Latest Google Update Causes Massive Change In Traffic To News Websites

Latest Google Update Causes Massive Change In Traffic To News Websites-talkaaj
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Latest Google Update Causes Massive Change In Traffic To News Websites

Some news publishers in the UK, US and elsewhere have been “severely impacted” by a series of Google Search and Discover updates since September, which has affected traffic and, as a result, revenue.

Websites with a traditional focus on scale, often built with the help of SEO explainer-style articles, are most affected, while sites with a better user experience due to fewer ads – hence many of the more subscription-focused newsbrands – are being reported. are less affected.

Google said it did not specifically target publishers, but aimed to “show helpful and trusted results”.

Since September, updates released by Google have included an “Accessibility Update” that is considered “significantly more impactful” than previous updates of its kind, an October core update and another in November in December 2022. , and also includes a review update. month. “Core” updates are significant, sweeping changes to Google’s search algorithms and systems that occur a few times a year – usually not twice every two months.

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At the time of writing the two November updates had not yet been released, while a bug was discovered in the October rollout that had a significant impact on traffic through Google’s personalized content feed, Discover. That bug has since been fixed, although not all publishers have reported seeing improvements as a result.

Latest major update has ‘profound impact’ on news sites

SEO expert Lily Ray said: “The Google update from September to November 2023 has deeply affected news and publisher websites, causing significant changes in the traffic and visibility of these websites. This is especially evident in Google Discover traffic and visibility in the Top Stories and Google News tabs, and for many website owners, a significant reduction in revenue.

Ray said that although the major update is “expected to cause volatility” in both Search and Discover, the websites in the sample he received saw “more extreme” changes than many recent algorithm changes.

Barry Adams, founder of Polemic Digital, an SEO consultant to news publishers, shared a similar analysis with Press Gazette. He said: “Every time a Google algorithm update is announced, many publishers anxiously wait to see what impact it is going to have. Some updates pass by in barely the blink of an eye, while others have a profound impact on a site’s Google traffic and, by extension, their revenue.

“Both the October and November major updates appear to have ‘big impact’, with massive traffic changes seen across hundreds of sites – some positive, some negative.”

One publisher, who requested anonymity because of their website’s domain, told Ray that they “disappeared from Discover and News with the November core update. We felt a strong impact in October, but now in November business has completely collapsed.” It is done.’ Six years of hard work and now everything has turned to ashes.”

Ray created a questionnaire to let publishers know how the update affected their sites, and received results from over 150 publishers around the world (the largest proportion, 31%, of which were in the US) – although They were severely affected and disproportionately represented, possibly due to the self-selection nature of the survey.

Yet 72% claimed they would no longer be able to see their articles featured prominently in Google’s Top Stories widget or the Google News tab unless they were sorted by newest.

The same proportion (73%) said they have seen their Google Discover traffic drop to zero during the past three months, despite a significant increase in ad revenue. Many “expressed disappointment” that they did not see a larger increase after the glitch was fixed.

Adams told Press Gazette: “Some sites are now seeing improvements in their Discover traffic, but others are seeing no sign of Discover returning to previous levels, leading to speculation that the bug has only been partially fixed. There may be a fix or there may be another bug wreaking havoc in Google’s systems.”

Sites that suffered losses before being ‘hit again’

Overall Ray said that many people “reported a huge reduction in page views and traffic, with figures falling from several million to a figure of 1-2 million or even less”. It was often believed to be caused by a combination of Google updates rather than one alone.

They also noted that “sites disappearing from Google Discover and Top Stories was a frequent concern” especially after the October major update – and often those affected were even worse than previous updates.

This suggestion was echoed by Adams, who said: “Some sites that were negatively affected by updates in previous years and that managed to regain most of the lost traffic are now affected again. This leads me to believe that one or both of these latest updates are refreshes of systems that Google previously introduced or updated.

Adams added: “I also see that user experience factors play a big role: a common thread among many sites losing traffic is that they contain ads that interfere with reader engagement with the content, Such as ads that occupy part or all of the screen and autoplay ad videos that take up a large portion of the mobile screen.

A head of SEO at a UK publisher with multiple brands told Press Gazette that he believes the results of the latest update show that Google is moving away from ad-based sites that primarily chased clicks in the past. Were.

With the continued increase in zero-click search results – in which Google provides the answer to a question or the information sought in a search – this means that news sites that have previously created a lot of SEO explainer articles will see a decrease in referral traffic.

This may explain why the expert told Press Gazette that the brands most affected in the latest update were those that had a lot of historical SEO content that had not been updated recently. They said refreshing those articles was making a noticeable difference to their brands.

This fits with previous Press Gazette analysis of how search visibility scores for major UK and US news websites, measured by Systrix, were affected by the October core update.

This data does not tell the full picture, as Press Gazette has heard concerns that the changes introduced in November have resulted in a further decline in referral traffic. But it appears to confirm the nature of many of the worst affected sites.

Of the 15 sites worst in our ranking for search visibility decline on a percentage basis, all were owned by Reach, except for LadBible in eighth place, which mostly has a strategy of scale to increase digital ad revenue.

Ray also noticed “frustration” from some people that even though they had improved their sites and created original content their sites were not showing improvement. Another trend, he said, was a “general feeling of confusion”, in which the guidance provided by Google was not universally considered clear or specific.

A Google spokesperson said: “We are constantly improving our system with updates to ensure we continue our mission of showing useful and reliable results. None of our recent updates target specific pages or sites, including publishers.

Danny Sullivan, Google’s search liaison, said on X (formerly Twitter): “Search and content can move through cycles. You may have an increase in useless content, and search systems evolve to deal with this. We’re in one of those cycles.

But he added that “we have looked at some of the issues people have raised and have all sorts of ranking improvements already in the works to deal with these”.

Regarding the Discover glitch, a Google spokesperson said: “We recently discovered a bug in Discover that may have caused traffic to some publications to drop for a short period of time. As soon as it was discovered, we fixed the bug and notified the ecosystem.

Publishers asked to be aware of third-party content and review changes

Adams also warned against having too much third-party commercial content, such as betting odds and e-commerce, saying that sites that have a high amount of it are “starting to see signs that these Google updates are targeting those practices.” To avoid more trouble later, it may be wise for those sites to reduce the amount of commercial content and focus more on proper news content.

Cameron Nichols, head of SEO at US customer experience company Merkle, also noted on LinkedIn that third-party content has been a factor in recent rollouts like September’s Assistant content update.

Nicholls said: “Recent changes in Google’s behavior towards third-party hosted content signal a change that site owners need to be aware of and consider their practices moving forward. While initial indications show that only pages hosting third-party content are being affected, the focus continues on ranking original and valuable content.

“While not all search updates are created equal, and some may contain more noise than news, these are the ones that should get your attention. If website owners are leveraging third-party content, now is the time to change these practices and consider prioritizing efforts that produce unique, quality content and investing in the resources that support these efforts. Can support.

The next thing to look at under the latest ranking updates might be reviews. Google says it aims to promote reviews that “share in-depth research rather than thin content that summarizes a bunch of products, services, or other things”.

SEO expert Luke Budka, AI strategist at Definition, told Press Gazette that he predicted this could impact the rankings and traffic of news publishers and advised them to check their sites in their Google Search Console accounts to find out. One must analyze specific parts of the body to determine which sections are affected.

“It probably means that a lot of publishers need to reevaluate their review process,” Budka said. “Google will no longer rank review content that doesn’t provide added value, just because it’s on a high authority news website.”

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हैलो, मेरा नाम PPSINGH है। मैं जयपुर का रहना वाला हूं और इस News Website के माध्यम से मैं आप तक देश और दुनिया से व्यापार, सरकरी योजनायें, बॉलीवुड, शिक्षा, जॉब, खेल और राजनीति के हर अपडेट पहुंचाने की कोशिश करता हूं। आपसे विनती है कि अपना प्यार हम पर बनाएं रखें ❤️

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