Trending December 2023 # Google Launches Free Tool To Help Businesses Create Short Promo Videos # Suggested January 2024 # Top 19 Popular

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Google is helping businesses create short, promotional videos for YouTube with the launch of a free beta tool.

YouTube Video Builder is available to any business that may not be capable of creating videos from scratch.

“Because businesses of all sizes are strapped for time and resources and in-person video shoots are no longer practical in many countries, we are accelerating the next stage of Video Builder availability.”

Video Builder allows businesses to create 6 second or 15 second videos using a variety of layouts.

The tool is designed to animate static assets, so no actual video footage is necessary.

Businesses provide their own images, text, and logos which is then generated into a short video.

During the video creation process you can customize colors and fonts, and even add music from Google’s royalty-free library.

When a video is created and uploaded it can be used however you wish.

Here’s an example of what a video created by Video Builder looks like:

Supplemental, Lightweight Videos

Google clarifies that this tool is designed for “supplemental” and “lightweight” videos only.

Video Builder is not capable of creating or editing videos of any significant length.

For that, you’ll have to turn to YouTube’s creator studio or use your own software.

As Google points out, this might be the first opportunity a business has had to create videos of any length at all.

“For smaller businesses and those with less creative experience, it can provide an efficient, low-resource way to create videos, perhaps even for the first time.”

Those who are interested in using the beta version of Video Builder can sign up for access here.

Google says requests will be processed as soon as possible based on tool capacity.

How to Use YouTube’s Video Builder Tool

Once you sign up for the beta and get an email granting you access to the tool, here’s how to get started.

In a launch video, YouTube recommends creating a video by following the steps below:

Select the layout that works best for your goal

Add your brand’s color and logo

Upload images and add text

Choose a preferred font

Pick a music track to set the tone of the video

If satisfied, save and upload it to your channel

As shown in the video below – the interface appears to be intuitive and user-friendly, requiring a bare minimum of technical expertise.

The video you create will be saved as a template that you can revisit.

So if you want to create similar videos with only minor differences between them, you can do that with Video Builder.

As an optional step, you can immediately create a YouTube or Google Ads campaign featuring the video you just generated.

For more information about creating videos with Video Builder, see the official help document here.

Source: Google Ads Blog

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Youtube Launches @Username Handles To Help Drive Traffic

YouTube has a new way for users to find and engage with content creators directly by tagging their handles. Announced via the video-sharing platform’s News and Events page, it allows channels to use unique identifiers with the @username format.

Handles will be rolled out over the next month and creators will be notified when they can choose their handle. If a channel already has a personalized URL, that will become the handle by default, though this can be changed for a short period after the notification is received.

“The timing of when a creator will get access to the handles selection process depends on a number of factors, including overall YouTube presence, subscriber count, and whether the channel is active or inactive,” YouTube said in the announcement.

Handles Joins Channel Names As Unique Identifier

In early 2023, YouTube began allowing content creators to change both the name and the URL of their channels. These offered branding opportunities to help channels identify and distinguish themselves.

However, unlike channel names, each handle will be unique, allowing creators to further distinguish their distinct brand. This is similar to the handles and usernames commonly used on other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

@Username Format Seeks To Compete With TikTok

With more than one billion users worldwide, the short-form video platform TikTok has become a major player in the world of social media. As such, other social media platforms have been seeking ways to compete with it  Facebook by launching Reels and YouTube by expanding into Shorts.

One of the features TikTok offers is the ability for users to engage in conversations through posts and the resulting discussions and results. By adding @username handles to both channel pages and Shorts, YouTube is hoping to generate similar usage.

Featured image: Shutterstock/PixieMe

A Tool To Help Students Make Good Decisions

Some students need help when it comes to weighing pros and cons, and this simple decision-making matrix will help them sort things out.

When discussing a popular social and emotional learning (SEL) framework, elementary and middle school teachers I work with frequently tell me they wish their students had a better decision-making process. They often say things like, “They are so impulsive” or “I wish they would have thought that out better.”

Honestly, I’ve had similar thoughts about students and my own children, which caused me to take a deep dive into better understanding some of the science of how decisions are made. Here are some important takeaways about the role of emotions, which will help teachers tackle this critical component of SEL: 

Many decisions are made unconsciously, and our emotions affect our choices and behavior.

The human brain doesn’t fully develop until around the age of 25. Those older than 25 tend to rely on the prefrontal cortex (considered the rational part of the brain) to make informed and responsible decisions.

Children, teens, and young adults typically use the amygdala to make decisions. The amygdala is the region of the brain considered part of an “impulsive system” involved in decision-making that triggers emotional responses to immediate outcomes. This means that young people often lead with their emotions when making choices, since the link between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, which is needed for considering long-term consequences when weighing decisions, is still developing in their brains.

Without having a working knowledge of how to apply their emotional intelligence (EQ) skills, it can be very difficult for some elementary and middle school students to make good, calculated, and responsible decisions. To clarify, it’s not that young people lack appropriate decision-making skills entirely. However, during high-stakes situations, their decisions may be affected by their emotions or a lack of understanding about possible outcomes.

For example, a decision made to elevate their social status might come at the expense of another classmate (e.g., teasing or bullying). Since a focus of SEL is both self and social awareness, we should help students explore the impact of their decisions on themselves and others.

A Responsible Decision-Making Matrix 

Teachers can help young learners start thinking about how to frame their decisions by examining their choices, the alternatives, and the natural consequences of whichever path they choose by using a decision matrix. With practice using the tool as a framework, they’ll internalize the process and develop a mindset for good decision-making.

The decision matrix, also known as the Pugh Matrix or Pugh concept selection, was created by Stuart Pugh, a design engineer, as a qualitative method used to rank the multidimensional choices of an option set. In other words, the tool is used to help make tough decisions.

Students can use my adaptation of the tool to make better decisions between up to three choices by weighing options and evaluating the impact (pros and cons) on themselves and others using a simple point system, with positive numbers for pros and negative ones for cons. After tallying their numbers, the decision with the highest score can be deemed the most responsible one.

In their initial practice with the tool, it’s more effective when teachers or peers with know-how assist young children in comparing multiple options or criteria that need to be narrowed down to one responsible and good decision. A blank responsible decision-making matrix, or RDMM, with three rows and ample space for listing pros and cons can be downloaded here. There’s also a completed example for further clarity. However, as you adapt this tool, feel free to make it your own.

And because we want students to know what to do in the future when confronted with similar difficult decisions, they will need to process their emotions by reflecting and focusing on the consequences of the choices in the decision matrix. Some ways they can reflect purposefully are through independent journaling, goal setting, and reflective conversations with trusted adults.

Incorporating RDMM Into Social and Emotional Learning

Keep it simple and include the RDMM in your SEL strategies for students. You can teach effective use of the tool early in the school year (or as needed) to students using the following steps:

1. Introduce the tool as an analytical framework for helping them make the best possible decisions.

2. Normalize the use of the tool for all students in your class by introducing it as a universal strategy and not a stigma.

3. Let them know that the decision matrix is versatile and can be applied to many different types of decisions—therefore, encourage them to use it both at home and in the classroom.

4. Model its use within various scenarios that they either have encountered or are most likely to encounter (e.g., bullying, conflict de-escalation, and choosing between the fun thing and the right thing). It’s important to present authentic scenarios here—even have students role-play.

5. Take time to explain the point system for weighing the pros and cons (positive numbers for pros and negative ones for cons) by paying close attention to the rules of adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers—especially for younger children. Using a number line can be particularly helpful with early elementary students—also, model tallying in different scenarios and have them practice adding and subtracting with negative numbers.

6. Give students time and space to use the tool and incorporate reflection as part of the decision-making process. Having them list the pros and cons and talk through possible outcomes can be very helpful in this step.

Although at times we may be puzzled by the decisions of our students and cannot make their decisions for them, we can help them by providing them the tools they need for leading with EQ. As young people navigate through childhood and into adulthood, they will face many difficult and important decisions. Those with the least amount of parental/caregiver involvement may need your help the most. SEL combined with a decision-making tool can be a game changer.

Replacement For Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool Launches

A replacement for Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, called the Schema Markup Validator, is now available to use in an open beta.

Launched as a subdomain on the official chúng tôi website, the new tool is not an exact 1:1 copy of Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, but it is functionally similar.

Google shuttered the original tool in July 2023, claiming all its features were migrated to the Rich Results Rest and no longer needed to exist as a standalone offering.

That wasn’t 100% true, however, because the Rich Results Test is limited to testing structured data markup that’s officially supported in Google’s search results.

There are many other types of structured data beyond what Google uses to render rich results in SERPs, and the Rich Results Test doesn’t offer the ability to test for those.

After hearing feedback from SEOs lamenting the loss of the Structured Data Testing Tool, Google decided it will live on at a new domain.

In December 2023, Google announced its shuttered tool will move to chúng tôi in April 2023. One month shy of target, the tool can now be used at

How does it stack up to the original? Let’s take a look.

A “Refocused” Structured Data Testing Tool

Google made users aware ahead of time that the chúng tôi tool would be a refocused version of the original.

The Schema Markup Validator is refocused in the sense that it strictly tests for chúng tôi properties. Here’s what’s stated in the tool’s documentation:

“The tool is focused on chúng tôi In the case of JSON-LD, this means that it will not fetch or interpret other @context URLs.”

It’s capable of testing for all Schema properties, not just the ones supported in Google’s search results.

Site owners and developers can run a test in the Schema Markup Validator either by submitting a URL or providing the raw code. It tests for structured data in the page’s HTML, as well as markup injected by JavaScript.

Functionalities of the Schema Markup Validator include:

Extracts JSON-LD 1.0, RDFa 1.1, Microdata markup.

Displays a summary of the extracted structured data graph.

Identifies syntax mistakes in the markup.

Other than the lack of Google branding, using the validator feels exactly like using the old Structured Data Testing Tool.

After navigating to the Schema Markup Validator, users are greeted with a familiar prompt to enter a URL or a code snippet.

Curiously there’s been no announcement from Google or chúng tôi about this tool being launched.

Although the Schema Markup Validator is confirmed to be the replacement Google was referring to back in December, according to this line in the documentation:

“It is based on the tool previously known as the Google Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT), and is provided by Google as a service for the chúng tôi community.”

Those who use the tool as part of their day-to-day work should keep in mind it’s a beta and unexpected errors may occur.

Sources: chúng tôi Markup Validator

Google Launches Visual Guide To Search Elements

Google’s new guide to search features visualizes and defines the various elements on a search results page.

When you need help with SEO, it can be challenging to get the right answer if your question doesn’t contain the correct terminology.

For example, ask: “How do I customize the image that appears in search snippets?”

That question could refer to three different things: a text result image, an image thumbnail, or a favicon.

The person asking the question may not find the help they want when using such vague terms.

Google’s new guide makes it easy to identify the exact search element you need help with, so you can get more relevant answers.

Let’s take a look at what’s in the guide.

Anatomy Of A Google SERP

Google’s new Visual Elements Gallery highlights the most common features in a search results page.

A Google SERP is broken down into the following main parts:

Attribution: Includes identifiers such as the name of the site, the URL, and the favicon.

Text results: Commonly referred to as the “10 blue links.”

Rich results: These are text results with additional lines of information, such as review stars and recipe steps.

Video & image results: Photos and videos pulled from webpages indexed in search results.

Exploration features: Commonly referred to as “People Also Ask.”

In Google’s guide, each of the above elements has its own illustration showing how it might look in search results.

Additionally, the guide depicts the different features included within each of the main search elements.

The illustration below shows the exact search features Google is referring to whenever it uses the word “attribution“:

Google’s Visual Elements Gallery provides information about 22 search features in total and may include more in the future.

In a blog post, Google says it can easily add more elements to the guide and may do so when other search features become popular:

“Our new setup makes it easier for us to add new visual elements to the gallery without too much effort on our part; that is in fact our plan: as a visual element becomes popular on search result pages, we may add it to the gallery. However, we aim only to add those elements that hold some significance for site owners and SEOs.”

Source: Google

Featured Image: Screenshot from chúng tôi appearance/visual-elements-gallery, December 2023.

Intuit Updates Quickbooks To Help Small Businesses Manage Inventory And More

QuickBooks Online, Intuit’s service for small business accounting, is now set up to better help businesses focused on selling products.

Karen Peacock, the company’s vice president of small business, said product-based businesses like retailers and e-commerce merchants make up nearly half of all small businesses worldwide, but that cloud-based accounting systems haven’t served them well.

Intuit’s online accounting software now supports different product categories, and tracking different products by SKU number. It can also track how much inventory a company has on hand, while creating an invoice so it can better know what to charge and when to reorder different products. In the future, Peacock said, Intuit plans to add automatic re-ordering of products and the ability to create bundle discounts. 

Through its developer platform, Intuit has partnered with e-commerce providers like BigCommerce and Shopify, along with an integration for QuickBooks Point-of-Sale, a physical retail sales system. With those integrations, sales will automatically connect to QuickBooks Online, so business owners can see the impact of their sales on their inventory and finances.

Interestingly, Intuit hasn’t yet partnered with third party marketplaces like Ebay, Etsy or Amazon to help with inventory management, even though all of them are popular options for providing small businesses with a digital storefront. Those integrations may come in the future, however. 

“We have an open platform, so we’re open to integrating with anyone and everyone who obviously meets certain criteria in terms of security and things like that,” Peacock said. 

Overall, the company has seen massive interest from independent software developers to build apps that integrate with QuickBooks. Over the past year, Intuit went from 308 apps integrating with its platform to more than 1,500. To continue driving growth, the company has devoted $4 million to help developers promote apps that they’re building on the QuickBooks platform. 

Intuit will double the funds that developers invest in co-marketing campaigns, starting by providing $20,000 for companies that put in $10,000 and scaling to provide $40,000 investments for qualifying companies that put in $20,000.

On top of the inventory news, Intuit is partnering with lenders to help small businesses get loans. QuickBooks will simplify the process of getting a loan by giving business owners the ability to fill out a single questionnaire and get access to a wealth of different funding options. Small businesses will also be able to easily share their accounting information from QuickBooks, which should improve the chances of getting applications approved.

According to Peacock, two-thirds of small businesses that apply for a loan using their QuickBooks data get approved, compared to one-third of small businesses that get approved for loans overall.

Those companies that seek loans through the new process will maintain control over what information they share, according to Intuit. Business owners will be able to review the information that’s getting sent out before it’s submitted, and redact information that they don’t want to share. Of course, redacting too much information may reduce a business’s chance of getting a loan. 

The partnerships have a chance to benefit lenders, small businesses and Intuit all at once. Lenders can get access to detailed information that should help them make more informed decisions about who to give money to. Businesses, meanwhile, have an easier way to pick up a loan, which should help propel their businesses forward. Intuit gets a new revenue stream, since the company will be paid for its role as the loan broker in that whole transaction. 

All of these moves are a sign of what Intuit is doing to try and weather the transition from providing boxed software to providing and monetizing services for small business finances. All of this news comes amid the QuickBooks Connect conference in San Jose, California, where the company is showing off its latest updates to users of its small business product. 

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