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August 2019 SEO Winners and Losers: Facebook ascends, Netflix softens, YouTube dominates while Twitter slides

Episode Overview

August has seen Facebook rebound, Twitter slide and Netsuite soften while YouTube continues to dominate SEO visibility. Will Twitter correct their slide? Does Sling have a chance? And, how much the long tails of the Game of Thrones benefit HBO as the summer comes to an end?

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Travel

There’s good news for Travelocity who made up lost ground after the horror show of late 2018. Booking.com stabilized after a rough spring while Expedia and Kayak lost ground after 24-month highs.

Streaming Services

Though not roughly tossed into the loser category, Netsuite visibility softened over the summer with the collection of HBO properties benefiting and also rans like sling continue to shrink; was HBO’s gain a Game of Thrones bump or just Raider Nation lining up to see Chucky at training camp? And of course, YouTube is the big winner here with yet another set of week-over-week gains.

Social

Facebook is creeping back into the winner’s column as they eclipse the sixteen million SEO visibility mark. Twitter continues to experience trouble, dropping from SEO visibility of eight million to six million.

Episode Transcript

Ben:                             Welcome to the August edition of Winners and Losers on Voices of Search podcast. Today, we’re taking a look back on the month and talking about the trends behind some of the biggest movers, shakers, and slackers in the SEO. Joining us for Winners and Losers is Tyson Stockton, who is the director of Searchmetrics Services team. Tyson and managers are SEO content and clients excess organizations, and outside of shepherding, Searchmetrics has the largest and most strategic clients to SEO success. He’s dug through the Searchmetrics Suite to help you understand who’s making moves in the SEO community.

Ben:                             But before we hear from Tyson, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics.

Ben:                             We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise-scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions. And to support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a complimentary a digital diagnostic, where a member of our digital services team will review how your website content and SEO strategies can all be optimized. To schedule your free digital diagnostic, go to searchmetrics.com/diagnostic.

Ben:                             Okay, here’s our monthly sit-down with Searchmetrics’ director of services, Tyson Stockton. Tyson, welcome back to The Voices of Search podcast.

Tyson:                          Thanks, Ben. Glad to be back mid-Summer, or I guess coming up on the tail-end of Summer.

Ben:                             I want to go on the record of saying that for July, not for August, the biggest losers in the SEO game was me and you for forgetting to record the Winners and Losers episode. For those of you who are avid fans of our Winners and Losers segments, we apologize. We actually just forgot to record the episode until it was too late in the middle of August. So, we’re back and we’re going to talk a little bit today about what’s happening in SEO in the Summer months.

Ben:                             Tyson, shame on you, shame on me. We’re losers, too. Let’s talk about who’s making moves in the SEO community this Summer.

Tyson:                          Yeah, and that’s a fair call-out. So, that is full transparency and that is our bad on last month, but we can learn from it. And we got some news for this August.

Ben:                             Note to self, set up recurring meeting with Tyson. Go on.

Tyson:                          Yeah. Hey, Siri.

Tyson:                          But yeah, so starting on and on this month, looking at a couple of the industries, we’re kind of… when you and I were talking before recording this, we were talking about Summer trends, where people are spending their time online, and we were kind of talking about travel, as an obvious topic. Summer months, kids are out of school. Also, from kids, talking about videos. So, this month, we wanted to look at those industries, so we took a closer look at travel, the social media platforms, as there’s some movement going on with those this month, as well as the streaming services are, really, people are bing watching those shows.

Ben:                             So, let’s start out by talking about the travel industries. We’re not going to talk about the travel research sites, we’re going to talk more about the actual booking of your hotels, of your flights. Talk to me about who’s making moves in the travel industry over the Summer.

Tyson:                          Yeah. So, starting it out, let’s start with the larger players in the space, and that’s Booking.com. So, Booking, and we touched on them a little bit earlier this year when there was the March algorithm in the month days, so they were one of the websites that were pretty heavily hit by it, lost quite a bit of market share from their reach. The reason why I started with them is they’ve actually had a really stable last four weeks. They’ve had virtually no change, which is a little surprising to it. It’s been virtually flat. However, they took that huge hit in March, they regained a little bit of it, and they’re still flat. So, year over year, they’re looking roughly close to where they started the year, and then they had gains and they kind of dropped back off. So, that one kind of sets the benchmark for industries.

Tyson:                          So, we’re looking at it and we feel relatively comfortable that the industry is stable, and then it’s more of how are the players competing.

Ben:                             I was really hoping that Booking.com was going to do well, so I can drop a Booking.yeah, but we’ll save it until they rebound a little bit more.

Tyson:                          Fair enough.

Tyson:                          So, the first one that would have, from the losers list, is one maybe not as severely impacted from the algorithm month days earlier in the year. And actually, they had a pretty strong first half of the year where going in after February and March had some really strong movements, some market shared games. Then, since about end of April until these last weeks, we’ve seen Expedia.com kind of fall back down. So, they were at kind of a 12-month, or actually, even a 24-month high back in end of April, and then they’ve been slipping back since then. So, they would be one within the traveled site that I would have on the losers list. However, the glass-half-full is at least when a lot of people are making those Summer travel plans, booking the hotels, booking the flights, they were up.

Tyson:                          So, from a business standpoint, I think the saw thing right now is probably in their favor. Just, hopefully, they can regain that zeroing in on the second half of the year.

Tyson:                          The other website that had a pretty similar pattern, but a little more drastic, especially in the last couple weeks, is Kayak.com. Kayak.com has had a rough six weeks. So, they’re also at the verge kind of an all-time high for on the lease in the last 24 months, and then have just slid back down and kind of lost about half of those gains, or a little bit more even, during that period of time. So, this one’s similar story or similar points would apply from Expedia, but I’d say even a little bit sharper and a little more of an intense of a decline in the last six weeks.

Ben:                             So, is this a factor of seasonality? We’re seeing Kayak and Expedia both having softness at the end of the Summer. Is this just a fact of less people are looking? How are we factoring seasonality here?

Tyson:                          Yeah, and that’s an excellent question. In this case and from the data set for SEO visibility that we’re looking at, I would say that that is not the case. Two reasons for that. The first one is since we’re using a 12-month monthly average, so you could do week over week comparisons, you’re not going to see that seasonal trend in the visibility graph, because that’s already accounted for. The other piece of why I don’t think that’s the case is true that you see that with two large, significant players in the travel space. But Booking.com, who actually has a larger footprint than both of them, they are been completely flat for the last four weeks. So, that kind of debunks what we’re seeing and when we see a sharp decline on the others.

Tyson:                          And then in further evidence, if you will, on this, if you look at Travelocity, who was severely hit from the algorithm updates earlier in the year, or sorry, tail-end of last year, they’ve actually kind of redeemed and had a strong last nine months. In the shorter window, too, they’ve actually had a couple increases in their SEO performance. So, you have websites within the same space that have conflicting directional signals. So, you have the two that called out that were the most notable on the decline, and then you have Travelocity as a side, is even though it doesn’t have the same reach as those, they were still able to increase their footprint. And then you also have the more stagnant, recently Booking.com in this space.

Ben:                             So, I think the takeaway here is that first and foremost, when we’re talking about visibility, we’re factoring in for seasonality. We’re seeing the biggest player in the space, Booking.com being relatively flat. We saw declines from Expedia and Kayak, and Travelocity is seeing some gains. So, we’re going to call them our winner in the travel space for this Summer.

Ben:                             Let’s move on to the streaming services. Lots of kids out of school, lots of media consumption. It’s a big time for people to see in front of the boob tube. Let’s start with Netflix, what are we seeing from them in terms of their visibility?

Tyson:                          Yeah, so Netflix obviously is one of the large players in this space and they do kind of own a fair amount of market share. However, if we look at how their performance has been in the last 12 months or even the last six months, they have had a decline in their overall SEO visibility. They did have a positive last week, where they were able to increase just over almost 2% of it. But when you look at the trend and the previous six weeks from that, they were on the losing side.

Ben:                             So, Netflix is a little down, little softening, but not anything that’s dramatic. Are we seeing consistent declines across the rest of the industries? Who else is suffering over the Summer?

Tyson:                          Yeah, and this one’s interesting, because there are a few others that are suffering, but there are also the winners that are taking advantage of that. One other that I call out that has had a softening or kind of a weaker market share is Sling.com. So, Sling.com, it is a smaller site, it’s benched in compared to Netflix, so it doesn’t have the same reach. But they’ve really, especially in the six-month lens, had a softening and about almost a 50% decrease in their overall SEO visibility. It’s gotten a little bit brighter in the last couple weeks, but when you look at that trajectory from the last six months, definitely some concerns going into the second half of this year.

Ben:                             How much of this is SEO tactics? And is this just the Sling.com domain having their lunch eaten by other streaming services, just becoming more popular? Is it a technology issue?

Tyson:                          Yeah, I mean, and that’s going to be a piece of this. You are going to see some of that brand awareness or demands of a brand find its way into SEO visibility, because some of these brands have really high search volume by their brandings. So, if Sling as a company is kind of weakening or doesn’t have the same brand recognition, then you’re going to see that translate into their visibility. I’d say with someone like Sling and looking at some of their rankings, that can be a piece that goes into it. But I would say in this case, it’s going to go beyond just their brand terms. So, it’s not just their brand recognition or the demand for their own brand, but also how to competing in the space.

Ben:                             So, who’s winning in the streaming media services this month? And is it Game of Thrones as a standalone domain?

Tyson:                          It’s not. Well, one of the winners is HBO, not necessarily just because of Game of Thrones, but I’m sure that’s helped them out a fair amount. But I wouldn’t put HBO in the winner category. They’re kind of interesting from a domain perspective, because they really have three different domains in the conversation of streaming. So, you have HBO.com that’s their core site, and then they have their two streaming sites of HBO Go and HBO Now. When you look at them individually, and the first one I saw, which was not as positive, was HBO Now, and it caught my eyes, “Oh, maybe this is a big time show kind of loser for the month.”

Tyson:                          However, when you look at HBO Go, you see, actually, four weeks of positive growth, a little bit more market share. So, actually, from an SEOstandpoint, HBO Go ranks better than HBO Now. So, that’s one piece that goes into it, even though they’re very similar services. But then if you look at the HBO.com website as a whole, not exactly just streaming queries, but they’ve really been on a growth or an increase for over the last 12 months. They had a really strong last couple weeks, getting over 6% increase from the last week, and then another 3% before that. So, they’re actually kind of raised their waterline and they’re at an all-time high for now. So, I’d have them on the winner’s list.

Ben:                             Was there an increase on May 19th, which was the date that the last episode that Game of Thrones was aired?

Tyson:                          Not their all-time high, but they were on a growth streak for, let’s see, three weeks prior to that. But they did get a minor, or kind of like a… since we post data for the U.S. in our research cloud on Sundays, so on May 11th, they had a pretty high mark. And then also, the next few weeks, they were also at a good pace.

Ben:                             So, little spike when Game of Thrones ended, and now we’re seeing a spike again. And as it turns out, last week was the week that they launched their new shows.

Tyson:                          Or, I mean, maybe there’s just a bunch of Raiders fans out there.

Ben:                             Hard Knocks could be the reason why HBO is on a run. It is football season, they do have some football content. So, is HBO the only winner in the streaming media space?

Tyson:                          There’s one other giant in this space that we can’t really ignore and that is, of course, YouTube. Despite the opinions on this, we can confirm that from our SEO visibility. YouTube has slightly increased their all-time high. They’ve been on a positive, as far as no downturns in SEO visibility, since actually beginning of the Summer. So, they’ve had, especially in the last month, at least a minimum of 1.5% visibility growth, and that has continued for several weeks, with the biggest increase being close to 3%. So, the big, but even bigger here, and they’re certainly on the rise.

Ben:                             Not necessarily a surprise, but outside of the first week after the last Google update, YouTube has seen a pretty dramatic rise in visibility. So, to me, this is a factor of Google prioritizing their own properties to bolster YouTube as a service, more than necessarily something that they’re doing, or something related to their content.

Tyson:                          Yeah, I mean, I think this is a debated area. I think a lot of… when you look at the growth, sure, they have this crazy inventory, if you will, of video. Could be wrong, but I believe it’s the largest video depository. But there’s certainly some of that personal interest in there as well.

Ben:                             So, that’s actually a great segue, because Google is not just a streaming platform, but also a social platform. As the kids are out of school, they’re watching more videos and they’re starting to post more content. What are we seeing in terms of social media?

Tyson:                          Yeah. So, social media has kind of been jumping around a little bit, and it doesn’t show as much when you’re looking at just the domain’s visibility graph. But because these websites are so massive, when we look at our absolute winners and losers, almost every week, you’re guaranteed to get probably five of the top ten that are in this winners and losers category for overall, absolute movements for it. So, just to give kind of a rule of thumb, some of those other websites we were talking, they were also a million. I mean, there are a couple ones that we called out the big players, but those are all 7 million, and some of them even still have 1,000, or 100,000 visibility points. When we look at these social platforms, we’re talking over ten million, Facebook sitting around just under 16 million. So, it’s so much larger and so much more reach than some of these other ones that they definitely dwarf a lot of the others.

Tyson:                          The one that I would say, and it’s not as much in the last week, but especially when you look at the six-month lens, I would say Facebook has been on the rise. Going back to actually beginning of March of this year, they’ve been on a positive trajectory. Before March, they had a pretty rough kind of six months, where they’re on the exact opposite. But they’ve actually neared that and they’ve been able to regain a lot of lost market share. So, their high for the last 12 months was about 16.5 million, and now they’re sitting at just under 16 million. So, they’ve regained almost all that market share that they lost earlier in the year.

Ben:                             So, Facebook’s on an upward trend. What is happening across some of the other social platforms? IG, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. Who’s actually seeing the most increase in visibility this Summer?

Tyson:                          Yeah. So, I would say the winner out of the group that I would label, and this is more so in the last six-month lens, is going to be Facebook. The, let’s call it an orange color, middle of the road, is going to be Instagram. They’ve had a little more turbulent of a year in forms of SEO visibility, where you get these rolling ups and downs in about a three-month window kind of stand. They’ve had a decent, and they’re kind of right in the middle of their slings. So, there’s, I wouldn’t say is necessarily positive or negative, but they’re just kind of sitting in around that four million mark.

Tyson:                          The one that I would have the loser side would be Twitter. So, when we look at Twitter in a 12-month lens, they are down quite a bit. They started the year about 12 months back around eight million, and now they’re sitting around six million. The last week as well, they dropped almost 15% of their visibility and they’ve had some of these big moments that there’s been a fall out, but they’re not getting the same positive swing. So, you’re basically just getting these kind of gaps or drops where they’re losing rankings, they regained a little bit of it, but they’re overall aggregate is still on this kind of negative slide. So, that’s one that I would say probably be my loser of the group, especially with Facebook being the winner.

Tyson:                          And the other one, which probably not as much as Twitter, but I would say is not necessarily in the green, would be LinkedIn. LinkedIn, they had a strong push about ten months ago, but then since then, they’ve had two drops, especially when we looked into the beginning of May. They had a pretty sharp decline of almost 20%, and then have been pretty stagnant since. So, they’re one that, I don’t think it’s as extreme, given the nature of their website, but they would be one that I would have on the loser side, just not quite as strong.

Ben:                             I think at the end of the day in the social media space, in terms of SEO visibility and in terms of overall performance, it’s Facebook world. Between Facebook and Instagram, they’re the behemoth in the room. Twitter has had some volatility, and then LinkedIn has its place in the world and has more of a niche offering, but mostly in this time where it’s the Summer and people are taking a little time away from the office, the kids are out, not surprising they’re seeing softness in their SEO visibility as well.

Tyson:                          Yeah. No, I think that’s right, Ben.

Ben:                             So, let’s land the plane here. We’re talking about what’s happening this Summer. We got travel, streaming services, and social. If you give me your winners for the travel, streaming services, and social industries?

Tyson:                          Yeah. So, starting on the travel, the winner that I have for this month is Travelocity. Smaller sized, but I think it has to be really encouraging if you’re on their team to see that swing in the last six-month lens. So, Travelocity for travel.

Tyson:                          In the video or streaming space, I think you got to give it to YouTube for that big push that they had, as far as absolute games and overall percent increase. They’re going to be the ones that have gained the most. HBO I think is doing well and I like the direction that they’re going, but just not the same extreme as what I saw with YouTube. So, that would be on the positive side.

Tyson:                          And then for social media, I would give the head nod to Facebook on regaining some of that ground and not following the same patterns that some of the other social platforms.

Ben:                             Okay. And that wraps up this episode of The Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ director of services. If you’d like to learn more about Tyson, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes, or you could send him a Tweet at Tyson_Stockton. If you have general marketing questions or if you’d like to be a guest on The Voices of Search podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can send me a Tweet and BenJShap, B-E-N, J, S-H-A-P. If you’re interesting in learning how to search data to boost your organic traffic online visibility, or to gain competitive insights, head over to Searchmetrics.com/diagnostic for your complementary advisory session with our digital strategies team.

Ben:                             And if you like this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed later this week.

Ben:                             All right, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.

 

Tagged:
Tyson Stockton

Tyson Stockton

Tyson has over 10 years' experience in the digital marketing industry. As Director of Enterprise Services, Tyson manages the Enterprise Client Success team and SEO Consulting efforts at Searchmetrics. Tyson has worked with some of world’s largest enterprise websites including Fortune 500 and global eCommerce leaders. Prior to Searchmetrics, Tyson worked on the in-house side managing the SEO and SEM efforts of a collection of 14 sports specialty eCommerce companies in the US, Europe and Australia.

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