Facebook expands local news section and launches Collaborative Stories feature, LinkedIn adds “Find an expert” section, Google’s new link attributes, Google’s algorithm updates to reviews in rich results and Pinterest introduces shoppable pins for visual searches.
Facebook expands local news section
After launching the new local module “Today In” in six US cities in January 2018, Facebook has now announced that it will extend the feature to over 6,000 cities and towns across the US. The section highlights the biggest news stories of interest in the local area as well as local page posts which generate discussion, inform about events, the weather, local groups and schools. According to Facebook there are now over 1.6 million people who have opted into the feature, which is designed to increase the focus on what is happening in the region rather than focusing on world news. As an addition to traditional local newspapers the aim is to bring local news to people who might not have daily access to newspapers and studies have shown increasing interactions with local content through the Facebook feature.
Launch of Collaborative Stories
Facebook is giving creators new features to help them build their audience and ultimately monetise the platform in the best way possible. One of those features is the Collaborative Story, in which it will be possible for creators or public figures to collaborate on a Story and generate increased exposure for their channels by benefiting from the audience of another bigger channel, making it possible for users who do not follow the original content creator’s page to view their story. Another feature to increase engagement are the Fan Reply Stickers, allowing the owner of a page to create a Story reply for fans which can either be a video or image and which can then be shared on the creator’s Facebook Story. Additionally, the shopping check out features will be improved in order to allow users to purchase directly through the platform instead of leaving to the business’ website.
LinkedIn adds “Find an expert” feature
After adding service listings for profiles in July and making it possible for freelancers and service providers to inform other users about the services they offer within a separate section of their profile, LinkedIn has now expanded the feature. The new feature allows LinkedIn users to search for other users and filter for the type of service they have listed in their profile as well as to see any existing connections to that person. With this feature and extension, LinkedIn aims to provide the best platform for business connections. The feature is currently only available in the US, but if proved successful will be rolled out globally.
Google’s new link attributes
Google is investigating how to better understand links across the web and has evolved the “nofollow” attribute. Two new link attributes have recently been released in order to give webmasters an additional way of indicating the nature of particular links to Google Search. The two new attributes are:
rel=”sponsored”: Use the sponsored attribute to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.
rel=”ugc”: UGC stands for User Generated Content, and the ugc attribute value is recommended for links within user generated content, such as comments and forum posts.
It is important to note that with the release of these two new attributes, Google has also changed the nature of the attributes, now treating them as hints, rather than an exact directive. This means that you will be able to use the attributes to tell the search engine what you think is the correct decision for the link, however, the final decision will be made by the search engine itself. It is also important to note that these changes mainly affect blogs with a large number of spam comments including links, where it is advisable to implement the rel=ugc attribute. Further, for blogs and news website with a large number of sponsored links it is advisable to implement the rel=sponsored attribute, as this will show Google that the links included are not purely serving the purpose of adding quality content for the readers.
Google’s algorithm updates to reviews in rich results
Google has decided to alter the algorithm in order to make review rich results more helpful. The main aspect of this change will be that self-serving reviews will no longer be displayed for businesses and organisations. Google considers self-serving reviews as a markup added directly by the business or through using a third-party widget. The search engine argues that for many schema types, reviews do not add much value for the users, which is why a restriction to the pool of schema types that can trigger review rich results has been made. For now this does not mean that any business using third-party widgets have to remove said reviews from their website, but rather indicates that Google won’t show the reviews in rich results in the SERPs. This could have a huge knock-on affect to those sites that have seen increased click through rates by having the Review mark-up display the reviews as part of the SERPs.
Pinterest’s shoppable pins for visual searches
The Lens tool by Pinterest has received yet another update. Announced last week, the company has improved the capabilities of the visual search technology used for users to identify objects by using the integrated camera on their smartphone and uploading the picture onto the Pinterest database, which is now able to identify more than 2.5 billion objects across home and fashion pins. The social network has also announced that shoppable pins will now be available within the visual search section, making it even easier for the users to find and then buy the products they are looking for. This shortened customer journey and increased exposure of sponsored pins offers a great opportunities for marketers in the fashion and home decor industry. The new feature has already been released on the Android version of the app and will be rolled out for iOS in the coming weeks.