Let’s get straight to it.
Google’s June 2019 Core Update rolled out on June 3th 2019 and CCN.com’s traffic from Google searches dropped more than 71% on mobile overnight.
As data from SEO analyzer Sistrix shows, our visibility on Google dropped from 1.2 to less than 0.6. You might say we ought not to face any issues since we’ve been at those levels and lower, in the past. What you need to realize is that we have added more people to the team, both full-timers and part-timers. We do not want to downsize the team, we do not want to break the morale of the team. So yes, this change by Google is directly having a significant impact on us as a small independent news organization that has never received any outside funding. The money we
make made on advertisements was directly funneled back into growing the team.
Our daily revenue is down by more than 90%.
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.com 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:
Cointelegraph has experienced a drop of 21,1% on mobile. Fellow crypto publication U.today’s admin wrote this:
Is This a Crypto Crackdown By Google?
The answer is both yes and no. While all major crypto focused sites have taken a hit by Google’s June 2019 Core Update, other sites that are not affiliated with cryptocurrencies have experienced a startlingly similar impact:
What appears to be an employee of Daily Mail, Jesus Mendez, posted this on Google Webmasters Forum:
The responses Mendez received ranges from the website layout, the advertisements they show to having “clickbait titles”.
Barry Schwarts from Search Engine Land writes:
Speculation and theory. There is a lot of speculation floating around this drop in Google visibility for The Daily Mail’s website. People are speculating it has to do with the ads, the site speed, the content, the political slant, and so forth. Some are even speculating that someone posted using Jesus Mendez’s name in an effort to make the SEO Director of the Daily Mail look bad, along with his publication. Mail Online confirmed that Jesus Mendez did indeed write this post in the Google forums
While it is great for Daily Mail, and us, to receive help, the help is really not at all helpful. As Google has confirmed, even they do not fully understand how Google’s RankBrain works. And unless someone – anyone – who actually worked on the June 2019 Core Update at Google explains what is going on, all we can do is to “guess, speculate, and experiment” as far as our bank accounts allow us to.
Your Money Your Life
There has been speculation that “YMYL” – Your Money Your Life – has been a factor for CCN.com in the recent Google update. Nikolaj Antonov, a Silver Product Expert from the Google Webmasters Forum, wrote to us:
Your website is the news website with articles focusing on the financial market. Perhaps Google can be ranked the website as Your Money Or Your Life – YMYL and the content and trustworthiness level of the website is defined by the recommendations Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness – EAT.
CCN.com was founded in the summer of 2013 as CCN.com. We have been around for six years. We are (were?) the crypto-related news site with the highest amount of traffic worldwide. Although CoinDesk and Cointelegraph have been friendly competitors with us the past six years for the #1 Alexa spot.
We have been cited by many leading news publications, both in America, Europe, and Asia. We have grown organically with 0 funding, from a one-man show in 2013 to a 60+ team in 2019. The more traffic we generate, the more ad revenue we bring in, the more people we can employ, the better CCN.com gets. At least that was our strategy.
We have always shown our business information on CCN.com, and previously CCN.com. We have always been transparent with everything we do on CCN.com. We were awarded as “The Best Cryptomedia” by the Blockchain Life Asia 2019 conference. Our journalists and editors have signed and abide by the “Code of Ethics of the Norwegian Press”. We rectify stories that contain inaccuracies, and we openly admit to mistakes with public apologies if our team has made an editorial error (like we did with Apollo and John McAfee). We have exposed multiple cryptocurrency related scams and given concerned readers a platform to voice their opinions.
CCN.com was among the few crypto news sites that refused to run a sponsored story in the guise of a regular article, as an investigation by Breakermag.com reported:
Without dwelling wholly on the negative, we should also note the companies that gave a clear refusal to run any content that was sponsored without a clear label: BraveNewCoin, Coinjournal, CryptosRus, CCN.com, Mineable, Oracle Times, NullTX, and ZyCrypto.
The only thing that we seem to lack is our own Wikipedia page with details about us and our business.
While CCN.com is unbiased as a news site – meaning no political agenda from the editorial board – we have allowed all sorts of opinions from journalists and guest writers. From the far left to the far right. Many of our political Op-Eds have been “Pro-Trump.” Remember: We are mainly a crypto centered news site. Cryptocurrencies started with Bitcoin in 2009 as a counteraction against the financial meltdown and the cartel-like power possessed by banks and The FED (which is privately owned). Bitcoin is, or at least was supposed to be, DECENTRALIZED. We are true to the crypto community with our slogan: We Are Anti-Elite, We Are Anti-Centralization.
While I won’t speculate whether or not this might have affected our site, I would certainly hope Google isn’t actively suppressing journalism.
“The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve.”
It is to be expected that cryptocurrencies would draw attention from the more right-leaning population due to the decentralized nature. Notwithstanding, I will NEVER allow myself, nor my team, to censor any type of Op-Eds or opinionated pieces. People must have the right to have their own thoughts and worldview. People must have the right to be able to share that point of view. If not, then we are not doing our job to protect the Freedom of Speech.
Not All Sites Are Losers
When sites lose Google traffic, other sites gain Google traffic. That’s the nature of the game.
As Barry Schwarts from Search Engine Land continues:
Early data on this Google update shows that there were many sites that lost traffic and many that gained. In fact, the Mirror, the Sun, the Metro and other UK online publications all gained according to Sistrix’s UK data. But when one site gains, it is possible for others to lose. Sistrix showed the Daily Mail losing 43% visibility in search.
As Sistrix data shows, Mirror.co.uk seems to be the major winner from Google’s June 2019 Core Update:
That seems a bit strange and could be an odd coincidence:
Our Call to Action
While we do understand that Google needs to update their search algorithm from time to time, we cannot comprehend why they are allowed to enforce such drastic changes that have such dramatic consequences for so many news sites over the course of a very limited time – 24 hours, without any explanation or warnings to media organizations like ours. While they did announce the update, they did not disclose any information of what the core update would do.
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. They have a News Initiative that states:
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.
If Google thinks that CCN.com, all of a sudden – remember, literally overnight -, is bad, then why not give us the chance to understand the why and give us a way to change before any major update. Instead, we are kicked in the teeth overnight with zero knowledge of what we have done wrong, impacting a team of 60+ people.
6 years of work is evaporated.
These employees are being impacted:
Samburaj Das is our Chief Editor for the past 4 years, located in Bangalore, India. Josiah Wilmoth who is our US Editor, just moved into a new home this year in Virginia with his family of 4 due to the security of his job. Gerelyn Terzo, our assistant editor located in New Jersey. Pamela Meropiali, our talent scout and CHRO based in Portugal. Pankaj Upadhyay, our operations manager located in New Delhi. Paul “P. H.” Madore, our crypto content manager and single dad with four kids based out of Arkansas. Sam Bourgi, our Chief Editor of Hacked.com. William Grant, our video anchorman from New Jersey. Sundas Azis, our video producer from New Jersey. Plus many more part-timers, freelancers, and contractors.
Calling Journalists, Editors, Directors and News Organizations
While CCN.com might be irrelevant to you, the practice by Google also affects you and your organization. This core update might have been positive for you, but what about the next Google Core Update? And the next? Are you all going to sit idle and let the Dictator in the room decide your destiny without having a chance to understand the updates and make necessary changes to survive? Or even worse, are you going to allow a Googlémocracy?
According to the Ethical Code we follow on CCN.com:
1. The Role of the Press in Society
1.1. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Information and Freedom of the Press are basic elements of a democracy. A free, independent press is among the most important institutions in a democratic society.
1.2. The press has important functions in that it carries information, debates and critical comments on current affairs. The press is particularly responsible for allowing different views to be expressed.
1.3. The press shall protect the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press and the principle of access to official documents. It cannot yield to any pressure from anybody who might want to prevent open debates, the free flow of information and free access to sources. Agreements concerning exclusive event reporting shall not preclude independent news reporting.
1.4. It is the right of the press to carry information on what goes on in society and to uncover and disclose matters, which ought to be subjected to criticism. It is a press obligation to shed critical light on how media themselves exercise their role.
1.5. It is the task of the press to protect individuals and groups against injustices or neglect, committed by public authorities and institutions, private enterprises, or others.
Our Demands for Google
- Give a three month’s notice to all webmasters, let alone news organizations, of any major Google Core Update and elaborate what it might affect
- If a news organization is considered to be in the risk zone for losing more than 20% of their search traffic, explain why and what it can do to change to stay afloat
- Involve all national governments where you are the leading search engine and allow them to create apolitical task forces to examine your search changes for the conservation of our democracies, our Freedom of Speech, our Freedom of the Press, and our Freedom of Information.
While Google demands that news organizations must be trustworthy and transparent to be featured in searches and on Google News, Google is allowed to dictate how we all shall behave through secret updates and algorithms by being untrustworthy and non-transparent. Who is in charge of the Google June 2019 Core Update? What is his or her phone number? Or email address? Or business address? (The same is required of news organizations to be included in Google News and must be shown publicly.) It is a paradox never witnessed before in the history of the press. Diversity is at risk. Freedom of the Press is at risk. Freedom of Speech is at risk. Freedom of Information is at risk.
What Can You Do?
- Share our message.
- Share our demands addressed to Google.
- Write your own opinions or editorials about the massive elephant in the room.
- Rally against the draconian power Google has.
- Influence politicians. Make them understand how dangerous Google has become in your country.
- Create an anti-Google solution for sites that experience severe Google backlash.
- Sign the petition against Google’s monopoly and call on the Congress of the United States of America to act.
Remember Standard Oil?
“By 1890, Standard Oil controlled 88 percent of the refined oil flows in the United States.
In 1904, Standard controlled 91 percent of production and 85 percent of final sales.
On May 15, 1911, the US Supreme Court upheld the lower court judgment and declared the Standard Oil group to be an “unreasonable” monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act, Section II. It ordered Standard to break up into 34 independent companies with different boards of directors, the biggest two of the companies were Standard Oil of New Jersey (which became Exxon) and Standard Oil of New York (which became Mobil).”
Google controls 88.47% of the global desktop search market (April 2019) according to Statista.com. Google controls 93.08% of the mobile search market in the US (April 2019). It’s time that Google makes a change, or that someone does it for them.
If you are a journalist, an editor, a director, or an owner of a news organization and would like to share your thoughts in this article, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will share your message below this article. You can also contact me for other related queries.
What we all are experiencing right now with the power of these titans is like a bad episode of Black Mirror or a film like The Circle:
Are you a reader that wants to support us?
- Support us by sharing our message.
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- Support us by leaving a supportive comment below.
- Sign the petition.
- Join Hacked.com as a paying member.
- Subscribe to our mailing list where we will send out updates regarding the issue.
What Will We Do Going Forward?
We are shutting down CCN.com. Google has made that choice for us. We are moving the entire team over to HVY.com to at least try and save modern journalism the way we see it. HVY Journalists is a news platform made by and for journalists. Read more about it here. It’s unfortunate, but we depend on Google there too (Google Analytics, Google Search, Google News, Google Adsense, Google DFP, Google Tag Manager, Google Discover, Google AdX, Gmail, Google Webmaster, Google Servers – WPEngine is hosted on Google Cloud Servers – , Google Disk, Google Maps, AMP, Google Docs, Google what-not.)
PS: Google ads have been completely turned off for CCN.com. They might have killed us, but they’re not going to profit from our funeral. The only ads allowed on this post are the ads from Revcontent and Vuukle that you can see below this post.
A Warm Thank You
I wish to part ways with our main competitors with a warm thank you. Thank you for the thrill, thank you for the competition, thank you for everything we have experienced together in the past 6 years. I truly hope you will do better than us. And good luck to other media organizations that are struggling right now.
But most important: Thank you to our loyal readers. Without you, we would have been nothing from the start. Rest assured, you can continue to read the same high-quality content from your favorite journalists over at HVY.com.
Save the Press, save the Freedom of Speech, fight the power.
Director & Founder of CCN.com and Hawkfish AS
CCN.com. Born June 5th, 2013. Died June 10th, 2019. Cause of death: Google.