MZ Weekly News Round-Up: The “Pigeon” Update and the Death of Facebook Chat
SEO: Google is officially implementing product ratings and reviews on the Product Listing Ads in its search results. This feature, only available in the United States as of now, will show consumers a 5-star rating system under the PLAs on Google search and Google Shopping. Merchants have until October to share review data with Google in order for ratings to appear in PLAs, either directly or through third-party aggregators. A new algorithm update, nicknamed “Pigeon,” is aiming to provide more useful, relevant and accurate Google search results. Some local businesses may see an increase or decrease in website referrals, leads and business from this change. Google claims that the Pigeon update is an improvement upon previous distance and location parameters. No comments have been made on the percent of queries this algorithm will affect, or if certain web spam algorithms were deployed in the update.
Social Media: Facebook is, once again, killing off its Gifts feature. The original “Gift Shop,” which gave users the ability to send each other virtual goods, was taken out in 2010. Two years later, in September 2012, a physical gift store launched, following Facebook’s acquisition of Karma, a gift-giving app. In August 2013, the feature shifted focus to selling gift cards instead of physical goods, and now, Gifts is being removed from Facebook entirely. A spokesperson for the social networking platform claims that Facebook will continue to try helping businesses and developers drive sales on the Web. Do you use Facebook on an Android phone or iPhone? Do you use the main Facebook app to message friends? Well, in a matter of days, that’s all going to change. In an effort to make its users download a separate Messenger app that’s been around since 2011, Facebook is no longer supporting the chat feature in its main application. The social network is currently in the process of notifying users about this change. Motives for splintering functionality into separate apps include getting people to spend more time using Facebook-related products and collecting more information about those users, even when they aren’t using the main service.
Technology: Internet.org, an internet accessibility initiative backed by Facebook, is a web and Android app for the developing world that provides free data access to a limited set of services, including Facebook, Messenger, Wikipedia, and Google Search. Also provided are local health, employment, weather, and women’s rights resources. The app’s initial launch will be in Zambia before reaching other developing countries. Internet.org is the product of Facebook’s partnership with six telecom companies. Though Facebook is facing criticism for using the app primarily as a growth tactic, the initiative’s project manager insists that the software’s benevolence is meant to extend far beyond just connecting new users to Facebook.