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Google News-Wave Update: Media Websites Surfing the Winner Tide

Within a few weeks, Google has tweaked its core algorithm and rolled out an update for the second time without officially anouncing it. According to our quick analysis, this update seems to be primarily concerned with trending keywords as well as temporary search intentions related to informational (shorthead) keywords. First-glance-winners are first and foremost media websites with one of the most important elements of the update being: topicality. That’s why I decided to use the working title “News-Wave Update”: Google surfes the trending tides! If this is supposed to be a permanent change, there will be a much higher volatility of search results in the future.


Volatility is the key focus here. This post is based on really fresh data, but while I was writing these lines, the rankings have already changed again. Google seems to update the SERPs constantly with new newsworthy content. It seems a bit like QDF (the concept of “hot” topics being included in the algorithm) has gone wild to me.

There is no official confirmation of the update by Google (yet), but this is not supposed to be a Panda-Update, which has been announced to be happening in “the next few weeks”.

Dr. Pete from Moz assumed a relation to HTTPS – and also to Wikipedia (currently moving to HTTPS). In fact, Wikipedia seems to be involved somehow, but differently than Dr. Pete supposed – at least that is what I believe and I’m going to show you what I mean in a minute.

What has happened until now?

On June 17th, many webmasters recognized ranking changes. First, let me collect the facts regarding the quesion, what the update was not:

  • …related to Panda or Penguin: John Mueller (Google) said in a Webmaster Tool Central-Hangout, that there has been some kind of action, but this has not been an algorithm change related to Panda or Penguin.
  • …an HTTPS-Update: As a response to Dr. Pete’s post on Moz,  Gary Illyes (Google) tweeted, he is not aware of any connection to HTTPS. Background of this assumption ahs been the fact that Wikipedia is currently switching to HTTPS.

Similiar to the most recent Google Phantom Update at the end of April / beginning of Mai 2015, Google did not make any clear statements regarding the update.

Winner of the Update

Clear winner of the update are domains related to news, magazines and newspapers, in the broadest sense: media. The current data is already available in our software – the Searchmetrics Suite. You can acces most parts of the data also without having a login:

Winner / Loser US – Searchmetrics Suite

I don’t want to include the whole list here because you can see it in the Suite, but already the top winners (sorted according to absolute gain of SEO Visibility) speak for themselves:


Domain SEO Visibility 19.06. Change in %  895796 19%  1288587 11%  995618 12%  625008 20%  905321 13%  387537 30%  692956 13%  409336 21%  345354 26%  665623 12%  350761 22%  319230 24%  417862 17%  172396 45%  289973 20%  126850 59%  399168 13%  252981 20%  299667 16%


As you can see, the list mostly consists of well-known media websites publishing fresh and newsworthy content on a regular basis. In most of the cases, the respective URLs of these domains regarding their winner keywords have hit the top rankings out of nowhere.

Here are some examples of the winners:

time-com-visibility-us techcrunch-com-visibility-us

Those domains have largely benefitted for keywords like celebrity names. To cut it short: Many of the (organic) SERPs regarding the affected keywords look like an extended News box. And as I said at the beginning, the data has already changed while i was writing.

What is special about this update (and maybe related to to the strong topicality): There is actually no need to provide you with a loser list. Most of the domains that dropped have lost rankings because of the ranking boost of the winners.

“Losers” of the Update

Yet, I can’t deny some quality related connections being among this weeks losers. Among some spammers, there are a few bigger websites which lost on keywords that seem to look like Panda-related keywords, like or

Interestingly, both of the domains I mentioned already dropped a week before:

SEO Visibility

When you take a closer look, you can see a small step in the falling curve that markes last week’s data. Thus, the drop may have another reason than the current update. Same with the other example:SEO Visibility

This is the “Google News-Wave Update”

Most of the changes are related to informational and newsworthy keywords. Please note that also keywords usually unrelated to news can become newsworthy when something happens that involves a topic which is related to this keyword. Typically, most of the keywords seem to derive from the shorthead, consisting of one or two words. And Google tries to serve the most current search intention for these kinds of searches.

Because news domains and magazines are (next to Wikipedia) one of the most important sources and elements of search results, they have been benifitting enourmously. BUT: This seems to be only a temporary success.

QDF gone wild?

Since 2007, QDF, which means “Query Deserve Freshness”, has been being considered by Google. This is a concept incorporating issues like:

  • (significant rise of) search volume
  • (rise of) mentions of a topic in newssites and/or blogs

Now, this update seems to have taken QDF too far. It can’t be the intention of QDF to turn complete organic SERPs into something like a single news integration. Google is not supposed to be Twitter.

What about Google Trends & Twitter?

There was a huge relaunch of Google Trends simultaneously on June, 17th, when the shaking in the SERPs started. The search trends can now be analyzed by everyone in real-time. So, the relaunch of Google Trends is “the biggest expansion of Google Trends since 2012”, Google postet on their offical blog. In addition, Google is now tracking trends on YouTube and Google News. Also new in Google’s portfolio: Since February 2015, Google has complete access to the stream on Twitter.

That’s why acuality is one the key factors for the Newswave Update. Google’s algorithm can now react immediately on changes in the search volume of specific keywords or trendings topics on Twitter, YouTube or Google News.

The Role of Wikipedia and/ or HTTPS

As I mentioned before, there were a lot of rumors this Google Update has something to do with the encryption via HTTPS – and therefore with Wikipedia. The site is changing to secure connection in these days. While we can’t see an effect of encryption in general, Wikipedia seems to be effected by this Google Update.

In comparison to the week before, the domain lost nearly 3 percentage points in SEO Visibility. At a first glance, it doesn’t sound that much, but consider the enormous Visibility of this domain.

Let’s try to explain to drop in Wikipedia’s Visibility: The domain’s ranking position for tons of informational keywords is position 1 or 2. Now, when all the news sites got higher ranking due to the Google Update, it’s Wikipedia who missed the wave – and has a drop in Visibility right now.

More Examples for the Newswave

For a lot of general shorthead-keywords we saw the same development in this week’s rankings: Everywhere news sites entered the Top10-rankings. Take the keyword “Kanye West” for example. In the Top 10 you can find 4 new entries, 3 of them didn’t rank for this keyword the week before.

Searchmetrics Keyword Research: Kanye West


You want another example? Take „US Open“. Google considers that you obviously meant the golf tournament (which is happening in these days and as yet on position 4 in Google Trends) – and not the tennis challenge. As you can see, 4 out of 10 ranking positions are new entries – these landing pages didn’t rank for US Open the week before.

Searchmetrics Keyword Research: US Open


Somehow, in these new volatile search results you can find URLs from news websites, which offer a) old or b) thin content. That’s why our analysis of the Newswave Update is just a first research. I could imagine that Google is still testing & improving the algorithm change in the next days for providing the very best search results.

Could this Update effect my online business?

Google is supposed to consider majorities when semantically finding out what’s the search intent of the users. Indeed, this could be a problem for web-based business models. Consider the US Open, for example: If I provide tennis lessons, or offer pre-booking hospatility packages for the tennis tournament, I will loose rankings and traffic when the golf challenge takes place and Google provides tons of information and URLs just for the golf variation.

Conclusion on the Newswave: Intent, actuality, volatility

  • The Google Newswave Update effects informational shorthead-keywords, whose search results are flooded which news. Because news pages are – besides Wikipedia – Google’s most important source for its search results on current and newsworthy information, those news domains gained a lot in SEO Visibility thanks to this Google Update.
  • One of the most important factors for calculating the user’s search intent (and flooding the SERPs with news content) seems to be actuality. The relaunch of Google Trends, which occurred simultaneously on Wednesday, June, 17th, wasn’t maybe by chance: The real-time search data is for sure now a part of Google’s ranking algorithm as well. In contrast, this actuality is only temporarily – if the news is getting old, the ranking for the affected topic and keywords should also settle down.
  • News are like waves, they come and go. Sometimes they are smaller, sometimes they are overwhelming. But the next (news) wave will come, that’s for sure. Partly, there are keywords affected which do not have any actual reference – and besides that fact, I think that such a huge amount of similar pages ranking for the same topic is a bit exaggerated. That’s why I believe Google is still testing & improving the algorithm change.
  • But in general, the volatility of search results will increase, especially when there are trending news results and/ or a change of the search volume for informational keywords. This could effect online businesses, because the increased volatility in search results could lead to temporarily losses in rankings and traffic.


Update: The domain has been redirected to, so there seems to be another reason for the drop.


Marcus Tober

Marcus Tober

My name is Marcus Tober and I’m the founder of Searchmetrics. Because we really love to analyze all kinds of online data, we can give you more insights than any other company in SEO, SEM and Social Media. It’s not a job, it’s passion.

18 thoughts on “Google News-Wave Update: Media Websites Surfing the Winner Tide

  • GAC just relaunched their site the previous week so that could be part of this.

  • You are right, Mr. Anonymous. The domain is being redirected. Thanks for the hint.

  • Awaiting for BIG content update as well as Searchengineland’s claimed “Google Panda Update Coming In Upcoming Weeks” eagerly.

  • Is it possible to run you winners/losers numbers relative to the previous data? Let’s say you have a bag of marbles that is 50% black, 25% blue, and 25% red. If you decide to “penalize” all red marbles by removing them from the bag, the new percentages will be 67% black and 33% blue. Blue only goes up by 11 in absolute terms, while black goes up 16. Black looks like the big winner, but in reality it went up proportionally as much as the others.

    There are huge variances in % in your “winners” list, from 11% to 59%. I think we need to see the list of sites that improved most disproportionately.

  • Most of the Media Sites were lose their traffic. lol

    another invasion from google

    Kind Regards

  • very big update. Results are promising for SEO of our little company, which posts new articles often

  • This is maybe the best finding on the web so far about the new update. I can notice sites like Mashable and Forbes going up in my industry along with Google’s “In the news” section for commercial keywords. However, I don’t understand why I went down and competitors are still there besides their sites’ signals are far behind mine.
    A lot of work ahead. Thanks for this information.

  • Hi Russ! Sure, you can get all this in our software. To see the top 25, you don’t even need a login. Here you get both absolute and relative losers/winners in comparison to previous data (link is also in the blog post).

  • Interesting update with Facebook launching instant articles.. hmmm

  • Something wrong with Google places. If you search for Call center Philippines, the first result will be

    Cultural center Philippines
    Lung Center of the Philippines
    Korean Cultural Center

  • Thanks for the information. I look forward to the Panda update. I hope to be in the next 2 days

  • This matches up with a recent tweak in Google SERPs. When you now use the “Search tools” filter. Google now displays an “In the news” section in the SERPs. The default “Any time” was not including the “In the news” section. So maybe they are seeing my intent to find the latest news by me changing the date parameters. Try it out for “twitter analytics”.

  • Good post, but actually it was the Kanye West example that made my day. 🙂 My company also noticed the influence of those changes, but from the other perspective – as we are not a related to the news. I just wonder what’s the point of this? In my opinion for some general keywords, or keywords related with commerce, news are not the most desirable content for majority of users. So the purpose of this change is doubtful for me.

  • I am not sure if what we are seeing here should be considered as good, positive news as it will hurt everybody not dealing with fresh content on a daily basis. All other businesses will just witness a never ceasing swinging of their position depending on what will be happening on the market. If suddenly the area of your expertise becomes popular due to some event your business will lose visibility because Google will suddenly take some poor websites with the same keywords into consideration.

  • I have been viewing the comments over the last few weeks, and would agree with most of them. I am not quite sure this update is great if a store rankings drop, but TMZ’s rankings jumped merely due to the fact of their post frequency. I think this will hint to more online retailers looking to utilize blogs, or new post to keep their clients up to date. I appreciate the thorough article, well done!

  • I think (https) is playing more of a tiebreaker role in the SERPs. This was also mentioned in a recent interview with Gary Illyes and Bruce Clay. Gary Illyes is a Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google. I think frequency and quality content will always be the keys to the castle! Check out the interview here, if you haven’t seen it.

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