Website closures raise questions about SEO landscape

On May 8, 2024, a post on the r/SEO subreddit titled We're closing our content website next month sparked discussion within the online marketing community. The anonymous post detailed the owner's decision to shut down a content website after an unspecified period of operation.

Website closure
Website closure

On May 8, 2024, a post on the r/SEO subreddit titled We're closing our content website next month sparked discussion within the online marketing community. The anonymous post detailed the owner's decision to shut down a content website after an unspecified period of operation.

The post specifically mentioned a significant decline in traffic from Google Discover and News, along with a 90% drop in search traffic. While the owner acknowledged the website's high-quality content, technical SEO optimization, and diverse traffic sources, the dramatic drop in Google traffic ultimately led to the closure.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the practices that influence the visibility of a website in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). It involves optimizing website content, structure, and technical aspects to improve search engine ranking and attract organic traffic.

Focus on Google Discover and News

The r/SEO post highlighted a specific challenge: a decline in traffic from Google Discover and News. These platforms showcase content to users based on their browsing history and interests, potentially bypassing traditional search results. While specific traffic numbers for Google Discover and News aren't publicly available, industry estimates suggest they can be significant sources of traffic for content websites.

Potential reasons for decline and industry trends

The specific reasons for the content website's decline in Google Discover and News traffic remain unknown. However, several factors could be at play:

Evolving Algorithms: Google's algorithms for ranking content in Discover and News are constantly updated. The website's content might not have aligned with the latest ranking criteria, such as user engagement metrics or content format preferences.

Focus on "Helpful Content": Recent updates from Google, as discussed in Google Search Updates: Helpful Content and Recovery, A Guide for Marketers, emphasize the importance of "helpful content" that prioritizes user needs and expertise. The content on the closed website might not have resonated with users or established itself as a trustworthy source.

Is the Blue-Link Economy Fading? Rise of AI Answers and Search Result Shifts explores the possibility of search results featuring more AI-powered answers and less reliance on traditional blue links to websites. This trend could potentially impact content websites that rely heavily on traffic from Google Discover and News.

The Impact on Content Marketing Strategies

The closure of this content website, while a single case study, offers insights for content marketers:

Importance of Diversification: While content discovery platforms like Google Discover and News can be significant traffic sources, relying solely on them can be risky. A diversified traffic strategy that includes social media, email marketing, and other channels can help mitigate the impact of fluctuations in platform algorithms.

Focus on User Needs: Content should prioritize user intent and provide genuine value to the target audience. Aligning content strategy with Google's focus on "helpful content" is crucial for visibility across search results and platforms like Discover and News.

The closure of a content website, as discussed on the r/SEO subreddit, raises questions about the evolving SEO landscape, the importance of traffic diversification for content marketing strategies, and the potential impact on employees. While the website reportedly had high-quality content and strong technical SEO, the dramatic decline in traffic from Google Discover and News ultimately led to its closure with 15 employees losing their jobs. This case highlights the need for content marketers to stay updated on SEO trends, platform algorithms, and to develop diversified traffic strategies to ensure website sustainability. It also raises awareness of the human cost associated with such closures, as employees within content teams may lose their jobs.

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