This week, learn about the response of marketers to consumers’ Delta concerns; Google’s callout of “reviews from independent sites”; an “updated today” justification in local packs; a deep dive into Core Web Vitals; Foursquare’s new rewards app; and changes to Facebook Ads.
Marketers respond to the Delta variant’s impact on consumer behavior
Stephanie Miles at Street Fight has an interesting piece on the changing behavior of consumers due to the rising impact of the Delta variant of COVID-19, as well as the moves some marketers have made to address the change. Miles tells us that the rapid uptick in new cases during the past month has caused many consumers to question whether things really should be going back to normal, with the rate of consumers saying they are “not concerned” about being in public dropping from 50% to 41%. In response, many large retailers have gone back to requiring masks for all employees and have reinstalled plexiglass partitions at checkout stations. Marketing firm Avionos claims that 77% of shoppers have come to trust certain brands more based on their response to the pandemic. The latest resurgence of consumer insecurity represents another opportunity for brands to send the right message that they are putting consumer safety first.
Google reporting on “reviews from independent sites”
Google appears to be testing a new callout for reviews from non-Google sources, as shared on Twitter by Brandon Schmidt. The examples Schmidt provides show an estimated count of third party reviews just below the Google review summary in desktop business profiles, a fairly prominent placement for such information. It isn’t clear whether the callout is clickable, but as pointed out in the Twitter thread, it appears to refer to the “Reviews from the web” section further down the profile that reports on reviews from third-party sources. It’s somewhat unusual for Google to call this much attention to non-Google reviews, though perhaps the idea is to make more reviews available in case the business doesn’t have a decent number in the listing. Tim Capper points out that a similar feature used to appear in hotel listings.
“Updated today” appearing in local pack justifications
In more Twitter screengrab news, Brodie Clark and others are sharing a new justification that appears in some local packs next to local inventory information: the note “Updated today.” As you can see in the example, the phrase appears next to instances of the “In stock” justification, which appears when an item in a GMB location’s Local Inventory Ads matches what a user is searching for. In this case, Google is offering an extra dose of reassurance to the consumer that the stock information is up to date. There was some debate on Twitter as to what the phrase “updated today” really means, but it seems most logical to assume that the inventory feed was updated today by the merchant, with the item in question included.
Latest in Local SEO: now seeing an 'updated today' label appearing in the map pack and local finder.
First shared by @SaadAlikhan1994 last month on mobile, now seeing the label show on desktop.
Matt Southern and Roger Montti have published a very extensive series of articles on Search Engine Journal under the title Core Web Vitals: A Complete Guide. The guide includes a chapter on measuring Core Web Vitals (CWV), a chapter on Google’s statements about their significance, and one chapter each covering the three main components of this new algorithm factor: First Input Delay, Cumulative Layout Shift, and Largest Contentful Paint. If you’ve been eager to take a deep dive into what CWV are and what to do about them, this guide is for you.
Montti’s chapter on Google’s statements about CWV is a good one to focus on if your interest in this topic is a bit more casual. He points out, as we shared last week, that CWV is a ranking factor, but speed (which is essentially what CWV is about) will never be more important to Google than relevance. Still, sites that score poorly according to CWV metrics are probably providing a subpar user experience, which can lead to a variety of negative consequences.
Interestingly, Google has stated that building sites and pages according to the Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) standard can be one way to meet CWV thresholds, suggesting that AMP, rather than being obsolete, is merely being folded into the CWV universe.
A final point from Montti’s article has to do with the measurement of CWV in Search Console as opposed to other tools like Lighthouse. Whereas Lighthouse uses a “lab” approach, simulating the load times of pages in a controlled environment, Search Console uses “field data” compiled from real users across a range of devices, network connections, and geographies. This means that a strong score derived via the “lab” method may not equate to a strong score in Search Console, which represents the real-world experience of actual users.
Foursquare relaunches Panel App as Rewards by Foursquare
Foursquare has launched Rewards by Foursquare, a revamped version of what used to be called the Foursquare Panel App. The app has been used by the company as one resource for gathering location intelligence; users opt in to share their location with Foursquare in exchange for various rewards. The newly redesigned and rebranded version will offer users prizes and points for completing surveys and for keeping location sharing on, as well as other actions like referring a friend. Points can be redeemed for gift cards and users can enter sweepstakes for prizes like Playstation 5.
Foursquare has, of course, pivoted in recent years from a consumer-centric game-oriented local search platform to a location intelligence company, and in the new age of privacy, it makes sense to see the company looking towards expanded incentives to convince consumers to continue sharing their valuable data.
Facebook Ads releases new tools and updates
Facebook has announced a range of updates to Facebook Ads, including changes to the way ads will be targeted to minors. In light of recent news that Google would begin blocking ads targeted to the age, gender, or interests of minors, Facebook has made a similar update, stating that as of August 23, advertisers will no longer be able to use detailed ad targeting or Custom Audiences when directing ads to minors. Unlike Google, however, Facebook will still allow targeting of minors by age and gender, as well as by location.
Facebook has also launched a new “idea generator” tool that lets advertisers plug in their vertical and generate campaign ideas, insights, and resources. Facebook has made suggested post content and other campaign ideas free for advertisers to use. Finally, Facebook-owned Instagram is testing new ad placements on the homepage of the Instagram Shop tab.