Changes to the Google Algorithm can wipe out companies, drop their share prices, halve their advertising revenue and more. Most of the time they are not announced in advance but June’s update was announced and it has had a huge impact on the traffic received by a few online news outlets. Below we cover how the June 2019 changes shook up the US traffic for UK global news outlets.
What change did Google make to its search algorithm in June 2019?
Google makes 1000s of changes every year to its search algorithm however, it only occasionally makes a Broad Core Algorithm change.
That’s more of a major update.
Well, June’s change had one hell of an impact on sites across the web even though they said that it was a standard update.
Why would a website lose traffic because of an update?
The focus of updates is generally to match up user search intent to a high quality result as that’s what makes Google a useful service.
If Google thinks there’s are a lot of low quality content on your site, it gets punished.
Google has targeted those who paraphrase a lot of material, those with slow page load speeds and even those who talk about health and finance but maybe are not deemed as being authoritative enough.
Natural medicine sites like Mercola.com lost most of their traffic after one of these Google updates because they may have been marked as providing "Inaccurate potentially dangerous medical advice". Watch out if you're running an alternative health site!
Google updates impact share prices. That's the power of Google Algorithm writers. Moneysupermarket’s share price dropped 15% after a Google update hit their traffic.
Where is this traffic data from?
SEMRush is a tool used by over 1 million users across the globe, often for marketing purposes.
I use it to:
- Analyse our competitor’s traffic.
- Find which topics are popular in our industry to research and write about.
- Understand who is linking to us and sending us visitors.
They have a free trial.
The Daily mail lost almost half its US traffic
(All statistics for all news outlets are for traffic over the course of the month in the USA)
May: 16 million
You’d almost think there was a conspiracy theory against tabloids but look further below at TheSun which doubled traffic.
In the above image, bottom right, you can see the total organic traffic over the years for the Dailymail in the USA.
All newspapers seem to have seen a surge over the last few years which is wearing off. It could well be that the Brexit and Trump effect was massive for all newspapers and the Daily Mail was one of the big winners. At one point the traffic rose to 50 million over the month.
It seems like the effect has worn off. Maybe people have really become bored of Brexit and Trump for now?
Below, check out the search terms that bring people to the Daily Mail. Meghan Markle should be framed as a hero in their offices.
Also note the enormous number of people who Google for Daily Mail each day. I was confused by this phenomenon until I realised how many people enter a website into Google's search bar and then click on the first link in the search results, rather than enter it into the URL bar and have it auto-filled. That’s why “daily mail” has a search volume of over 4 million. They're returning users Googling for it.
Below you can see the last 6 months of US traffic and the sudden drop off in June when the algorithm change came into play.
The Sun came out a big winner
May: 4.5 million
June: 9 million
Gain: They doubled in traffic
They’ve doubled traffic so far.
Just to prove the point, below is The Sun’s traffic for the UK.
It went from 18 million in May to 31 million in June.
One thing to note about the Google update is the winners appear to take traffic from the losers. There are many cases like this, of one site going down and the other rising equally as fast.
It might take time to see if this was a blip BUT maybe the Daily Mail’s loss is the Sun’s gain? Time will tell.
Who would have thought that The Sun would rank no.1 for the search term “Venezuela news” in the USA right now.
The Guardian was already a monster and grew further
May: 27 million
June: 33 million
Gain: 6 million
I figured the guardian had a lot of traffic but I didn’t think they were so much bigger than the Daily Mail in the USA.
Oddly enough, they seem to have more traffic than the Daily Mail even in the UK but I need to double check those figures as I find it surprising.
The Guardian receives a lot of traffic for the search term “Stormy Daniels” in the USA. Maybe they led the way in er uh exposing that story.
The Independent got a boost and ranks no.1 for “Sex”
May: 11 million
Gain: 3 million
Don’t ask me why but the Independent is the first result when searching for “sex” on Google in the US.
Also note, an extraordinary number of people searched for what, to me, is a relatively unknown chess player “Lyudmila Rudenko”. Maybe this is after she appeared in a Google Doodle. That’s the power of the Google Doodle for one online newspaper in one country.
The BBC is a rock
May: 8.58 million
June: 8.41 million
Loss / Gain: Who cares!
Got some Doctor Who fans over there!
It didn’t budge a millimetre from May to June.
If you want to see the traffic of more news outlets, your competitors or your own website then try SEMRush’s free trial.