If you’ve ever wondered how important Google News is when it comes to driving traffic, I’d like to draw your attention to what’s going on in Spain right now.
Google was recently forced to drop Spanish news websites from its news index after the country passed legislation allowing newspapers to charge if even a snippet of their content were to appear for free within Google News.
Gigaom reports that external traffic to those Spanish news websites has since fallen by 10 to 15 percent compared to a week before the legislation was passed.
While external traffic dropped, overall traffic was less affected as readers are still following links from one publication to another and not relying solely on external sources to find news.
The chief data scientist of Chartbeat, the firm responsible for collecting this data, tells the Wall Street Journal “What we have here is correlation and not causation.”
More time is needed to monitor this data to get an accurate read on whether there’s a consistent trend going on. Google, as well as publishers across Europe will surely be taking a keen interest.
It’s important to note that Google has a considerably stronger presence in Europe than in the United States, currently holding an 86% market share. The search giant argues that it drives no revenue from Google News and is responsible for a substantial amount of free traffic to news sites every day.
As an example of how important Google News is in Europe you can look to a recent situation involving Germany’s largest news publisher, Axel Springer. When legislation was passed in Germany that made Google News an opt-in service, Axel Springer cited a 40% loss in traffic after two weeks of not being indexed. You can bet they were quick to return.
Time will tell if Spanish news sites are in for a similar loss of traffic.