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In Today’s Issue:

🌐 Google's November 2023 core update shows unprecedented volatility and speed in search rankings

🛍️ Retailers increasingly charge for returns, reversing the trend of free online shopping returns

🐦 Elon Musk's X begins selling old Twitter handles, with prices starting at $50,000

📹 YouTube experiments with generative AI for comment summaries and introduces an in-stream chatbot

📊 Google Ads Editor updates to version 2.5, adding new features like campaign level broad match

🅿️ Google Business Profiles now include detailed parking attributes to aid visitors

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🌐 Google's Core Update Causes SEO Upheaval

  • November 2023 core update is unexpectedly volatile.

  • SEO community reports dramatic traffic fluctuations.

  • Update stronger than the preceding October update.

Google's latest core update has sent waves through the SEO world. 

Launched last Thursday, the November core update has been described as "incredibly volatile" by the search engine optimization community, catching many by surprise with its strength and impact.

Many people in the SEO world report erratic traffic and ranking changes.

Some websites have seen significant traffic boosts, while others have experienced drastic drops.

The volatility has been such that gains and losses are often reversed within a matter of days.

The update has been particularly harsh on sites that received a boost from the October update, with some reporting near-zero traffic post-November update.

There are also reports of original content being outranked by scraper sites.

🔄 The Looming End of Free Online Shopping Returns

  • Retailers are increasingly charging for returns.

  • Return rates jumped significantly during the pandemic.

  • Charges may vary based on customer loyalty.

Retailers continue to push back on the costly trend of free returns. The practice became a staple during the pandemic-related online shopping boom.

But it’s now seen by many marketers as unsustainable due to the high costs associated with processing returns.

An American retail trade group said return rates went from 10% in 2020 to 16% last year.

Part of the increase comes from consumers ordering multiple sizes or versions of items with the intention of returning those that don't fit or aren't wanted, turning their living rooms into fitting rooms.

This behavior has led to increased costs for retailers—on average, about a third of an item's price goes into covering the return process.

In response, more than 40% of retailers, including big names like H&M, J. Crew, Zara, and even Amazon for some items, are adding return fees.

The shift could also introduce tiered return policies, where loyal customers might enjoy free returns, while others may have to pay.

This change is a significant pivot from the previous, more lenient return policies and could reshape consumer habits and expectations in online shopping.

💼 Elon Musk's X Initiates Sale of Unused Twitter Handles

  • X, formerly Twitter, starts selling inactive handles.

  • Emails offer handles for a flat fee of $50,000.

  • Musk hinted at freeing up handles since 2022.

Heads-up if your brand has been squatting a Twitter handle for brand protection or later use — the platform now known as X has begun selling off inactive user handles. 

Forbes reports receiving emails from X's @Handle Team, which is overseeing the handle marketplace, offering to initiate handle purchases for $50,000.

Despite previous policies stating that inactive usernames could not be released, recent actions by the company, including purging defunct accounts, suggest a shift in strategy.

Musk himself has been vocal about the issue since last year, indicating plans to release a vast number of handles.

As of now, X's official username registration policy still states that inactive usernames are not available for release, and users are warned to log in every 30 days to avoid being labeled as inactive.

However, the recent email solicitations imply that the policy is changing.

This development could open up a new revenue stream for X and potentially resolve the long-standing issue of desirable handles being unavailable due to inactivity.

But if your brand has one or a number of Twitter usernames that you’re just holding onto, better log into them and go like some tweets or something, or else Elon might be selling it out from underneath you.

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🤖 YouTube Experiments with Generative AI That Nobody Asked For

  • YouTube tests AI-generated comment summaries.

  • New AI chat feature allows asking video-related questions.

  • Features aim to improve creator-audience interaction.

How do you tell when a company has run out of ideas for implementing generative AI? When they start summarizing things that don’t need summaries.

YouTube today announced it’s now testing summaries of video comments — apparently to foster sub-discussions and help creators tap into audience interests.

This experimental feature groups comments by topic, allowing for a more organized conversation around specific aspects of the content.

If this isn’t a clear example of “a solution looking for a problem,” I don’t know what is.

Also, YouTube is introducing a conversational AI tool that suggests questions viewers might want to ask about a video.

Currently, these tests are limited to a small number of English-language videos with extensive comment sections.

YouTube Premium members can opt into the trial, with plans to expand the "Ask" feature to more users in the U.S. on Android devices in the coming weeks.

Two Small Google Updates

Google has updated its Business Profiles to include a comprehensive set of parking attributes. This lets businesses provide information about parking options available to their customers. The new attributes include a way to indicate free and paid options for garages, lots, and street parking, as well as valet services.

Google has released version 2.5 of the Google Ads Editor. It includes enhancements such as campaign-level broad match, search themes for Performance Max campaigns, and a tool to upgrade Dynamic Search Ads campaigns to Performance Max.

Securing your traffic has become Essential

Recent studies show that over 27% of internet traffic is invalid, costing advertisers billions annually. And it's only getting worse!

CHEQ Essentials operates advanced algorithms and real-time monitoring capabilities to detect and block all fraudulent sources.

Implement CHEQ Essentials to protect your ads and websites, divert your resources towards human traffic and unlock your marketing activity's full potential.

Click here to enjoy an extended trial AND a 10% discount exclusively for our readers.

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