Late last Sunday, a good number of publishers found themselves out in the cold. And it had nothing to do with the frigid winter weather attacking the U.S. and Europe.
“Our news website was removed from Google News and our team is depressed,” one publisher wrote on Google’s Help Forum. “Help.”
According to George Siefo in AdAge, the problem was a glitch at Google, undefined but seemingly temporary. While the problem didn’t last long (most of it was resolved by late Monday), it was a bit of a start for publishers who suddenly found themselves “unapproved” for posting on Google’s news stream.
As Siefo points out, “it’s certainly eye-opening how much publishers rely on Google for traffic, with some forum posters claiming they reach ‘millions of users each month.’ The issue also doesn’t seem to be related to quality, as a decent chunk of reputable publications posted to the forum.”
You may remember that 2017 was the year Google surpassed Facebook in publisher traffic referral after changes to the FB algorithms caused publisher traffic to drop significantly.
We are all about a solid multi-channel strategy, but we’ve been warning for some time now that over-reliance on third-party distribution is too much of a crap shoot.
Maybe it was just a glitch … or maybe Google is testing a new algorithm to see what kind of real-time impact it might have. Regardless, it proves that publishers are largely at the mercy of the duopoly.
When you depend on third-party platforms to reach your audience you are at their mercy. With your printed publications, you are in complete control of your content, advertising and audience. No technical support needed.