Publishers gained and lost search visibility in 2017

What do Netflix, ebates.com and thesun.co.uk have in common? They’re among the top 100 domains that enjoyed rich rewards in 2017 according to the latest findings by Searchmetrics

Publishers and encyclopedias were the SEO Visibility success stories of 2017. More than half of the top 100 winners on Google.com regularly publish articles on general interest topics, tech or video content as their core business. The runner-up category in 2017 was encyclopedias (including dictionaries, translation sites etc.), who saw enormous increases in their SEO.

Searchmetrics also identified several domains that fall into the loser category. These are sites that saw a severe drop in their organic visibility during the course of the year. Most domains included here have lost at least 20% of their visibility. However, this does not necessarily mean that the pages have also lost traffic or turnover; it is an indicator of how well represented these domains are in the organic (unpaid) search results of Google.com.

Amongst the winning domains, there are clear gains for encyclopedias and dictionaries. Google increased the presence of these domains in its SERPs in 2017, so that 9% of the winning domains belong to this industry. Large increases in SEO Visibility were experienced by domains like dictionary.combritannica.com and thesaurus.com.

When Searchmetrics looked at the losers, it found that many of them come from the category search/portal – domains like msn.com. Another group that is well-represented amongst the losers is music/lyrics – e.g. azlyrics.com or metrolyrics.com. Several social media websites are also found in the loser list. In fact, the top 3 losers were all social media websitesreddittumblr and pinterest.

Domains that lost out in 2017 also saw bigger drops in Google’s mobile index than on desktop. At the start of the year, desktop and mobile visibility were often around the same, yet as the year progressed, many domains – even though they had mobile versions – saw much greater losses on mobile than on desktop.

And the winner is… excellent content

Searchmetrics analysis of 2017’s best performer shows that investing in high-quality content that perfectly serves the user intent is the best way to be rewarded with top search engine rankings.

One highly noteworthy development this year: about.com is history. The internet pioneer of yesteryear, with its archetypal content farm, has been on the downward spiral for several years now. The domain often had many texts on the same topic with a similar format: max. 300 words, not very useful, optimized for a highly specific (long-tail) keyword phrase.

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