Episode Overview

Which media companies are rising on Google’s organic search rankings and which are falling? Tyson Stockton uncovers some surprising data on which media companies are the biggest movers, shakers, and slackers in the SEO world.

  • How has the big tidal wave from Google’s March algorithm change impacted media companies in the last two months?
  • How is the Google visibility score trending in the publishing industry with major players like the New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, US News, and USA Today?
  • Why is YouTube toppling its social media competitors like Facebook?
  • Is Twitter successfully chipping away at Facebook?
  • What is Spotify’s SEO visibility trajectory in the last six months compared to iTunes?

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Episode Transcript

Ben:                          Welcome to our May 2019 edition of Winners and Losers on the Voices of Search podcast. Today, we’re going to take a look back on the month and talk about some of the biggest trends behind some of the biggest movers, shakers and slackers in the SEO world. Joining us for Winners and Losers is Tyson Stockton, the Director of Searchmetrics’s services. Tyson manages our SEO Content and Client Success Organizations, and outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’s largest and most strategic clients to SEO success, he’s also dug through the Searchmetrics suite to help you understand who is making moves in the SEO community.

Ben:                             But before we hear from Tyson, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise-scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions. We’d like to invite you, our loyal podcast listeners, to our upcoming webinar where we’re going to discuss how SEO and SEM are joining forces to win the surp.

Ben:                             On June 19th our own Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’s Director of Services, and Leslie 3Q Digital’s VP of SEO, will dive into the ways that you can combine your paid and organic search marketing to be more effective together. To register for our SEO and SEM Joint Forces webinar, go to Searchmetrics.com/Webinar.

Ben:                             Okay, here is our monthly sit down with Searchmetrics’s Director of Services, Tyson Stockton. Tyson, welcome to the Voices of Search podcast. Excited to do a Winners and Losers episode with you.

Tyson:                          Excellent. Thanks, Ben.

Ben:                             So we’re sort of trending here in the middle of the month, and my understanding coming off of the big tidal wave of the Google algorithm change that affected the last two months, things are relatively stable. So, what do you want to talk about this month?

Tyson:                          Yeah, I think looking across a lot of the big players online and kind of seeing how their performance has been trending, this one comes very much kind of a I would say more of a common month, a little more consistency as far as who we’re seeing in the Winners and Losers category. I think definitely, as you mentioned, the calm of the storm afterwards and again seemed a little bit more normal behavior of some of the market fluctuations that we see. You have for this month, summer’s here. Summer’s coming in. What better way than talk about how people kill time and avoid getting outside during these nice summer months.

Ben:                             Now that things are back to normal, we want to educate you SEOs on how you can waste some time on the Internet and also help you understand who in the SEO community is doing the same thing. We’re going to talk about a couple of different ways that people are entertaining themselves using the Internet. We’re going to start with traditional media properties, and by that I mean some of the biggest names in the media and publishing industry which could be television stations, they could be traditional newspapers.

Ben:                             Tyson, talk to me about who is making waves in the traditional media space, and what did you see in terms of winners and losers for this month.

Tyson:                          Yeah, and I guess one other point, I wouldn’t say an SEO is not wasting time online. It’s more doing market research online. It’s never a wasted moment when you’re inside the SEO community in that sense.

Ben:                             I see what you did there, and I think you’re lying to us, but go on.

Tyson:                          Fair enough. Yeah, so starting out looking at kind of the newspaper industry, obviously this has been an industry that’s evolved from kind of like the traditional trends. You have the broadcast media, and a lot of these companies over the last let’s say 10 years have made the investment and push the obvious one to and kind of their presence in digital. So, although this isn’t kind of like a new space, it’s not like “Hey, these companies are going online,” or anything like that. We are seeing some shifts in kind of some market share swings when we’re looking at some of the big players.

Tyson:                          The first one we want to talk about is probably one of the largest newspapers definitely in the US and probably up there in the world in that sense, but New York Times. This is a company that I think everyone is familiar with. When you look back over the last couple of years, this has been a website that’s been a clear kind of market meter from a search presence. What we’ve seen is over the course, especially of the last 12 months, a decreasing performance where they used to have almost like a 50% gap, and as far as like overall visibility almost a two million point spread between them and their nearest competitors in the media space.

Tyson:                          Over the last few months we’ve seen that gap been closed. From kind of a decline of performance to have New York Times on that list, if we’re talking in like a 30 day window lens, relatively stable, but when you kind of zoom out you see that loss of market share. The website that’s really kind of threatening them the most, or we’ve seen the most movement during that six month stand, has been CNN. As CNN made looking over that same trend, they basically have just reversed it where the same loss that we’ve seen in the New York Times kind of presence, CNN has been linking together a few wins over the last several months.

Tyson:                          They’ve actually, at one point, surpassed New York Times as being the market leader in the visibility score, and now they’re just slightly below so they took a little bit of a hit three weeks ago. But, they’re still neck and neck with New York Times. When you zoom out 12 months back, you had about a two million point spread between these two sites.

Ben:                             So when we zoom out, there was a pretty significant gap in terms of visibility score between New York Times and CNN, two million points roughly a year ago. CNN essentially picked up a million points, and the New York Times roughly lost an equivalent amount. Talk to me about some of the other players. Now that we have those two mega properties kind of going towards each other in terms of being the biggest traditional media properties, what’s happened to the rest of the industry?

Tyson:                          I think those ones are definitely the clear kind of one and two. There’s a pretty large gap when you move to kind of like the next tier of competitors in this space. A couple of interesting ones to kind of call out, one The Guardian. The Guardian, six months back, was basically right neck and neck with CNN, and they saw a pretty significant decline dating back to kind of beginning of March. So, this actually their decline started prior to the March 12 update, and they had a pretty rough couple of weeks and then have just kind of been staying stagnant. But, they went from one time being above CNN to now having almost a million point spread as well between the two.

Ben:                             Yeah, I think of this as the equivalent of what’s happening here is the middle class has basically evaporated. When we look at the traditional media properties, you now have seen in the New York Times clearly separating themselves from the rest of the pack. The Guardians of the world have decreased down to some of the other properties. I know Fox News is there as well, and there’s a couple of properties where The Guardian, Fox and some other players are sort of all lumped together down at the roughly it was a one million invisibility.

Tyson:                          Yeah, I would say there’s really like three strong players in that second tier, where you have US News, USA Today, and The Guardian, which are all relatively close, and then that top tier again, CNN and The New York Times. Then actually, a bit of a drop down below that. You have Fox News and MSN, and they’re kind of just below that one million mark, and kind of struggling keeping the game from an SEO presence. One that’s a positive kind of win, and when you look at all these websites, and their visibility, performance kind of over time, especially in like a year lens, US News appears to be pretty stagnant and stable.

Tyson:                          But then if you look at just their domain as a whole, and this is an industry that’s been relatively volatile given kind of like the nature in fluctuating demands and urgency at the time to article, what you see with US News is one, you see a lot of stability with them, and then incremental growth. So, they’ve actually had really almost 12 months they’ve been on a positive trajectory. It has not been huge swings, but what I really like about their performance is the consistency of it in a very volatile industry, and just little by little, kind of linking again together these consecutive weeks of positive performance and keeping that where before when the other websites were a lot higher and they took their hits, you know they weren’t 12 months ago in the same kind of category of like a second tier in this space. Really from this consistency, it definitely kind of solidified themselves in that second group.

Ben:                             So, two clear classes on the traditional media properties with New York Times and CNN running at the front of the pack, and heading opposite directions. Then there’s a quagmire of other media properties that have sort of bunched up together around the one million visibility points, and US News has crept into that as well. Talk to me about some of the other ways that people are entertaining themselves on the Internet. Let’s take a look at the social platforms. What are you seeing in the social media consumption space?

Tyson:                          In the social media space, this is another space that has the potential to have some significant volatility in it. This is primarily user generated-type content, so they have that advantage and courage, if you will.

Tyson:                          Encouraged, if you will, where with user generated content you have such great opportunity in the size and scale that you can cover. But then you also have points of quality. The large social players, I think are interesting in that standpoint. You have a lot of presence that they’ve kind of captured as far as like brand terms where we’ve seen a lot of eCommerce sites losing out on queries that they may be used to be ranking for, used to be ranking well for different brands that they sell and carry. You’ve seen kind of this rise in social presence, but when you kind of really dig in looking at these social websites in isolation, one, you have the same kind of class separation, if you will, or gaps in performance, which is pretty, pretty drastic, especially when I think a lot of people think that some of these players are all very similar from like their magnitude and size.

Tyson:                          But there’s definitely some really big gaps that we see from this. It’s no real surprise that if we’re talking about who the overall number one is, and I guess a little bit debatable if they’re in a social category or in a video kind of category. But YouTube is just head and shoulders above anyone else in this space and they’re one of the largest websites online as far as their organic search presence. Really just a little bit behind Wikipedia, which just covers the board with overall presence. When you look at YouTube, especially in kind of like a 12 month lens, they had kind of roughly around let’s say 10 to 12 months ago, a huge increase. Really substantial growth. They went from 30 million up to 45 million, and then had kind of had some meandering performance in there. In a four month lens they’ve had pretty good growth as well, where week over week they’re putting up low single digit percentage growth. Last couple of weeks there has been some softening or they’ve given up some market share.

Tyson:                          But when you throw in the next largest social player in this, and it’s the first kind of more traditional social player, if you will, Facebook. I was actually a little bit surprised seeing how big of a gap between Facebook and YouTube, knowing that both of these are giants in their kind of respective fields or shared industry. But you go from basically sitting around like 44 million in visibility for YouTube down to 14.5 for Facebook. That one is just a huge, huge gap. I mean that’s larger than most websites out there, just the gap between these two.

Tyson:                          Then when you start to dig into like what’s going on with Facebook’s visibility, they definitely have given up quite a bit from a search presence. They went from about six months ago, kind of hovering around the 16 million mark, and then dropped down to 14 million, and then recovered about half of that. In the overall kind of like summarizing lens of this, they had a loss, a pretty substantial loss during like that six month timeframe was able to kind of regain some of that market share around the March time period. In particular in the second half after the algorithm went up, and then has been relatively stagnant since. They had, in the month of May, I would put them more on the loser’s list, but then when you look at them on this like larger lens, that’s where you see a drop.

Ben:                             The takeaway here is that YouTube is significantly bigger than the other social players. Not a surprise. It’s owned by Google. Also people are creating content specifically for broadcast with YouTube, as opposed to Facebook. There’s a little bit more of a walled garden type approach where people don’t necessarily want to share everything on their Facebook profiles, each individual page or image. We’ve also seen that Facebook over the longer term has lost a significant amount of their visibility, roughly about a million points over the last six months. There’s a downward trend there. How does that compare to some of the other major social platforms? What about the Twitters and Instagrams of the world?

Tyson:                          Yeah, so Twitter, that one also, it was a little surprising to me in looking at it in relation to Facebook. It’s clear from like a company perspective that Twitter is in some ways kind of threatening Facebook or at least it’s chipping away in some places. But really that same magnitude of gap between like a YouTube visibility presence to Facebook, you see that same kind of gap in looking at Twitter. Twitter, you drop down to six, six and a half million where they’ve currently been setting. Compared to Facebook’s 14.5, that’s over double what the visibility is. Then when you look at how they’ve been trending, they’ve had like a couple kind of a blip moments where they dip down in jump back up. But they’ve been basically kind of hovering around this six to seven million mark for over the last six months.

Tyson:                          Then when you go back even further in a 12 month lens, you see that they lost basically 50% of their visibility. Back kind of last summer they were almost up to right around kind of like the 12 million mark, and then had a few substantial hits, most notably around July 28th of 2018, where they lost 28% of their market share. That was continued by a few kind of decreases and they’re actually further down from where they were before. Although in the last couple months’ standpoint, they’ve been in this kind of constant position or at least an in a stable position, they still have had such a dramatic loss of what their SEO visibility’s been that there’s this really drastic gap between them and Facebook from like a search presence.

Tyson:                          The other one that I think … it’s a little bit younger than some of these other sites and when you look at kind of like Facebook, but Instagram I also thought is an interesting one in this case. The reason why is because they are surprisingly close to Twitter, where they’re at about 4 million in comparison to Twitter’s 6.5. When you look at their kind of performance, the thing that you notice about them more than Facebook, we talked about had the drop. Twitter who also had the drop. Instagram’s been relatively stable and they’ve had a couple moments that they’ve had these outlier drops, but then they’ve jumped back up the following week. To me that kind of reads as more of an adjustment from like the search standpoint or from the search engine standpoint. But then you just see this kind of little wins here and there. Some movement, relatively stable given the overall like kind of space that they’re operating in.

Ben:                             I think the biggest takeaway here is that there’s a pretty significant gap in terms of the overall size of the social platform, in terms of their organic visibility. YouTube is a behemoth, gigantic. Facebook is a huge site, but also not even close to what YouTube is in terms of visibility. Then you get into this sort of third tier where you have Twitter, which is decreasing in terms of its overall visibility and Instagram slowly creeping up. How much of this do you think is actual content volume, and how much of it is just the algorithm for Google evaluating the value of the pages?

Tyson:                          Yeah, I think there’s some blends in that. Pretty much all of these platforms are going to have, and we’ve seen in the course of probably the last year to two pretty good strong presence for like celebrity names and things like that. If you search like Lebron James you’re going to get a Twitter page for it. I think the areas that a lot of these players are overlapping on the kind of like public profiles, whether it’s like brands, celebrity names, individual brands, and things like that. Those kind of a flagship profile pages, if you will, is going to be areas that you’re going to have consistency and competition.

Tyson:                          But then where you’re going to get some additional opportunity and where have someone like Instagram that isn’t going to have the same content breadth that a Facebook or Twitter would have. Where in those platforms you actually have individual posts that will pop into search here and there where the nature of Instagram’s platform, you’re not going to have quite the same breadth. That’s why that one kind of out of all of them, even though wasn’t seeing the most movement, caught my eye in knowing that from the, not necessarily a business lens, but from like an SEO lens, they have arguably a disadvantage in the sense of not having the same magnitude of content in the form of written copy. Sure. Like number of post pages, they could be in the same game, but they’re not going to have the richness of content that you’ll see from others in these other properties.

Ben:                             I think you run into a similar problem with Twitter where there’s just cap on the characters for each tweet. You’re still getting large pages, but you’re not necessarily going to get long posts. I know that they’ve changed that a little recently by expanding the size tweets can be and the number of that you can have on a page.

Tyson:                          Yeah, and so I mean you are going to have that element. I think their strength is lot around kind of like these profile pages that get a lot of traction or shared around a lot. I think one of their top, if I remember correctly, one of their top keywords as far as within our database of what’s driving traffic I think was King James. That’s been a space that they’ve done quite well. I think something else, getting a little more granular, but something else that’s worth noting is Twitter has had some pretty … when you look at their mobile visibility versus kind of like the desktop, pretty different … like the way that Google is kind of also kind of surfacing them and the way that they’re putting them in the mobile space, you see some differences of how they’re treating them on desktop. I think that’s kind of just a anecdotal, interesting kind of note of the mobile performance of these and given kind of some of the nature of like the content on Twitter.

Tyson:                          Sure like the content on Twitter and just kind of where time on site from users, I think that’s an interesting point too, how their mobile performance has had this pretty drastic difference between their desktop performance.

Ben:                             All right. Let’s turn the page a little and talk about another form of entertainment. Talk to me about what’s happening in the streaming and music space?

Tyson:                          Yes. This one is probably one of my favorites, not necessarily just SEO related, but just kind of personal in the music side. Spotify it’s a brand that everyone is very familiar with. They’ve been gaining a ton of traction in the space. And when you look at their SEO visibility, we’re also seeing a similar trend.

Tyson:                          Keeping with the theme of today, looking at kind of the macro and then into the more recent ones, if you look at Spotify on a six months window, they’ve had excellent performance. They’ve had overall growth. And if you look at the load that they’ve had over the last year, which is right around a little bit less than a year ago, so let’s say mid July where they’re sitting around 500,000, and now they’ve been hovering around just below the one million mark. So they’ve almost doubled their SEO visibility in that timeframe. In particular to the topic of the session on a monthly lens, they’ve had a few pretty strong weeks as well. The last two not so much, but you could go back and basically six weeks prior to that where they had increases between 1% up to 10% gains just during that last two month window.

Tyson:                          Recently Spotify, definitely great traction moving up. When you look at them on a 12 month lens, at one time they were actually really sitting around just 1.2 million, and then they had just this substantial drop. Interesting enough too, when they did have this drop and we were seeing some weeks at 30% decrease, and then having to dig themselves out of that hole, so they have gone from being 1.2, they’re just under a million now. They’ve regained some of that market share last year in that drop that was kind of in that March timeframe. So they’ve kind of as far as core algorithm updates probably not on the winning side of 2018. But as far as this year goes, the March 12 update didn’t really phase them and really have had some solid performance over the last six months.

Ben:                             How does that compare to iTunes?

Tyson:                          iTunes, yes. iTunes definitely is the more mature competitor in this space. You see that same type of separation that you saw or we talked about in some of the other industries. The gap that you saw between a YouTube and Facebook is pretty similar of what I would describe the gap here between the iTunes subdomain on apple.com compared to Spotify. Sure, you’re going to have … It’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison in the sense that you have some video, whether it’s movies, TV shows in the iTunes platform that you’re not going to get in Spotify. But I would still view them as being kind of the dominant player in this space.

Tyson:                          As far direction of performance, they’re going the opposite way is what we’re seeing in Spotify. iTunes subdomain has been on decline since February of 2018, where they’re just sitting just under six million and now today they’re at like 3.6 million. So they’ve had a substantial decrease and really kind of trending in the opposite direction of what we see from Spotify but still the big difference is that huge gap between the two.

Ben:                             Let’s talk winners and losers across the entire keeping yourself entertained landscape. Who do you see this month or over a longer period of time being the winner in ways to keep yourself entertained?

Tyson:                          Ways to keep yourself entertained. So this is by no means a ranking which I think is the most entertaining. But as far as who I would have in the winners category, I would have first on starting in the news area I would have CNN. I’d also throw even though it’s not the same magnitude, but just again, the consistency of it, I’d put US News in that group as well. Then as far as the online music space, Spotify’s definitely in that winner range as well because we’ve seen some great growth there.

Ben:                             Then talk to me about who you think is losing in the entertainment space. What’s losing eyeballs in your holes?

Tyson:                          As far as losers, I’d say the first one New York Times on the media and publishing going from being the dominant giant in the industry to then giving up that market share and being neck and neck with CNN. As far as on the macro lens would definitely have them kind of in that group. Guardian kind of also slipping down in as far as kind of where they are and who they’re equivalent to I’d also have in the loser space. Social media platforms in general. We’re seeing that softening or kind of drops on the 12 year, or 12 month, sorry, timeframe for both Twitter and Facebook.

Tyson:                          It’s not necessarily growth, but I think it is in some form still a strong performance of Instagram kind of staying in the running, not having some advantages from an SEO perspective necessarily as some of their larger competitors do, but being kind of just biting at the heels of Twitter for overall SEO visibility I’d have Instagram in there.

Ben:                             Yeah. I think my takeaway from thinking about how you can keep yourself entertained is that YouTube is clearly the biggest winner to me just based on the sheer of magnitude. I had no idea that their online visibility was so much different and so much larger than not only the other social players, but also significantly bigger than the media and the publishing companies.

Ben:                             I’d also throw out that Spotify is clearly heading in the right direction and becoming more of a competitor to the incumbent which is Apple and is gaining market share hand over fist. Those are some of my winners and losers.

Ben:                             Tyson, any last words? Are there any other industries that we should talk about or rub up against for this thinking about how to keep yourself entertained episode of Winners and Losers?

Tyson:                          Yeah, I think that wraps us up for this month. Certainly, check out-

Ben:                             Oh, I thought you were going to talk about the porn industry which we’re going to cover in another episode, but Tyson, I won’t make you say it.

Tyson:                          Oh come on, in the air. I was bated there. We’ll save that one for the next episode.

Ben:                             All right. We’ll get into the adult industry and how big and visible that is in another episode.

Ben:                             That wraps up this episode of Winners and Losers on the Voices of Search Podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ director of services. If you’d like to learn more about Tyson, you could find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes, or you can send him a tweet @tyson_stockton.

Ben:                             If you have general marketing questions or if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes or you can send me a tweet @benjshap.

Ben:                             If you’re interested in learning about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic, online visibility, or to gain competitive insights, head over to searchmetrics.com/diagnostic for your complementary advisory session with our digital strategies team. Or if you’re interested in attempting our SEO and SEM Joining Forces webinar on June 19th, head over to searchmetrics.com/webinar.

Ben:                             And if you liked this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast bean, hit the Subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed soon with more SEO predictions.

Ben:                             Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed the show and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the Apple iTunes store or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Okay, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.

 

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