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 Ali.
1. Google makes enhancements to its MUM
At its Search On event late last week, Google shared how it’s bringing the latest in AI to its products to support the development of more natural search.
Multitask Unified Model, or MUM for short, is Google’ advanced tech that allows for more nuanced searches that combine data for better results from across text and images and in future, audio and video too. It also understands language so could transfer knowledge from sources across multiple languages. This we already knew but the search giant announced three new applications of its technology this week:
a) Its new capability will enable users to ask questions about what they see. The example given by the search engine is the ability to tap on a Lens icon when looking at a picture of a shirt and ask Google to find you the same pattern — but on another article of clothing, like socks.
It would be difficult to describe this in words but by using the image as the starting point, and combining images and text into a single query, its easier to search visually and express questions in more natural ways.
b) It’s also going to add a “Things to know” feature to SERPS which will give users information based on the way other people have researched a topic. These ideas will be easy to zoom in and out of so users can find super detailed information or browse broader but related topics too.
c) Another string to Google’s bow will be more visual results pages for searches where image-based results are most appropriate, such as ‘Halloween decorating ideas’.
2. Instagram and Twitter make up
Instagram has announced that it will now support links on Twitter following its removal of Twitter Cards back in 2012. This means that when users share an Instagram link on Twitter, their followers will be able to see a preview rather than just a URL of the Instagram link.
They said it would never happen… Twitter Card previews start rolling out TODAY. ?
Now, when you share an Instagram link on Twitter a preview of that post will appear. ? pic.twitter.com/XSZRx9dzd1
— Instagram (@instagram) November 3, 2021
Instagram previously made the decision to remove Twitter cards as it said it wanted to take control of its content and ensure its images were viewed on its own platform.
Instagram’s owner, Facebook, sorry, Meta, has also announced this week that it will remove facial recognition from its platform after concerns from users. It stated a ‘lack of regulations and standards’ as one of the primary reasons for this decision. It hasn’t completely walked away from facial recognition though as it indicated there may be some potential uses on individual devices without accessing external servers.
Following criticism for putting profits before the wellbeing of its users, is this the start of Meta’s new sharing and caring approach?
3. Another Google Spam update
Google has confirmed that it is rolling out another algorithm update aimed at preventing spam.
The rollout started on 3 November and will be completed within the week.
This is the fourth update this year but as long as site owners are following Google’s guidelines there shouldn’t be anything to worry about – it’s mainly aimed at filtering out low-quality websites that trick users.
That said, as Google wheedles out spammy sites, it can cause a little bit of movement in rankings until things settle down – more of a speed bump than a roller coaster though.
4. Google job posting announcement
In a rather strangely worded update, Google told its users that they could improve their job postings.
Let’s take a look at the facts first…
Structured data is a standardised format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. Although structured data for job postings is nothing new, Google indicated that all information should now be included in the description property, even if that means duplicating information from other fields.
So for example, even though there is a separate ‘qualifications’ field, the qualifications information relevant to the position should also be included in the ‘description’ field to make sure users can view the full job description in the jobs experience in Google Search.
It’s not staggeringly exciting news but it was presented in the weirdest way. The announcement said Google had ‘uncovered an opportunity to improve your job posting pages’. Everyone seems a bit baffled by the tone but if the desired effect was to get more publicity around the news, it seems to have worked.
5. It must be Christmas
This week, John Lewis unveiled its new ET-inspired Christmas ad a fortnight earlier than usual, purportedly because Christmas-related searches on its website are up 50% on this time last year. Am I the only one sceptical that it had prime time TV slots to use following the withdrawal of its controversial ‘Let Life Happen’ Home Insurance campaign?
If further evidence is required that Christmas is actually upon us, Maria Carey emerged from wherever she hides during the rest of the year with an announcement about a new Christmas release called Fall In Love At Christmas. It’s a collaboration with Khalid and Kirk Franklin (no, nor me) but she managed to tag the wrong Khalid who had just 115 followers and one tweet reading ‘wats up’. Giggle!
Oh and er… Happy Christmas!