Backlinks, Core Web Vitals, & More Updates from Google

This week: LinkedIn adds new features to pages, YouTube has a new tool, and wait until you hear about how many shoppers are influenced by customer photos.

Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.

Snapchat Reports Increase in Mobile Video Viewing

Not a big surprise here.

According to Snapchat, mobile video viewing is up significantly among Gen Z and millennials (13-34-year-olds).

Here’s a rundown of the findings:

  • Gen Z and millennials watch one hour per day of video on social channels.
  • 61% claim to watch more video now than before the pandemic.
  • 56% say they’re watching more video on streaming apps on a TV than before the pandemic.
  • 52% say they’re watching more videos on streaming apps on a smartphone than before the pandemic.

Finally, more than half (52%) say their new viewing habits are here to stay.

Video Viewing

Gen Z and Millennials Video Viewing Habits on Snapchat

LinkedIn Adds New Features to Pages

LinkedIn Pages are getting a few new updates so that you can make better use of the platform.

Here’s what you’ll see:

  • Lead Gen Forms for Product Pages – Collect customer information using a standard lead gen form. Make sure you offer a freebie (like a coupon code) in exchange for the user info.
  • Update to “My Company” Tab – Keep employees engaged with your content more easily. According to LinkedIn, employees will more likely share and engage with content that’s from their own company.
  • New Analytics Section – Measure the impact of the “My Company” tab update in terms of reach and engagement.
LinkedIn "My Company" Tab

Example of LinkedIn “My Company” Tab 

Bugs Detected in Ninja Forms WordPress Plugin

According to Wordfence, the Ninja Forms plugin includes four vulnerabilities that could lead to a complete site takeover.

Specifically, the exploits enable hackers to:

  • Redirect site admins to other locations
  • Install a plugin that could intercept all email traffic
  • Retrieve the Ninja Forms OAuth Connection Key
  • Trick admins into disconnecting OAuth authentication

Fortunately, an update to the plugin available as of Feb. 8 eliminates the threats. You can grab the latest version ( from within your admin console.

Report: LinkedIn Creating a Service to Hire Freelancers

Speaking of LinkedIn, it’s creating a new online marketplace for freelancers.

Reportedly. Matt Faustman displays publicly on his LinkedIn that he’s been working on the project since 2019. It’s expected to launch in September.

According to The Information, LinkedIn Marketplaces will compete directly with contractor-for-hire sites like Fiverr and Upwork.

The new service will allow contractors to promote and advertise their services. It will also allow businesses to post requests for proposals.

So whichever end of that equation you’re on, you’ll find some value in the new service.

Matt Faustman

Matt Faustman Project Lead

Report: 62% Say Customer Photos Influence Purchase Decisions

Here’s something to think about as you develop your marketing strategy.

According to eMarketer, 62% of consumers say they’ll more likely buy a product if they see customer photos and videos online.

The researchers polled shoppers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and the UK.

When asked why photos are so important, here’s what the respondents said:

  • It might highlight something (24%)
  • Like to see the product in action (21%)
  • Feel more confident that reviews are accurate (17%)
  • Easier to see product quality (17%)

Just over a quarter of those polled (26.4%) said that Facebook was a popular place to gather product info from photos.

Google: Don’t Worry About Thin Content for News Articles

If you’re running a news website and losing sleep over the fact that short articles might devalue your site ranking, feel free to rest easy.

That’s because Google won’t ding you for short news articles.

The subject came up this past week during a Google Search Central SEO hangout. An SEO named Lene Hegland expressed concern that one-paragraph news articles might hurt her site’s rankings.

Google’s John Mueller told her not to worry.

“If you don’t want them showing up in search you can use noindex, but I don’t think you would need to noindex something just because it’s a short news article,” he said. “Sometimes short articles are completely fine. I wouldn’t focus so much on the length of the article, but rather do you want it indexed or not?”

Mueller also flat-out said that Google doesn’t care about the length of articles.

Mueller: Total Number of Backlinks Doesn’t Matter

According to SEO Mythology 101: the more backlinks you have, the more likely your content will rank well in search.


This past week, during a Google Search Central SEO hangout, somebody asked John Mueller the following question: “What matters most? The number of unique referring backlink domains or the total number of backlinks?”

As it turns out, the answer is “no.”

“We try to understand what is relevant for a website, how much should we weigh these individual links, and the total number of links doesn’t matter at all,” Mueller said. “Because you could go off and create millions of links across millions of websites if you wanted to, and we could just ignore them all.”

And, believe me, some SEOs have tried that “millions of links” strategy in the past.

Mueller also said that it’s the quality, not the quantity, of the backlinks that matters most.


Relevant Content for Backlinks

Google Throws in the Towel on Core Web Vitals (Partially)

You may have heard quite a bit of grumbling in the SEO community over the new Core Web Vitals ranking signals rolling out in a couple of months.

Some strategists are upset because their legacy websites just don’t meet the new standards imposed by the Big G. They’re concerned that their websites will take a hit in rankings.

Looks like Google has heard those cries of anguish. As a result, Google Search Console will report on Core Web Vitals a little differently.

In the past, Search Console would inform you that you’re in good shape only if you got a lower score than the threshold standards.

Now, it will let you know if your score is less than or equal to each of the threshold standards.

In other words, you’ll get a “good” rating if you meet the standards. You no longer have to exceed them.

I think you might see some more “caving” from Google over the next several weeks along these lines. Plenty of SEOs just aren’t ready for their websites to live up to the Core Web Vitals standards.

YouTube Offers New Video Comparison Tool

YouTube is rolling out a new suite of tools t
hat enables you to compare video performance over time.

The new tools are available in the Analytics section of YouTube Studio. You can use them to plot the performance of up to 100 videos.

You can compare metrics such as views, impressions, click-through rate, average view duration, and more.

Advanced YouTube Settings

Example of Metric Comparison Through YouTube Studio

It Looks Like Google Search Is Showing Featured Snippets Less Often

Some time around the middle of this month, Google appears to have reduced the number of featured snippets shown in search results.

Tools including Moz, RankRanger, SEMRush, and SEOClarity all reflect a similar pattern of fewer featured snippets appearing in the SERPs starting in mid-February.

As of now, no word from Google. It might be a bug or it might be Google slowly phasing out featured snippets.


It’s time to get busy taking on some action items based on what you read today:

  • If your SEO strategy includes an emphasis on featured snippets, consider standing down on that for a bit. Follow the trend for a little longer to make sure Google isn’t phasing them out.
  • Do everything you can to get your site ready for Core Web Vitals. You still have a couple of months left.
  • If you’re into video marketing, use that new YouTube comparison tool to identify the videos that resonate well with your target audience. Double-down on what works.
  • If you’ve got that Ninja Forms WordPress plugin, get it updated. Immediately.
  • If you’re in the ecommerce space, think about ways that you can get your existing customers to post photos and videos of your products online.
  • If you’re in the B2B space, think about how you can use the new features on LinkedIn Pages to further promote your brand.