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. Page experience update
Another day, another Google update. This time it’s Google’s page experience update for desktop web pages and desktop search – as opposed to the mobile version which was rolled out around June 2021.
As a reminder, there are several components that combine to make up ‘page experience’ as defined by Google.
Google uses all page experience signals to rank websites, but the core signals of largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift CLS) carry more weight.
While these ranking factors are extremely important (research shows that pages that meet all of Google’s requirements rank one percentage point better than the average and those that don’t, 3.7% worse), they can still be considered marginal gains.
Demonstrating a high degree of E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness) via quality and relevant content should still be the priority.
Google said: “While this update is designed to highlight pages that offer great user experiences, page experience remains one of many factors our systems take into account… Given this, sites generally should not expect drastic changes.”
The update is being rolled out slowly and will be complete by the end of March.
2. Trump’s Truth Social launches
The jewel in the crown of Trump’s post-presidential business ambitions launched this week to widespread criticism and mockery.
Blocked from mainstream social media after the US Capitol riots, Trump has hit back with this launch of his own social network, Truth Social, which will ‘encourage an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology’.
Previously available in Beta to 500 trial users, the site was immediately hit with onboarding problems, is only available to iPhone users, and experienced other technical glitches including a 13-hour outage..
The functionality appears to be a complete rip-off of Twitter with posts being called Truths and reposts, ReTruths.
Ironically, Donald Trump Jnr took to Twitter to share the news:
Sceptics commented that the rather amateurish start is reflective of how difficult it is to build a new social media platform from scratch and if Truth Social fails to comply with the rules and regs of big tech, it could face being removed from Apple’s Store, which would be a huge setback. Shame.
3. Facebook launches Reels
On 22 February, Facebook made Reels available across 150 countries, having previously only been accessible in the US.
The announcement follows news that on 3 February, its parent company Meta reported its biggest-ever loss in market value due to a drop in Facebook user numbers.
Leaked information from a former employee showed younger users have been on the decline at Facebook for some time – flocking in great numbers to rival TikTok.
The Reels rollout is aimed at helping Facebook win a ‘wider’ (read, younger) audience as it has witnessed the success of Reels on its Instagram platform.
“Reels is already our fastest-growing content format by far, and today we’re making it available to everyone on Facebook globally,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
While the short-form video content is certainly familiar and appealing to younger social media users, whether the move will win the audience back remains to be seen – it’s not normally cool to hangout IRL or online in the same place as your parents!
4. Instagram ups minimum usage limits
Back in 2018, following research that showed a correlation between hours spent scrolling on social media and feelings of isolation, big tech launched a major push to help its users be more mindful about the amount of time they were spending on social media platforms.
Time limit functionality was introduced as a way of reminding users how long they had been on social media and nudged them into considering taking a break.
This latest update to daily time limits on Instagram has not only introduced an increase in the lower value that can be set but the order of values pushes users towards higher limits.
Previously the lower daily limit that users could set was 10 or 15 minutes but this has been upped to 30.
Shareholders will no doubt be pleased to see an increase in average user times if the move has the desired effect.
5. Storm reporting
Danger to life warnings extended to most of the UK with advice to stay inside but that didn’t stop the UK’s hardy bunch of weather reporters heading to the gustiest locations around the country to bring us news that yes, it really was windy.
As reported in Huff Post UK, Twitter users could not resist a touch of schadenfreude as users joked about news channels choosing the reporters with the longest hair and the baggiest clothing to show the true extent of the storm.