Local Memo: As GA3 Shuts Down, Here’s a Wealth of GA4 Resources
In this week’s update, learn about a wealth of resources to prepare you for Google Analytics 4; the FTC’s proposed fake review regulations; a Google “6-Pack” for hotels; Meta’s Twitter alternative, now officially called Threads; new usage limits from Twitter; and the reasons Google Maps rankings are so volatile.
As GA3 Shuts Down, Here’s a Wealth of GA4 Resources
The SEO community doesn’t need to be reminded that the long-awaited day has arrived. As of July 1, Google Analytics 3 (also known as Universal Analytics) began to shut off the processing of new data, effectively forcing users to switch over to Google Analytics 4, which has been available in parallel since 2020. For more than a decade, GA3 was the standard platform for tracking website traffic and other metrics, and many users have expressed trepidation and frustration about the transition to GA4, opining that the new platform is confusing and poorly designed.
In light of these concerns, Search Engine Land is offering a rundown of nine paid training courses that can help SEOs get up to speed with GA4, including a Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Masterclass upcoming in August, along with offerings from several third party sources. (SMX and Search Engine Land are both owned by Third Door Media.)
Not to be outdone, Search Engine Journal is offering a long list of webinars, articles, links to Google documentation, a ChatGPT plugin, and more, as well as an extensive guide to popular GA4 alternatives. Search Engine Journal’s Kristi Hines points out that at least 50% of top websites, and 38 million websites overall, use Google Analytics; only 11 million have made the transition to GA4.
Today, we begin shutting down Universal Analytics as we welcome you to Google Analytics 4. This will not happen overnight, so some Universal Analytics properties may continue to process data. However, all properties have now been added to the queue, and those that have not…
— Google Analytics (@googleanalytics) July 1, 2023
FTC Proposes Ban on Fake Reviews
On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission proposed new rules to combat scammers that sell and publish fake online reviews, including a $50,000 fine for each time a consumer sees a fake review. Consumer advocacy groups estimate that as many as 30 to 40 percent of reviews encountered online are not genuine, and tools like ChatGPT threaten to exacerbate the problem. The FTC says that fake reviews have always been illegal; the new rules merely help to draw clear lines around who is liable, what constitutes a fake review, and what options exist for punishing violators. The new FTC rules, which are subject to two months of public comment before potentially going into effect, take aim at those who produce and sell fake reviews but not the companies that publish them, who have long relied on protections in the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, which shields online publishers from liability for content posted by users.
A Google “6-Pack” for Hotels?
SOCi’s Mike Snow has encountered evidence that Google is experimenting with a “Local 6-Pack” for hotels, and I was easily able to replicate the result myself with a search for hotels near me using Safari on Mac. The 6-Pack results appear in a three-by-three card-style display, with prominent photos displayed with rounded corners. Aside from the grid display and the number of choices, the layout looks very similar to the hotel 3-Pack, offering editorial descriptions, prices, and callouts when Google thinks the rate represents a good deal. However, slightly less real estate in the 6-Pack for each listing means certain data elements are lost. The Aloha Inn, for example, shows icons for free parking and a pool when viewed in the traditional 3-Pack, but these elements are missing in the 6-Pack.
Meta’s Twitter Alternative Will Be Called Threads
Meta’s app designed to compete with Twitter has begun showing up in the Google Play store for some users. Apparently Meta has decided to go with the name Threads for the new offering, which in earlier days was code named Barcelona. Meta previously used the Threads product name for another messaging app that was shut down in 2021. As promised, the app will open up Instagram’s DM interface for public interactions, and allows users to port over their Instagram user accounts.
In other news, Meta is apparently planning to let EU users download apps directly from Facebook ads, capitalizing on a new regulation called the Digital Markets Act (DMA) that is expected to become official next year. The act would force Google and Apple to allow competitors to provide platforms for downloading apps. Microsoft is also looking to launch an EU app store for games next year.
Twitter Has New Usage Limits, Intended to Combat Scrapers
Elon Musk posted on Twitter the details of a new set of rules designed, he said, to combat rampant scraping of the platform’s content. The rules would impose limits on the number of tweets a given Twitter account is able to read each day. In the original announcement, ordinary Twitter users were limited to 600 tweets, whereas verified users can view 6,000. New unverified accounts would only be allowed to see 300 tweets each day. However, two subsequent announcements quickly increased those limits, which now stand at 500 tweets for new users, 1,000 tweets for unverified accounts, and 10,000 tweets for verified accounts. Users not logged in to the app are now restricted from viewing tweets at all.
Why Maps Rankings Are Volatile
A new blog post from the resourceful Phil Rozek explains why Google Maps rankings are more volatile than organic rankings. Rozek points out that Maps rankings fluctuate depending on which part of town you’re in, what time of day it is, and other reasons that are harder to decipher. In all, Rozek offers 19 reasons why Maps rankings are more volatile. These include the fact that the smaller scope of local search allows Google to update the local algorithm more frequently than the overall search algorithm; the high speed at which Google Maps updates make their way to the public; the intensity of competition for just three top positions; the ease with which spam can be created to influence local results; and the frequency with which businesses open, move, and close in the real world. These are just some of the factors Rozek discusses in a long and informative post that is worth reading in full.