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News traffic slumps for publishers after Google indexing error

Publishers in both the US and Europe have seen a decline in news traffic after a news search volatility incident rated as a "Googlequake" by Semrush.

by Rob Corbidge
Published: 13:30, 12 July 2023

Rob Corbidge is Head of Content Intelligence at Glide Publishing Platform, applying the latest knowledge about advances and ideas in the publishing industry to our own product and helping clients get the most from their content.

Google news with the search bar saying Why is there no news

Google has come clean about a news indexing issue effecting news sites after numerous publishers and SEO experts worldwide reported noticeable reductions in referred traffic over the last three weeks.

Google Search Status Dashboard yesterday posted an issue report, saying "There's an ongoing issue with indexing in Google News that's affecting all sites. Sites may be experiencing a decrease in traffic from Google News. We're working on identifying the root cause."

An update today added: "We've identified the issue with indexing and have been working on a fix. Next update will be within 24 hours."

Although acknowledged yesterday, eagle-eyed observers say the drop off can be traced back to June 21st.

News publishers across Europe have been most obviously affected, particularly in France and Germany. In the US, Semrush recorded volatility in news search of sufficient scale to classify it as a Googlequake, with a volatility rating today (Wednesday 12th) of 9.3/10. The average volatility rating for the internet as a whole is 5.9, and News is the most effected section overall out of 25 measured. 

Will Flanagan of the Wall Street Journal has pointed out how sites that use syndicated content, such as Yahoo, seem to have been huge beneficiaries of search traffic lately whilst those that provide the actual content have lost out. 

This news comes after Google recently reaffirmed guidelines on the use of canonical tags for news, advising publishers that the "canonical link element is not recommended for those who wish to avoid duplication by syndication partners" and advising the use of a noindex tag.

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