Today we look back at some of the key changes and innovations across all aspects of digital in April. We give you a snapshot of what the update is, why it is important and what action you should take. 
April has been another busy month in the world of digital, with Google and SEO taking centre stage for many of the updates. 

Google Product Reviews Algorithm Update 

What is it?: On Thursday 8th April, Google released a new quality algorithm update which promotes outstanding product review. This is related to how a brand writes content, rather than consumer product reviews. This update will have affected manufacturers, publishers and resellers of products. It is reported that the rollout of this update concluded on the 22nd April 2021. 
Why is it important?: Content has always been king for improving your search engine optimisation rankings in Google, with unique product content being a key part of this. This recent update will reward the brands that go that extra mile, enhancing content rather than serving 'thin' content to customers. 
What action should you take?:  
Brands should ensure that they have the resource available to make product content unique. This should include providing detail on the products benefits vs. alternative in the markets, product attributes including colour, dimensions and ingredients., and add your internal teams views and experiences of the products. 
The content provided should also extend to 360 views of the content and video content on how to use or assemble. All products should be supplemented by user reviews, as such user generated content is essential for both conversion and enhancing SEO rankings. 

Some publishers pull out of FLoC testing 

What is it?: In previous updates, we have discussed about the planned removal of cookies by Google from the Chrome browser and the potential launch of FLoC, where Google will assign a user into a cohort as their answer to cookies. Last month, Europe pulled out of initial trials, as the methodology behind FLoC could be ironically seen as a violation of privacy, by increasing the amount of personal data collected. In April, the pressure on Google and their FLoC solution has mounted, as high profile publishers such as the Guardian have resisted the trial, Wordpress has threatened to block FLoC, whilst several other browsers have resisted the implementation. 
Why is it important?: FLoC will require the buy-in from the 'Internet Community' for the solution to be classed as credible and to not impact on advertisers and publishers looking to monetise ad space. Such buy-in is however at risk, due to this current rejection and legal question marks which goes along with it. Although it's still early days in the trialling of this new technique, it feels more likely that Google will need a plan b. The efficacy of tracking is an area that is more under the spotlight than ever, with Apple's latest iOS 14.5 update providing users with the ability to opt out of tracking of apps on their devices, causing frustration from Facebook, who rely on this data. 
Interestingly, whilst all of this challenge is happening, we saw tech start up Gener8 Ads enter BBC's The Dragon's Den, gaining investment for their cookie opt in and monetisation solution. Could a solution like this be the industries (and Google's) plan b? At this stage, you wouldn't write off an investment in a solution like this by one of the big tech giants, before the end of the year! 
What action should you take?: As per the previous monthly updates, whether Google's cookieless movement and plans for FLoC remains a watching brief. We however recommend that you continue to invest your time in developing your first party audience strategy and trialling alternative targeting techniques to retargeting. 

Google Page Experience update postponed until June 

What is it?: On Monday 19th April, Google announced a further delay to the launch of their SEO algorithm update Page Experience. The launch is due to start in Mid June rather than May as originally planned, giving brands extra time to get their site speed and load stability in order. The rollout is expected to be completed by the end of August. 
Why is it important?: In previous updates we have spoken of the importance of focusing on Core Web Vitals signals including page load stability and site speed, to ensure that you are in a place to benefit from the planned algorithm update. Those who are meeting Google's guidelines, especially for mobile could see a rankings and traffic increase from May. Conversely, those not meeting the guidelines are more likely to see a drop in performance. We expect this delay to be the last one. 
What action should you take?: If you haven't reviewed your Core Web Vitals, we recommend you do this immediately. You should check your Google Search Console analytics, in conjunction with Google Page Speed Insights , to identify any offending pages and common areas for improvement. Working with your in-house development team or third party agency is a must in April, to avoid a loss in traffic, leads and sales. 

TikTok Launch Lead Generation Ads 

What is it?: On Friday 30th April, TikTok announced the launch of a new advertising format, enabling brands to collect customer data and generate leads within TikTok. The format will act as an extension to the already established in-feed video format and is more direct response / conversion driven than the current ad formats available.  
Why is it important?: This update allows brands from many industries to test this new format, educating customers about the brand / product, whilst providing the opportunity to show their interest and respond to questions posted. As the form is served directly on TikTok, it is expected that conversion rates will be higher than if the user was redirected to another landing page. Use cases could include booking an appointment, signing up to an event, registering interest for a new product which is to be launched soon and surveying your target audience.  
What action should you take?: More information on the ad format including how it will look and implementation support can be found in TikTok's help area. 

Our final thoughts ... 

Quite often brands who resell products often overlook the importance of enhancing product content. Google's latest product review update should be a wake up call for any brand who has previously taken the information provided by the manufacturer and simply copied and pasted to their ecommerce platforms. If you want to win in SEO, especially where your products are not unique, such investment in time is essential in increasing free traffic and sales. 
If any of the above has peaked your interest, don't hesitate to get in touch to understand how we can help you. 
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