Google Slowdown, Amazon Waste and the Social Media Basics

Google’s algorithm changes have slowed. Mobile search rankings will soon include page load speed. Amazon has decided to cut the scandalous amount of waste caused by its clunky packaging. And too many marketers are ignoring the social media basics in favour of shiny new toys. Here’s the news from the ever-changing world of digital marketing.

2016 Google algo updates less scary than ever

Do you remember the scary days when a single Google algorithm update could easily trash a business’s natural search positions so badly they’d spend months recovering? Back then maintaining good natural search visibility was a hair-raising ride and algo changes often precluded a shitstorm of massive proportions. But things seem to have calmed down beyond all recognition.
Google might still change its search algorithm as many as 600 times every year. But evidence in the form of the dramatic algorithm updates we used to get is thin on the ground. 2016 is a case in point, with only four updates identified by the experts so far and just two readily identifiable.

  1. Mystery update January 2016 – A bunch of experts noticed comparatively dramatic changes in rankings. Google confirmed the update was ‘core’ but the details never came to light
  2. All change for AdWords February 2016 – Google removed the right hand column paid ads entirely in favour of four-advert blocks on a host of commercial searches. Apparently the update also had a dramatic effect on CTR for the organic results for competitive keywords
  3. Mystery update March 2016 – Several experts noted a fairly major update in March this year, marked by a week of unusual algorithmic activity, but Google refused to confirm it and nobody could really tell what effect it had
  4. Mobile-friendly update 2, May 2016 – A year or so after the original mobile friendly update, the search engine rolled out another designed to benefit mobile-friendly sites on mobile search. Because most sites were already mobile friendly, the impact was probably low key

Does the big Google slow-down mean there won’t be any more dramatic, world-rocking, business-killing algo changes on the horizon? Nope. It’s your job to keep your website in top technical condition and do everything you can to delight the people who consume your digital content. Otherwise the next biggie could knock you off your ranking perch.

Mobile page load speed tipped to affect mobile search

Right now slow mobile page loading times don’t affect mobile search rankings. But in June Google’s Gary Illyes said the search engine will update its page speed ranking factor specifically for mobile pages. And apparently it could happen within a few months.
Page load speed first became a ranking factor in spring 2010. But here we are in 2016 and under the current system, most of the Big G’s mobile ranking signals are based on desktop web page performance, not mobile. If your desktop pages load like shit off a blanket – pardon my French – but your mobile pages load at an exhausted snail’s pace, it won’t affect your mobile rankings… yet. But the algorithmic writing’s on the wall, so get it sorted now. Here’s where you can test your mobile website pages’ loading speed.

Amazon delivers less empty air to homes across Europe

Amazon uses eye-watering amounts of packaging. If you’ve ever received a book packed in a whopping great coffin-sized box you’ll understand why they want to combat the mountains of pointless waste they currently generate. Now Amazon is testing special software called Box on Demand, which provides ‘appropriate’ packaging for ecommerce orders.
The tech used by Box on Demand ‘creates the perfect packaging for your products, reducing the empty space (air) in each shipment. This reduces the need for void fill and improves the protection of contents for each package’. Amazon will be testing the new process for 20 months in European warehouses and estimate an average space saving of 60% on their current boxes. Testing is always a wise idea. But is it really necessary to test something relatively simple like new packaging for twenty months? Come on Amazon!

Too many social media marketers run before they can walk

As reported in The Guardian, social media marketing is a minefield of shiny new toys. And far too many digital marketers get seduced by new things before getting to grips with existing best practice, basic stuff like creating great content and getting to grips with the media planning process.
Some of these shiny new things might eventually mature, go mainstream and end up as powerful new marketing platforms. But adopting them too early means marketers often fall into the trap of innovation for innovation’s sake, with dismal results. You can understand the pressure they’re under. As the article says, “Brands and their agencies are always keen to be part of the next big thing”. But as they also say, “chances are that might be right in front of you. The biggest innovations social media still needs are improvement in the quality of content, and sophistication of media planning.”
Back soon with more news and views from the digital marketing arena. In the meantime if you want top quality content to delight your audience, walk this way.

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