According to several sources around the web, Google released a quality (Phantom) update in June, though this has yet to be confirmed by Google themselves. Glenn Gabe from GSQi recently released a study discussing 4 dates in June where there was a change in Google’s ranking. These occurred on June 1st, 8th, 21st, and 26th. In this “quality” update we have noticed a really interesting trend, namely that news sites are dramatically increasing their organic search traffic.
How does this update differ from the one last June? In June 2015 we released a study on the first google quality update and how it focused mainly on “how to” websites. In order to see results from this latest update, I took data from the top 100,000 websites of US in May 2016, based on organic search traffic and compared it to the same list in June 2016.
What I found was a really interesting trend where we see news sites increasing their organic search traffic. Below are a few examples of news sites that have increased their organic search traffic between May and June 2016. New York Post, for example, increased their organic search traffic by 155% and rank 49th overall on our US publishers index.
Other categories, however, saw a drop in their organic search traffic, with Career and Education sites seeing a 25% decrease in organic search between May and June 2016. The How to/Ask an expert category dropped off 20% while Books and Literature lost 13% of its organic search traffic.
How is Facebook related to this update?
Recently, Facebook came up with their own update, focused on changing the news feed content so that users see more content from friends and family as opposed to articles and pages. Facebook’s purpose in doing this is likely to make sure publishers will have to pay in order to continue to appear in the news feed. We recently published a study showing the top 300 English language publications which receive Facebook traffic, and once the ‘friends and family’ update has taken full effect, we will be able to see how much Facebook traffic these publishers lost.
Could this be an opportunity for Google? According to our data, Google’s update will be welcome news to publishers as it seems to increase their organic visibility. Furthermore, the AMP project is an action developed by Google in order to increase the visibility of publishers on mobile devices.
While this update hasn’t been confirmed by Google yet, it is looking quite similar to last year’s update. The how-to industry suffered from a decrease in organic traffic back in June 2015 and in this latest quality update, it continued to decrease by 20%.
According to these findings, content freshness has become an even bigger factor in the Google rankings.