Google My Business is updating Google Posts to allow brands to highlight glowing reviews from customers.

With the new update, you can feature 4 to 5 star reviews that have been left on your listing.

As Google said in the announcement on Twitter:

“In some countries, Google My Business now provides suggested posts to help you showcase positive reviews. These posts are automatically suggested based on 4 or 5-star reviews recently left for your business”

“You may get suggestions for new testimonials to post when you sign in to Google My Business, or via email notifications. These posts are automatically suggested based on 4 or 5-star reviews recently left for your business. You’ll be able to review and edit the post before publishing it.”

You can see a few examples of what the new post format looks like from Twitter user Andy Simpson below:

While it is unclear exactly which countries aside from the US have access to the feature, the update brings yet another way to make your local search listing more visible and engaging for users.

As always, Google Posts showcasing your reviews remain visible for one week unless you manually remove or edit the post.

Facebook has announced sweeping changes to its news feed and the way it handles groups or pages that violate the company’s content policies.

The new changes, including a new algorithm signal, are aimed at reducing the reach of sites spreading content with misinformation by judging the authority of the sites the content comes from.

If Facebook believes the site producing content shared on the platform is not reputable, it will decrease its news feed reach and reduce the number of people seeing the content.

How Facebook is Changing its Algorithm

In the past, Facebook has teamed up with highly respected organizations like the Associated Press to validate sites spreading content across the platform.

Now, the company says it is introducing a “click-gap” metric designed to automatically evaluate the inbound and outbound linking patterns of a site to judge if it is authoritative.

Essentially, the click-gap signal measures the inbound and outbound linking patterns to determine if the number of links on Facebook is higher than the link’s popularity across the internet. This will allow the company to distinguish the forced spread of content rather than organic virality.

As Facebook explains in the announcement:

“This new signal, Click-Gap, relies on the web graph, a conceptual “map” of the internet in which domains with a lot of inbound and outbound links are at the center of the graph and domains with fewer inbound and outbound links are at the edges.

Click-Gap looks for domains with a disproportionate number of outbound Facebook clicks compared to their place in the web graph. This can be a sign that the domain is succeeding on News Feed in a way that doesn’t reflect the authority they’ve built outside it and is producing low-quality content.”

Changes to Groups

Notably, this new algorithmic signal isn’t just being applied to news feeds. The company explained it will also be using these algorithms to automatically remove low-quality content posted in groups, including private groups.

The company defended the decision by saying they can now identify and remove harmful groups, whether they are public, closed, or secret.”

“We can now proactively detect many types of violating content posted in groups before anyone reports them and sometimes before few people, if any, even see them.”

Admins are Required to Police Content

Along with these changes, Facebook clarified that its algorithms will consider what posts a group’s admins approve as a way of determining if they are a harmful group or eligible for removal.

The company says it will close down groups if an admin regularly approves content that is false, misleading, or against Facebook’s content guidelines.

This is how Facebook explained the new policy:

“Starting in the coming weeks, when reviewing a group to decide whether or not to take it down, we will look at admin and moderator content violations in that group, including member posts they have approved, as a stronger signal that the group violates our standards.”

What This Means for You

As long as the pages you participate in or run are sharing content from reliable sources, the new policies should have little effect on your day-to-day operations. However, the changes could have considerable impacts on brands or influencers who go against mainstream science or other non-approved sources. These types of industries have flourished on the platform for years, but may soon be facing a reckoning if Facebook’s new content guidelines are as strict as they sound.

The latest update to Google My Business’s listings makes product catalogs even more powerful by displaying them in both desktop and mobile search results.

Since October 2018, when they were first introduced, product catalogs on Google My Business would only appear in mobile search results.

To add your products to your own listing, all you have to do is upload a form in the ‘Products’ tab called to the product editor. Once added, all items in your catalog will be eligible to show in results for relevant searches that bring up your Google My Business page.

The catalog appears within the ‘Products’ tab of your GMB listing shortly after uploading it.

As always, the new GMB feature is free to use with your Google My Business account. The only requirement is that you have claimed your business listing.

While the new feature does bring product catalogs to desktop search results, they are still not viewable directly within Google Maps. To view the listing from there, you will have to click to specifically view a business’s local listing.

Often, businesses think of SEO and online advertising as being entirely separate. They may feel like they need to choose one or the other. However, a new study from WordStream shows that most experts agree that SEO and advertising work best together, not apart.

The new data published in WordStream’s report on the online advertising landscape in 2019 reveals that more than three-quarters (79%) of online advertisers are also incorporating SEO within their marketing strategies.

Even more, digital advertisers ranked SEO as the leading marketing channel aside from advertising for growing their business.

The full breakdown of responses is as follows:

Outside of digital advertising, what other marketing channels are you using to grow your business in 2019?

  • SEO – 79%
  • Email marketing – 66%
  • Content marketing – 60%
  • Word of mouth marketing – 47%
  • Direct mail – 32%
  • Event marketing – 26%
  • Guerrilla marketing – 9%
  • Affinity marketing – 6%
  • Telemarketing – 4%
  • Other – 1%

As WordStream explains, the findings show that while advertisers may prioritize paid search for bringing in immediate revenue, they also recognize the importance of fostering a long-term strategy for bringing in new potential customers:

“Like content marketing, SEO can be an extremely valuable long-term strategy when done effectively. Kudos to those surveyed for recognizing the importance of balancing short-term results with a long-term strategy for sustainable growth!”

The report includes a number of other interesting tidbits about the current state of online advertising, including the discovery that nearly half of advertisers are increasing their Google search ads budgets this year.

To read the full report, click here.

LinkedIn is expanding its ad targeting options to allow advertisers the ability to better target their ideal audience.

The professional social platform has launched lookalike audience targeting which allows you to create an ad audience similar to your dream customer.

As the company says in their announcement:

“LinkedIn’s lookalike audiences combine the traits of your ideal customer with our rich member and company data to help you market to new professional audiences similar to your existing customers, website visitors and target accounts.”

Specifically, the company highlights a few ways lookalike audience targeting can help businesses improve their advertising:

  • Reach high-converting audiences: Discover audiences similar to those who are already interested in your business.
  • Get results at scale: Extend the reach of your campaigns to more qualified prospects.
  • Engage new target accounts: Target your ads to additional companies you may not have previously considered. These companies match a similar company profile to your ideal customer.

In testing, LinkedIn says lookalike audience targeting led to a 5-10x increase in campaign reach without sacrificing ad performance.

At the same time it announced the launch of these new targeting options, LinkedIn also revealed a few other improvements to their ad platform:

Interest Targeting

While interest targeting has been available on LinkedIn since January, the company says it is now increasing the targeting capabilities of the feature.

Through a partnership with Microsoft, LinkedIn will now allow advertisers to target users based on not only their LinkedIn profile information but through the professional topics and content they engage with on Bing.

Audience Templates

LinkedIn has also created some new features specifically aimed at new advertisers. Audience templates provide advertisers with a selection of more than 20 premade B2B audiences. This way, you can start targeting your ideal audience without having extensive knowledge of ad targeting.

The templates cover a range of characteristics, from users skills, job titles, groups, and more.

In the announcement, LinkedIn says the new features will all be rolling out over the next two weeks.

Instagram is launching a new in-app checkout feature for a limited number of brands which will let users make purchases without ever having to leave the app.

For now, the new feature is limited to just 23 big-name brands like Adidas, Burberry, and MAC Cosmetics, but the company says it will be expanding the feature to more brands in the coming months.

The in-app checkout is Instagram’s latest effort to make its service more retailer-friendly without hurting their own platform. While they have included several shopping-related features over the past few years, shoppers would ultimately have to leave the app to make a purchase.

With the new feature, users will now see a “Checkout on Instagram” button on product pages from brands’ shopping posts.

When tapped, shoppers will be allowed to choose from a variety of options like size and color, then taken to a payment page within Instagram.

Users who make purchases within the app will also receive shipment and delivery notifications within Instagram to keep them informed.

“The new technology gives Adidas’ audience the power to go from inspiration to purchase in an instant. Our consumer-obsessed approach to e-commerce focuses on simplified immersive connections with the brand and Instagram Shopping allows us to deliver a content-rich experience on a platform where our creators are exploring and curating their lives,” said Adidas SVP of digital Scott Zalaznik.

Google’s “Shopping Ads” will start appearing within Google Images search results by default, as the company announced recently in an email to advertisers.

In the past, it was possible to display your shopping ads in Google Images by manually opting-in to the Search Partner Network. This is because Google Images was previously a part of the Search Partner Network.

However, that has all changed. Google Images is now a part of Google’s own search network, which makes it a default placement for shopping ads.

Notably, advertisers cannot opt-out of the placement currently, which Google says is a good thing for advertisers:

“If your campaigns are not currently opted into the Search Partner Network – your ads will start showing on Google Images and as a result there may be a 3-10% increase in traffic at lower cost-per-click and comparable conversion rates.”

Meanwhile, many advertisers question whether this is actually a change for the better. While some shoppers may frequent Google Images for a variety of reasons, it seems logical that they would be less purchase-focused than users actively searching Google’s shopping results.

You can read Google’s full email announcing the change below:

Google Images is now a part of the Search Network for Shopping ads

Hello,

Google Images is a visually rich surface and a key part of millions of users’ shopping journeys every day. Users frequently turn to Google Images for idea exploration, how-to guidance, product discovery and visual imagery related to key shopping categories like fashion, home and beauty.

We are excited to announce that we will be integrating Google Images into our core Search Network in late March. This means Shopping ads, that you are already familiar with, will now automatically be eligible* to appear in Google Images results when users are searching for relevant keywords.

What this means for your Shopping campaigns:

All of your Shopping ads will be automatically eligible* to serve on Google Images. You will no longer have to opt into the Search Partner Network to show Shopping ads on Google Images.

*For Europe only: if you are unsure what surfaces your ads show on, please check with your CSS.

If your campaigns currently run on the Search Partner Network – you may see a decrease in traffic coming in from Search Partner Network and an increase in traffic coming from the Search Network. This is because Google Images was previously a part of the Search Partner Network. Note: Historical Google Images traffic will not be re-categorized from the Search Partner Network to Search Network.

If your campaigns are not currently opted into the Search Partner Network – your ads will start showing on Google Images and as a result there may be a 3-10% increase in traffic at lower cost-per-click and comparable conversion rates.

Sincerely,

The Google Ads Team

Pinterest is making it easier for brands and consumers to connect with a number of new tools aimed at getting more products in front of interested viewers.

“Shop a Brand”

The company announced a slew of new updates designed to improve personalized results for users and make browsing products and brands better than ever.

“These updates help retailers get in front of customers who are looking for related products, and Pinners to see items that match their unique style and taste,” the company said in its announcement. 

Personalized Recommendations

Here’s the quick breakdown of all the new features:

  • Shop a brand: “A new dedicated section from retailers is starting to roll out beneath Product Pins. You’ll soon be able to dive into a brand’s catalog by clicking ‘more from [brand]’.”
  • Personalized shopping recommendations: “Alongside style, home, beauty and DIY boards, you’ll see in-stock ideas related to what you’ve been saving, to match your style. Just click ‘more ideas’ then the shopping tag to start shopping ideas picked for you. Tap + to quickly add the Pin to your board, or click the Pin to go straight to checkout on the retailer’s site. “
  • Catalogs: “Brands can now upload their full catalog to Pinterest and easily turn their products into dynamic Product Pins, which means more shoppable Pins across Pinterest. A new dashboard allows businesses to organize their feed so their products can be discovered and purchased by Pinners.”
  • Shopping Ads: “We’re making Shopping Ads available to all businesses through our self-serve tool Ads Manager. Once products are on Pinterest, brands can easily promote items from their existing product feed with Shopping Ads.”
  • Shopping search: “With more in-stock Product Pins, there are more products to search. Just search for a product like ‘midi skirt’, ‘men’s watches’ or ‘outdoor furniture’ and shopping results appear on the top of home feed. To start shopping, click ‘see more’.”

Google’s call-only ads are an incredibly powerful tool for companies who primarily do business through the phone. Not only can they get your phone to ring when nothing else will, they are entirely trackable so you will know when your ads drive calls and where those calls come from.

Now, Google is making the ads even better with expanded headlines and descriptions.

Specifically, call-only ads will now include two 30-character headlines instead of a single 25-character headline.

Descriptions for call-only ads will also be expanded from 80 to 90 characters.

Another small tweak is the placement of business names in the ads, which are being moved to the description line.

“We noticed it was tough to fit both your business name and a compelling call to action in the headline, so we moved business name to the beginning of the ad description,” Mike Russo, a Google Ads product manager, said in the announcement.

The change makes headlines even more important than ever, as your brand name will no longer be the first thing included in the ad. The upside, however, is that a great headline can help you break past the competition and find success with your ads no-matter how well-known your brand is.

The new format is currently rolling out, though it may take a few weeks for the change to reach all advertisers.

LinkedIn has released a new ebook aimed at helping social media managers market their businesses across the platform. It also contains some very interesting stats that make a strong case for why you should consider including the platform in your array of social media channels.

Specifically, the ebook includes the following statistics across three categories:

Traffic and Engagement

The company says engagement is “booming” across the platform, citing these numbers:

  • LinkedIn now has 610 million registered members
  • 40% of users visit every day
  • Comments, likes, and shares are up 60% year-over-year
  • Views in the LinkedIn feed are up 60% from last year
  • Mobile sessions are growing 57% year-over-year
  • Over 130 thousand articles are created on the platform every week

Business Leaders

LinkedIn isn’t content to just have a big user base. Rather, they have focused on building “the right audience”:

  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members
  • 61 million users are senior-level influencers
  • 40 million users are in decision-making positions
  • About 45% of LinkedIn article readers are in upper-level positions (managers, VPs, Directors, C-level)

Generating Results

The previous two areas have helped LinkedIn create a platform with users who are highly engaged, meaning marketing efforts are more successful and generate more meaningful results:

  • 45% of all social media traffic to a company’s homepage comes from LinkedIn.
  • 71% of people use information from LinkedIn to inform business decisions
  • LinkedIn is the most trusted social platform globally, according to Business Insider’s Digital Trust report
  • 50% of users are more likely to buy from companies when they have engaged in their social channels

LinkedIn’s ebook contains lots of other interesting data and recommendations for how you can leverage this information to create effective marketing strategies for the platform. Check it out here.