Facebook is making some changes to how it handles comments in its algorithm to better promote real discussion.

Everyone knows that Facebook uses an algorithm to help sort which posts get shown to users, but you may not be aware that the social network uses a similar system to help rank comments.

With the new update, the company says it will do a better job or highlighting comments with specific “positive” quality signals, while demoting low-quality comments.

Comment Quality Signals

According to the new announcement, Facebook will be using four types of signals to analyze comments:

  1. Integrity Signals
  2. User Indicated Preferences
  3. User Interaction Signals
  4. Moderation Signals

Integrity Signals

Facebook’s “Integrity Signals” are designed to assess the authenticity of comments. Specifically, it will be looking to see if comments violate community standards or qualify as “engagement-bait”

Engagement Bait is a practice which involves either explicitly encouraging users to react, like, share, subscribe, or take any other form of action in exchange for something else. This can even be something as innocuous as asking followers to do push-ups.

User Indicated Preferences

User Indicated Preferences are established through Facebook’s direct polling of users. By doing this, the social network is able to directly ask users what they want to see in comments and what they think promotes real discussion.

User Interaction Signals

These are pretty self-obvious. User Interaction Signals are indications whether a user has interacted with a post.

Moderation Signals

Moderation Signals are based on whether other users choose to hide or delete comments made on their post. Facebook explains this practice in a bit more detail, saying:

“People can moderate the comments on their post by hiding, deleting, or engaging with comments.

Ranking is on by default for Pages and people with a a lot of followers, but Pages and people with a lot of followers can choose to turn off comment ranking.

People who don’t have as many followers will not have comment ranking turned on automatically since there are less comments overall, but any person can decide to enable comment ranking by going to their settings.”

Why Facebook Ranks Comments

As with Facebook’s post ranking algorithms, the primary goal of Facebook’s new comment algorithm update is to promote the best quality content within people’s feeds while hiding spammy or low-quality content. As the company says in its announcement:

“To improve relevance and quality, we’ll start showing comments on public posts more prominently when:

  • The comments have interactions from the Page or person who originally posted; or

  • The comments or reactions are from friends of the person who posted.”

You can read the full announcement from Facebook here.

Google is in the process of rolling out a significant update to its broad search engine algorithm which appears to be having a big impact on search results.

The company announced the update on June 2nd, the day before the update began rolling out. This raised some eyebrows at the time because Google generally doesn’t update the public about algorithm updates beforehand, if at all.

As Danny Sullivan from Google explained recently, the only reason they decided to talk about the update is that it would be “definitely noticeable.”

While the update is seemingly still rolling out, the early indications are that the effects of this update certainly are noticeable and could have a big impact on your site’s performance.

What Does This Mean For You?

Unfortunately, Google is never too keen to go into the specifics of their algorithm updates and it is too early to definitively tell what the algorithm update has changed.

All that is clear from reports around the web is that the algorithm update has caused a seemingly dramatic shift for sites previously affected by Google algorithm updates. Some are reporting massive recoveries and improved traffic, while others are saying their rankings have tanked over the past week.

What Does Google Say To Do?

Oddly enough, Google has provided a little bit of guidance with this latest update, though it may not be what you want to here.

The company says to essentially do nothing because there is nothing to “fix.”

Some experts within Google has also suggested results may normalize somewhat in the coming weeks as the search engine releases further tweaks and updates.

In the meantime, the best course of action is to monitor your website analytics and watch Google Search Console for notifications or big changes.

If you do see a major shakeup, you might watch to see if it recovers within the coming days or conduct an assessment of your site to evaluate what your site can do better for both search engines and potential customers.

This week, Google announced it will begin adding new websites to its mobile-first index by default beginning July 1. However, older sites that have yet to be added to the mobile-first index will still be exempt until they are updated to be mobile-friendly.

In the announcement, Google explained that “mobile-first indexing will be enabled by default for all new, previously unknown to Google Search, websites starting July 1, 2019. It’s fantastic to see that new websites are now generally showing users – and search engines – the same content on both mobile and desktop devices.”

While new sites will be moved to the mobile-first index, older sites which have not been added will not be migrated over yet.

“For older websites, we’ll continue monitoring and evaluating pages for their readiness for mobile first indexing and will notify them through Search Console once they’re seen as being ready,” as the announcement said.

No Notifications

Google has been notifying site owners when their site has been migrated to the mobile-first index through Search Console notifications. However, this will not be the case for new sites that are added to the index by default.

“Since the default state for new websites will be mobile-first indexing, there’s no need to send a notification,” Google stated.

What is the mobile-first index?

Google’s mobile-first index is the search engines primary way of cataloging sites across the internet. Launched a few years ago, the mobile-first index analyses the mobile version of a page first and uses that information to rank web pages. Although it started small, the index has become Google’s primary search engine index with more than 50% of what is indexed by Google being added to the mobile-first index.

The news adds even more motivation to new site creators and business owners to ensure they provide a smooth experience with the same content on both desktop and mobile when the site is launched. Not only will many of your customers likely visit your site through mobile devices, but how mobile-friendly your site is will directly affect your search engine ranking.

Major changes are coming to Facebook as the company tries to balance a more privacy-focused approach with several new features aimed at encouraging people to interact with their Facebook accounts more.

At the company’s F8 developer conference this week, Facebook announced a wide range of features, changes, and redesigns which will roll out over the next year.

At the same time, representatives from Facebook hammered home the importance of privacy and protecting data with more advanced encryption and a huge redesign to shift how people use the platform.

The Redesign

Leading the pack of changes is Facebook’s most significant visual overhaul since its launch. While the most noticeable difference is the removal of blue on the page to create a more vibrant space for you to explore, it also holds many deeper revisions which intend to change how we use the platform.

For example, the interface will now highlight more Groups and private messages to make the platform feel more cohesive.

The redesign is already rolling out on Android and iOS mobile devices, though the company says it will take a few months for the full update to go live. Meanwhile, Facebook says it will begin testing the desktop redesign in the “next few months” before bringing it to the public.

Facebook Dating?

Facebook Dating

Image Source: Facebook

One of the most bizarre introductions during this year’s conference was the launch of a new feature called “Secret Crush” which allows users to pick nine of their friends which they have a crush on. Then, if any of those nine friends also select that user as a crush, they will be notified. If the attraction is not returned, however, the other person will never know.

Meet New Friends

In a similar (but less creepy) vein is Facebook’s coming “Meet New Friends” feature. As you might expect from the name, the opt-in feature aims to help connect people who share schools or jobs, or those who live in the same city.

Messenger Comes To Desktop

Image Source: Facebook

As part of an effort to make Facebook’s Messenger a more widely accessible platform, the company is launching a standalone version of the service for desktop computers. While Messenger has always been available on the desktop version of Facebook, it has been limited in several ways. For example, features like Group calling have been exclusive to the mobile app. With the launch of the desktop app, users will now be able to take advantage of all of Messenger’s features from any type of device.

Instagram Create Mode

Instagram Create Mode

Image Source: Facebook

Facebook isn’t the only platform getting an overhaul. Instagram also has several changes on the way, including a considerable reworking of the camera in Instagram Stories. With the new Create Mode, users can now create images for Stories that don’t come directly from their phone without extensive workarounds. Now, you can easily edit your Stories to create the images you want to share without leaving the app.

Instagram Likes Go Secret

Instagram Likes Disappear From View

Image Source: Facebook

One of the more surprising tests Facebook announced is that it will begin hiding the like count on photos and videos on Instagram in an effort to encourage people to pay more attention to the content and focus less on popularity contests.

In the test, followers will not be able to see a photo’s total likes or a video’s view count while viewing the content in their feed or visiting another user’s profile. However, the person sharing the content will still be able to look at their post’s metrics by tapping through a post. The test is expected to begin this week for users in Canada, though it is unclear when this might appear in the US.

Google is making it easier for brands to share their Google My Business listings by allowing businesses to create short names and unique URLs for their listings.

The new feature was revealed by marketing guru and Local Guide for Google, Mike Blumenthal. While Google has not publicly announced the short names and URLs, they have released a new help page dedicated to the feature.

By creating unique short names and URLs for GMB listings, it makes it possible for businesses to share their listings across other social platforms and in the real world through business cards, brochures, or similar marketing materials.

Considering Google My Business is the main platform for sharing reviews and providing details like directions, hours, or even scheduling, it makes sense that Google would want to make the listings more directly accessible.

The feature is still rolling out, so not everybody has access to it currently. To find out if you can claim a short name and URL, just sign into your GMB account and select the location you want to create a short name for. Click the “Info” tab and look for “Add profile short name”.

From there, you will be able to create a short name for your business with no less than five characters and no more than 32 characters.

Once approved, the new short name will also represent your new URL, which is formatted as g.page/[yourshortbusinessname].

One nice detail is that the new short names can help businesses with multiple storefronts differentiate their listings on Google while keeping consistent branding across their listings.

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.

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

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.

Unless you are regularly keeping an eye on your site’s analytics, you might never know when you suddenly lose a ton of traffic or clicks. That is somewhat changing, however, as webmasters can now be notified to sudden drops in clicks through Google’s Search Console.

Search Console is now sending alerts to webmasters when it detects a “substantial drop” in clicks compared to your past week’s data.

Google is doing this by reviewing your week-over-week data in the Performance report for your site. If this week’s data is drastically different, it will send a notification to verified property owners in Search Console to alert them of the problem.

The new notification was first noticed by Vance Moore III who shared a screenshot of the notification on Twitter:

It is unclear exactly how large of a drop it takes to trigger the notification. In the case above, Moore experienced nearly a 50% drop in clicks.

Of course, the tool has some obvious limits. The first is that it only compares week-to-week data. That means slower downward trends will likely not trigger a notification. Additionally, the notification appears to only be triggered by clicks but does not account for traffic or bounce-rates.

The best course of action will always be to regularly check your analytics data to properly assess your site’s performance. There, you will find everything from your click performance, to conversions, traffic, and even demographic info about your visitors.

Still, it always helps to have an extra alert in place for when sudden changes happen to your site. That way you can respond to any new issues and quickly remedy any issues that could have led to your drop in clicks.