Based on studies, and numerous examples of supporting evidence from Glenn Gabe at GSQi, it is believed that a Google ‘quality update’ occurred in the month of June. This has yet to be officially confirmed by Google itself, but still studies are coming out showing evidence that a major shakeup happened to search rankings last month.
A study published this week by Roy Hinkis at SimilarWeb digs deep into the data surrounding June’s Google update to determine which type of sites saw the greatest rankings boost. Across the board it was found that news saw a measurable amount of traffic throughout the month of June.
Hinkis describes how the study was conducted:
”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.”
New York Post saw the highest increase in organic search traffic compared to other publishers, with an increase of 155% month over month. The News and Media category overall saw a 14% increase in organic search traffic. The Finance and Games categories saw a 16% and 13% increase respectively.
June’s quality update wasn’t a blessing for everyone. The Career and Education category saw a 25% decrease in organic search traffic, the How to/Ask an expert category saw a 20% decrease, and the Books and Literature category saw a 13% decrease.
If the data is correct, June marked Google’s second ‘quality update’. The first one was rolled out almost exactly a year ago, and this years update appears to have continued what the first one started. Websites focused on ‘How-to’ types of content took a beating in last year’s update, and they’re reportedly taking a beating in this year’s update.
Hinkis suggests that, according to SimilarWeb’s recent findings, content freshness has become an even stronger ranking factor. While that might well be true, another thing to consider is the prevalence of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) in search results. News sites are often featured in the AMP carousel, which could increase the organic traffic of that category of site as more of them adopt AMP for their content.
What would really be interesting to find out is how many of these sites that are rising in search results have AMP versions of their content. Not only would that indicate AMP is a real traffic driver, but it would shed some insight into the level of AMP adoption at this point.
In any case, both Roy Hinkis’ and Glenn Gabe’s findings appear to leave no doubt that the update was content related. Data from both sources show sites with unique, fresh content are benefitting most from Google’s update.