Apple is poised to attach a fee when advertisers boost posts on Facebook or Instagram iOS apps, but Meta is offering a loophole.

Apple’s Plans To Charge For Boosted Posts

Starting later this month, Apple will begin handling billing when advertisers use the Facebook or Instagram iOS apps to boost their posts. This isn’t just a change in billing processors though. When Apple handles billing for online transactions, they attach a 30% fee on the total payment (excluding taxes). 

Since the iOS Facebook and Instagram apps often include exclusive features and new features before the Android or desktop versions of the platform, this could potentially mean Apple would be charging advertisers for access to these features.

Additionally, when Apple takes over billing it will change how advertisers pay for boosting posts. Instead of being charged after the boosted post has run, brands using iOS apps will be forced to pay upfront using prepaid funds added to their account. 

Meta Offers A Way Around Apple’s Hurdles and Fees

Thankfully, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Meta, has provided a way for advertisers to avoid these changes by ensuring all the features available in their iOS apps are also available in browsers and on desktop devices. 

This means that advertisers can avoid the fees, even when using iOS devices, by boosting their posts through their browser instead of the native app. 

As Meta said in the announcement:

We are required to either comply with Apple’s guidelines, or remove boosted posts from our apps. We do not want to remove the ability to boost posts, as this would hurt small businesses by making the feature less discoverable and potentially deprive them of a valuable way to promote their business.

We are committed to offering businesses flexible and convenient options to help them navigate this change and maximize the results of their ad spend. As part of our efforts to do this, we have invested in alternative ways to boost posts.

Specifically, advertisers can access Facebook.com and Instagram.com on both desktop computers or a mobile web browser to boost their content. When doing this, they will have all the same features as boosting posts from the iOS apps, except now they will avoid the Apple service charge.

Thanks to a new review algorithm, Google says it has become better and faster at identifying fake reviews. In a new blog post, the company declared, “In 2023, this new algorithm helped us take down 45% more fake reviews than the year before.”

According to Google, it receives more than 20 million contributions every day to Maps and Search. This can make it very difficult to filter out the inauthentic or malicious contributions, so Google uses complex algorithms, along with employees, to help spot these fake contributions. 

The New Algorithm

The latest major algorithm designed to detect and remove fake reviews was added last year. In the blog post, the company describes the algorithm as “a machine learning algorithm that detects questionable review patterns even quicker” by evaluating “longer-term signals on a daily basis” to spot “one-off cases and broader attack patterns.”

For example, the algorithm may act if it sees that “a reviewer leaves the same review on multiple businesses or if a business receives a sudden spike in 1 or 5-star reviews.”

In one case, the algorithm noticed when a group of scammers began falsely claiming they could get people paid for doing high-paying online tasks like writing fake reviews or clicking ads. 

As the company described, the algorithm “quickly identified this surge in suspicious reviews thanks to its ability to continuously analyze patterns, like whether an account had previously posted reviews.” 

With this data, human review analysts were able to cross-reference the data with reports on merchants who had seen a spike in suspicious 5-star reviews to remove even more of the fake reviews. 

In just this one scheme, Google says it was able to remove more than 5 million fake reviews within just a few weeks. 

More From The Data

Along with highlighting how the new algorithm allows Google to identify fake reviews, the blog post highlights several other statistics about fake reviews and spam it had removed throughout 2023:

  • Google blocked or removed over 170 million policy-violating reviews in the past year (a 45% increase from 2022). 
  • Over 12 million fake business profiles were blocked or removed in 2023.
  • 14 million policy-violating videos were identified and removed (an increase of 7 million more than the year before).
  • Google prevented more than 2 million attempts from bad actors to claim Business Profiles that were not theirs (double the amount from 2022).

For more, read the complete blog post detailing how Google identified and removed spammy or malicious contributions to Business Profiles and online reviews last year. 

A new nationwide survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that YouTube and Facebook may still be the most widely used social media platforms by adults, but TikTok is continuing to grow significantly.

Based on the survey results, YouTube and Facebook remain the most widely used social media platforms across the US. More than three-fourths of American adults (87%) reported using YouTube, with 68% saying they used Facebook.

Most other platforms have retained approximately the same level of usage from past surveys, with the largest (Instagram) seeing use from around 50% of adults.

TikTok, however, saw a jump from 21% of US adults using it in 2021 to 33% of adults in the latest survey.

Age Continues to Influence Social Media Use

Just as in past surveys, Pew found notable differences in social media use depending on age.
For example, adults under the age of 30 were significantly more likely to say they used Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok compared to older adults.

YouTube and Facebook, however, were more likely to be used by adults of all ages – leading to their overall dominance. At the same time, Pew noted that both platforms were still more likely to be used by younger adults than older respondents.

Demographics Also Influenced Social Media Usage

  • Along with age, the Pew survey identified notable differences in the demographics that used each platform:
  • Instagram: More usage among Hispanic and Asian adults, women, and people with some college education.
  • TikTok: Increased usage rates among Hispanic adults and women.
  • LinkedIn: Most widely used among Americans with higher educational attainment.
  • Twitter (now “X”): More likely to be used by those with higher household incomes.
  • Pinterest: Still most popular among women.
  • WhatsApp: Receives more usage by Hispanic and Asian adults.

Why It Matters

As a business, you must know where to reach your audience where they are already spending time. When scrolling social media, adults tend to be more likely to engage with branded content, connect with unfamiliar brands, and discover products that they will later purchase. By making sure you’re there when your ideal audience logs on, you can give yourself the best chance to turn strangers into followers and followers into customers.

For more insights you can use to target your audience on social media, check out the full Pew report here.

Google is making a big change to its Core Web Vitals ranking signals soon, as the company announced that the new Interaction to Next Paint (INP) signal will replace the First Input Delay (FID) on March 12.

The new INP metric measures the amount of time between when a user interacts with a web page (for example, by clicking a button) to when a browser begins rendering pixels on the screen.

Though FID measured a similar time between user input and browser rendering, Google says INP captures interactivity in ways that were not possible previously.

The History Behind FID and INP Metrics

FID has been a metric used by Google to rank sites since the debut of Google’s Core Web Vitals in 2018. However, Google quickly began to see that this metric didn’t fully capture user interactions as they had hoped. 

This led to Google introducing INP as an experimental or “pending” metric in 2022. Now, almost 2 years later, Google has decided to fully replace FID with the INP metric in March.

What You Should Do

Before March, it is recommended that website managers ensure their site is meeting the threshold for a “good” INP performance. 

If you do not meet this mark, Google suggests optimizing your site with these strategies:

  • Evaluate your site’s performance using tools such as PageSpeed Insights or the Google Chrome User Experience Report.
  • Identify issues that may be slowing down INP, like extended JavaScript tasks, excessive main thread activity, or a large DOM. 
  • Optimize issues based on Google’s optimization guides for the specific issue.

As Google’s ranking algorithms evolve, this and other ranking signals will likely be updated or replaced. This emphasizes how important it is to use the latest optimization standards and to ensure a smooth user experience if you want your business to be easily found online.

The Google SEO Starter Guide is designed to help individuals and organizations quickly learn the most important steps necessary for getting their websites ranking within Google Search. 

While the guide reportedly maintains a 91% approval rating, it has largely gone without updates for several years but that will be changing soon.

In a recent episode of Google’s “Search Off The Record” podcast, the company’s Search Relations team discussed plans to update the SEO Starter Guide, including talking about what would and would not be included in the revised document. 

Discussions like this are great for seeing how SEO is talked about within the search engine and learning what the company prioritizes when ranking sites along with identifying SEO myths that might lead you astray when optimizing your own site. 

So, what’s changing in the revised SEO Starter Guide?

HTML Structure

One topic the group discussed was the importance (or lack thereof) of HTML structure when it comes to online rankings.

While the team agreed that using proper HTML structure can help with online rankings, they indicated the guide will clarify that these are not all that important in the grand scheme.

As Google’s Gary Ilyes said:

“Using headings and a good title element and having paragraphs, yeah, sure. It’s all great, but other than that it’s pretty futile to think about how the page… or the HTML is structured.”

Branded Domain Names vs Keyword Rich Domain Names

SEO experts have been increasingly debating whether it is better to focus on your existing branding when establishing a domain name, or if domains perform better when including specific keywords.

According to the Google team, the new guide will clarify this by indicating that brands should focus on including branding in their domains over using keywords. The thought process shared by those in the discussion was that establishing a memorable brand will have a more long-term impact than trying to optimize your domain specifically for search engines. 

Debunking SEO Myths

Lastly, the group said one thing they want to improve in the document was how it addressed widespread SEO myths and misconceptions. 

For example, everyone agreed that the SEO Starter Guide should specifically debunk the idea that using Google products while creating or optimizing your site will improve search rankings. 

They indicated they would address this myth and several others to prevent people from optimizing their site based on misinformation found elsewhere online. 

For more from the discussion, listen to the entire episode of “Search Off The Record” here.

LinkedIn is introducing a new feature called Sponsored Articles that allows brands to turn articles they publish on the site into ads that will reach wider audiences.

The goal is to provide a way for users to engage with sponsored content without having to leave the site or interrupt their experience.

Though it is already available to most business accounts, the company said some brands may not have access quite yet. 

As it rolls out, LinkedIn admins for business accounts will start seeing the option to promote their post on eligible content. If selected, brands can also opt to gate their content with a CTA like “Unlock Article”.

While some have suggested the new feature is similar to others on the site, such as lead generation ads, a statement from the company said Sponsored Articles have many unique benefits.

Baptiste Beauvisage, Lead Client Solutions Manager at LinkedIn, highlighted these particular benefits that Sponsored Articles will give brands.

  • “You can use the content you already have on your LinkedIn page.”
  • “Sponsored posts are more viral than a blog article hosted externally.”
  • “You can have all the comments from logged-in members on the article directly.”
  • “There is a better UX.”
  • “You can drive leads without sending users off Linkedin to consult your article.”

Though the feature is currently limited to business accounts, the company is working to bring it to entrepreneurs and others across the site. It is also looking to expand Sponsored Articles with new features and functionalities that may make it more versatile for brands.

New research from Adobe indicates that more and more people are turning to TikTok to find information, music, recipes, and other things we used to rely on traditional search engines for. 

Analysts have increasingly been noticing that a growing number of people have been using TikTok as not just a social network but as an alternative to search engines like Google and Bing. 

This latest study, which surveyed over 800 consumers and 250 business owners, emphasizes that this trend is accelerating and that brands that are taking advantage of this shift are increasingly being rewarded.

Younger Audiences Are Drawn To TikTok as a Search Engine

Overall, the research shows that 40% of consumers regularly use TikTok to search for topics and information. Unsurprisingly, this trend skews heavily toward younger users.

Gen Z in particular has been driving this trend, with 64% using TikTok for search. 

Millennials have also been adopting this behavior, with almost half (49%) of millennial consumers using TikTok as a search engine. 

Interestingly, TikTok searchers aren’t looking for any particular type of information. Instead, they are looking up a variety of topics including cooking recipes, music, fashion, and DIY ideas. 

While TikTok users are increasingly seeing the platform as a way to find information, they aren’t quite giving up Google yet. Only 10% of Gen Z users said they preferred TikTok over traditional search engines. 

How Businesses Are Responding

As more businesses take note of the popularity of TikTok and its viability as a search engine, more are investing their time and marketing budget to promote their brands. 

The survey found that approximately half of businesses are using TikTok to promote their products and services, averaging 9 posts per month. 

As part of their marketing efforts, many of these brands (approximately 25% of small businesses surveyed) are partnering up with influencers to better reach their audience on the platform. 

When it comes to what type of content these brands are creating, the obvious lead was creative tangential content (43%), followed by product reviews (36%), and instructional videos (35%).

Why This Matters To Your Business

TikTok has proven it is here to stay, consistently increasing its already large user base and diversifying its options for brands to market and advertise on the platform. It is no surprise that users are finding surprising ways to use the platform as it has evolved and these shifts introduce opportunities for brands that are quick to take advantage of them. 

If your brand’s audience tends to be Millenials or Gen Z, we strongly recommend investing in establishing your presence on the site and optimizing your content for its search engine. If you act now, there’s a chance you’ll reach a large number of people before your competitors have a chance.