SEOs rejoice: Core web vitals release moves to June; plus WordPress might block FLoC; Tuesday’s daily brief
And why you should use social media as a key component of your negotiation research
Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.
Good morning, Marketers, and yesterday was anything but a slow news day in search.
If your team or business was scrambling to fix any core web vitals issues before the May rollout, Google has given you a bit of a break. The rankings changes that could come from not meeting CWV metrics won’t take effect until mid-June and will finish rolling out all the way in August.
Coupled with the delay, there are also new reports in Search Console to help you understand how your pages are doing in terms of these major core web vitals numbers.The new “page experience report” within Google Search Console consolidates the core web vitals report and gives you information on the other page experience ranking signals.
Plus, WordPress announced a proposal to block Google’s FLoC as a security threat. The Federated Learning of Cohorts model groups users by interest into buckets that advertisers can target, but WordPress’s proposal agrees with the Electronic Frontier Foundation that FLoC is a security concern.
Check out our coverage below for more details and what it means for you, the search marketer.
Director of Search Content
Google postpones page experience update rollout
If you haven’t gotten around to fixing your site’s core web vitals just yet, you no longer need to worry about the new page experience update rolling out in a few weeks from now. Google has postponed the launch to begin in mid-June and then roll out gradually through the end of August. Previously, the launch was scheduled for mid-May.
What did launch today are new reports in Search Console (see below) and signed exchanges for all web pages. In mid-June Google is going to start rolling out the page experience ranking change but that won’t be fully live until the end of August. Also, the AMP badge will slowly go away, as will the requirement for the top stories carousel to be AMP.
Finally, Google reiterated that this update won’t be drastic — so don’t worry too much.
WordPress proposes blocking FLoC by default
A proposal has been put forth that would block Google’s FLoC by default across all WordPress sites. Seeing as how WordPress is the dominant content management system, this could mean a devastating blow to Google’s new ad-targeting methodology.
“WordPress powers approximately 41% of the web – and this community can help combat racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and discrimination against those with mental illness with four lines of code,” the proposal states. The proposal also seeks to treat FLoC as a security concern, meaning that the code would get pushed out in the next minor release and patched to previous versions of WordPress, which would enable the FLoC-blocking code could appear on more sites sooner.
This may diminish advertisers’ ability to effectively reach potential customers via Google’s cohort-based targeting. From an industry-wide perspective, more and more players are speaking out against FLoC (WordPress would be joining the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Chromium-based browsers Brave and Vivaldi, and DuckDuckGo). Google’s major rivals in the browser market, Apple, Mozilla and Microsoft, have stated that they’re evaluating all replacements for third-party cookies — even so, it’s very unlikely that they’ll support FLoC. If it becomes a reality, this move by WordPress can be considered an important vote against FLoC as we approach Google’s 2022 deadline to end support for third-party cookies.
Google Search Console adds Page Experience report and filters for Search Performance report
If you don’t have enough reports to work with around the upcoming Google page experience update, now you have two more.
Google added a new “page experience report” within Google Search Console that consolidates the core web vitals report, but also gives you information on the other page experience ranking signals. These include not just LCP, FID and CLS but also mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, intrusive interstitials, and safe browsing status.
Google also updated the Performance report to show you how pages are performing filtered by your core web vitals and page experience scores.
SEO Platforms evolve to meet marketers’ needs as SERPs and ranking factors change
Search Engine Optimization remains the stalwart mainstay of digital marketing, with search driving around 50% of website traffic on average, according to an analysis of SimilarWeb data by Growth Badger. The average top blog, the company found, “gets 66.47% of its traffic from search, of which 99.77% is organic and only 0.23% is paid.”
But the practice of SEO has become more complex and it involves more considerations than SEOs enjoyed in the “ten blue links” era. Today, SEO includes everything from content marketing and distribution to user experience, and even the core job of gathering and interpreting search intelligence has become more challenging as the search engines continually change their display of results and port them over to other media like voice assistants.
This doesn’t mean that the well-established SEO best practices should be cast aside, however. Keyword research, page-level analysis, backlink tracking and acquisition, and rank tracking are still of critical importance, even as the environment continues to change.
82% of businesses invested in their online presence to adjust to COVID
The COVID-19 pandemic affected most businesses around the globe but placed a disproportionate strain on local business economies. A new survey from Vendasta found that SMBs and local businesses adopted a number of digital tools in response to the pandemic, including…
- Digital advertising
- Listings management
- Social media marketing, and
Of those surveyed, 33% that did not rely on local experts (like marketing agencies) before the pandemic have relied on them since.
YouTube recommendations, Google in trouble in Australia (again), and Google Ads conversion issues
How the YouTube recommendation system works. Rachel Alves, a product manager from YouTube’s recommendation system, explained exactly how it works. “You do not need to be an expert in algorithms of analytics to be successful on YouTube,” she said. Pro tip: Not all watch time on YouTube is equal. The key is watcher satisfaction.
Google misled consumers about the collection and use of location data. The Federal Court in Australia has found that Google LLC and Google Australia Pty Ltd (together, Google) misled consumers about personal location data collected through Android mobile devices between January 2017 and December 2018, in a world-first enforcement action brought by the ACCC.
PPC conundrum: Can you help? “Anyone else have conversions that are set to not be included in conversions in Google Ads counting as conversions?” asked Julie Bacchini of Neptune Moon.
A playbook for negotiators in the social media era
The landscape of negotiation has changed as social media has become an integral part of daily lives. Many in key negotiation positions may feel like social media isn’t in their purview, but in this article for the Harvard Business Review, the authors argue that it should be part of a smart preparation strategy for any negotiation.
“A survey of ‘adversarial stakeholders’ in negotiations across more than 50 large projects worldwide found that social media often played a significant role, ultimately influencing deliberations over whether the projects would go forward at all, on what time scale, and under what terms,” they wrote.
The piece deep-dives into Amazon’s HQ2 failure in New York and the role social media played in that negotiation going wrong. If Amazon had tracked the social media of State Senator Gianaris whose vote they needed to seal the deal, they would have seen the anti-Amazon social media backlash growing — and the pressure the Senator was feeling from his own constituents (77% of whom initially supported HQ2).
“Perhaps shockingly, Amazon’s own account … appears utterly peripheral to the extensive Twitter conversations swarming this key pressure point (Gianaris). Few allies show up with the ability to respond online, address concerns, correct falsehoods, and make the positive case for HQ2,” wrote the HBR authors.
So what can key negotiators learn from Amazon’s defeat about social media and negotiation?
- Use open-source information to learn about the full set of parties, understand their personalities, interests, perceptions, and relationships, as well as to carry out extended party mapping more systematically.
- Seize the initiative online – before, during, and after the process – by cultivating likely allies and minimizing potential attack surfaces (including seemingly peripheral third parties or tangential concerns, especially for negotiations in the public eye).
- Integrate the digital and physical aspects of deal strategy. As potentially critical as the social media dimensions of negotiation may be, they should not be considered separately from the other elements of strategy and tactics.
- Take ethical and privacy concerns to heart. Abuses can not only be morally wrong but also costly in reputational, financial, and legal terms — and can backfire. As digital norms continue to evolve, negotiators should pay close attention not only to the letter of privacy regulations and laws, but also to their spirit.