In the weird and not-so-wonderful world of big tech, privacy has been the talking point for a hot minute. In the past few weeks alone, we’ve seen Meta’s stock price tank thanks to Apple’s privacy changes and Google’s flip-flop from FLoC to Topics API as its third-party cookie replacement. Now, it appears Google is committed to following in the footsteps of Apple – specifically, the latter’s App Tracking Transparency feature, the very same tech that set Meta in a spin.
But Google promises things will be different. On Wednesday, the company announced plans to work on privacy measures that will limit data sharing on smartphones running on Android. It also swore to be less disruptive than Apple was when it made similar moves last year. In the announcement, Google said,
“We realize that other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers. We believe that – without first providing a privacy-preserving alternative path – such approaches can be ineffective and lead to worse outcomes for user privacy and developer businesses.”
While a timeline has yet to be given, Google said existing technologies would be supported for at least the next two years – which means Android users won’t be seeing a popup asking for permission to be tracked anytime soon.
Even with the long wait, the changes will likely still affect major firms that rely on tracking users’ data – we’ve seen this firsthand with the Apple-Meta misfortune. But Meta, which fought against Apple’s sudden changes, has publicly voiced support for the way Google is approaching privacy-first measures. Graham Mudd, Facebook’s VP of product marketing, ads and business, on Twitter called it “encouraging” to see Google’s “long-term, collaborative approach to privacy-protective personalized advertising.”
Google’s decision to opt for a more privacy-minded approach is likely a reaction not only to Apple’s move but also to privacy pundits and regulators who have had the search giant under a microscope for many months. This new commitment to privacy-minded practices could be just the thing to help Google sidestep the regulatory issues that have plagued it – but the company has still released no information about how this new model could look.
Either way, with users becoming more protective of their personal data, and many moving to more scrupulous search alternatives, this could be what keeps Google at the top of the food chain (if these changes truly do put users above profits, of course). Let the countdown to 2024 begin.
Google’s Data Studio Dashboard for Web Stories Is Live: You didn’t forget about Web Stories, did you? We haven’t addressed them for a while, but Google is still as determined as ever to make marketers take advantage of them. The company’s latest tactic to entice us is a new Data Studio sample template – Web Stories Insights Dashboard. The dashboard gives insights into how your Web Stories are performing based on a number of metrics. These include key metrics (story starts, pageviews, etc.), audience metrics (age, gender, etc.), traffic channels and story level performance (a breakdown of pageviews for a particular story). To test the template out, set up tracking for your Web Stories in Google Analytics and access the dashboard. You can also check out this video for step-by-step instructions. Have fun!
Signs Are Pointing to an Imminent Algorithm Update: Over the past few weeks, the search engine results pages (SERPs) have been stable, for once. But could this be a case of the calm before the storm? SEO experts, including Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable, seem to think so. After all, 2021 put us through a historic number of major algorithm updates, so we know better than to get complacent. Late last week, there were rumblings in the SEO community of some small but unusual movements on SERPs – perhaps an update brewing? And according to Schwartz, several tools are spiking, and the chatter is only getting louder. So perhaps it’s a good idea to keep a closer eye on your rankings over the next couple of days. You never know what might happen.
Here Are Google Ads’ Top Three Priorities for 2022: Shortly after launching its revamped Partners program, Google Ads is letting us in on its main focuses for 2022. These are automation, measurement and privacy – not necessarily new priorities, but Google’s approach to all three will change. Google’s VP and general manager for Google Ads, Jerry Dischler, said in a blog that conversations he’s had with various brands have brought to the forefront a need for “readiness, speed and agility.” This has highlighted the value of automation in unlocking new opportunities for growth. Meanwhile, measurement is getting new solutions as privacy gets put ahead of profits. Let this be a reminder to refresh your paid media strategies in 2022, as Google itself is doing.
Here’s Why Content AI Shouldn’t Replace Writers: Will writers in marketing ever be obsolete? With advanced artificial intelligence (AI) proving its efficiency in producing content, this is a valid – albeit frightening – question. Though initially met with skepticism, many marketers have slowly warmed up to tools like Jasper.ai, and the use of AI in marketing has achieved a year-over-year (YoY) growth of 186 percent. That number is nothing to sniff at. But could these tools ever replace the creativity of the human mind? In a thought-provoking blog for Search Engine Journal (SEJ), Yael Klass tries to answer this question. Klass simultaneously tells us about the incredible applications of these tools (better SEO) and reminds us that there are limitations (a lack of context). Ultimately, content AI has its place in marketing, but these are tools that work for and with marketers rather than replacing them.
Good Core Web Vitals Won’t Improve Your Indexing: For many of us, optimizing for the three Core Web Vitals took up the majority of 2021. Simply, we did it because Google said we should. And we’ve already been vocal about the fact that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t worth it. In fact, even sites that started with extremely low scores and managed to get them in the green didn’t reap any rewards. Now, John Mueller has given us yet another reason to feel like we spent the better part of the last two years wasting time and resources: In the latest Search Central office-hours hangout, Mueller told a viewer that better Core Web Vitals doesn’t mean better indexing or faster crawling. Mueller explained that Core Web Vitals is a ranking factor, not a quality factor – and quality factors dictate how many pages of a site get indexed. On that note, guess we’ll keep waiting for the payoff we were promised.
Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.
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