on the Explore page, users who don’t follow you will see your content. This is a great exposure opportunity to gain awareness and followers for your brand.

One of the main criticisms of Instagram is that the content tends to be structured and ‘fake’. Reels poses as an opportunity to allow brands to have fun with their creative expression and show personality. An example of a brand who are already successfully embracing Reels is Louis Vuitton. The Louis Vuitton channel is already averaging on 8 million views and has stirred a stylistic trend following their recent videos.

An issue brands may encounter, is that the only analytics available at present are view count, likes and comments. This is problematic in seeing the all-important social conversion point. Vox reported that as a user one of the biggest issues is ‘Almost all the content is from blue checks’ meaning its ‘the same résumé-approved content that makes Instagram boring in the first place’.

Whereas TikTok is crammed full of creators, thus far Reels’ creative space feels dominated by the brands and influencer. This makes the space feel commercialised, contrived, and inauthentic.

Reels vs. TikTok

The New York Times labelled Instagram Reels a ‘TikTok clone’ and a ‘dud’, but to finally address the elephant in the room, how does Reels really compare to TikTok?

Starting with the points of likeness, foundationally both allow users to create, edit and share videos. From here things begin to differ – firstly – TikTok is a standalone app, whereas Reels is a feature on the Instagram app.

Whilst TikTok has the illustrious algorithm-driven ‘for you’ page, Reels’ home is currently the explore page, which the New York Times describes as ‘a mishmash of photos, sponsored posts and long-form videos’. The ‘For You’ page is also an easy way to go viral, while with Reels, your exposure is generally limited to a minimal SoV of the explore page.

Reels also lacks a space to post ‘friends only’ content, it can either be posted for the world on the explore page or your entire follower list on private accounts.

Reels’ explore page

Then there’s the simplicity of TikTok, you can upload videos in bulk and the platform will create a slick compilation video in under 10 seconds. Reels is noticeably more difficult to navigate and the result doesn’t have the same smooth feel.

Another benefit of TikTok is the ability to download the videos (watermarked with the TikTok emblem) and then upload to different platforms. With Reels when you download videos, due to copyright issues, the music is stripped from the video.

Finally one of the most used features on TikTok is ‘duet’, this allows users to ‘reply to video content’ and thousands of these videos have gone viral. This is just one more feature that Reels doesn’t possess.

Is it the Reel deal?

Forbes has found that ‘Almost nine in ten TikTok users who have used Instagram Reels say that Facebook’s TikTok competitor is basically the same as TikTok’. However, due to their similarities, Forbes found that ‘61% said they’ll be spending more time in Instagram’ – and unsurprisingly since – Instagram usage is up. This shows that the similarities, despite being obvious, could be beneficial in attracting users to a recognisable format.

Lest we forget the rise of Instagram Stories, once known as the Snapchat clone, it now dominates the ‘story’ scene. This proves Instagram’s ability to take an idea, build on it, and break their audience into it.

Also, a small reminder that Reels is in its infancy, a mere month and a half into its life, Instagram has plenty of time to amend and adapt the app to make it as streamlined as TikTok. Take the trial of the Reels button in India, this would solve the explore page issues discussed previously.

Perhaps Reels won’t be the new TikTok. But that doesn’t change the fact that as a feature, it could add a lot to your brand. Reels presents itself as less of a risk than TikTok, more of a means to have fun and continue to be supported by your fan base.

Take this opportunity to engage a different mass audience – those who prefer quick content that’s easy to digest — and do it quickly, before the market becomes over-saturated.

 

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

SEO Market Updates: August 2020

Join Fusion’s technical SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Search Console Insights Report Now In Beta

Following months of testing, Google has officially announced the release of its Google Search Console Insights report.

Google describes the Insights report as “a new experience tailored for content creators and publishers”, designed to help increase understanding of how users discover and engage with site content.

The report provides a combination of data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console from the previous 28 days, roughly showing:

  • An overview of all Page Views
  • A breakdown of Page Views by channel
  • Page Views & Avg. Page Duration for recently published & top performing content
  • Top clicked keywords
  • Top referral links
  • Top social channels

At the time of writing Insights is in closed Beta, and is only accessible to users by invitation. However, if don’t think you’ve received an invitation you may still be able to access data for some sites – just head to this link link whilst logged in from your GSC account to see if you have access.

As with all Beta releases, it’s unclear when or whether the feature will receive a full rollout, although it’s likely that an open Beta will be released in the coming months.

New Dev Tools & Lighthouse Features Coming to Chrome 86

Google has provided an outline of the new Dev Tools and Lighthouse report features that will be available in Chrome 86, which is currently expected to be released on October 6th 2020.

The updated Dev Tools will contain a number of new debugging and auditing features, including:

  • New Media panel: Updated to allow users to more efficiently view and debug video content
  • Capture Node Screenshots: Available via a dropdown within the elements, allowing for nodes to be selected and captured
  • Emulate Missing Local Fonts: Makes the browser act as if fonts are missing, providing greater insight into how fonts are fetched

Chrome 86 is also set to be released with a new version of the Lighthouse report. Alongside a bug fixes, Lighthouse 6.2 is also set to contain the below new capabilities:

  • Avoid non-composited animations: Reports on animations that shift during load, reducing CLS
  • Avoid long main thread tasks: Provides info on the longest main thread tasks
  • Unsized image elements: Reporting on whether image elements have a set height and width

Google “Glitch” Causes Ranking Anomalies

Around the 10th of August many within the SEO community reported widespread and sudden ranking fluctuations, leading most to assume an algorithm update was in process.

This would have been an unwelcome and unexpected surprise, as in recent years Google has largely warned in advance of updates. Google have also specifically stated that they are unlikely to make any significant algorithm changes within 2020, whilst the industry deals with the fallout from COVID-19.

However, fluctuations were soon followed by reports of stabilization, and it soon became apparent that the changes were the result of what Google has referred to as a “glitch”.

 

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1293045032124059649

In typical fashion, the statement from Google on the exact causes of the glitch was fairly oblique, simply stating that the changes were a result of an “indexing issue”.

Server Side Tagging Now Available in GTM

Google Tag Manager and Tag Manager 360 have been updated with a new server side tagging feature.

 Server side tagging allows companies to host third party tags within a Google Cloud hosted server container, rather than directly on a website. This means that when a user visits a site with server side tagging in place, the tags will be loaded directly within the cloud rather than on a webpage.

Whilst primarily reported in PPC circles, the new feature should also open up benefits for those working in SEO. Third party tags are a common contributor to performance and site speed issues, and more often than not the solution to dealing with these issues isn’t entirely simple. However, if a client is using GTM to serve third party tags, the new feature provide offer SEO’s a relatively simple way to improve performance. 

 

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

 

Could the ios 14 update affect your mobile tracking?

In late June, during a developer conference, Apple announced a new major update to their mobile operating system for their iPhone and iPod devices. It’s expected to be available to the general public later this year, with the beta 4 version currently only available to public testers.

Outside of the main new features, Apple announced an increased focus on privacy, labelling it a “fundamental human right”, being “at the core of everything we do”, also promising more control over data and full transparency of how it’s used. 

This includes a recording indicator for the microphone and camera, approximate location use (instead of precise), as well as changes to the inbuilt web browser Safari, which will now limit cross-site tracking and browser fingerprinting.

Apple have also highlighted privacy features included in their native Maps service, which has became (in the form of Mapkit JS) the mapping service used by DuckDuckGo, a privacy oriented search engine. 

Apple is taking a much stronger stance on user privacy than many similar brands, which has grown uncommon for a global blue chip company.

IDFA BLOCKING MECHANISM

One of the features which has attracted the most attention is the introduction of app tracking controls and transparency, which will require explicit user permission before they can be tracked. This means that the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), a random device ID that Apple assigns to each device,  can now only be used when a user opts-in, and has do do so on an app-by-app basis.

Instead of the user having to change this in the settings (opting-out), this will now become a popup seeking permission from the user, allowing or denying advertiser access to the IDFA.

Advertisers (and publishers) fear that very few people will opt in (some estimate figures between 10 and 20%). This means that apps will not be able to exchange information by default.

APPLE’S ALTERNATIVE TO IDFA

Apple is presenting a privacy-safe alternative in the form of mobile attribution using the SKAdNetwork, explaining how it will operate:

“When a user taps an ad, advertisers display an App Store product screen with signed parameters that identify the ad campaign. If a user installs and opens an app, the device sends an install validation postback to the ad network.

The Apple-signed notification includes the campaign ID but doesn’t include user- or device-specific data. The postback may include a conversion value and the source app’s ID if Apple determines that providing the values meets Apple’s privacy threshold.”

This will allow ad publishers to discover how users have interacted with their adverts without revealing the device’s or user’s identity. From what we know, it looks like advertisers are going to have to adapt to target iOS device users and become less dependant on their data.

WILL THIS AFFECT MY WEBSITE’S MOBILE TRAFFIC?

In short, no.

Based on the available information, IDFA restrictions will block ad networks, instead operating on a per application basis. It is unlikely that this will affect first-party tracking services which set cookies, such as web analytics (e.g. Google Analytics). Good news!

 

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

TikTok: Myth-busting the hottest app of the year

Are you thinking about including TikTok in your marketing strategy? Or just wanting some knowledge on the topic? In this article we’re going to myth-bust the cultural phenomena that is TikTok and explore how you can look to embed it into your own strategy.

It seems a day doesn’t pass without TikTok appearing in the headlines. Whether you’re a fan or a foe of this scandalously popular platform, you can’t dispute the media storm has placed it at the epicentre of current affairs. TikTok was recently dubbed as having created a ‘completely new subculture’ and the proof is in the pudding with over 2 billion downloads worldwide. 315m of these downloads have happened since lockdown began, the most downloads any app has ever gotten in a single quarter.

800 million of these are now active monthly users, ranking it 7th in the world above the likes of Snapchat, Linkedin and Twitter. But with Donald Trump pushing for a US ban on the app, in addition to subsequent security concerns globally and the introduction of competitor apps (such as Instagram’s Reels launching at the start of August) is it worth you getting involved with the app?

Before you can make that decision, let’s delve into the truth behind seven of the biggest myths surrounding TikTok.

1. TikTok is just for Gen Z

Despite the TikTok’s world domination, many brands are put off from working with them as they believe its audience to be too young. It is undeniably true that the app has a young audience, in fact, it’s estimated that 66% of users are below 30. But this breaks down into a mix of both Gen Zers and Millennials, and the millennial sector of this (along with the older groups) is rising continuously.

As the app slips further into the mainstream we are seeing people of all age groups become involved with it, so don’t be put off by the average age.

2. My brand doesn’t suit TikTok

The issue here lies not with the age of the audience, but the perception of brands and marketers that a younger audience isn’t as valuable. This puts many brands off working with TikTok as they feel it doesn’t ‘suit’ their brand.

However, it’s important to understand the younger audience is the future of the consumer market, and the more brands place themselves into this sphere, the more they will reap the benefits in the long term.

Regardless of their sector, we are now seeing more brands stepping out and working with Tiktok, such as Manscaped, Easy Auto Savings, Chipotle, Turbotax and Experian.

3. You can’t commercialise TikTok

It’s true that, originally, TikTok was concerned with user experience as opposed to potential monetisation. But in June 2020 TikTok introduced TikTok for Business to help brands find their feet on the platform. Spearheaded with the tagline ‘don’t make ads, make TikToks’, the platform invites brands to get creative with their advertising.

They have since introduced several forms of ads, such as in-feed video ads, brand takeovers, hashtag challenges, branded AR content and Custom influencer packages. Before this, TikTok’s main source of monetisation came in the form of ‘coins’, where users can ‘tip’ their favourite creators.

It’s estimated around $456 million  (approx. £347 million) has been spent on TikTok coins since their introduction, and this is how TikTok was previously making their revenue. Following the introduction of ads in 2019, it’s estimated that TikTok’s monthly earnings went from $3.5 million to $14.7 million directly disproving the monetisation concerns around the app.

Charli D’Amelio is the most followed account on TikTok, with over 78million followers and 5.7billion likes

4. Engagement rates are higher across other social media platforms

Previously Instagram has the highest engagement rate however, since TikTok found fame, times have changed. According to a sample of 1000 influencers studied by Influencer Marketing Hub, TikTok’s engagement rates were notably higher than Instagram and Twitter. This comes as no surprise as TikTok’s primary function is for engagement.

TikTok itself postulates that the platform ‘enables everyone to be a creator, and encourages users to share their passion and creative expression through their videos’. The engagement levels prove that encouraging engagement, participation and creativity across the app is working successfully.

5. TikTok is best for targeting the Asian market

TikTok’s roots are deeply embedded in Asia, and this certainly was the first market it found its success. However, since then, TikTok has spread across the world, now active in 155 countries and 75 languages.

According to Route Note, the country with the most users is India, followed by the US. Also among the top 10 are Germany and France, proving that TikTok is rife across all continents, not just Asia.  

6. TikTok’s algorithm is a secret

That was true, up until recently. A few months ago TikTok put rumours to bed by finally revealing the truth behind their algorithm. The factors that affect your feed are; user interactions (content you like/ share, creators you follow, comments posted and content created), video information (i.e. captions, sounds and hashtags) and device and account settings (e.g. language, country and device).

These factors are then devised into indicators of interest. An example of a strong indicator is completion rates of video, whereas a weaker one would be country of origin. This means that feeds are unique, based heavily on interest and activity.  

TikTok has expressed concerns about optimising for personalisation and relevance due to the potential to create ‘filter bubbles’. This is when a user continually sees the type of content they are most likely to engage with. Tiktok has said they making moves to rectify, ensuring they are diversifying feeds to keep their audience interested.

7. You need thousands of followers to go viral

On networks like Instagram, generally, to go viral you need to have a lot of followers. On TikTok, they have moved away from this stating ‘neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system’. This means you can have just a few followers and still go viral, making the process far more authentic.

 

SO, IS TIKTOK RIGHT FOR YOUR STRATEGY?

Heading back to our original question, and with Donald Trump now looking to have TikTok either banned or sold by mid-September, is it worth getting involved?

The details of this answer depend on your brand, location and budget but, on the whole, if you have the capacity test and see what TikTok can do for you. As TikTok continually features in the mainstream media, it will catch the interest of a wider audience which could result in broader popularity. Just like all trends, there will be a peak and a trough. But as we’re now at a point where we’re seeing continuous growth, why not get creative and get involved while you have the chance?

 

Check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with us today.

Paid Search Updates: July 2020

Google release Google Ads Editor v1.4

Google have now introduced Google Ads Editor v1.4. This has brought two key benefits, with the new update now supporting Recommendations and Local Campaigns.

For your local campaigns, you can now easily search and replace text, move items and undo or redo changes to your local campaigns, in bulk. 

Recommendations provide customised suggestions to help improve your campaign’s performance. To make it easier for you to implement these suggestions at scale, you can now review and apply recommendations across accounts in Google Ads Editor.

  image taken from Google support

 

Recommendations in Editor are sorted by type, making it easy for you to understand where (and how many) recommendations can be applied in your account. For example, before applying a recommendation you can see how many accounts and campaigns could benefit from its implementation.

New look and feel for responsive search ads 

 

We now have an improved  look and feel of responsive search ads, with new and updated creative layouts, automatically generated video and more engaging ads to drive online sales. Three new responsive display ad layouts have been rolled out, each using automated image enhancements, including smart image cropping and text overlays. These new layouts have been designed to help you improve performance and deliver even more engaging ads.

 

According to Google, over 60 per cent of shoppers say that online videos have given them ideas or inspiration for their purchase, and adding video to your responsive display ads can result in five per cent more conversions at a similar CPA. To make things simpler and faster, Google can automatically create video ads for you by using your existing image and text assets.


We’ve also seen an improved look and feel of dynamic display ads, which now includes a single-image layout to highlight individual products. These new formats will now display your company name alongside your logo to help convey your brand’s offerings clearly. If selected, the optional “promotion” text will become more visible in most ad sizes.

Google testing different font sizes in ad headlines

 

We’ve recently seen Google test different font sizes in the ads for headlines, with Headline 1 now in a much larger font that normal. It also sits on a different line to the other headline(s) rather than sitting close together and flowing onto the next line. It appears only some users are seeing this at the moment.

Left is how they look normally, with the new style on the right:

   

Improvements made to Smart Shopping

 

We now have a ‘New Customer Acquisition’ goal in Smart Shopping campaign settings. Google have also added more visual features so the format in which your products are displayed will also respond to your customers’ needs.

For example, a customer may see a video Display ad from your Smart Shopping campaign to help showcase relevant products to them in that moment. They may also see a more immersive, browsable experience with a carousel of your most relevant products. 

 

 

Check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with us today.

SEO Industry Updates: July 2020

Join Fusion’s technical SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Neeva clarifies their privacy policy

Last month we reported that a former Google’s advertising Executive was set to launch a new search engine with a focus on privacy, while remaining ad-free.

It’s privacy policy was examined by Ars Technica, leading to it being changed to fall in line with the company’s mission statements, whilst also providing more clarification on the 90-day data retention policy which now features some exceptions.

We have also received a message from Neeva suggesting that people located in the US will get access to the new search engine first. We’re excited to see a new player enter the market!

Schema 9 is released

Towards the end of June, the Google team working on Schema.org (but also used by Microsoft, Pinterest, and Yandex) announced that a new version has been released.

Amongst other features, it now has added ability to organise products into groups that vary by size (e.g. 2 metre HDMI cable, 3 metre HDMI cable). A distinction has also be made to clarify the difference between product collections, which have been defined as ‘products that are commonly bundled together’ (e.g. an offer).

Other changes include the addition of a LearningResource as CreativeWorks, which would be appropriate for materials with an ‘orientation towards learning, education, skill acquisition, and other educational purposes’.

Google offers paid My Business profiles upgrade

Some users in the US have received promotional emails offering an option to upgrade their profiles for a Google Guaranteed badge in the local results.

Google Guaranteed badge displayed next to local search results

This upgrade will cost £40 p/m and now offers a consumer protection programme which has now only been offered to Google Ads customers. It’s presumed that the fee may cover any claims that are typically covered by advertising feeds via Google Ads.

The change marks a shift in how businesses can de facto pay for improved visibility in local results. On the other hand, the use of the service might improve conversions giving potential consumers confidence and peace of mind in a service backed up by Google. 

Chrome support for native iframe lazy-loading

Google previously announced that Chrome will support native lazy-loading for images, meaning the time has now come for iframes.

This will defer the loading of iframes which have not yet come into the viewport (are offscreen), until the visitor scrolls near them. This means that social media embedded content, YouTube videos, maps, and other resources will now only load when they might become useful for the visitor.



We’re expecting this to save the amount of data transferred, speed up the loading of other elements of a page, and reduce memory usage.

This can be enabled by using the loading attribute with a lazy value, which will signal to the browser to defer the loading of off-screen content.

Most modern desktop browsers support (or can support) this feature when enabled. On mobile, this is currently only available on the Android browser, Chrome for Android and Samsung Internet.

Applebot documentation updated with ranking factors

Applebot, Apple’s web crawlers used primarily for Siri and Spotlight recommendations, has seen an update to it’s documentation.

Interesting points include:

  • When not referred to specifically, Applebot will now follow Googlebot’s robots.txt restrictions
  • Site content might be rendered, which includes JS and CSS
  • Meta robots directives will be followed

Apple has also shared some general factors which might be used, including:

  • user engagement with search results
  • volume and quality of links
  • page design characteristics and content relevancy
  • approximate user location

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

SEO Industry Updates: June 2020

Join Fusion’s technical SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Former Google exec to launch private and ad-free search engine

Sridhar Ramaswamy, who was responsible for a significant chunk of Google’s advertising arm, announced that a new competitor will soon be entering the organic search market. Ramaswamy stated in a recent interview that he “came to realise that an ad-supported model had limitations”, subsequently announcing the launch of Neeva.

As an move to shake up the market, the prominence of advertising towards the top of search results (especially on smartphones) has been highlighted, questioning the incentive to provide the most relevant search results. Questionable advertising placement on YouTube videos has also been brought up.

The search engine would not only index the content on the web, but would also combine it with files hosted in other places such as email servers and possibly locally. It has also been suggested that web search will be powered by Bing, maps by Apple, and stock and weather information from other established providers. Linking other accounts, such as Google, Office or Dropbox will allow for personal data access, and personalisation over time.

An early preview of how personalised results might appear on Neeva

What would also differentiate the competitor would be a ‘freemium’ model, as well as lack of advertising and data mining.

A pricing model hasn’t been officially announced yet, however access will be free for early adopters. Mr. Ramaswamy hinted, that a monthly subscription might be less than £8. Only time will tell if users will be willing to take up the offer.

Support for the WebP image format increases

Image format Webp, launched in 2010 and currently developed and promoted by Google, has been included in the developer notes for Apple’s Safari browser. This means that, in addition to Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, the addition of Safari will allow for more widespread adoption across the web.

Developer release notes for the Safari 14 Beta web browser

Google has also extended it’s support for the format, allowing for the use of WebP images as a logo in Structured Data.

Although the format has been criticised by some experts for performing below expectation, it could mean a small step towards enabling webmasters to serve more data-efficient images to mainstream audiences.

Google working on integrating Analytics and Search Console data

In the past month it has been reported that Google was sending out messages relating to the deeper integration of Search Console and Analytics data.

A screenshot of the announcement shared by a website owner

It’s also been rumoured that a Beta version is live on some accounts, however no screenshots are available at the time of writing this. Insiders have suggested that, amongst other features, Google will prominently highlight the performance of new and most popular content, traffic acquisition paths, as well as top referring and newly acquired links.

Google’s Webspam Report Highlights

Google has published a summary of their webspam report, which refers to efforts they carry out in order to prevent spam from appearing in search results. It’s estimated that a user has less than a 1% chance of encountering webspam when selecting a result from the search pages.

In comparison to 2018, user-generated spam has been reduced by 80%, and Google is reporting that this type of spam “did not grow in 2019”. While link spam continues to be popular, Google states that 90% of it can be filtered out, arguing specifically that this makes paid links less effective. Unfortunately, these types of practices are still more common in the industry than we’d all like to see.

Hacked website spam has also been mentioned. It seems like the rate of growth of this type of abuse is decreasing, as Google continues working on solutions to notify webmasters and help them recover.

Google also shares some of their learnings when it comes to spam trends, pointing out auto-generated and scraped content is on the increase. We’ve also come across this when carrying out link audits, mostly in the form of image scraping.

The search engine mentions way they have helped webmasters by introducing Site Kit for WordPress, as well as other features. Wide adoption of the two new link attributes has been reported (“adopted around the world”), but sadly with no data to back it up.

New WordPress update focuses on Security and Maintenance

As mentioned above, hacked sites continue to be a way in which bad actors might gain links to their sites. Finding attack vectors in WordPress, which now powers around 35% of the web (including this site), can often be a lucrative way of gaining such an advantage, which means that it’s critical to update CMS platforms, especially when updates focused on security are released.

In 5.4.2., WordPress fixed issues relating primarily to cross-site scripting, protection against rogue plugins, and accessing password-protected content.

You can download WordPress 5.4.2 by visiting your Dashboard, going to ‘Updates‘ and clicking ‘Update Now‘. If you have a site that supports automatic background updates, they’ve already started the update process for you.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.

 

 

SEO Market Updates: May 2020

Join Fusion’s SEO technical team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google rolls out May 2020 Core Algorithm Update

Google confirmed via a Twitter post that an update of the core algorithm has been implemented and was rolled out from May 4th.

Google confirms the latest update on Twitter

It has also been announced that it will take from one to two weeks to affect search results, which means that by the time you are reading this post it should be fully rolled out.

This is the second update to the core algorythm announced just this year, which tells us Google is not planning to pause updates during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

No specific guidance relating to the update has been issued, in order to improve sites which might have been adversely affected. Google have pointed webmasters to their Content and Quality Questions list, which they suggest you should use when creating site content.

Core Web Vitals to become a ranking signal

Google announced that, towards the end of May, a range of new metrics will become signals taken into account when rankings sites in the search results.

The three new metrics which combined are the new Core Web Virals

These metrics are to become parts of a larger group of Page Experience signals, which will include Core Web Viral, as well as:

  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Safe browsing
  • Client-server connection security
  • Compliance with interstitial guidelines

We recently published a more detailed blog post around this, specifically focused on Core Web Virals.

WordPress to include better XML Sitemap geration and submission

WordPress, which now powers around 35% of the web (including this site), is likely to include native sitemap support in version 5.5.

The update comes as an engineer working for WordPress and Google commented on the progress of the development of a core plugin.

The announcement of the possible integration into the WordPress core

On the other hand, the proposal only focuses on the XML Sitemap minimum requirements which would cover most WordPress content types, and are not planned to include extended features such as:

  • Image, Video, and News sitemaps
  • UI-controls which would allow for post exclusion from the sitemap
  • Sitemap caching mechanisms

Google My Business listings can link to Gift Cards and Donation pages

The local business listings offered by Google can now be, in many cases, enhanced by the addition of new features, which now allows people to offer support in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. These links became available in the search results towards the end of May.

The new feature as available on mobile devices

It has been announced that a “subset of businesses” in English-speaking countries will be eligible for these new features, possibly in an attempt to roll this out gradually and prevent congestion. These businesses must have been verified prior to March 1st, 2020 and also have a physical storefront.

Third party gift card offerings are also to be made available via a number partners including Square, Toast, Clover, and Vagaro; and donation pages can be hosted by PayPal or GoFundMe.

Google has also shared some tips on how to take advantage of these features in the best way, including crafting a personal message, which is brief, possitive, and specific.

Google Podcast Manager launches to aid podcasters a better way to understand metrics

Google has a long and somewhat complicated history with podcasting. Over 7 years ago, Google Listen was launched as an Android application that let you search, subscribe, download, and stream podcasts and web audio. It was about 3 years old before it was retired.

Similarly, Google Reader, a RSS/Atom feed aggregator, which could be used for podcast feed, was retired at a similar time.

The retired application and service was then later replaced by Google Podcasts in 2018.

Google Podcast widget on Desktop, among the search results

With the growth of the podcasting market and an appetite for this type of media consumption, Google has launched a tool that is useful for podcast publishers to help them gain insight into their audience and even grow it. This is most likely to be linked to metrics gathered via Google Podcasts, similarly to YouTube Insights.

Some of the presented features included audience retention metrics and device breakdown.

Check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with us today.

 

Google Announces New Page Experience Signal

On Thursday Google announced the addition of a set of new user experience metrics to its growing list of ranking factors.

The additions – which Google is referring to as “Page Experience” metrics – will be designed to evaluate how users perceive browsing, loading and interacting with specific webpages, and incorporate criteria measuring:

  • Page load times
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Incorporation of HTTPS
  • The presence of intrusive ads or interstitials
  • Intrusive moving of page content or page layout

Webmasters should already be familiar with many of these factors, with recent years seeing Google driving home the importance of mobile friendliness, page speed, HTTPS adherence and avoidance of intrusive interstitials.

However, the new Page Experience signal also includes areas from the new “Core Web Vitals” report, recently incorporated into Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Search Console tools.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a trio of metrics designed to evaluate a user’s experience of loading, interaction, and page stability when visiting a web page:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures the perceived loading performance of a page, or the time passed before main page content is visible to users. An LCP time of 2.5 seconds viewed as good, with higher in need of improvement.
  • First Input Delay (FID): Measuring interactivity / load responsiveness, or the time it takes for a user to be able to usefully interact with content on the page. An FID of less than 100ms is optimal, with higher scores in need of improvement.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measuring visual stability, or whether the layout of a page moves or changes while a user is trying to interact. Pages should aim for a CLS of less than 0.1 in order to provide a good user experience.

Largest Contentful Paint and First Input Delay will already be recognisable to most webmasters, with Google’s PageSpeed and Lighthouse tools already providing information on these metrics.

However, Cumulative Layout Shift appears to be new, with Google’s John Mueller stating that the CLS metric has been created to gage levels of user “annoyance”. CLS looks at the familiar experience of content shifting as a page loads, which Google illustrate with the below GIF:

What does this change?

Whilst most of the individual metrics within Page Experience are pre-existing ranking factors, the new announcement places them together as one part of an overarching signal:

Google state that they are aiming to provide a more “holistic picture of the quality of a user’s experience on a web page”, by grouping previously separate factors together.

Each factor will be weighted uniquely, although as Google have declined to comment on how this weight will be distributed, it will likely be up to webmasters to determine the importance of each.

The new signal is also set to bring changes to how mobile top stories are determined, with the adoption of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) no longer a prerequisite for inclusion within this section.

In future, top stories will be based on an evaluation of Page Experience factors, with non-AMP pages able to appear alongside AMP pages.

When will Page Experience roll out?

Google state that changes around Page Experience “will not happen before next year”, and promise to give at least 6 months’ notice before any roll out takes place.

This gives webmasters plenty of time to get ready for the changes, with preparation hopefully made easier through the early incorporation of P.E into tools like Google Search Console, Lighthouse, and PageSpeed insights.

Check out our recent blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for you, get in touch with us today.

SEO Market Updates: April 2020

Join Fusion’s SEO team as they round up last month’s major industry updates.

Google Revert Chrome 80 Cookie Updates

In light of COVID-19, Google have temporarily rolled back the use of SameSite cookie labeling. SameSite cookie labeling was introduced as part of the Chrome 80 release, which took place at the start of February, for more information on this, please see our SEO market updates for January 2020 blog post.

Google will provide further updates on the implementation on SameSite cookie labeling via a dedicated Chromium updates page.

Google Warns Users When Search Results Are Poor

Google have released an update for Google Search and will now display a warning for users when they believe that the results are not to their standards.

Although Google consistently look to improve search results, with the improved language understanding of its BERT algorithm, or the daily updates on improving search rankings, Google have recognized that there are still occasions they don’t have the available information for some searches.

Previously, Google would either display low quality search results, with no warning, or display no search results.

For searches that would previously display low quality search results, Google will now display a warning to users that it has not been able to find any great matches for the user’s search query.

The warning will also direct users to Google’s search tips page, which provides information on how to fully utilize the search functionality of Google.

Google Now Track Fewer Pages Within Google Search Console

Google have announced that they are currently tracking fewer pages within Google Search Console in order to improve the performance of the reporting. This will have an effect on the following reports:

  • AMP
  • Mobile Usability
  • Page Speed
  • Rich Results

Due to the changes made, Google have informed that users should expect to see a decrease in the number of items and pages tracked in these reports. 

AMP’s New Protocol

AMP have released a new secure protocol in order to resolve the issues of users having to wait for server-side paywall process, mainly for users logging in or paying to view content.

The new protocol will move this process away from server-side to client-side. Moving premium content to this protocol will significantly reduce loading time associated with waiting to be verified, whilst providing the same amount of encryption.

Check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with us today.

Google PPC Updates: April 2020

THE RETURN OF FROOGLE?

For the first time since 2012, Google Shopping will allow you to list for free. This was rolled in the US on April 27th and will continue to roll out globally over the coming months.

As of last week in the US, the Google Shopping tab results consists primarily of free listings. However, Google still plans to charge companies for top placement as promoted listings. These will look similar to the Shopping listings on the main Google SERP; where the listings will remain paid for.   

Google hopes that this will give a little relief to smaller businesses and the retail sector in general as many brick and mortar retailers are looking to move their sales online.

According to a report on The Verge, Google has been working on these changes for some time, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has accelerated these plans.

Existing users of Merchant Center and Shopping ads will already be eligible to show products in the unpaid listings. To opt in, select “Growth” and then “Manage programs” in the left navigation menu and select the “surfaces across Google” program card.

New users of Merchant Center will be able to opt into surfaces across Google during the Merchant Center sign up process and start creating a product feed.

Call Ads now include a ‘Visit Website’ option

Call Ads, previously known as Call-Only Ads, will now include an option to add a ‘Visit Website’ link in a bid to give customers more ways to connect with your business.

Customers will have the option to either visit your website directly via the link or call by clicking on the headline

Google hopes that this will help businesses that rely on calls for new sales by preventing accidental calls and assisting more qualified leads.

To add this option to new or existing call ads, simply add a Final URL.

Requesting Verification

Google are going to be requesting advertisers to verify their identity in order to include further information with the ads (name and location):

Google hope that this change will increase trust in ads by providing users with more information on who is advertising to them.


It is expected that this change will take a few years to cover all global territories. This is rolling out in the US first and continue to expand globally.

Check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with us today.

An SEO Guide to SSL Certificates

What is an SSL certificate?

In short, an SSL certificate is a digital authentication certificate which provides a site with HTTPS encryption. This certificate is then used to verify the legitimacy of a website and will allow that website to display to its users that it is trustworthy, as well as providing those same users with HTTPS-level encryption, further protecting non-sensitive information, names, passwords and banking details.

The benefits of HTTPS level encryption include:

  • Providing security for users from man-in-the-middle attacks and protecting the user’s data, in line with GDPR
  • Increase in organic rankings, based on additional trust signals
  • Displaying a padlock next to the site’s URL as a visual clue to users informing them that encryption is active on the site

How does an SSL certificate benefit SEO?

With search engines pushing towards a more secure web, websites with HTTPS level encryption (as opposed to HTTP) can see positive effects when it comes to rankings.

Many browsers are also displaying warnings to users when they visit a site without HTTPS encryption, such as Apple’s Safari and Google Chrome displaying these warnings:

Sites will also receive warnings if any resources used on the site are not HTTPS encrypted, this is called mixed content warning. A few months ago we released a post detailing how Google Chrome has cracked down on mixed content, along with how this should be treated. Resources that have been targeted by Google Chrome include:

  • JavaScript and CSS
  • iFrames
  • Audio, video, and image files

Ensuring all these resources are served using HTTPS encryption will safeguard the site from being negatively impacted by “insecure site” warnings.

If an SSL certificate fails or is invalid, browsers such as Google Chrome will display a warning that the user’s connection is not private. This warning is much more severe than the “mixed content” warning and will need to be resolved as soon as possible.

How to get an SSL certificate?

For most sites, SSL certificates are provided as part of a web hosting subscription, such as SiteGround, BlueHost and Host Gator. Although these SSL certificates will usually be low-level, domain validated SSL certificates, suitable for sites that don’t receive a high amount of traffic and require minimal encryption.

All types of SSL certificates can be purchases from dedicated service providers, such as Comodo SSL Store or Digicert or domain registrars, such as NameCheap and GoDaddy.

There are many types of SSL certificates that will be suitable in different scenarios and can be split into 3 main types:

Domain Validated Certificates (DV)

Perfect for SMEs and offers minimal encryption, these are also the cheapest certificates that don’t require verification of the site owner’s information. Domain validated certificates provide just enough encryption for browsers to display the HTTPS padlock within the address bar.

Organisation Validated Certificates (OV)

A tier up from domain validated certificates, organisation validated certificates provide an extra level of trustworthiness and involves a manual investigation to take place on the information of the organisation applying for the SSL certificate. This certificate is ideal for sites that use customer login information (excluding payment specific information).

Extended Certificates (EV)

These offer the highest level of encryption and also require the highest level of validation. Extended certificates are recommended for sites that require sensitive customer information, such as payment card information for ecommerce sites.

Each of these certificates will provide sites with a padlock within the address bar, however will provide users with a varied amount of security for users.

How much is an SSL certificate?

Prices for SSL certificates can vary depending on level of encryption, level of verification and added benefits provided as part of the service. Splitting prices into the 3 types mentioned in the “How to get an SSL certificate?” segment, these can fit into the following price margins (pricing is approximate):

SSL Certificate TypePrice PointApproximate Cost
Domain Validated (DV)££5-£150/yr
Organisation Validated (OV)£££15-£1,000/yr
Extended Certificate (EV)££££50-£2,300/yr

What is the recommended validity length of an SSL certificate?

With a bill being passed on 1st March 2018 reducing the maximum validity length of DV and OV SSL certificates from 39 months to 825 days (around 27 months), EV SSL certificates are already limited to a maximum lifetime of 27 months, and 13 months for validity information. So, what is the recommended length of a SSL certificate’s validity across browsers? And is it better to have a longer or shorter validity time?

To answer the latter question, a shorter validity time on an SSL certificate can be seen to provide a higher amount of security as authenticity checks will need to be performed more often.

In regards to the recommended validity length of an SSL certificate, Apple have placed themselves at the front of this conversation by announcing that as of 1st September 2020, they will be setting a hard trust limit of 398 days, as opposed to the current acceptable duration of 825 days. This means that any certificates issued after this date for longer than 398 days will not be trusted by Apple products. Google have also been seen to show some interest in shortening their trust limit to around one year, although nothing has been passed as of yet.

With trust limits currently sat at 825 days across all browsers until 1st September 2020, any certificates purchased before this date can be valid for up the full 825 days and be trusted across all browsers. For certificates purchased after 1st September 2020, we would recommend ensuring that validity lengths are kept under 398 days, in order to keep within Apple’s (and all other browsers) trust limit.

If you found this useful then please check out our other blog posts, and if you’re interested in finding out more about how we can help with your organic rankings, get in touch with us today.

10 brands responding through social media to COVID-19

Stopped to check your screen time on your phone recently? With the world indoors in response to Covid-19 there has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been an increase in content consumption across digital media. Social media is no different to this, with all channels seeing usage levels skyrocketing since lockdown, LinkedIn alone reported seeing engagement growth rise by just shy of +3000% from January to March 2020. In response to this brands are acting accordingly – producing endless content to satisfy the insatiable hunger felt by a planet of people trapped indoors.

Newsfeeds are swamped with brands’ responses to the outbreak, company announcements and tips for the isolation period. So, the question remains, how do you get your brand heard amongst a sea of voices? To help you gauge what works, we have compiled a list of ten brands that have taken to social media to offer a response to COVID-19.

1. H&M

H&M, who have amassed a total of 8.3M followers internationally, have taken the notion of giving their voice to those that need it in a very literal sense by allowing ‘takeovers’ of their social media from global aid organisations. A simple idea but highly effective, offering an international platform to organisations such as the Red Cross to spread information and help across the globe.

2. Nando’s

How acceptable is humour in a time like this? As Harvard Business Review states ‘the nuances of brand voice are more delicate than ever’, so the real challenge here is understanding your audience and your brand perception. Nando’s is a great example of a brand that can play with humour in an effective, yet informative, way. Remember, it’s times like these that social media offers an escape through humour and light-heartedness, and we all need a laugh right now.

3. Volvo

Copy done properly. Volvo have put a minimalistic slant on this clever example of anti-advertising. As a multi-million-pound brand they have taken this opportunity to use their internationally renowned position to promote an important message in a very savvy manner.  

4. Ikea

On brand and on-point, here Ikea Israel have repurposed the oh-so-familiar flat-pack instruction manual formatting to create their most unforgettable manual yet.  

5. Guinness

A genius approach from Guinness, this social media post found its fame initially as a fake Guinness campaign that went viral. The artwork has now been authenticated by the Guinness brand who too were fans of this creative concept.

https://twitter.com/GuinnessIreland/status/1243487726420267009

6. Nike

Playing on the conscience of the consumer this clever post from Nike tackles both the ‘play (or stay) inside’ message along with the idea of community spirit that is so tangible in the current climate. This message translates health officials’ guidelines, whilst maintaining an undeniably Nike feel.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9_440DAyvZ/

7. Burger King

Taking to the outdoors to convey their stay indoors message, Burger King Belgium presents an industrial scale change of tack. This brand opted to change their iconic ‘Home of the Whopper’ slogan to a more contemporaneous ‘Stay Home’ message. Bold and brave, this eye-catching amendment offers a physical reminder of the government recommendations seen across the world.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B94gAyFIwQz/

8. Vogue

Powerful and poignant, Vogue Italia responded to the devastating crisis by leaving their front cover plain white for the first time in their history. Editor in chief Emanuele Farneti supplied the accompanying copy ‘Above all: white is not surrender, but a blank sheet waiting to be written, the title page of a news story that is about to begin.’ A strong sign of optimism, hope and respect in these times of darkness.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-r-8mxqzXk

9. Gym Shark

Low cost and high impact, Homeshark (otherwise known as Gymshark) simply changed their display name in an effective PR stunt that resulted in their most liked Instagram photo.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-cN0eygomL/

10. Go Outdoors

Following a similar path, Go Outdoors shared a short promotional video branded ‘Go Indoors’ displaying the beautiful British landscapes and urging the viewer to ‘stay at home’ to ‘protect the NHS’ and ‘save lives’.

So, there we have it, ten brands covering a breadth of audiences, nations and tones all responding in different ways to the COVID-19 crisis. What we can learn from this is the importance of expressing your brand’s voice in this time, as Ted Murphy founder of IZEA put it, ‘We see significant opportunity for brands to connect with an audience that is hungry for content, education, and online social experiences’. The answer is not should we speak, but how do we want our voice to be remembered.  Take the time to uplift your audience, praise you heroes and you will find your brand remembered on the right side of history.

Stay safe, stay home and save lives.

For more information on Social Media and SEO market updates take a look at our other blogs.