Welcome to DumDum’s DigiDigest. Yes, it’s a lot of D’s.
The DigiDigest is home to all the news from the digital marketing and tech worlds that you need to grow your business.
Need to know
Core Web Vitals are Google’s big thing for 2021. From May these three metrics (largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift (CLS)) will be added to Google’s algorithm as a ranking factor.
There’s a lot of technical bits in there, so what does it all mean?
Core Web Vitals is a measure of how well a site performs for real people.
The majority of Google’s algorithm comprises signals and measures gathered by crawlers – small pieces of code that visit pages to see what’s on them.
That’s fine for gathering information on the words and pictures on the web page. But it’s less useful for learning how visitors experience the page.
So Core Web Vitals will use field data – information from Google Analytics and the Chrome web browser – to learn how your web pages perform in real life.
Google places equal importance on each web vital. Score well on all three of them and you’ll get a ranking boost. Only hit one or two of them, and you’ll get nothing.
The Core Web Vitals
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This is what most people think of when someone says website speed: how long it takes to load. Specifically, LCP is how long it takes to load the main content in the viewport, so everything on screen before you do any scrolling down.
Google’s used a lot of load time indicators in the past, but LCP is the best representative of what a real person experiences, and it’s harder to cheat.
First Input Delay (FID)
This isn’t relevant to a lot of sites (meaning you might automatically score well). It’s a measure of how long it takes before a person can perform an interaction.
For e-commerce sites this includes things like variation selections, add to cart buttons, and login and checkout forms.
For sites without e-commerce this affects contact forms, lead magnet pages and login pages.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
One of the most annoying pieces of poor web development is layout shift. This is where things move around as new parts of the page are loaded. An example is where you try to click on a link, but because an image has just loaded your link just shot down the screen.
Super annoying, and pretty unforgivable nowadays. Google’s tolerance for CLS is very low, and owners of older websites will have big issues trying to score well on this.
What do I need to do?
Core Web Vitals goes live in May. Google say they won’t apply a penalty for sites and pages that don’t hit all three, but they will give a boost to those who do. Which is basically the same thing.
Including CLS as one of the vitals means switching to a faster hosting service won’t get you the SEO ranking boost on its own, and you may need to invest in some development work. You can see your current Core Web Vitals performance in Google Search Console.
It’s time for Facebook vs Australia.
Facebook has just blocked all media content in and from Australia in response to new legislation. The new law requires online platforms to licence the content they show from media websites.
Whilst Google has agreed deals with most of the affected media groups (after threatening to pull its whole search function out of Australia), Facebook has pressed the big red button and called the Aussie Government’s bluff.
It’s the latest stage in the battle between old media and new media. It’s also part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp’s battle for survival.
And Facebook’s position makes a lot of sense when you remember they’re not a public service, but an advertising platform.
Facebook’s business model is one where organisations pay it to place content in front of the huge Facebook user audience. Australia wants Facebook to pay News Corp for the content that News Corp is placing on Facebook.
It makes even less sense when you remember that the News Corp business model is to lure visitors from Facebook onto their sites so they can slam people with adverts.
It’s a case of old-school advertising platform versus new-school advertising platform, enabled by technologically illiterate politicians who have no idea why they’re able to use Facebook and Google for free.
This is a story that’s already been told, but with a different cast. The music industry of the early noughties faced the same problem. Its customers weren’t prepared to pay for its content anymore.
That created a situation where individuals were choosing to download thousands of pounds worth of music for free via LimeWire and BitTorrent because it was quicker, easier and cheaper than legitimate services.
So Spotify and Apple introduced subscription streaming services which were quick, easy and low cost, with the added benefit of quality. You could still download for free, but to be honest, it was harder work than searching and clicking ‘add to playlist’.
The same has happened to news media. Why buy a physical newspaper when the same story is available for free? Old media always relied on advertising, but now they’ve created a monster of barely usable sites cluttered with ads (I’m looking at you, local news sites!)
The answer, again, will be subscription, propped up with low quality, high ad space, free offerings. We’re halfway there already. Some new services are already coming through.
But unlike the music industry, the news media has a much closer relationship with politicians, so they’re able to use the law to drag out their demise and avoid change. It’s no coincidence that News Corp’s homeland is the scene of the first battle.
Why does it matter to me?
Your industry might not have changed yet, but it will. The Four (Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon) have the cash and the will to enter and disrupt any market.
The key thing is their tendency to bundle products and service into a subscription. Apple’s already doing so with news. Amazon Prime is another example.
Between a third and half of UK households have Prime membership. It wouldn’t be a huge stretch for Amazon Prime to offer or include a home maintenance subscription.
Overnight, the UK’s plumbers, electricians and decorators would have to become Amazon subcontractors or lose half their potential client base.
Want to know how tech companies could wipe out your business model?
Tool of the Week
Stock photos are awful. The good ones are extortionately priced and the decent free ones are overused.
They’re also big on white people. And if you’re doing your buyer persona work right, you might find that’s a problem.
Diversity in images is a massive problem for clothing e-commerce, where customers aren’t buying your product, they’re buying a picture of it.
But that’s easily solvable with a small investment in an influencer or two.
It’s less easy to solve for businesses which rely on stock photography to decorate their service pages. So I’m a big fan of nappy.co, which has, in their words, beautiful photos of Black and Brown people, for free.
All Nappy photos are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero licence, so you’re free to use them for anything. Best of all, all the Nappy photos I’ve seen so far look like real people doing real things, unlike most stock photos!
That’s it for this week
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