Facebook is using machine learning to launch a number of new personalization features for advertisers, as the company recently announced.

The goal is to make it easier for brands and advertisers to customize ads for their potential customers without having to create several distinct ads.

Dynamic Ad Formats and Ad Creative

When using Facebook’s Dynamic Ads, brands will be able to us the company’s machine learning model to predict a user’s ad format preference and deliver the best ad for their taste. This helps guarantee the best chance of catching users’ attention and driving clicks or conversions.

“The dynamic formats and ad creative solution aims to meet people where they are in the customer journey by delivering a personalized version of the ad to everyone who sees it,” Facebook said.

Multiple Optimized Text Options  In Single-Media Ads

The company has been testing a method for delivering responsive ads with multiple options for ad text, headlines, and descriptions for months, and is now officially launching the feature.

With this feature, advertisers can set a number of unique ad descriptions, headlines, or primary texts which are then selected by Facebook’s machine learning model based on users’ preferences.

Auto-Translated Ads

Lastly, the company announced that advertisers can select languages for their ad to be automatically translated into when using Ads Manager. By automatically,

As the company announced:

By using the “add languages” feature, advertisers can reach their international customers with messages in the local language quickly and efficiently. This helps advertisers save on resources to produce their own translations for key languages, while giving them controls to review and provide their own translations

Why It Matters

These features all work to speed up the process of creating ads for a wide range of users and audiences. Using signals directly from users, the company is able to deliver the best version of your ad for each user and create the best chance for your ads to convert every time they are shown.

Google has announced it plans to warn users of its Chrome browser about slow sites using a method called “badging”.

The idea is to provide a sign letting users know when a site typically loads slowly before they ever click a link to that site or while the site loads. Google sees this as a way to “reward” fast sites, saying:

“We think the web can do better and want to help users understand when a site may load slowly, while rewarding sites delivering fast experiences.”

For example, Google published one concept for what a slow speed badge could look like while a site is loading:

In this case, it is likely that the badge could increase abandonment rates for slow sites.

The company is also talking about using contextual menus that preview links and would include similar badges indicating a site is fast.

Another idea includes subtly changing the color of loading bars to indicate whether a site is fast:

As the company explained in its announcement:

“Our early explorations will look at a number of Chrome surfaces, including the loading screen (splash screen), loading progress bar and context-menu for links. The latter could enable insight into typical site speeds so you’re aware before you navigate.“

The web browser admits this idea is in the early stages, and may considerably change before they determine “which provides the most value to our users.”

Additionally, the company says they plan to expand the badges to include a number of metrics aside from speed:

“Our long-term goal is to define badging for high-quality experiences, which may include signals beyond just speed.”

Instagram will start testing the removal of “Like” counts in the US as early as this week, the company’s CEO announced recently.

 

The company has already been testing eliminating the “Like” counts from view for users in Canada, Brazil, Japan, and Australia. However, this is the first time they will be testing the concept for American users.

Notably, in these tests, Instagram has not totally removed the presence of Likes or the ability to view your total likes. Instead, the site has hidden the total number of Likes from other users viewing a person’s post on desktop or viewing a person’s profile. This makes it so that only account owners can view the number of Likes a post receives.

If Instagram proceeds to remove Likes entirely from public view, it could have a significant impact to how users interact with content and how online success is measured.

For instance, influencers and marketers will likely stop relying on Likes as a measure of their posts success. Instead, they might shift to other, deeper engagement metrics such as clicks, comments, or shares.

For now, Instagram is just testing removing likes. Given that they have slowly been expanding this feature around the world, however, it seems likely that the platform is seriously considering hiding your Likes from public view for good.

Google announced this week it is bringing ad extensions – similar to those that appear in search ads – to YouTube ads.

The new extensions expand the capabilities of traditional ads by offering unique call-to-actions or additional information for users.

Specifically, the new YouTube ad extensions allow advertisers to include directions to brick-and-mortar store locations, show lead generation forms, or use a number of CTAs that better fit your niche.

Currently, the extensions are only available for TrueView in-stream or non-skippable video ads, though the company says it will be expanding the feature to 6-second bumper ads later this year.

Google is already exploring ways to bring more ad extensions for YouTube’s TrueView ads, and will continue to do so in the future.

For example, the company is already beta testing sitelink ad extensions which would add a series of relevant links underneath a video ad.

In the announcement, Google says the new features are aimed at driving more clicks and conversions. In a beta test with 30 advertisers, extensions like sitelinks increased conversions by more than 20% and doubled the number of clicks.

Bing has announced a new series of link penalties aimed at reducing the presence of spammy or manipulative sites across its search engine. Specifically, the latest link penalties target private blog networks (PBNs), as well as those using subdomain leasing or manipulative cross-site linking.

What Bing is Targeting

For the most part, Bing is looking to penalize sites who are misleading search engines by essentially bundling site level signals to increase the presence of unrelated subdomains. Lately, a number of larger sites have been leasing subdomains while promising high rankings through site-level signals.

Subdomains are regularly used for legitimate purposes to help separate areas of a site. For example, many sites may use a separate subdomain for areas of their site related to customer support, which would appear as support.example.com. In this case, it makes sense for the support areas of the site to still benefit from the site-level SEO signals present.

On the other-hand, you have leasing services such as WordPress which are used to host a wide-range of unrelated topics, brands, and philosophies. In this case, it would not make sense for each subdomain to receive the SEO boost from WordPress’s main domain.

While WordPress follows the best practices of search engines and properly insulates each subdomain, some bad actors have been misrepresenting their site structure to artificially inflate the presence of unrelated subdomains.

As the company explained in its announcement:

“…we heard concerns from the SEO community around the growing practice of hosting third-party content or letting a third party operate a designated subdomain or subfolder, generally in exchange for compensation.

…the practice equates to buying ranking signals, which is not much different from buying links.”

Private Blog Networks

In particular, Bing called out PBNs for misrepresenting their site structure to artificially inflate content:

“While not all link networks misrepresent website boundaries, there are many cases where a single website is artificially split across many different domains, all cross-linking to one another, for the obvious purpose of rank boosting. This is particularly true of PBNs (private blog networks).”

Cross-Site Linking

Another issue that Bing is putting in its crosshairs are sites that are essentially a single site but are broken into multiple interlinking sites to create false link signals.

The graphic below illustrates how this site structure may appear:

Notably, this practice has already been against Bing’s policies and subject to penalties, but the search engine says it will begin applying additional penalties.

The Takeaway

All of the types of activity being targeted by Bing’s latest link penalties are systematic misrepresentations of websites to artificially boost their presence in search engines. It is hard to imagine many cases where legitimate sites could be affected inadvertently – though it is always possible.

Google says it will be rolling out a new ad extension aimed specifically at driving leads for your business in the coming weeks.

The ads look similar to typical search ads with a unique call-to-action. If a user clicks on that CTA, they are taken to a form which can be quickly pre-filled with contact information from their Google account or manually entered.

In the announcement, Google says lead form ad extensions can:

“Capture interest when potential customers are searching for your company, products, or services on Google. A fast, mobile-optimized experience makes form submission easy and eliminates the extra step of navigating to your mobile site lead form.”

Based on their own testing, Google says one advertiser improved their closing rate for sales leads by 20% by using lead form extensions.

While the feature is currently limited to beta testers, it will become available to all Google Ads advertisers in the next few weeks. However, the ad extensions will not be available for advertisers in a few select areas.

Lead form extensions will not be eligible for ads relating to:

  • Adult-oriented content
  • Alcohol-related content
  • Gambling-related content
  • Healthcare and medicines
  • Political content

For more information about lead ad extensions, check out Google’s new help center document here.

Google has announced that it will begin blocking web pages with mixed content in its Chrome web browser starting December of this year. Considering that Chrome is used by more than half of all internet users, this could be a major issue that you may not even know is lurking on your site.

What is Mixed Content?

Mixed content refers to when secure webpages using the HTTPS security protocol include scripts, styles, images, or other content that is delivered through the less secure HTTP protocol.

Even linking to sites still using HTTP can be seen as delivering mixed content on your site.

As Google explains:

“Mixed content degrades the security and user experience of your HTTPS site …Using these resources, an attacker can often take complete control over the page, not just the compromised resource.”

How Google Chrome Will Handle Mixed Content

When the next update for Chrome is released in December, Google will begin doing one of two things when it encounters sites with mixed content:

  1. If an HTTPS version of that resource exists, Google will automatically upgrade that content to the newer secure version.
  2. When no such resource exists, Google will soft block the page. This will include a warning about the security risks of mixed content and an option to access the page despite the risk.

The warning screen may not deter all of your potential customers, but it can disrupt a significant chunk of your traffic, leads, and sales.

Beginning in January of 2020, Google will start taking an even stronger stance by removing the unblock option and completely blocking webpages with insecure content.

How To Check Your Site for Mixed Content

Depending on the size of your site and what platform it is built on, there are a number of free and paid options for scanning your site for mixed content.

JitBit SSL Checker

JitBit SSL Checker is a free online tool that can review up to 400 pages of your site for mixed content.

WordPress Tools

If your site is built on WordPress, you can use the Really Simple SSL Plugin to migrate your content to SSL while also checking for and fixing mixed content.

For those who have already migrated their site to SSL, there is also the SSL Insecure Content Fixer WordPress Plugin. This can scan your site for insecure resources while providing suggestions for fixing these problems.

Tools for Large Sites

Websites with a large number of pages will likely have to use paid tools to check their site. One option is Screaming Frog, which can crawl massive sites and provide insights to a wide variety of issues. One drawback, however, is that while it can pinpoint potential problems on your site, it can not directly assist you in fixing them.

Are you an SEO beginner or a business owner trying to get a grasp on the basics of online optimization? Google is launching an animated YouTube video series called “Search for Beginners” aimed at you, with the goal of explaining the concepts and techniques behind beginner-level SEO.

Google described the series, saying it is:

“… a new fully animated series for anyone who is interested in learning the basics of creating an online presence and the right Google Search tools to help customers find their website.”

The “Search for Beginners” videos will be released every two weeks and cover a wide range of topics including:

  • How Google Search works
  • Frequently asked questions about search and discoverability
  • How to change what’s showing up in snippets in Google Search
  • How to correct inaccurate information about a business
  • How to set goals for a website
  • Tips for hiring a web developer
  • Tips for hiring an SEO specialist
  • Top 5 things to consider for a website

Best of all, the videos are designed to be able to stand on their own, meaning you can check in on particular topics of interest or watch every installment.

You can watch the first episode above or subscribe to the Google Webmasters channel to be notified as each new episode is released.

After nearly a year of testing, Facebook is finally launching search ad placements for all advertisers. That means anyone can now run ads within News Feed and Marketplace search results for any search with commercial intent – such as queries related to e-commerce or retail.

Currently, search ads only appear in results on mobile devices.

In the announcement, Facebook describes how the ads appear and function within search results, saying:

“The ads are designed to fit the experience on the given search results surface (Marketplace search or general search). They look similar to News Feed ads and have the same transparency and controls, including a “Sponsored” label so it’s clearly marked as paid placement.”

To have your ads appear in search results, advertisers can simply select “Automatic Placement” or the “Facebook Search Results” placement when creating or running News Feed ad campaigns.

Notably, advertisers will have little control over how the ads are targeted, aside from broad people-based targeting options. Instead, Facebook will target the ad based on a number of details including keywords, ad features, ad text, product category, and more.

Currently, the ads support three specific campaign objectives, including Product Sales, Conversions, and Traffic Objectives.

 

Pinterest has released its yearly Halloween report for 2019, detailing what costumes, content, and creepy festivities are getting the most attention leading up to the big day. 

Pinterest is one of the most popular social platforms for Halloween content ahead of the holiday, with tens of millions of Halloween-related boards available. 

For the report, the company analyzed searches across its platform throughout the past year. 

While it covers the obvious inclusions like costume and makeup ideas, the report also reveals a wide range of Halloween-themed ideas, including searches related to tattoos, wedding, games, and more. 

Top Costumes for Those Identifying as Female

  • Powerpuff Girls
  • Pirate
  • Circus
  • Stranger Things
  • Alien
  • Mermaid
  • Harley Quinn
  • 80’s costume
  • Poison Ivy
  • Alice in Wonderland

Top Costumes for Those Identifying as Male

  • Superhero
  • Viking
  • Spider-Man
  • Joker
  • Jedi
  • Animal
  • Circus
  • Pirate
  • Mad Max
  • Robot

Top Trending Singles Costumes

  • Alien (+659%)
  • Gwen Stacy from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (+446%)
  • Elton John (+442%)
  • Space Cowboy (+359%)
  • Freddie Mercury (+145%)

Top Trending Costumes for Pairs

  • Lilo and Stitch (+1205%)
  • Timon and Pumba (+154%)
  • Woody and Bo Peep (+836%)
  • Velma and Daphne (+274%)
  • Pulp Fiction Couples Costume (+384%)

Top Trending Group Costumes 

  • Stranger Things (+653%)
  • The Powerpuff Girls (+379%)
  • The Lion King (+283%)
  • Alassin family costumes (+176%)
  • Toy Story (+151%)

See more from the report, including the most popular searches for Halloween-themed makeup, party, and snack ideas here.