The new Google News: How recent changes affect referral traffic data

Google News relaunched in May of 2018 with a sharp new user interface and algorithm. Underneath, there’s more to the recent changes from the influential news aggregator and its impact on referral traffic data being seen by publishers.

How the Google News relaunch has affected traffic

We went back as far as January 2017 to understand traffic patterns before and after the relaunch. Our analysis showed us two things:

First, Google News traffic has significantly grown each month since the relaunch. This tells us that Google News is used significantly more now than in its decade-plus existence. And that’s saying a lot.

Second, the algorithm changes appear to have leveled the playing field for smaller publishers. Several years ago, Google News was heavily-oriented toward the largest organizations. However, it’s actually medium-sized publishers who have benefited most from the redesign, as shown below.

Smaller sites — be on alert. Allocating resources outside of Google News may have been the right choice several years ago. However, the data we’re seeing today says it’s worth revisiting the decision.

(Related: When is the best time to post on social media? It’s later than you think)

The takeaway: Google News (and best of the aggregator rest)

We’ve gone in depth about the rise of aggregators, which on the whole, are the fastest-growing category of referrers across our publishers.

aggregators ranking data

While the tendency has been to categorize aggregators under search and social, we’ve found that they’re fundamentally different.

How? Search is about optimization and social is about optimizing, posting, and growing a loyal following. Yet, developing an audience on aggregators requires a different skillset, and based on our analysis, a greater share of investment.

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