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 Kerry.
1. Facebook to pay UK publishers millions for their content
Facebook has agreed to pay UK media companies, including Reach, the Guardian Media Group, and Condé Nast to license their articles, in a move expected to cost tens of millions of pounds.
Facebook revealed the deal has been agreed with mainstream outlets as part of a News tab it will be introducing in January, providing users with a mixture of curated and personalised stories. The aim behind the move is to offer ‘original and authoritative reporting.’
Absolutely nothing to do with enforced regulations of course. But while we’re on the subject, Facebook is set to face a new UK regulator, the Digital Markets Unit, formed in response to concerns over dominance within the online advertising market.
Nevertheless, Facebook is also taking the opportunity to extend their Community News Project, funding training of journalists and recruiting new reporters, which can only be a good thing. Watch this space.
2. Google rolls out new core update
Ok, so this is potentially the gift no one actually asked for, but yesterday afternoon (December 3rd), Google announced it had started rolling out its first core update since May, and its third of the year.
It shouldn’t be anything to worry too much about for those sticking to best practice and providing sites that offer great user experience and high-quality content, without engaging in outdated link building tactics. However, as with any update, there’s a good chance positions will fluctuate initially. This can be as much a result of the movement of sites around you as Google’s reaction to your own site. Plus, as we know, it can be easy to become too hung up on rankings.
We should know more about the scale and impact of the update over the coming weeks.
Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the December 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see this blog post for more about that:https://t.co/e5ZQUAlt0G
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 3, 2020
3. Google includes multiple contextual links within featured snippets
An algorithm update isn’t the only thing Google’s given us recently. The search engine confirmed it was testing showing multiple contextual links within a single featured snippet. Excellent news considering we know click-through rates from these results can be low.
Alas, there’s a catch. And it feels like quite a big one.
Hmm. Not liking where this is headed. For the most part, Google is very careful with the content they’re “repurposing” in AMP Stories. Here’s an example where they’ve produced a Featured Snippet with content from other sites, with sources included. pic.twitter.com/JStaObCCGO
— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) November 23, 2020
These links within the featured snippet won’t necessarily link back to the site the featured snippet is taken from(!), but other relevant sites. Which potentially means you could find yourself celebrating being used in a featured snippet, only to lose that traffic to a competitor.
It’s important to remember though that this is very much still in the testing phase, with Google still ‘experimenting and refining’ this.
4. Google rolls out updates to Maps and Google My Business
A hat trick for the big G, this week’s fourth story is about upgrades to maps and GMB that will benefit both consumers and local businesses.
Anyone using Google Maps will now have more ways to message businesses, either through their business profiles on Google Maps or via Google Posts. In addition, customers who try to call a business and don’t get through will be prompted to send a message instead. You can get a better idea of how it will look in practice here.
Google is also providing more details for businesses around how their customers find them. Some of these updates have already been introduced, but more metrics are being rolled out including search queries used to find the business on Google Maps, as well as what kind of device was used.
5. Spotify shares our darkest secrets
This week the audio streaming service sent Twitter into a frenzy with Spotify Wrapped, a year in review of their music choices, which for some was quite frankly, terrifying:
— Candice Carty-Williams (@CandiceC_W) December 2, 2020
Spotify Wrapped should let you know in like October where things currently stand so you’ve got time to make amends. It feels like fucking A-level results day.
— Glenn Moore (@TheNewsAtGlenn) December 2, 2020
Personally, I’ll be taking mine to the grave.