Google Algorithm Change Increases Publisher Search Traffic, Outbrain Data Shows

|Lisa LaCour

Google recently updated their search algorithm in an effort to move higher quality content to the top of its search results. Since Outbrain’s platform is installed on many of the largest publisher sites on the web, we decided to do some data digging to see the effect the algorithm tweak had on publisher search traffic.

We tracked the effect of Google search traffic into 91 of our premium publisher sites, looking at data from two weeks prior and comparing it to one week after the change. We were quite surprised with the results.

Overall, our premium publisher network saw a 48% increase in search traffic coming into article pages of their publisher sites!

When digging a little deeper, we found that the change had more of an impact on some content categories than others. Entertainment seemed to have the greatest impact (126% increase) which could be skewed a bit due to extensive Charlie Sheen and Oscar coverage.

Change by Vertical After Algorithm Change

The Big #Winners

A big surprise came from the Sports category where there was a 94% increase in traffic to Sports-related article pages. Local sports (i.e., articles about the local area’s sports teams) saw a 142% increase in search traffic from Google.

Although Mr. Sheen and the Oscars may have impacted the search traffic into the entertainment category, in looking at the data in more detail, traffic to local content (local listings, arts and culture, etc.) also received a significant boost with an increase of 115%.

Local vs National after google algorithm tweak

Local Newspapers vs. TV

Traffic to local newspaper sites nearly doubled that of TV sites. We assume this is due to the fact that newspapers have a larger content offering than TV sites.

Local TV vs Newspapers in Google algorithm tweak

So, this is what we see on our end. Publishers, do you see anything different? Have additional thoughts? Please post in the comments below. We’d love to hear them!

See more information on NY Times Bits blog about the results, including quotes from Outbrain COO David Sasson.

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Lisa LaCour

Lisa LaCour: Lisa LaCour is Vice President of Global Marketing at Outbrain, where she oversees the corporate brand, communications, and... Read more

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  • Gary Chiro| March 16, 2011 at 4:16PM

    Do you think the outbrain links in each article helped in giving the new Google algorithm more juicy content from your large content publishers?

  • llacour| March 17, 2011 at 4:16PM

    Hi Gary,

    Outbrain's platform does not have an effect on search results, so this traffic lift is directly attributed to Google's algorithm improving the search traffic coming into high quality content sites.

    Outbrain is a discovery platform. We help our publisher partners maximize their incoming traffic by providing readers additional content they may want to read, therefore, providing a page view lift for our partners.

    Happy to answer any other questions. Feel free to reach out to me at lisa[at]

  • shfkshfkshd| March 17, 2011 at 8:20PM


  • Durian| March 18, 2011 at 7:07AM

    I think Outbrain has effect on Google search result.

    My site used to ranked #5 on the first page of google for popular keyword, but since Im using outbrain, the rank dropped to #8 or #9, but still on first page on Google.

    I think I know why.. because im using sponsored links!

    What I learn from Outbrain is.. It's good if you're linking to your own site, it will make it stronger. But if you're using Sponsored ad, Paid Distribution, or Linking to other sites, Other web will take away all the Juices.

    • Yaron Galai| March 18, 2011 at 2:14PM

      Durian – since we serve our links via a JavaScript, we suspect they are ignored by search engines and have no effect (for good or bad) on SEO juice. I doubt that our paid links have anything to do with your Google rankings, because to the best of our knowledge – Google ignores those completely.

      We try to get the most interesting links in front of your readers and have them engage with your site more based on that, not based on any SEO stuff.

  • Morgan| March 30, 2011 at 10:22PM

    It is always good to keep abreast of what the good folks at Google are up to. And remember, sometimes change can be a good thing. If websites are created properly, then nothing Google does can hurt you. Google is your friend. The changes they make from time to time are designed to improve search results. When the quality of searches improve, it's like winning the lottery! So let's be glad Google is constantly refining the algorithms the use.

  • sdkjfhkjh kjhkdsjfhdskjh| April 19, 2011 at 1:01AM

    hello this website is re-opened
    It has some good things welcome to our website go shopping

  • Dan| May 6, 2011 at 9:09AM

    I think outbrain effects serp results as well. For instance, blog comments are rel=nofollowed as well, but most SEOers know many quality comments on quality blogs generally helps you in the serps…

  • Dani| July 3, 2011 at 3:15PM

    My sites works better and my articles place top 5 in search result. Some sites copied my content..i filed to CDMA, but no action taken by them..Now google drop my all articles from page 1 to page 6 or 7. new articles are not index yet…pleased guide me. why google do this to me.. i got not much support from help forum.. i don’t have any illlegal content or articles..Users prefer my articles.. please guide.. much desperate

  • hdmi cable| September 12, 2011 at 7:07AM

    As per new Google panda, Quality is essential. Blogging is really best things whether we will boost no-follow links through Blogs, but it boost indirectly positive effect on our sites.


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