After a Google algorithm update hit the digital industry last week, many website owners were fast at work analyzing the damage and trying to fix it as soon as possible. CCN shuts down, but many other cryptocurrency news outlets are affected as well.
Many websites were hit with lower search rates and traffic, while others managed to gain through complicated reasons.
However, the largest hit was delivered to CCN, a leading cryptocurrency news website. CCN has already addressed the issue of the Google algorithm update and announced that CCN shuts down, due to reduced traffic. The reduced traffic meant substantially reduced revenue streams for the company.
Why was the Google update such a big hit for CCN, but not for other large crypto media outlets such as Cointelegraph or Coindesk? Let’s look at the numbers.
CCN Shuts Down – Too Much Reliance on Search Engines
The search traffic for CCN was reduced by nearly 71% due to the update. However, other crypto websites managed to take a slightly lighter hit.
Cointelegraph and Coindesk, CCN’s main competitors are still able to stay afloat and are still searchable through desktop as well as mobile based search engines.
Cointelegraph took only a 21.1% hit while Coindesk’s results are currently unknown.
The real issue for CCN was that the website relied too much on the search traffic. Due to such a massive reduction, the company’s revenue streams were reduced by as much as 90%, which pretty much jeopardized all future operations.
By reading CCN’s announcement that CCN shuts down, we could find traces of the company somewhat blaming Google for taking a biased stance against crypto-related websites, but that’s an allegation that needs to be backed by facts which are quite hard to come by.
The fact that some non-crypto-related websites gained while crypto websites lost traffic, cannot be seen as favoritism as nearly everything has its explanation.
Google had already touched this subject in the past when complaints started to pile in from webmasters.
The company explained that it’s not about the websites being un-friendly to Google’s policies, but about rewarding websites that were under-rewarded in the past.
However, it seems quite vague as most of the websites that now rank for crypto-related queries were already quite popular.
Websites such as Yahoo Finance, FXStreet, and Livemint, who are now the faces of the “Top Stories” section for a crypto query were websites that have always been regarded as “high-authority”.
This fact could be the reason why some webmasters are starting to think that Google prefers to rank websites that touch financial topics on a broader scale rather than focus on specific industries.
But that is an allegation that hasn’t been confirmed and reinforced with facts yet.
Was CCN’s business model sustainable?
Before making any accusations or pointing fingers, relevant analysis of the traffic and revenue drop needs to be made.
Why did CCN lose so much revenue from just search traffic loss? Do you think it is fair that CCN shuts down? Was its business model actually designed for long-term use, or was it flawed from the beginning? Let’s find out.
Research shows that the 90% revenue stream loss wasn’t directly caused by a Google update. Instead, inherent flaws in the business model itself was the reason.
Although it’s completely fine to generate most of a company’s income through Google searches, diversification is absolutely essential. This is simply due to those updates, because nothing is ever certain.
Relying on display ads is simply not enough anymore to stabilize income. Since CCN was mostly reliant on the search traffic, it’s safe to assume that most of their revenue came from ads as well. A lot of people surely just installed Adblock and they don’t even see the ads.
What could have been done differently?
One example of diversification is the money page (webpage that generates the company income). The best example would be to integrate features such as a page that answers the question “Should you buy Bitcoin?” seen on numerous crypto affiliate websites, with some Call-to-action at the end.
The page not only provides useful information for the viewers. It also features a button or a link that you can’t avoid by an extension like Adblock. Accordingly, it adds a lot more likelihood to conversion and sales.
Furthermore, many people believe that the crypto industry is one of the most affiliate-reliant markets in the world. Therefore, CCN also had options to simply redirect their audience on crypto exchanges, cold wallets, cloud mining companies and etc. They could have done so by using an affiliate link that would generate additional income.
Traffic from social media
Cryptocurrencies are a financial market, therefore every investor that takes their portfolio seriously, is always on the lookout for the freshest market news they can get their hands on.
Therefore it’s very important that websites like CCN dedicate quite a lot of resources to their social media publications as well as messenger Apps such as Telegram or even Discord.
Research tells us that CCN had no more than 27k followers on Facebook, while its main competitor Cointelegraph managed to field as much as 718k followers. Therefore there wasn’t as big of exposure to a wider audience.
Focusing on increasing that follower count could have given CCN an alternative way to drive traffic to the website. At least, it would helped to fill the traffic gaps caused by the search traffic loss.
Other alternative methods
The website had quite a lot of opportunities to feature premium content. Examples of premium content was research papers or information that the website deems as exclusive. Quite a lot of crypto websites along with other financial news websites put payment gateways to various content. It could come in the form of a subscription or a small one-time payment option.
Should the information displayed in the article be actually captivating and relevant, there’s always a high chance that most of the readers would be ready to pay that $0.20 price. Now multiply that by the average 5 million traffic, and we get at least $1 million from a single article.
All of this is to simply highlight the fact that crypto websites have quite a lot of options. Simply relying on your audience clicking or looking at ads is simply not sustainable anymore, especially when a business grows and adds additional costs to its operations.
Will mainstream media conquer the crypto space?
As it seems at the moment, websites with broader financial niches are ranking much better than crypto sites. However, that doesn’t mean that the industry has been hijacked completely.
The visitors some of the websites had been getting in the past will continue to return, simply because of brand recognition.
Furthermore, very few crypto-literate viewers will start accepting out-of-market entities as their primary source of information.
CCN should act as a case study for any crypto webmaster, or future webmaster. CCN shuts down as relying on only one source of income never is a good idea. It may be generating you millions in revenue. However, if it’s not diversified it can be cut-off overnight, similar to what happened to CCN with 90% revenue drop.
Let’s look at a site like Cointelegraph. Even if they had a similar drop in search traffic as CCN, they would still be fine. This is because they still have social media channels like their Facebook page. They can rely on the social media channels in terms of traffic.
At the moment, it’s advisable for small crypto websites to drive traffic from social media channels primarily. This is because search traffic is unlikely to increase without serious effort and resources. Most websites do not have that. Or, they can’t afford it.