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Creator Weekly: Google Search Spam, Twitch Roadmap, TikTok Creator Resources

Creator Weekly March 9, 2024

What's new this week? Google’s updated spam policy and core update aims to reduce spammy Search results, Twitch shared their 2024 roadmap, TikTok updates resources for creators, X gets Articles and more. Plus I’ve collected a bunch of interesting writing and interviews about social media, blogging, newsletters and websites.

It’s enough reading to keep you out of trouble, for a few days anyway. 

Top news and updates this week

  • Celebrate International Women’s Day
  • Google’s updated spam policy and algorithm update aim to reduce spammy content in the Search results.
  • Twitch announced their roadmap for the upcoming year.
  • TikTok announced new creator resources and an updated monetization program.
  • Learn about optimizing your YouTube thumbnails.
  • The AdSense Policy Center now shows CMP Adoption Notifications.
  • AdSense for Search has a new site approval process.
  • X launched blog-like Articles (a subscriber-only feature)
  • Threads let you save post drafts and take photos from the app.
  • There is a new free Adobe Express mobile app with Firefly AI.
  • Pixel device users will be able to choose to share just an app, rather than their entire screen in video calls, and while casting or recording.
  • And there’s lots of reading (and watching) this week about social media, blogging, the computer industry and more.
Read on for details and additional updates!

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To Do & Try

International Women’s Day

Image: Google Meet background highlighting 13 groundbreaking women

Google takes aim at spammy content in Search

There has been some chatter that the Google Search results have been getting worse. Some of that is due to high volumes of low quality automated and AI-generated content.

Google announced two changes that should improve the search results.

The first is the March 2024 core update, which is an update to Google’s Search algorithms to better show helpful content in the search results. As a website owner, you can use Google’s self-assessment questions to make sure your site is providing quality “people-first” content. Note that this update may take up to a month to roll out, so you may not see changes to your site’s search rankings immediately.

The second change is an update to the spam policies, with a focus on three types of spam:
  • Expired domain abuse. This is when an expired domain is purchased and used to host low-quality content. It depends on retaining the search ranking for the content that was originally on the domain.
  • Scaled content abuse. This is when a large number of pages of low quality content are generated to manipulate the search results. This covers content created both automatically and by humans. The issue isn’t automation or use of “AI”, but that it’s low quality and not created for people.
  • Site reputation abuse. This is when a site publishes third-party content without any oversight with the intention of manipulating the Search rankings. For example, that could be an education site that has a page about “best casinos” that was not written or overseen by the host site. The third party content is riding on the quality of the host site to rank higher in search.
The spam update will take about 2 weeks to roll out.

On top of these changes, Google Search handed down a large number of manual penalties to sites with spammy content.

It’s a good time if you hate to see spam in your search results.

Twitch Plans for 2024

Twitch CEO Dan Clancy shared the platform’s plans for 2024. The main takeaway: “This year, we’re prioritizing ways to help you grow and stay connected with your community with discovery and collaboration products and improved mobile experiences.”

These are the specific updates Twitch is working on:
  • Easier ways for streamers and viewers to share Clips to social media, including direct sharing to Instagram.
  • A new Clip Editor on mobile.
  • Improving Stream Together, that lets up to 6 streamers go live together. Improvements will include easier setup, merged chat and combined viewership.
  • Redesigned Twitch mobile app, with the discovery feed the “main landing experience", new stories features, easier purchase of subscriptions, gifts and Bits; and Mobile Mod View for moderation on iOS.
  • Working with more brands for more sponsorship opportunities.
  • More Twitch promotional events, milestones and rewards.
  • Improving mod tools, updating the Community Guidelines, and better identifying harassment.
This is in addition to changes to monetization announced in January.

New Creator Resources from TikTok

In an open letter to creators, TikTok Head of Operations Adam Presser wrote “Together, we are transforming storytelling by creating space for authentic, unknown voices to break through the barriers that previously limited creative power.”

At the TikTok creator summit in Los Angeles, the video platform announced a number of upcoming updates meant to expand resources for creators:
  • A new Creator Academy with courses and resources.
  • The Creativity Program is leaving beta and is renamed the Creator Rewards Program. This allows creators with original content over a minute long to earn monetary rewards.
  • Paid subscriptions will be available to non-Live creators. This will start out as an invite-only program.

Video Creator and Live Streaming Updates

YouTube’s Creator Insider has a new podcast (or “podcast” since it seems to just be a video), and the first episode about thumbnail design is long, but well worth watching. It features a discussion with Todd, head of YouTube’s growth and discovery team, and Chucky, who creates thumbnails for Mr. Beast. If you are interested in understanding more about designing thumbnails and the YouTube algorithm, this is for you. (Even if you aren’t a fan of the thumbnails on Mr. Beast videos.)

MrBeast says he’s changed his video editing style, to have fewer quick cuts, and more storytelling and “views have skyrocketed!”. Steven Asarch @ Passionfruit asks MrBeast Changed YouTube Editing Forever, Can It Go Back?

Abbie Richards @ Media Matters Why TikTok Is Becoming A Conspiracy Playground (it has to do with TikTok’s Creativity Program for monetization).

Jason Koebler @ 404 Media reports on Inside the World of TikTok Spammers and the AI Tools That Enable Them (and yes, it's also in part because of the monetization options)

Web Publishers and Search

An AdSense update: If your website or blog is not compliant with the new Google consent management requirement for serving ads in the European Economic Area and UK, you will now see a Consent Management Platform (CMP) Adoption Notification in your AdSense account’s Policy Center. If you are using Google’s CMP, you can troubleshoot any issues.

AdSense for Search has a new Site approval process. Your sites that are monetized with AdSense for Search will appear on the Sites tab in your AdSense account where you have until August 30th to submit them for approval. If you want to monetize a new site with AdSense for Search you can submit it on the Sites tab for review, just like you would for adding AdSense for Content to a new site.

Bing Webmaster Tools now shows Top Insights with recommendations on how to optimize your website.

Kevin Nguyen @ The Verge writes a remembrance for the recently shut down TinyLetter newsletter service.

Publishing industry expert Jane Friedman explains why Substack Is Both Great and Terrible for Authors. Substack is more part of the creator economy than email marketing, and that can be bad if your newsletter is designed to promote your books, lectures or other offerings.

Photos and Image Design on the Web

In the latest Pixel feature drop, Pixel 7, 7 Pro, 8 or 8 Pro phone owners can directly share Ultra HDR photos to their Instagram feed, and 10-bit HDR videos directly to Instagram Reels.

The Getty Museum has added 88,000 artwork images to its Open Content database. These are free to use with a CC0 license.

Social Media

X launched Articles, a new option for paid subscribers with text formatting (bold, italic, strikethrough) and the ability to insert video and images. I’m not sure why you would want to essentially blog on X, unless that is where your audience is. There are a number of free blogging platforms that let you reach a much wider audience.

Threads now lets you save post drafts and you can take a photo from the Threads app.

Instagram announced new features for DMs, including pinning chats to the top of the inbox, message editing, turning off read receipts, saving your favorite stickers for easy access, and more themes.

Tech journalist Taylor Lorenz looks into Instagram fatigue and the rise of “resentment Reels” (YouTube video). She notes “... we are all pressured to commodify every aspect of our lives, our relationships, our careers, our passions, our interests and our art into shareable, marketable, monetizable content. Perhaps this was always the natural end point of capitalism, the commercialization of the very things that make us human.” and “succeeding in this new landscape requires a level of effort and skill and frankly knowledge of the media landscape, that few people have.”

Andrew Hutchinson @ Social Media Today reports on a new study that shows that more social media engagements don’t mean more clicks on the links you share.

More AI Updates

If you have Google One AI Premium or Gemini for Enterprise or Business, you can now remove an image background in Google Slides. This is also available with Workspace Labs (free for testing Google AI tools).

There is now an Adobe Express mobile app that Adobe says is an “all-in-one, AI content creation app” with access to Firefly AI tools. In addition to creating and editing images and videos, you can publish directly to social media, access Adobe Creative Cloud files, and collaborate in real time. While the app is in beta for Android and iOS, you can use premium features for free. See the device requirements.

Microsoft employee Shane Jones is raising public concerns about sexual and violent images created in Copilot, Microsoft’s AI tool (powered by Open AI’s DALL-E 3)

Anthropic announced their new AI model, Claude 3, which compares well to GPT-4V and Gemini 1.0.

Simon Willison writes the GPT-4 barrier has finally been broken, with four new models that benchmark favorably against GPT-4: Google’s Gemini 1.5, Mistral AI’s Large, Anthropic’s Claude 3 Opus, and Inflection 2.5.

Communication and Collaboration

If you have a Pixel 5G or newer, Pixel Fold or Pixel Tablet, you will soon be able to share just one app at a time (rather than your entire screen) in a video call, or while casting or recording.

You may have noticed that when you hover over a Group Chat or Space in the Google Chat menu, a hovercard with member names and avatars pops up. 

There is now improved scrolling in Google Sheets. And you can add pre-set dropdowns to your sheets.

More Reading

The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) went into effect this week. If you are in the EU you can learn about the changes being made at Google, Apple and Meta.

Hank Green interviewed Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel about platforms, blogging, publishing news, the YouTube algorithm and more. There are too many interesting bits to pull a quote.

Doc Pop interviewed Chris Messina on the “Press This” podcast (listen or read the transcript), where they discussed the early days of the web, where things are going and hashtags. Messina is famously the inventor of the hashtag, and he thinks they can be an important part of the social web: “Just like when you mentioned someone, … you have an identity for a person that lives at a domain, a hashtag actually is a global identifier that works across the entire social web.”

Kelsey McKinney @ Defector explains The Money Is In All The Wrong Places for creative work:
“The money that sustains all this is, in enough cases that it is worth noting here, coming from young rich people's even richer parents. It is coming from giant corporations awarding it, whether out of ideological commitment or just force of habit, to people who sit behind desks all day. Some of those people might also make art, but they are not the norm. The structure built around these valuable creative products is bloated in ways that starve and imperil that creative process, but those privations also hold it in place.”

Do you know about the Osborne effect? Gereth Edwards writes about The Rise and Fall of Steve Jobs’s Greatest Rival, Adam Osborne (“one of Silicon Valley’s first true tech celebrities”).

Thanks for reading! 🌼

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  1. When I delete a blog post, is that post deleted from the RSS file?

    1. I'm not an expert on how Feeds work, but I believe that when you delete a post, it should be deleted from the feed. But anyone who has retrieved the feed before the deletion may have access to the post there.


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