You might have heard rumblings about the recent update to Google’s search algorithm, as well as the changes to Twitter and Facebook— but what does each update do? How are they changing the way visitors interact with content? And, most importantly, what do you need to do about it?
In late April, Google updated their mobile search algorithm to give priority to mobile-optimized sites. This event—dubbed by some observers as Mobilegeddon or Mobilepocalypse—is set to be followed by Bing in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s recent update targeted rampant trolling of accounts by enabling stricter control over objectionable content and harassment, while the Facebook update saw changes to users’ news feeds. This is purported to result in less unwanted content interaction, and more content from friends and pages with which users interact with most frequently.
Google’s new algorithm has been out for a few weeks now and resulted in some sites losing traffic due to lack of mobile-friendly design. You can test your current site with Google’s mobile-friendly tool, here.
In a larger sense, however, this update reminds us—as businesses and organizations—to prioritize mobile-friendly browsing. After all, more people are using tablets and smartphones to access content than ever before. As a Pew Research Report from April asserts: “64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011.”
The changes to the Google search algorithm mean that—if you haven’t already—it’s time to update your website. Mobile optimization will ultimately make your site more inviting and just plain easier to reach for those visitors who are browsing your content, learning more about your organization, or trying to contact you via their mobile devices. If your site passes Google’s test for mobile browsing, then you have nothing to worry about .
Facebook has once again changed the way users interact with content. From now on, users will see less of what their friends like and comment on, and more content from friends and Pages with which they interact most often. This is effectively a continuation of Facebook’s content strategy which they began to roll out last year, namely by limiting the amount of “clickbait” that could be shown in one’s feed.
What this suggests is that Facebook is responding to the criticism of users that feeds have become cluttered with content they don’t wish to see. By looking at what users interact with—and, of equal importance, what they avoid interacting with—Facebook has attempted to figure out for users what they’ll want to see and ensure that they see as much of it as possible. For example, a user’s interaction with your content is now less likely to appear at the top of that user’s friend’s feed, thus decreasing the likelihood that your content will be seen by that user’s friend.
Facebook’s update might worry those who rely on getting incidental views from friends of those who "like" your page, so you might consider spending a few dollars to "boost" your post. (You don't need a big advertising budget to see great results on Facebook. But more on that in a future post.) Facebook users hate feeling like they’re being spammed with unwanted or trivial content, so find a way to make your content relevant. You can fall back on familiar standbys—such as reference to a trending topic, or a photo that will capture readers’ attention—but whatever you choose, make sure it serves to connect with your audience on an emotional level.
Twitter has had a major problem with online harassment, threats of violence, and general trolling, and it’s only gotten worse lately. Therefore, Twitter’s latest update seeks to target those who perpetuate these trends by pursuing reported abuse more vigorously, locking accounts of those who violate Terms of Service, and requiring those users to delete tweets deemed to be in violation.
This is especially good news for those who have been targeted by trolls in the past, and found their old reporting system to lack teeth. Of course, the effectiveness of the new update may not be known for some time.
Twitter’s update, being aimed at making their space safe from abuse, means that you’ll receive greater support from Twitter when reporting those tweets. To learn more, check out the official Twitter blog.
The important thing to remember is that you can’t take the digital landscape for granted. Before you know it, another round of updates will roll out, and the layout and interactivity that you may have grown accustomed to will be thrown off once more. However, there are always going to be a few things that you can control. Having a clear brand voice and sound content strategy will help to keep steady traffic coming your way, despite whatever happens to change the way users get there.