Wikipedia’s organic search traffic from Google dropped 11% from May to July — a decline of over 250 million visits per month.
Traffic measurement company SimilarWeb originally reported on the traffic loss, leading the company’s head of SEO to speculate as to whether Wikipedia is falling out of favor with Google.
SEOs have long griped over the fact that Wikipedia entries for companies and brands frequently outrank the actual websites.
Could it be that Google has adjusted its algorithm to instead favor brand and company websites over Wikipedia entries, as Roy Hinkis of SimilarWeb suggests? That’s one possibility.
Business Insider suggests Wikipedia’s traffic loss may not be due to any changes in Google’s search algorithm. It may have more to do with the fact that Google is providing more immediate answers to queries, limiting the need to click through to Wikipedia.
”One of the major trends happening at Google is the company’s preference for inserting its own content above the content of other non-Google web sites, even when those sites may be better resources than Google itself. Google’s goal here is to give people the best answer as quickly as possible.”
Searchers that would have once clicked on the Wikipedia link are now being satisfied by Google’s attempt to answer the question directly.
If this is indeed the case, Wikipedia would not be the first to see a traffic loss as a result of the way Google ranks its own content.
A recent study by Harvard researchers shows evidence that Google is ranking its own sites ahead of better quality results in organic search.
This is apparently most evident when it comes to local searches, which is having a significant impact on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Is Wikipedia’s traffic being impacted in a similar way? Hard to tell after just three months of data, but it will be interesting to see if the trend continues.
Editorial Credit: Shutterstock