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.

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.

For the first time, Facebook is giving you a way to schedule Instagram posts ahead of time without the use of a third-party tool or app. 

The new functionality, available to all business accounts through Facebook’s Creator Studio, allows you to plan your Instagram pictur updates and IGTV videos up to six months in advance. 

The new feature also opens scheduled posts to the full abilities of Instagram. With most third-party tools, users are frequently limited to just one image per post and few offer support for IGTV videos. 

How To Gain Access To Scheduled Instagram Posts

You still have to meet a few requirements to be able to start scheduling your Instagram updates. Specifically, you need to:

  • Have a Facebook Business account
  • Have an Instagram business or creator account
  • Have linked your Instagram account to your Facebook page

Once all that is in order, you can start scheduling your posts through the Facebook Creator Studio by clicking the Instagram logo at the top of this page. 

It should be fairly obvious, but the new feature does not allow for the scheduling of Instagram Stories ahead of time. This makes sense, as those posts are specifically intended to capture a moment in time. If you begin scheduling those posts days or weeks ahead of time, it would lose the authenticity that makes Stories so engaging.

A new study suggests that although highly ranking sites on search engines may be optimizing for search engines, they are failing to make their sites accessible to a large number of actual people – specifically, those with visual impairments.

The study from Searchmetrics used Google Lighthouse to test the technical aspects of sites ranking on Google. Unsurprisingly, it showed that high-ranking websites were largely fast and updated to use the latest online technologies, and were relatively secure.

However, the analysis revealed that these high-ranking websites were lagging behind when it came to accessibility for those with disabilities.

Based on scores from Google’s own tools, the average overall score for accessibility for sites appearing in the top 20 positions on the search engine was 66.6 out of 100.

That is the lowest score of the four ranking categories analyzed in the study.

Google’s Lighthouse accessibility score analyzes a number of issues that are largely irrelevant for many users, but hugely important for those with disabilities or impairments – such as color contrast and the presence of alt tags to provide context or understanding to visual elements.

As Daniel Furch, director of marketing EMEA at Searchmetrics, explains, this can be a major issue for sites that are otherwise performing very well on search engines:

“If you don’t make your site easily accessible to those with disabilities, including those with impaired vision, you cut yourself off of from a large group of visitors.

Not only is it ethically a good idea to be inclusive, but also obviously you could be turning away potential customers. And some sites have even faced lawsuits for failing on this issue.”

LinkedIn will begin showing all the sponsored content an advertiser has run within the past six months in an “Ads” tab on the associated LinkedIn pages.

The company announced the change this week as part of an effort to bring more transparency to advertising across the platform:

“At LinkedIn, we are committed to providing a safe, trusted, and professional environment where members can connect with each other, engage with relevant content, and grow their careers. Increased transparency to both our customers and members is critical to creating this trusted environment.”

When viewing an advertiser’s page, users will be able to click the “Ads” tab to view every ad that company has run in the past six months.

Users can also click on the ads as they typically would, but the advertiser will not be charged, nor will it impact campaign reporting.

Obviously, the tab won’t include any of the information behind the ads, like who they targeted or the budget for that campaign.

In my eyes, this seems like a reason to ensure your LinkedIn advertising is consistently high-quality, with the upside that high-performing ads have a chance to lead to sales without having to pay for those ad clicks.

This week Google held its annual Marketing Live event to reveal the latest innovations in online advertising, and the latest ad units aim to provide a more consistent experience across all of Google’s advertising platforms while also introducing new ways to advertise across the web.

The new ad units, including Discovery ads, Gallery ads, and Showcase Shopping ads, are all highly visual and highly automated, relying on the same automation model as Universal App Campaigns.

Here’s what you need to know about all the newest ways to advertise with Google:

Discovery Ads

Google has used the “Discovery” section of its platform to highlight content and sites it feels may be relevant to your interests. Now, brands and websites can also target this section with ads in the Discovery area, visible under the search box in the Google mobile app, in Gmail under the social promotions tabs, and in the YouTube home feed.

As Google VP of Product Management Brad Bender explained during the Marketing Live event, Discovery ads are intended to be “visually rich, mobile first, and use the ‘power of intent’”, meaning the ad service relies strongly on signals from users like past site visits, app downloads, or video views.

The company says the Discovery feed now reaches more than 800 million users around the world, making this a highly attractive area to target with ads.

Gallery Ads

Another new format introduced at the Marketing Live event is Gallery ads, which present a carousel of swipeable images at the top of mobile search results. The carousel includes between four to eight images, with up to 70 characters of copy possible for each image.

Notably, this changes the way Google charges for ads. Gallery ads are paid for on a CPC basis, which means you are charged if someone clicks on the ad. However, Google also tracks how far a person swipes through the carousel. When they wipe past the third image in the sequence, that also counts as a “click” or form of engagement. This means that you may be paying for ad interactions that do not include an actual click or landing page visit.

In testing, the search engine says Gallery ads saw “25% more interactions” compared to other search ad formats. Though, it is unclear how the actual CTR of these ads stacks up.

Increased Visibility for Showcase Shopping Ads

Showcase Shopping ads have been around since 2016 as a way for retailers to highlight a curated list of products in non-branded searches (which Google says accounts for 40% of queries).

Now Google is expanding these ads to a variety of new areas of the platform, including Google Images, the Discover feed, and the YouTube feed.

The ads include a large main image, as well as smaller images. When clicked these ads expand to showcase a variety of relevant products from the retailer, and may include other information such as store locations or in-store availability.

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.

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.