Six-year-old cryptocurrency news outlet CCN announced on Monday that it is shutting down due to a sudden and dramatic drop in Google search traffic in the wake of the June 3 Google Core Update. Jonas Borchgrevink, Director & Founder of CCN Markets and Hawkfish AS, made the announcement in a post on CCN’s website that claims traffic dropped by more than 71% on mobile within one day of the update.
Borchgrevink acknowledged that the site had experienced those low levels at different times in the past but noted that the company has expanded its team in recent years and does not want to downsize and negatively employee morale. He also suggested that Google’s actions have had a “significant impact” on CNN, which is an independent news site dependent on ad revenue.
According to Borchgrevink, his team has reached out to Google to find out why their content is no longer visible in its search engine results, but received no satisfactory answers:
We have tried to find out why our stories are no longer visible on Google by asking for guidance in Google’s Webmasters Forum. While we appreciate the help of the experts from the Google Forum, their theories for why Google has decided to basically “shut down” CCN does not appear to be entirely accurate.
Why would simple fixes be the cause of the immense Google-listing drop, when other similar sites are experiencing the same blowback? The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk, has experienced a 34,6% drop according to Sistrix.com.
Borchgrevink said that Cointelegraph has also experienced a decline in visibility, with a 21% drop on mobile. Moreover, he said that “all major crypto focused sites have taken a hit” from the recent update, though he conceded that some non-crypto sites have been negatively affected.
Borchgrevink also issued a call to action to other media outlets, journalists, and others. Though he said that his company understands Google’s need to update algorithms periodically, the tech giant’s lack of transparency causes real harm to businesses:
I am personally calling media organizations across the world to fight this hideous practice by Google, that basically can, with a snap of its fingers, decide who will thrive and who will die within a matter of minutes. Google controls the world’s news consumption. They claim to be pro-journalism.
Google claims to build a stronger future for journalism, one where journalists, editors, and news organizations can supposedly thrive with Google’s frequent and opaque core search updates. While in fact, they are creating an environment where journalists, editors, and news organizations don’t know if they will be around after the next Google Core Update.
Borchgrevink called on Google to provide webmasters with three months’ notice of pending Google Core Updates, with an explanation of its impact. He also called for news sites to be warned if they are at risk for losing “more than 20% of their search traffic” and advised about any changes they can make to avoid that negative impact. Finally, he urged the company to cooperate with national governments, with “apolitical task forces” reviewing algorithm changes to ensure that core individual freedoms are safeguarded.