16 November 2022
September 2022 Algorithm Updates: Winners & Losers
Now that October and Halloween are well and truly behind us, is it too early to start thinking about, dare we say it…Christmas? But before we start getting festive, we’ve got a not-so-LITTLE roundup of October to get through (we’ll warn you, there’s quite a lot!).
From social media to SEO and even the wonderful world of website development, a lot went down last month. Anyway, enough talking, let’s dive straight into the month that was October 2022…
The social media landscape saw lots of exciting updates rolled out across the board, but it was the visual platforms that took the cake this time round.
Now you can schedule posts on the Instagram app! ✨
— ㆅ (@WFBrother) October 18, 2022
Good news for Instagram addicts and those who want to plan content calendars far in advance, Instagram have recently rolled out a live test for in-app scheduling!
Although you’ve been able to schedule posts on Instagram via the Facebook Creator Studio for quite some time now, since 2020, this update makes a great addition. Making it much easier to manage your feed on the go and get prepped ahead of time, this could be a game-changer.
At the moment, the test is limited to a small(ish) group, but will likely roll out to more creators shortly, as well as extending to Instagram Reels too. At this moment, there’s no information about whether this will also apply to Stories.
Strangely, Instagram is quite late to the party with the concept of in-app scheduling, but it’s better late than never!
ℹ️ Only you can see your achievements pic.twitter.com/oktYQ88C4b
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) October 12, 2022
Here’s another fun one for Instagram, they’re now trialling out ‘Achievements’ for Instagram Reel creators. Simply put, these achievements are just fun virtual trophies that you can collect after fulfilling certain tasks on Reels, and only you’ll be able to see them. For example, you might get the ‘Trendsetter’ award for using a viral audio or filter, or the ‘Community Builder’ achievement for using stickers, polls and quizzes on your Reel.
Although it’s fun, we’re not really sure why Instagram is doing this.
Our best guess is that the update may work as an incentive for creators to post Reels more often. After all, Instagram is really trying to get Reels rolling amid their constant battle to keep users from scrolling away to TikTok.
It’s no secret that people love a challenge, and these achievements feel reminiscent of ‘Snap Streaks’. Streaks are a clever way to keep people returning to the Snapchat app every single day so as to not lose their streak with their friend. People even get in touch with Snapchat to appeal a lost streak – these fun little challenges can get serious!
Recently, YouTube announced ‘handles’, which are personalised, customisable URLs for your channel.
This update aims to make it easier for audiences to seek out specific content from their favourite creators, alongside allowing users to directly tag and mention people in comments.
The personalised handle is essentially just a way to make creators distinguishable and create their own presence on YouTube. After all, YouTube isn’t just a place to watch silly, random videos anymore (we’ve got TikTok to do that now!), YouTube is a real community where creators and fans alike can communicate, interact and build relationships.
As TikTok continues to reach whole new heights, the video-sharing platform have recently launched their very own TikTok Academy. A global, totally-virtual education platform, the TikTok Academy is specifically designed to help individuals and businesses make the most out of their TikTok marketing campaigns.
At the moment, the platform has started out with two initial curriculums, The 101 Course and the Small Business Course, both of which you can sign up to here. The 101 Course has a completion time of around 2-4 hours and goes into detail about the ins and outs of TikTok, what makes it unique and an overview of its product offerings, and the Small Business Course is designed for SMEs with four, 15-minute lessons about how they can start their journey and create great content.
As you’ll be aware, the world is experiencing a TikTok takeover at the minute, so the TikTok Academy makes the perfect tool for businesses to learn a few tips and tricks on how to maximise their TikTok marketing. Despite this, when it comes down to it, successful TikTok videos are authentic and fun, rather than perfectly curated to go viral. It’s about understanding trends and aligning your content with it in a way that feels natural, and of course, a course won’t be able to teach you that.
Another update for the video-sharing platform, TikTok has gone old school by adding a photo mode to their content creation options. No longer just a video platform, users can now share carousel posts of still images, usually with a trending audio playing in the background. You can either swipe the photos across at your own pace, or TikTok will automatically do the swiping for you.
This update has been paired with even more editing tools that make it easier than ever to make good content on TikTok.
And to wrap up our updates on social media, let’s end it with the debacle around the rumoured $20 fee for the blue verified tick on Twitter. Following Elon Musk buying Twitter, rumours have sparked that the Tesla CEO will start charging a monthly subscription fee for verified users to keep their blue tick, which has already been met with backlash and mockery.
Horror author Stephen King has had no issues expressing his distaste for the idea, stating…
$20 a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 31, 2022
…As we say, these fees are just rumours at the minute, with some saying the fee could be $5 and some saying $20. At the moment, it’s just a case of waiting around and watching the drama unfold.
As always, there’s always a whole lot going on in the world of SEO, we all know Google likes to keep us on our toes!
Mostly, the updates are pretty minor, but we’ve got a few to get through, so let’s go straight on into a (hopefully quick!) roundup of October 2022’s search landscape.
There’s a lot that goes into writing product reviews in the eyes of Google, and that’s exactly why they have their handy documentation to detail the best practices for publishing said reviews.
Recently, Google updated this documentation, making it much clearer who these best practices are for, stating three kinds of product review publishers, including “bloggers that provide independent opinions of products” and “an editorial staff member at a news or publishing site”.
Also, there have been a few wording changes throughout the entire document, with the overarching consensus being that the documentation is meant to target and help those publishing full product review pages gain visibility rather than just standalone product reviews and user-generated reviews. All in all, this is a pretty small change, but a helpful one nonetheless.
Recent research into 150,000 apparel-related search queries has revealed some new opportunities for ecommerce websites to increase their visibility and sell more via search.
The data revealed that Google shows 95% of the keywords resulted in a SERP feature on the first page, with Products Carousel, People Also Ask and FAQs coming in at the most popular.
The Popular Products feature was shown in the top three of the search results 48% of the time. As Popular Products was a feature launched for apparel-related searches initially, it comes as no surprise that the data reveals it to take the top spot.
All in all, this shows the evolution of search.
We’re no longer just looking at those top 10 links anymore when we Google something, we’re looking at images, whether that be apparel, recipes or some new kitchenware you’re buying online.
As a result, if ecommerce sites aren’t “optimising for Google Shopping, your organic search traffic and visibility is stifled”, as stated by seoClarity, the people behind this research. Luckily, Google has a handy how-to document for getting your products listed on the SERP.
Google has scrapped their previously named ‘Google Webmaster Guidelines’ in aid of a new, simplified version called ‘Google Search Essentials’. The rebrand occurred in a bid to make the guidelines easier to understand, now consisting of three simple categories covering similar points as the former Webmaster Guidelines.
The three categories covered in Google Search Essentials include:
All in all, not a lot here has changed, the sections are just simpler and clearer for users to understand. If you do want to read more about these subtle changes, check out this article.
Google frequently undertakes spam algorithm updates, essentially just to ensure websites are consistently putting out good-quality, helpful content.
The new October 2022 update is pretty minor, and it’s likely that you don’t have anything to worry about. Typically, if your site is genuine and useful, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be hit with a spam penalty. Google’s spam updates usually target phishing scams and those trying to trick users into handing out personal details.
Despite this, the new update means that sites could be vulnerable to hacked scam. Websites that are not totally secure could be flagged as spam without even knowing it.
So, if you find yourself falling down the ranks this month and not getting any visibility, make sure to check your site’s security for possible attacks that could have resulted in your site being removed from Google’s index.
In a recent podcast, Google’s John Mueller and Lizzi Sassman weighed in on the use of stock photography, and essentially provided the all-important answers to the question: Is it okay to use stock images on my site?
To cut a long story short, yes.
They said that stock photography is a great way to liven up a post and add some extra context to your piece, however it must be appropriate for what you’re using it for. For example, you can’t have a ‘Meet the Team’ page filled with photographs of smiling, happy people that you acquired from a royalty-free website – nobody will believe it and it just doesn’t work. All pretty standard stuff.
They also discussed using stock images in Image Search, and essentially concluded that it won’t have any negative impact on your rankings to use stock photography – phew! However, they did state that you can’t expect it to rank well, as plenty of other sites will be using the same image.
And that concludes our October SEO roundup…so, what’s next?
We’ve got one key update when it comes to web design and development, and it’s an exciting one…
Container queries are here!
Although this update was technically announced in September (don’t judge, let us explain!), it’s not actually supported across all browsers yet, so we’ve got some time before we can start using it to its full extent.
CSS container queries are here, supported in Chromium 105 and Safari 16. Albeit in their early stages, web designers and developers are already expressing interest in this huge milestone, knowing it’ll be a welcome addition to their toolkit.
Typically, when building a responsive design, you’d use a media query to ensure the layout of your components adapt to the size of the screen. Essentially, media queries allow us to adjust the layout/design of the page depending on what device you’re using.
Despite this, a lot of the time, a web design will have components that change layout in correspondence to the container’s available width, not always relating to the viewport size but instead to where the component is situated.
Rather than just focusing on styling the component based on the viewport size, a container query specifies changes in relation to its parent container. This allows you to make a reusable element that behaves differently based on the size of the area it is within – genius!
Though media queries did solve a lot of layout problems, they’re not always the perfect solution nowadays – enter container queries…
And that concludes our whistle-stop tour of the month of October 2022, it’s been a busy one! But let’s be real, when is it not?
Still the same great data driven services, but now with a different name