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With a little more than a week to determine the impact of the latest Google core update and the Real News update, some early winners are emerging with BuzzFeed as the biggest surprise followed by Spotify while YouTube continues to dominate the entertainment category. Join Tyson Stockton and Ben as they suss out the post-update search landscape.
Ben: Welcome to our September 2019 edition of winners and losers on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro, and today we’re going to take a look back at the month and talk about some of the trends behind some of the biggest movers, shakers and slackers in the SEO world. Joining me today for winners and losers is Tyson Stockton, who is the director of Searchmetrics’ services team. Tyson manages our SEO, content and client success organizations. Outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’ largest and most strategic clients to SEO success, he’s dug through the Searchmetrics suite to help you understand who’s making moves in the SEO community.
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. To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a complimentary digital diagnostic where a member of our digital strategies group will provide you with a consultation that reviews how your website content and SEO strategies can all be optimized. To schedule your free digital diagnostic, go to Searchmetrics.com/diagnostic. On with the show, here’s our monthly sit down with Searchmetrics’ director of services, Tyson Stockton. Tyson, welcome to winners and losers.
Tyson: Thank you, Ben. Glad to be back on once again.
Ben: Good to connect with you. Lots of things changing in the SEO world. We’ve got some preliminary data, lots of core updates, and a couple of other announcements from Google. What do we know and what do we have data on so far for September’s performance?
Tyson: Yeah. We’re at a very like interesting pivotal time that we had a lot of news last week come out from Google about the core update that started to roll out last week as well as kind of a few others in relation to the news. Right now, as the core update’s still rolling out and we’re still crawling our full research cloud database, that kind of set is still early stages and anticipating that we’ll actually have a better feel of the core update in the upcoming week or two. Still there has been a fair amount of kind of like movement in the industry. I think one of the ones that we’re looking really close at was how the websites would respond to some of the changes that Google’s been announcing in the form of like the news segment.
Ben: Jordan (Koene) and I had a podcast earlier this month talking about some announcements that Google made in what we’re calling the real news update where they announced that, in the news media, original publishers of a story would be given more credit. Basically what we’re calling the real news update, where follow along articles are not going to be shown as much as the original publisher. Google also made some announcements related to how they would be managing links, updating the no follow link, allowing for people to tag their links as user generated content and also sponsored content. We’re starting to see a little data related to that, but we don’t necessarily have the full picture of the landscape when it comes to the big announcement with the core updates.
We’re going to be covering that in a podcast later this week when Jordan and I get back together, but Tyson, let’s talk about what we do know in terms of some of the announcements that Google made. Let’s talk a little bit about news media first. It seems like that’s the obvious one where we’ve seen what we think are some preliminary findings. What have you seen so far in news and media this month?
Tyson: Yeah. This is a segment or an industry that I would expect to have changes coming in the next coming weeks, not just from the core update but then also what you just mentioned as far as like how Google is rewarding the first to break a story. I think this is still in an early stage for it, but we have been keeping a close eye on the large new sites to see, is it true that the big conglomerate news sites that are typically ones to be early to these stories to be further cementing themselves as the winners? In this, again, it’s early preliminaries, but we saw a little bit of a mix between websites that moved up and websites that moved down just in the last week or so since that they made this announcement.
At first it was a little bit like, okay, how much of this has actually fully rolled out? How much have people actually had a chance to make changes on? Thinking about too in the nature of it, of like the first news story, is they’re probably going to have this mixture of winners and losers among stories within their own site. One given news site, they might be the first to break one story but then they might be one that’s late to the game on another. You’re probably going to have this mix match of articles that are doing really well versus ones that are kind of performing not as great.
Ben: Tyson, I’m going to let you off the hook here. Behind the scenes, before we started recording this, you were saying that you didn’t necessarily want to go on the record saying who was up and who was down, that it was related to the recent Google update. To me, because we only have one week of data and so we’re a little hesitant to call someone a winner or a loser based on one week of data for the month, but I do think that we’re seeing a trend across broad major news media sites where some are relatively, significantly up and others are significantly down in the last week. Then we’ve also seen some websites which were consistently down for the last few weeks, all of a sudden shoot up. Let’s talk a little bit about who are the winners and losers this month in the news media, knowing that we’re really only looking at like a week’s worth of data or so past the announcement of the changes for how Google is evaluating news.
Tyson: Starting out with the ones that are up, the first kind of starting point that I wanted to look at here was the big like traditional news site, so New York Times, LA Times, and both of these websites were up week over week. I think the interesting one is looking at New York Times, that in the 12 month lens has been losing a lot of market share and this was the first week that we actually saw them reverse that trend and have one win after this announcement happened. Similarly, as far as like a percent increase, there’s the LA Times. The difference here is LA Times hasn’t been in kind of like the last six month lens, the reverse side, they had some great gains during the March time period around the last core update or the March core update, also a little bit kind of in the June, and they saw roughly an 8% increase in this last week over week. I’d say both New York Times, LA Times were on the winning side.
Another winner that had a pretty substantial increase, and given the nature of the story I kind of wasn’t sure at first how to interpret it, was Buzzfeed. It’s like Buzzfeed’s not typically what you think of as far as like this having the same as-
Ben: Credible news source.
Tyson: … credibility as you would with maybe the New York Times or LA times. However, the thing about this, it’s like we’d want to dig in a little more, but they are going to have some type of posts and stuff that may be early into the game.
Ben: Buzzfeed does have a journalistic arm and they do have breaking news. I know that we all think of Buzzfeed as being popular for their listicles, the top 10 articles, but they do actually have a news organization there. Maybe they are actually breaking news and publishing a lot of listicles.
Tyson: Yeah. They saw just under a 10% increase week over week. I would say definitely kind of on the promising side for them, they did have a huge increase, roughly would say 61% it was at the March update. I think that they do have some risk here, but that’s something that I would certainly be feeling pretty good at if I was in their camp.
Ben: The one that’s interesting to me is … Buzzfeed is interesting because we don’t think of them as a regular sort of journalistic enterprise. The New York Times is interesting to me and they were only up slightly, but the reason why they stick out to me is it bucks the trend that they were on a pretty steep downward decline, and in the last week we’ve seen them shoot up a little. They reversed the trend. Even though the data doesn’t look like, oh, they picked up a lot of market share, they were hemorrhaging pretty badly going into this past week. Talk to me about some of the brands that are down. Where are you seeing brands that have been struggling since the Google real news update?
Tyson: Yeah, and actually kind of an interesting starting point on making that transition is CBS Local. CBS Local, we talked about them on one of our recent winners and losers of how CBS.com dropped a lot, but they regained a lot of market share on CBS Local. Currently CBS Local has a larger SEO visibility or a higher SEO visibility than CBS.com. CBS Local, we saw a roughly a 10% decrease this week. Going back the week before it was another 17% decrease. For the month of September I would have them in the loser category. There’s still, over the last couple months, they’re still up and it’s still outperforming CBS.com, but interesting enough, CBS.com actually regained a little bit of that lost market share in this last week. You had kind of the reverse of trends with the CBS company or brand. You had CBS Local decreasing and you had some gains on the CBS.com side.
Ben: Okay. We’re seeing some differentiation for CBS where Local is going down in terms of visibility, but the CBS.com domain has increased. What are some of the other brands that were negatively impacted?
Tyson: Yeah, one of the ones that we saw the largest decrease this last month in this space was Reuters. They had, in this last week over week, so post this last announcement, just over a 7% decrease, followed by an 8% the week before and a 1% before that. They’ve had a downward trend the entire month. They were on the winning side of the March update. Now with these losses that they’ve experienced recently, they’ve almost lost all of that market share that they captured earlier in the year. Especially with this next announcer, this next core update that was announced last week, they would be one that I’d be quite nervous as far as how they’re going to play out in the coming weeks. A couple others that we saw a loss as well, similar stories to the other ones that we’ve been mentioning, WashingtonPost.com, we saw about a 4% decrease week over week. They, in the 12 month lens, have been down quite a bit. I would say that they’re hurting a bit on this. Then another one that we saw a similar decrease, however, the waterline’s quite high for them, is CNN.com.
Ben: I think the takeaway here is, A, it’s early days, right? We just saw the announcement about how news is going to be handled and that original publishers are going to be given more credit and more visibility. We’re seeing a split. Some brands are up, some brands are down, nothing that is night and day, black and white clear. Then of course Google made the core algorithm update announcement this week. We’re going to keep an eye on this, but it looks like we’re seeing a myriad of brands being given a little credit, at least initial credit, with the announcement of Google’s new way of handling news. Tyson, talk to me about some other industries that you’ve seen something interesting happening. We mentioned that Google is looking at how links are no followed or user generated content. Have we seen any differences in user generated content focused brands yet?
Tyson: Yeah, so I mean, one kind of interesting observation was in the UGC category. They had a softening over the last month, and in particular since the last announcement, they had almost a 10% decrease in their visibility. This is a site that we’ve mentioned a fair amount. They kind of had this ping ponging of performance, but now with like this last month, it’s down again. When you look at a 12 month lens, they’ve lost over almost 600,000 visibility points.
Ben: They’ve lost about 50% of their visibility in the last year or so.
Tyson: Yeah, so they are one that has been, historically over the last couple of years, one of the websites that people would look to from a how to succeed in UGC. Now we’ve kind of, over the last 12 months, seen them coming back down a bit and faced with some of these recent challenges.
Ben: How about on the positive side? Have we seen any brands that are UGC related that have seen any sort of uptick in the last few weeks?
Tyson: Yeah. We got one that jumped way up. As far as positive side, it’s going to depend on where you sit on this kind of update, but the one that we saw by far the largest increase, and this is in just a one week over week kind of turn from this last week is, no surprises, but YouTube. YouTube week over week had a 10%, or just under a 10% increase. However, with how large of a footprint that this site has already, that 10% is massive. YouTube, in the last six months, has had crazy gains from market share. Again, kind of depending on the how you feel about that and any potential connections between YouTube and Google and that whole kind of positioning, this one, I think, some people could feel threatened by. A lot of people probably no surprises there, but last week would be the largest significant movement for YouTube in the last 12 months.
Ben: We might’ve buried the lead here. This is probably the headline. YouTube had a 10% increase in visibility week over week and in the last 2 years we’ve seen YouTube grow 100% in visibility. Either they’ve got some great SEOs that are there and they’re totally unrelated to their parent company and they just happen to be great at SEO, or Google is prioritizing their own properties. Whether they’ve implemented the change and the links related to UGC or if this is related to the core update, it’s a little unclear, but YouTube had a monstrous week, gained 10% which is about 5 million in terms of their visibility score, which is the size of somewhere between Instagram and Twitter. In terms of SEO visibility, YouTube this week picked up a Twitter, obviously a very good week for them.
Let’s talk about the last industry that we have on our radar this week, unrelated to any of the core updates, but it is the back to school season. We wanted to take a check in and look to see what’s happening in the entertainment industry. We mentioned YouTube already. Obviously they had the killer week. Tyson, what are you seeing in the rest of the entertainment industry now that the kids are back in school?
Tyson: Yeah, a couple of interesting ones to point out, one of them being Instagram. You have some parallels with the last conversation that we had around UGC. Instagram, week over week and just this last week, they had a 16% increase, however, falling before that, it was about an 8 week decrease. Overall, Instagram is down but from the week over week standpoint a great bump so that … If you’re on their side, that’s going to be definitely really promising or hopeful to see to kind of reverse that trend that they’ve been experiencing over the last two months. One other that’s kind of stemming from the video conversation with YouTube, Hulu, much, much smaller footprint from YouTube. Just to give the listeners a little bit of perspective, YouTube’s currently sitting with an SEO visibility score of 51 million where Hulu is sitting at just under 500,000, but week over week, they got a 4% increase and overall for the month they are up as well, so positive signs on Hulu’s front.
Ben: Now that the kids are back in school, has anything happened in terms of audio consumption?
Tyson: Yeah, as far as the audio consumption, one of the biggest players in this space, Spotify, they actually had a really strong month as well. They would be in the winner’s list. They had over a 10% increase in the last week over week, which was, again for them, the largest movement in roughly the last 12 months. That was a huge win. Prior to that, earlier in the month, they had a bunch of more moderate wins that they were able to link together. I’d say Spotify is the player that had the most movement in the month of September and definitely going in the right direction.
Ben: All right, let’s land the plane on this. Tyson, tell me who are your winners for the month?
Tyson: I would say definitely the number one winner being YouTube, I think as you said it, gaining a Twitter in visibility. For them, that’s a huge win. Other one I would say is Spotify. They’ve had a really strong last 12 months. This one or this last week’s increase as well has kind of really catapulted them up and moved them past the one million mark as far as SEO visibility goes. That would be my second big winner.
Ben: I think I’d throw in for the winners, the New York Times as well. Not a huge update, I just have a feeling that the announcement related to original content publishers getting more credit in news is going to help them and we saw them turn the tables. They were on a pretty downward slide and had an increase for the week. I’m going to throw New York Times in our winners as well. Talk to me about our losers for the month, Tyson. Who had a tough month?
Tyson: Yeah, the one that I have for the biggest loser of the month would be Reuters, not just in the week over week and how it responded post this last announcement, but looking back over the last eight weeks, that one I would be pretty nervous about. Reuters would be my number one loser this month.
Ben: I’m going to throw Corra in in the losers category. They’ve been the darling of how to use UGC. They had a difficult week and I think that might be related to Google’s recent announcement. Tyson, any other winners and losers? Any other comments about September?
Tyson: No, I think that wraps us up for the month of September. Really eager and anxious to see kind of what the numbers come in with with this recent core update, and I think October is going to be one of the most interesting months of 2019.
Ben: We are in the full swing of Google update season. Jordan Koene and I are going to come back later this week to talk to you a little bit about what’s happening with the Google core update. Again, Tyson and I are going to circle back up as we do every month and talk about the changes in the landscape next month for October, so lots to look forward to and that wraps up this episode of 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 can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes or you can send him a tweet @Tyson_Stockton, T-Y-S-O-N, underscore, S-T-O-C-K-T-O-N. T. If you have general marketing questions or if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast or if you’re interested in being a guest on the show, you can find my contact information in our show notes or you can send me a tweet @BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.
If you’re interested in learning more 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 complimentary advisory session with our digital strategies team. If you liked this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed later this week with more news about the Google core update. All right, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.