Crypto media giant CCN has made the sudden decision to shut down. CCN’s Director and Founder, Jonas Borchgrevink, announced the news in a blog post earlier today.
CCN claims that the latest Google update, the June 2019 Core Update that rolled out on June 3, has caused website traffic to plummet. Mobile visits to the website are down 70%, and CCN’s advertising revenue has dropped 90%.
“Our visibility on Google dropped from 2.1 to less than 0.6,” explains CCN. “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.”
CCN does not want to downsize the team and “break the morale”. The money they make on advertisements “was directly funneled back into growing the team.” As a result, they need to shut down.
CCN claims their stories “are no longer visible on Google”, and that “Google has decided to basically ‘shut down’ CCN”. Google’s latest update has caused certain stories to no longer appear on search results, and CCN no longer appears in crypto news story searches.
Is Google Targeting Crypto Sites?
It’s possible Google is targeting crypto sites, punishing websites for focusing exclusively on bitcoin and other crypto-related topics.
As evidence, CCN mentions that CoinDesk has experienced a 34.6% drop in traffic after the latest update, and that CoinTelegraph’s traffic has dropped 21.1% on mobile.
Meanwhile, an industry source interviewed by CCN claims that popular search crypto queries on Google will be populated by “outdated top-stories from dinosaurs like Bloomberg, FXstreet or Coindesk” instead of the latest, most relevant news stories from crypto media websites.
Clickbait Websites Have Taken a Hit
Although crypto websites have been affected by Google’s June 2019 Core Update, other sites have been affected as well. Many “clickbait”-style websites seem to have been targeted during the update.
Other sites targeted by the latest update include Mercola.com, DailyMail.co.uk, NuffieldHealth.com, DrAxe.com, Prevention.com, and other websites.
The update has also punished websites that appear to have no connection to clickbait stories or crypto news: NFL.com was hit with a 24% drop in traffic, for example, and Iceland.co.uk’s traffic dropped 20% as well.
Vimeo.com, CNTraveller.com, and Sparknotes.com were other websites hit after the update.
Of course, as with all Google search algorithm updates, other websites have experienced a gain in traffic. Mirror.co.uk and thesun.co.uk both experienced a 90% or higher gain in visibility, for example, and a 54% gain in traffic. Tumblr.com, GettyImages.co.uk, and VeryWellHealth.com also experienced similar gains.
Nobody Knows Why Google’s Ranking Algorithm is Targeting Certain Websites
The CCN blog post announcing the shutdown runs through a list of reasons why website traffic may be down.
Barry Schwartz recently wrote a blog post analyzing the drop in traffic to The Daily Mail’s website:
“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.”
Meanwhile, other SEO experts have speculated that it’s part of the “Your Money Your Life” or “YMYL” trend at Google:
“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.”
Google reportedly categorizes certain pages as “Your Money or Your Life” pages because they affect the reader’s money or life in a significant way. Google holds these pages to a higher quality standard.
There’s even a theory that Google is targeting right-wing publications while promoting left-wing publications. The Daily Mail is seen as Britain’s most right-wing newspaper, for example, while the Mirror and the Guardian are both seen as two of the country’s most left-leaning.
CCN Has Operated Successfully Since 2013
The crazy thing about CCN shutting down is that they weren’t a low-quality, clickbait-style news website. The site had existed since 2013. They were cited by major publications. They didn’t post sponsored content masquerading as real articles.
Sure, there were some low-quality articles on the site mixed in alongside the authoritative news pieces, but not enough to have the site get whacked by Google this hard.
CCN also had the highest Alexa ranking in the crypto industry, ranked as one of the top 800 most-visited websites prior to the Google Core Update, and among the world’s top 1900 most-viewed websites.
In 2013, CCN was a one-man show. In 2019, the website’s team grew to 60+ people.
One of the biggest praises for CCN came last year when a journalist from Breakermag reached out to crypto media sites to run a sponsored story masquerading as a regular article.
CCN was one of a handful of crypto websites that refused to run a sponsored story as a regular article, no matter how much money was offered.
What’s Next for CCN?
It seems dramatic to shut down an entire media site just a week after a Google update – even if that Google update was catastrophic for traffic.
However, CCN insists it’s not being dramatic: the site is legitimately shutting down.
CCN is using its latest blog post to protest Google’s monopoly on the internet. They’re encouraging readers to share their message, share their demands, and “rally against the draconian power Google has”.
Meanwhile, CCN’s writers will all move over to HVY.com, described as “a news platform made by and for journalists.”
You can read the full blog post announcing the shutdown here.