Hello and welcome to 2018! Everyone’s dragged themselves to work after spending a few too many days full of cheese, wine and turkey, and now we’re starting the new year on a cocktail of cumulative hangovers, water and an obscene amount of caffeine! The office was full of Christmas cheer during December, with the celebration of four birthdays, Secret Santa and the office Christmas party, Ricemedia had a great month. The entirety of the UK re-watched the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special, and the West Midlands got covered in blankets of snow at the beginning of December. The Last Jedi caused a divide amongst Star Wars fans, and many millennials got to watch Gone With the Wind for the first time. December 2017 was a month full of friends, family, festivity and love. It was also a really great month for the SEO, PPC, Digital Marketing, Digital PR and Social Media industries. So, without further ado, here is the final 2017 digest of 10 notable things that happened in the digital marketing world this December 2017. Put your feet up and relax.
1. Facebook is starting to de-rank engagement bait style posts
On December 18th 2017 Facebook’s Newsroom announced that they would start to de-rank any spammy posts that are begging for engagement such as likes, shares or comments. This decision comes after users told Facebook that they dislike spammy posts that goad them into interacting with them. For example, “LIKE this if you’re born in December!” This irritating tactic is known as “engagement bait,” and takes advantage of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm as it boosts engagement in order to get greater reach. However, it is important to note that posts asking for advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing person report or raising money for a charity will not be adversely affected. This algorithm update is music to our ears, and we’re looking forward to seeing it in action. Find out more here.
2. Google stopped showing news results from sites that hide their location
This month the world’s leading search engine, Google announced that they would no longer show news results from sites hiding their location. This change can be found in Google’s policy and states that they are stopping sites from showing up in news results on the SERPs if they hide their country of origin. Sites are now forbidden to “misrepresent or conceal their country of origin or are directed at users in another country under false premises.” This means that a site from a foreign country can’t say it’s from the US or anywhere else, and vice versa. This move is certainly something we can get on board with. Find out more about it here. (Find out how fake news can thwart your SEO efforts here.)
3. We looked at creative ways to build links to your website
Link building is a basic part of SEO, and having a catalogue of high quality, relevant links to your site will only enhance your SEO strategy and efforts. However, it is easy to stick to the classic way of link building through comments, but getting a live link is incredibly hard. To help you improve your rankings and build up a repertoire of strong links, our in-house link building expert, Beth gave us a few tips and came up with some fun and creative ways to help you build effective links to your site that will simultaneously provide you with both quick wins and increased traffic levels. From Quora to Buzzfeed, you can learn all about it here!
4. Despacito was the most shared content on Facebook in 2017
Buzzsumo released their list of most popular viral content, posts, videos and articles of 2017 and the results were very surprising. Luis Fonti’s Despacito music video on YouTube took first place in the most shared content category (sorry it will be stuck in your head now), after receiving a whopping 22.2 million Facebook interactions, and Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You music video came second place with 9.7 million interactions. Music Videos were the most popular form of content shared on Facebook, which was followed by news articles; the social media world was quick to express their grief and sorrow following the passing of Linkin Park’s frontman Chester Bennington. What was interesting was that engagement in viral quizzes was still high but has dropped in comparison to previous years. Find out more here.
5. Google AdWords Ads will no longer show review extensions from January 2018
This December, Google AdWords announced that they will stop showing review extensions with ads from mid-January 2018. Alongside this, all review extensions along with performance data will be permanently removed from all AdWords accounts in early February. Google has stated that advertisers must download their ad extension data before February, should they wish to save it. We’re not sure what this means to third-party review sites such as Trust Pilot, as reviews displayed in the extensions can come from non-Google websites. It will be interesting to see what Google will do instead, as there was mention of whether or not a replacement for current Ad extensions will be offered later on. Check it out here.
6. A new Google video series will answer SEO’s and Webmaster’s frequently asked questions
SEO and Webmasters across the globe wept with joy after Google announced their video help series that is aimed at giving Webmasters and SEOs answers to their questions. This video series was introduced by Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, with the aim of covering topics such as “404 errors, how and when crawling works, a site’s URL structure [and] duplicate content.” So, how do you get your question(s) featured? Pop it in the Webmaster Central Help Forum and cross your fingers. Search Engine Land has got the first six videos of the series, and you can find them here.
7. We looked at the best Google Chrome extensions for SEO
SEOs and Google have a love-hate relationship, and when it comes to Google’s Chrome extensions, they certainly offer a helping hand. There are a plethora of amazing Google Chrome extensions that will enhance your SEO strategy and help you reach your goals. Whether it’s productivity you need a hand with or a shortcut to uncover those sneaky backlinks, the Google Chrome Store is here to help. Find out more about the best Google Chrome extensions here.
8. The Drum investigated the pros and cons of ‘Moon Marketing’
In December, The Drum released a really interesting article looking at the pros and cons of ‘Moon Marketing’ (marketing projects utilising the moon and space). The article had a particular focus on Japanese start-up company Ispace, who suggested that whilst the lunar economy is decades away from thriving, initial business opportunities will start on the moon’s surface and have a marketing-related focus. They suspect this will be done through sponsored spacecraft and billboards. Whilst ‘Moon Marketing’ will see incredible creativity and innovation, it is difficult to know whether it will see a positive ROI. Check it out here.
9. Google Chrome will start blocking ads from February 15th
This month, Venture Beat announced that Google Chrome had released the date of when they will start blocking ads (even those served by Google) on sites displaying non-compliant ads. From February 15th 2018, Chrome’s built-in ad-blocker will start working. This move comes after Google joined the Coalition for Better Ads, to ensure that industry professionals are creating ads that will improve user experience. For businesses following the Coalition for Better Ads guidelines, there isn’t anything to worry about. Check it out here.
10. Google Published Voice Search Guidelines
SEO and Digital Marketing professionals wept happy tears when Google published their Voice Search guidelines this December. In short, the content produced must answer the user’s query and should be concise. Alongside this, all content must be grammatically correct. ComScore predicts that by 2020 50% of all searches will be by voice, so it’s important that we stay ahead of the curve and get as much knowledge as possible. Find out more here.