What We Learned in October 2017: The Digital Marketing Month in a Minute

This month’s industry includes stories from most of the major tech companies, including Facebook’s News Feed experiments, Google’s ever-growing hardware selection, and Apple and Amazon both falling foul of the European Commission. There’s also the SearchLove London 2017 roundup and the best from the Distilled blog.

Industry news

Facebook News Feed experiments

Recently, Facebook has been trialling out a new feature called ‘Explore’. In a select few countries, including Cambodia, Slovakia, and Serbia, the News Feed has been split in two. The new feed offers stories outside of what your friends are sharing. However, the change has resulted in a drastic drop in organic traffic for some publishers. Distilled Analyst Robin Lord has given an excellent analysis of what the change might mean if it is rolled out further.

Read the full story (BBC)

Russian-backed FB posts reached 126 million Americans

Up to 126 million American users have been shown content originating from Russian-backed accounts in the run up to, and shortly after, the 2016 US Presidential elections, Facebook has revealed. In addition to political repercussions, the revelations will also put the social media giant under further scrutiny.  Facebook has already announced plans to make the buying of political ads more transparent.

Read the full story (The Guardian)

Google's search for the sweet spot

Google’s hardware ecosystem has been expanding rapidly, with the likes of the Google Pixel 2, Pixelbook, Google Home and much more being added to their product catalogue. If the company hopes to compete seriously with Apple (the only brand more valuable than Google), it will need to discover its ‘sweet spot’ - or at least successfully add hardware into its existing sweet spot. Ben Thompson’s excellent analysis shows how it could achieve this.

Read the full story (Stratechery)

Google Tag Manager releases element visibility trigger for native scroll tracking

Page visibility is generally regarded as an important aspect of web analytics tracking, but without a native trigger built into Google Tag Manager, it has been difficult to monitor effectively. However, Google has now released its own element visibility trigger, making this much more straightforward. Analytics expert Simo Ahava gives his rundown of the new feature and how to set it up yourself.

Read the full story (Simo Ahava)

Google mobile-first index has started rolling out (slowly)

The Google mobile-first index has been, unsurprisingly, a hot topic for digital marketers since they first announced the details of the change last November. The rollout has now officially started with a ‘few’ sites being switched over to the new index. According to  Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes, the rollout will continue very slowly.

Read the full story (Search Engine Land)

Amazon and Apple hit by EU tax crackdown

In a renewed crackdown by the EU on taxes owed by some of the world’s biggest tech companies, the European Commission also plans to sue Ireland for failing to collect €13 billion in taxes from Apple. Additionally, Amazon has been ordered to repay €250 million in back taxes. Apple, Amazon and other tech giants have all been accused of receiving beneficial tax arrangements in EU countries that were not available to other companies.

Read the full story (BBC)

Do you know how much revenue Amazon makes from advertising?

It might be one of Amazon’s lesser-known streams of revenue, but its earnings from advertising sales have been growing rapidly. In its Q3 earnings report, Amazon announced ‘other’ earnings of over $1.1 billion, and it is generally agreed that ‘other’ is almost entirely made up of advertising sales. This represents a 58% year-on-year growth, with Amazon CFO stating “advertising revenue continues to grow very quickly.”

Read the full story (Search Engine Land)

Google searches now correspond to location not domain

Google announced that it is changing the way it handles localised searches. Until now, the  country code of the Google domain you used (i.e. google.co.uk for UK) largely determined which country you received results for. The change means that results will now default to the country where the search is being performed regardless of the Google domain used. The announcement has added significance, because the change will inevitably cause problems with localised rank tracking in the short term.

Read the full story (Google Blog)

Danny Sullivan joins Google

One of the most influential search journalists, Danny Sullivan, has joined Google months after announcing his retirement from journalism. While his official title has not yet been announced, he states he will “serve as a sort of public liaison for search. The goal is to increase the connection between those at Google who work hard on search each day and the public that depends on Google for answers.” Danny previously founded Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and organises the well-known SMX conference.

Read the full story (Danny Sullivan)

Distilled news

Another SearchLove London 2017 has been and gone. We sold out for the 2nd year running, as marketers from all across Europe, and even further afield, joined us for two days of advice and tactics from some of the best digital marketing minds you could hope to find. All the slides from the event can be found here. The next SearchLove event - San Diego 2018 - will take place on the 26-27 March and tickets are already on sale at early bird price.

Distilled CEO Will Critchlow was the closing speaker at this year’s London event, and in his talk, he proposed a new way to approach internal links and information architecture. He has shared some of the ideas from his deck in a detailed blog post.  Principal consultant Jono Alderson has written about how Cloudflare’s new Workers tool will blur the line between CDN and CMS. Finally, NYC analyst Jackie Francis has shared her toolkit for the SEO apprentice, containing the best first steps to a number of common SEO tasks.

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