What Google gives, Google can take back. Bearing some fiendish undertones eerily reminiscent of the Google ad-blocking conspiracy theories of a few years back, Google has once again cracked its almighty algo whip, leaving the online community befuddled and sending dozens of prominent news sites into a tailspin.
Popular cryptocurrency news site CCN has just announced that it will shut down following Google’s June 2019 Core Update, a major algorithm update rolled out on June 3rd that has lead to widespread changes in the visibility and traffic volumes of many online sites.
CCN was one of the unlucky media sites to be caught on the wrong side of the update, with mobile traffic to the site plunging 71 percent overnight.
Following the update, CCN’s Visibility Index on Google suddenly dropped from 1.2 to just 0.6 according to SEO data analysis platform Sistrix. The SISTRIX Visibility Index is a proprietary SEO tool that ranks a domain’s visibility in Google’s search result pages. Sistrix says there’s a high correlation between the index score and actual amount of organic search traffic.
In case you are wondering how the drop affected the media company’s bottom line, well, CCN says it’s just lost a staggering 90 percent of its daily revenue, forcing it to fold.
CCN has been the preferred go-to cryptocurrency news site with the highest global traffic of any crypto-focused site. The site was founded in 2013 as CryptoCoinsNews and grew from a one-man show to a media company employing a team of more than 60 reporters across the globe.
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A crypto crackdown?
CCN is hardly the only crypto company caught in the brewing maelstrom. Blockchain news specialist CoinDesk has recorded a 35 percent decline in mobile traffic while its peer Coin Telegraph’s has fallen 21 percent.
Each year, Google makes hundreds of small changes to the algorithm but only a handful of major ones. The so-called core updates are the engine of the ranking algorithm and can lead to major shifts in SERP(Search Engine Results Pages).
Related: Nothing Will Break China’s Giants: Not Even A Trade War While there’s nothing new in Google releasing algorithm changes, it’s the manner in which the latest was done and the ramifications that has been startling. More importantly, the sudden drop in traffic to crypto and blockchain websites has raised eyebrows and triggered suspicion that this could be a thinly veiled attempt to gag these sites.
The manner of the limitation also raises pertinent questions. First off, why did the search giant stray from its usual protocol by announcing the update beforehand? It’s quite unusual for Google to publicly announce changes to the core algorithm. Yet, this Sunday, the company took to its official Twitter account and did exactly that.
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But perhaps even more vexing is the apparent inability by even SEO experts on the Google Webmasters Forum to explain why the latest core update has brought about such profound changes in visibility of some sites including major news sites.
CCN founder Jonas Borchgrevink is at a loss, too:
"We have tried to find out why our stories are no longer visible on Google by asking for guidance in Google’s Webmasters Forum. While we appreciate the help of the experts from the Google Forum, their theories for why Google has decided to basically 'shut down' CCN does not appear to be entirely accurate. Why would simple fixes be the cause of the immense Google-listing drop, when other similar sites are experiencing the same blowback," Borchgrevink has posed.
Consequently, conspiracy theories have inevitably emerged.
Google Webmasters Forum Silver Product Expert Nikolaj Antonov has proffered that CCN and other cryptomedia sites could have been targeted due to the sensitive nature of financial reporting:
‘‘Your website is the news website with articles focusing on the financial market. Perhaps Google can be ranked the website as Your Money Or Your Life – YMYL and the content and trustworthiness level of the website is defined by the recommendations Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness – EAT.’’
That would probably be a good enough rationale to label this a deliberate crypto crackdown. However, it turns out that dozens of non-crypto news sites have been just as badly hit.
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According to Sistrix data again, the Daily Mail, Mercola and Vimeo are some of the prominent media sites what have recorded double-digit traffic declines after the update.
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Still, that does not tell the whole story.
As per Sistrix, the breadth of the affected domains is wider than has been the case in the past with “Your Money, Your Life” category among the most badly hit.
Interestingly, there have been winners, too. News media sites have been amongst the biggest winners as well as a sprinkling of retail, health-related and image sites. Below is a selection of winners for Google UK.
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While it’s hard to definitively classify Google’s latest algorithm update as being a direct crypto media crackdown, the YMYL category to which crypto sites belong has definitely taken a pounding. The roundup for news sites is rather mixed with some clear winners and heavy losers.
As Sistrix has aptly observed, everything at the surface level looks the same—and yet something is very different.
By Alex Kimani for Safehaven.com
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