Here’s How Google’s Latest Algorithm Update Affects UK Publishers

A number of websites in the UK that publish news saw their viewership dropping, and that was cause for concern because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making it harder for them to stay up and running. It turns out that Google’s recent update to its search algorithm may have had a role to play in hampering their growth with all things having been considered and taken into account.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that the Ladbible, a youth oriented publishing platform, saw the greatest hit of all, reports Pressgazette based on Sistrix data. It saw its Google search rankings plummet by as much as 52%, plunging from 3.8 prior to the algorithm change to just 1.2 after it was updated. Two platforms owned by DMGT, namely "The i" and Mail Online also saw their viewership drop after their rankings fell by 37%.

Mail Online’s drop was the most drastic of all in terms of overall points. Prior to the change in the algorithm they had a search engine score of around 76.2. This fell by 28 points to just 48.2, so while Ladbible’s percentage decrease was higher, Mail Online’s was more severe from a purely points based frame of reference.

The changes that Google made to its algorithm in September represented the second time that the tech juggernaut has done something of this sort in 2022. Since Google is the ultimate arbiter of who gets the most visibility, failing to adapt their approach to the updates can make publishers reach fewer readers than might have been the case otherwise.

The purpose behind this update was to make it harder for publishers to optimize their content for the search engine and instead force them to optimize for the readers themselves. However, most publishers have claimed that only the lowest quality sites that were basically just spam were removed. Most other sites still have poor content, and sites that offer high quality content that is read by many users got penalized despite the supposed aim of this change.

It is estimated that major news sites lost an average of 40% of their traffic in a few cases. Some are claiming that Google is prioritizing progressive stories and content, and it is downgrading content that may have a conservative or right wing slant. If that is true, it would suggest that Google is heavily biased in terms of what sites it pushes and which sites it buries deep inside of its SERP.

Interestingly, some sites have actually managed to become more visible since the update went into effect. The Sun newspaper, a popular tabloid in the UK, fully expected a decline in visibility, yet they actually experienced a 3% bump.

Meanwhile, news sources like the Guardian seem to have benefited tremendously from this update. The Guardian saw a 5% increase of 14 points, bringing its SEO score from 253 to 267. Some sites have seen their fortunes improve thanks to this update, whereas others are complaining that it has affected them negatively. That suggests that this algorithm update is a bit of a mixed bag as of right now.

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