Advertisers, take note: Facebook – er, Meta – will officially update its targeting options on Jan. 19. This comes after several months of mounting pressure and promises to scale back advertiser targeting, as many major companies are already doing. 

Well, the broader trend of granting more respect to users and their data has finally reached Meta, one of the biggest offenders of all. In Meta’s announcement, the company said it was seeking to match “evolving expectations” of how users want to be reached by advertisers as well as address feedback from civil rights experts and policymakers.

Meta is starting small by limiting advertising options, removing the option to target based on four sensitive parameters. These are:

  • Health causes (e.g., “ breast cancer awareness,” or “chemotherapy”)
  • Sexual orientation (e.g., “LGBTQIA”)
  • Religious practices and groups (e.g., “Anglican Church” and “Hindu holidays”)
  • Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations and figures

These targeting options, as well as additional options that Meta has deemed redundant or too granular, will be removed on Jan. 19, though campaigns can keep delivering to these audiences well into March.

Meta is one of the first social media platforms to make adjustments like these, which isn’t that shocking, considering the amount of scrutiny the company faces. The year 2021 was a rough one for Facebook, from damning whistleblower allegations to antitrust lawsuits, not to mention its alleged spread of misinformation and hate speech. And its rebrand towards the end of last year was met with eye-rolls and memes, more than anything.

But Meta is determined to make a new reputation to match its new name, and the company realizes it has to start out on the right foot to do so. But even with Facebook’s past still casting a dark shadow on every move it makes, it’s good to know Meta is taking the pressure seriously and getting on board with users’ expectations regarding privacy (not that it’s been given much of a choice).

It will be interesting to see whether this is the extent of Meta’s advertising updates or if it has more plans to scale back for the future. Either way, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the “new Facebook” and its attempts to win back trust.

More SEO News You Can Use

Google Introduces a Shops Section to Mobile Search Results: Google’s mobile search results have a brand-new section that should make finding the right retailer easier for users. Called “Shops,” this new feature on the search engine result page (SERP) lists three retailers based on their organic search rankings (not dissimilar from the Local Pack in Maps). This list can be expanded to show up to 10. If you haven’t come across Shops yet, it’s because it is currently only available in the U.S. for select shopping-related queries. Google didn’t announce the introduction of the Shops section, but a spokesperson told Search Engine Land, “We launched this to help present more seller options to users on Search.” This should come as no surprise to anyone following the expansion of Google’s shopping-related features, from free product listings to several Shopping integrations with major content management systems (CMS). We may be a few weeks into 2022, but the eCommerce industry is already off to a strong start.

Yoast SEO Is Launching for Shopify: Speaking of eCommerce, Shopify site owners are about to get a helping hand with their SEO courtesy of Yoast SEO. The popular WordPress plugin is launching a tool that offers the same features for Shopify sites. Consider everything you love about Yoast for WordPress – SEO analysis, automatic structured data, social media previews – and imagine how beneficial it would be to have all these key features for a Shopify website. Now, a small business can find it easier to rank on relevant search results and take full advantage of search engines’ shopping features. Are you keen to try it out for yourself? Yoast SEO for Shopify will launch on Jan. 18 across 27 languages, and a 14-day free trial is yours for the taking. After this period, a subscription fee will be charged at $29/month. 

An IndexNow WordPress Plugin Makes the Protocol Even More Efficient: Microsoft’s IndexNow, a revolutionary open-source indexing protocol capable of alerting participating search engines when content on a website is published, updated or deleted, was launched almost three months ago and received with rave reviews from SEOs and search engines alike (with Google itself saying it would test the protocol). Crawling and indexing have since become significantly more efficient for those electing to adopt the IndexNow. And now, with the launch of a new Microsoft Bing WordPress plugin, it’s even quicker and easier to integrate your WordPress site with the protocol. The Bing plugin automatically detects any WordPress page changes, submitting the URLs in the background and ensuring all participating search engines have the latest version of your website with no effort on your part. If you’re a WordPress site owner, there’s no reason not to take advantage of the plugin right now.

International Targeting in Search Console Can Have an Adverse Effect on Rankings: Anyone trying to excel at international SEO and rank in several countries is likely using Google Search Console’s geotargeting feature. But have you ever considered the possibility of geotargeting hurting your search rankings? During a recent Search Central Office-hours hangout, a viewer asked Google’s John Mueller why their smaller sister-site was outranking their main site. The reason, according to Mueller, was that the viewer’s geotargeting in Search Console was set up to rank in Pakistan – and that could adversely impact rankings in other countries, specifically for a site trying to reach a general English-speaking audience. Mueller continued that every site owner wanting to target a global audience should turn off international targeting to be found by a wider audience.

Martin Splitt Shares Advice on SEO Audits That Keep Clients Happy: With all the algorithm updates that happened in 2021, most SEO professionals are likely inundated with client requests for an SEO audit. The process can be taxing on many levels, both for the SEO and the client, so Google’s Martin Splitt offered advice on improving SEO audits to make them more useful to all involved. He provided these insights in the latest episode of Google’s SEOs & Devs series on YouTube, joined by the CEO of Onely, Bartosz Góralewicz. The 30-minute video is a frank conversation about the issues surrounding SEO audits and how to fix them in a way that improves relationships among all stakeholders. From ditching old-school PDF reports to improving communication, Splitt and Góralewicz have several ideas that will inspire you to rethink the way you approach audits in 2022. Check out the video in full to make the most out of your audits in 2022 for you and your clients.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.