When it comes to ranking a website in Google, most people agree that high-quality content is essential. But, what exactly is quality content? 

For a number of reasons, most online marketers agreed that Google defined high-quality content as something very specific: text-based content which clearly and engagingly communicated valuable information to readers.

Recently, though, Google’s John Mueller shot down that assumption during a video chat. 

While he still emphasizes that great content should inform or entertain viewers, Mueller explained that the search engine actually has a much broader view of “content quality” than most thought.

What Google Means When They Say “Quality Content”

In response to a question about whether SEO content creators should prioritize technical improvements to content or expand the scope of content, Mueller took a moment to talk about what content quality means to Google.

“When it comes to the quality of the content, we don’t mean like just the text of your articles. It’s really the quality of your overall website, and that includes everything from the layout to the design.

This is especially notable, as Mueller specifically highlights two factors that many continue to ignore – images and page speed. 

“How you have things presented on your pages? How you integrate images? How you work with speed? All of those factors, they kind of come into play there.”

Ultimately, Mueller’s response emphasizes taking a much more holistic view of your content and focusing on providing an all-around great experience for users on your website. 

There is an unspoken aspect to what Mueller says which should be mentioned. Mueller subtly shows that Google still prefers text-based content rather than videos or audio-only formats. While the company wants to integrate even more types of content, the simple fact is that the search engine still struggles to parse these formats without additional information.

Still, Mueller’s statement broadens the concept of “quality content” from what is often understood. 

“So it’s not the case that we would look at just purely the text of the article and ignore everything else around it and say, oh this is high-quality text. We really want to look at the website overall.”

Instagram Insights is providing businesses on its platform with a wealth of new demographic data about who is engaging with their content – as well as who isn’t engaging.

Before, the platform only gave businesses Insights about the users who were specifically following your page. 

With the latest update to Instagram Insights, this is now expanded to all the users that see your content, even if they don’t follow your page or directly engage with your posts.

Below, we’ll dig into exactly what demographic information is now at your fingertips on Instagram Insights.

New Demographic Insights on Instagram

Your Engaged Audience

If you want to find out information about the users who are engaging the most with your content, you’ll want to look in the new Accounts Engaged section. 

Here, you’ll find a range of information including:

  • Where your most engaged audience lives
  • What gender are they?
  • How old are your most engaged audience?

Additionally, you can filter the information based on followers or non-followers and see the total number of accounts that have interacted with your posts within a set time range.

Who You’ve Reached

Of course, the number of people engaging with your content or following your page is just a fraction of the total number of users seeing your content. 

The new Accounts Reached section of Instagram Insights contains details about everyone who has seen your posts, whether they liked, commented, or kept scrolling. 

In this section, you’ll find the total number of accounts you have reached, as well as demographic details similar to those found in the Accounts Engaged section.

Where To Find Instagram Insights

If you’ve never checked out your Instagram Insights before, it is located in the main menu of the Instagram App when logged into a business account. 

From there, you can browse all these details and more – like when your followers are most online.

For more about the new demographic details available in Instagram Insights, check out the announcement here.

Google has released an unofficial new tool to help save advertisers from being suspended for violating its new Three Strikes policy for policy violations. 

The tool, which comes in the form of a short python script, helps identify and remove ads that violate the terms and conditions for advertising.

How The Three Strikes Policy Works

As announced in July 2021, Google is now using a “Three Strikes” policy to suspend or ban repeat violators.

After the first violation of any type, the advertiser is given a warning. After that, they are allowed three strikes for each kind of violation.

If an advertiser account receives all three strikes, they are then suspended unless they win an appeal through the company.

As the announcement described the system:

“To help ensure a safe and positive experience for users, Google requires advertisers to comply with Google Ads policies.

“As a part of the Google Ads enforcement system, Google will begin issuing strikes to advertisers, which will be accompanied by email notifications and in-account notifications to encourage compliance and deter repeat violations of our policies.”

Google’s Bowling Tool To Remove Disapproved Ads

This week, the company’s developer blog announced a new tool called “bowling” that is designed to assist advertisers in spotting and removing any problematic ads. 

The announcement described the tool’s purpose by saying:

“…Bowling is a mitigation tool allowing clients to act and remove disapproved ads before risking account suspension.

“The tool audits (and offers the option to delete) disapproved ads that may lead eventually to account suspension in perpetuity.”

Despite being announced on the developer blog, however, the python script includes a disclaimer explicitly stating it is not an official product.

As the disclaimer says:

“This is not an officially supported Google product. Copyright 2021 Google LLC. This solution, including any related sample code or data, is made available on an “as is,” “as available,” and “with all faults” basis, solely for illustrative purposes, and without warranty or representation of any kind. This solution is experimental, unsupported and provided solely for your convenience.”

Yelp may be known for being the place to go for restaurant reviews, but what is often forgotten is that the site covers a huge variety of services businesses – including salons, movers, plumbers, hotels, and much more. 

Now, the company is releasing a slew of new features for all of these businesses, like custom search filters, new ways to drive reviews, Project Cost Guides, and ads themed around what makes your brand great.

Project Cost Guides

To help consumers make informed decisions before they hire a professional, Yelp is introducing new Cost Guides which show the average cost of specific services in your area. These prices are based on data pulled from Yelp’s Request-A-Quote service, which has facilitated “tens of millions” of projects.

Along with these pricing averages, these pages provide tips and cost-saving methods for consumers.

Currently, unique Cost Guides are available for around 20 categories, more than 90 service types, and 150+ cities.

Custom Search Filters

Users can filter businesses based on their specialties or unique abilities, such as filters for:

  • Fast-responding businesses
  • Businesses who offer virtual consultations
  • Specific types of jobs or repairs
  • And more available for services including movers, plumbers, HVAC, auto repair, roofing, real estate agents, home cleaners, painters, electricians, landscaping, pest control, and flooring

Themed Ads

Services businesses that are running search ads can now take advantage of themed ads to highlight what makes you stand out from your competition.

The currently available themes include brands that reply to Request-A-Projects within two hours, businesses that have special offers, or those that provide free consultations. 

Running themed ads costs nothing extra and Yelp says it plans to introduce more themes in the future.

Automatic Review Prompts

After users submit a project with Yelp’s Request-A-Quote tool, the platform will now use this information to generate a prompt for users to write reviews. 

For example, prompts may ask a series of questions about their experience to kickstart the review process and drive more thoughtful informative reviews.

You can find out more about these new features for services brands in the official announcement from Yelp here.

It is no secret that Google knows the price you, your competitors, and even the shady third-party companies charge for your products or services. In some cases, you might even directly tell the company how much you charge through Google’s Merchant Center. So, it is reasonable to think that the search engine might also use that information when it is ranking brands or product pages in search results.

In a recent livestream, however, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, denied the idea.

What John Mueller Has To Say About Price as a Google Ranking Signal

The question arose during an SEO Office-Hours hangout on October 8, which led to Mueller explaining that while Google can access this information, it does not use it when ranking traditional search results.

As he says in the recording of the discussion:

“Purely from a web search point of view, no, it’s not the case that we would try to recognize the price on a page and use that as a ranking factor.

“So it’s not the case that we would say we’ll take the cheaper one and rank that higher. I don’t think that would really make sense.”

At the same time, Mueller says he can’t speak on how products in shopping results (which may be shown in regular search results) are ranked. 

Within shopping search results, users can manually select to sort their results by price. Whether it is used as a factor the rest of the time isn’t something Mueller can answer:

“A lot of these products also end up in the product search results, which could be because you submit a feed, or maybe because we recognize the product information on these pages, and the product search results I don’t know how they’re ordered.

“It might be that they take the price into account, or things like availability, all of the other factors that kind of come in as attributes in product search.”

Price Is And Isn’t A Ranking Factor

At the end of the day, Mueller doesn’t work in the areas related to product search so he really can’t say whether price is a ranking factor within those areas of Google. This potentially includes when they are shown within normal search results pages.

What he can say for sure, is that within traditional web search results, Google does not use price to rank results:

“So, from a web search point of view, we don’t take price into account. From a product search point of view it’s possible.

“The tricky part, I think, as an SEO, is these different aspects of search are often combined in one search results page. Where you’ll see normal web results, and maybe you’ll see some product review results on the side, or maybe you’ll see some mix of that.”

You can hear Mueller’s full response in the recording from the October 8, 2021, Google SEO Office Hours hangout below:

With Halloween getting closer, everyone – including Google – is getting into the holiday spirit.

As the company does every year, Google is sharing the biggest search trends related to Halloween 2021, including the most popular scary movies, haunted houses, trending costumes, pumpkin patches, and more.

While some topics like the most popular movies stay largely the same year to year, other areas like popular costumes may provide a little more insight into the current trends and interests right now.

Getting out and enjoying seasonal in-person events like corn mazes and pumpkin patches also seems to be of particular interest this year, after the more subdued (if not completely canceled) Halloween during the peak of 2020’s Covid pandemic.

Let’s recap some of the top trends for Halloween 2021:

Top Halloween Movies

Unsurprisingly, the list of top Halloween movies includes a mix of horror classics and seasonal family staples which have lasted for decades since their original release.

  • Halloween (1978)
  • Friday the 13th
  • Hocus Pocus
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Halloweentown

Top Halloween Costumes

Based on early indications, the latest movies are mixing with a Halloween classic and a beloved celebrity to fill out the most popular costumes this year. Meanwhile, the couples costumes are a mix of famous couples from both screen and history, including a fair number of cartoon characters.

Trending Individual Halloween Costumes:

  • Squid Game
  • Gorilla
  • Britney Spears
  • Carnage
  • Venom

Trending couples costumes:

  • Trixie and Timmy Turner
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Skid and Pump
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  • Cosmo and Wanda

Trending dog costumes:

  • Squid Game
  • Race car
  • Vampire
  • Donkey
  • Lobster

Top Halloween Drinks and Candy By State

Lastly, Google highlighted the top festive treats for both trick-or-treaters and adults. Specifically, the list collected the top Halloween-related drinks by state:

For more, check out the full Google Halloween Trends and Google Maps Halloween Guides.

For the few of you out there who don’t know, Facebook and the other platforms it owns (Instagram and WhatsApp) experienced an outage yesterday, October 4. The outage kept the sites offline for more than six hours after beginning around 10:30 AM Monday morning. 

Apparently, the problem was made even worse as Facebook’s own internal tools and communication systems went down at the same time, making it even harder for engineers to address and fix the problem.

Now, we are learning what caused the outages as Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, apologize for the interruption to its services.

Why Did Facebook Go Offline?

According to official statements from the company, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down Monday, October 4, 2021, due to an interruption in communication between the company’s data centers. 

This interruption was caused by configuration changes on the routers coordinating traffic between the data centers. These configuration changes brought about a disruption in network traffic that cascaded into a complete service shutdown.

As the company explained:

“Our services are now back online and we’re actively working to fully return them to regular operations. We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change.”

Mark Zuckerberg himself posted a brief personal apology, which states:

“Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger are coming back online now. Sorry for the disruption today — I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.”

Was Any User Data Compromised?

Throughout the outage, rumors swirled that the disruption was the result of hackers, DDoS attacks, and numerous other causes. This inevitably also led to speculation that user data had been compromised during the situation.

Despite the rumors, Facebook denied any such issues:

“We also have no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.”

How Advertisers Are Effected

Since the outage also made it impossible to actually run any ads across the company’s platforms, Facebook says it will not charge advertisers for any campaigns running during the outage time.

Now that services are back online, the company says ads should be running as normal. In some situations, the company may even enable accelerated delivery to make up for potential lost reach.

What Can Be Learned

Obviously, outages like this are entirely out of most of our hands. Still, there is one thing we can take away from the Great Facebook Outage of 2021: diversify your online presence. 

Brands who exclusively or primarily drive traffic through their Facebook and Instagram pages found themselves almost entirely at a loss for most of yesterday. Those who were already established on multiple platforms, however, were able to pivot their focus and even take advantage of the service disruption.