Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.
This week’s My Five is by Joe.
1. A Big Fatima Government Facepalm
I am struggling to think of a week in recent months when the government hasn’t managed to screw something up. They are managing to make a dog’s dinner of pretty much everything they touch but this week saw uproar in ad-land after people objected to the idea that Fatima (a ballet dancer) could retrain as a cyber security guru. I am sure you will have seen it?:
It actually turns out that this ad was originally used last year as part of a campaign to encourage more people to consider cyber-related jobs, but this didn’t stop general uproar, an accusation by the photographer that the image has been used without permission and the culture secretary dismissing the ad as ‘crass’ given the current massacre of jobs in the arts.
The ad has been removed, but I don’t think we have seen the last of it. If there is one thing you can rely on, it is that people will bit back with humour. Here are a couple of my personal favourites from the inevitable backlash:
2. A New Google Analytics
Google has announced a new update to Google Analytics that promises to harness machine learning to help paint a more complete picture of user behaviour and offer improved insights. Enhanced trend monitoring is likely to be the main improvement and the new Analytics claims to automatically alert users to significant changes in data and should help anticipate future actions.
It will require a new Google Analytics 4 property, which is built on the App + Web property that was introduced last year so it should be especially powerful for analysing behaviour across devices and platforms.
I haven’t explored this yet but it is on the to-do list for next week…
3. Bing Webmaster Tools Gets An Upgrade
It has been a good week for ‘new features’ announcements as Bing announced a new and shiny site explorer.
If you have a website and care about search engine marketing, you should be reviewing any data that you can get from Google / Bing webmaster tools as it can be very helpful to diagnose potential issues. It is very helpful to be able to explore how the search engines crawl, index and categorises your site but there is also a lot more data about average rankings, impressions, and clicks than you will see in your analytics package, so it really should be a regular port of call on your digital marketing travels.
It is great to see that Bing has been investing in their webmaster tools. I have to confess that my primary focus is usually Google Search Console but Bing’s new site explorer is a significant overhaul and it looks extremely promising. Another one to add to the to-do list next week.
4. Google Search Console Gets A Downgrade
As if to balance the positive news from Bing, Google announced that they have disabled a feature of their URL Inspection tool this week:
We have disabled the "Request Indexing" feature of the URL Inspection Tool, in order to make some infrastructure changes. We expect it will return in the coming weeks. We continue to find & index content through our regular methods, as covered here: https://t.co/rMFVaLht6V
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) October 14, 2020
The ‘request indexing’ tool is actually something that you should not ever really have to worry about, but it can help if a page is struggling to get indexed. There is no guarantee that it will actually speed anything up, but you used to be able to ‘request indexing’ to send a URL directly to the crawlers in the hope that it will be crawled more quickly. This can be a useful tool to deploy in the event that there seem to be some indexing problems with the search engine, so it is good to know it is there.
It is not clear what the infrastructure changes are but it looks as though it is a temporary move and Google has made it clear that it will continue to index sites through normal crawling and indexing, so there is no immediate need to panic.
5. Bubbles Are The Answer
I have realised that a ‘bubble’ is the answer to everything in these liberty-challenged days. It seems as though you just need to create a bubble to get around the various curbs to our freedom and all is excused?
It seems as though I am not the only one to realise the potential that bubbles offer, but The Flaming Lips have taken it to an impressive extreme. The band’s frontman Wayne Coyne has, for years, used a plastic bubble in order to engage in some interesting crowd surfing, but he has come up with a novel solution to the challenge of enjoying live music in socially distanced times:
I have to admire their creativity, but I really hope that this is not a glimpse at the future of our society as I get very claustrophobic……