IndexWatch: Winners 2016 in Google.co.uk

Juan Gonzalez
I studied Regional Studies of Latin American at the University of Cologne - Germany, majoring in "Business Informatics“. I also studied Business Administration and currently I’m doing a Master in International Business Administration. I feel a fascination with SEO and the people who make it possible.
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25. January 2017 2 Comments
Our yearly IndexWatch for the United Kingdom is ready. For our IndexWatch 2016, we had a look at all visibility increases from January 4th, 2016, until January 2nd, 2017. We considered all domains who had at least 5 points in the Visibility Index at the start of 2016. The increases are shown as percentages.
#DomainChange
1wayfair.co.uk+601,42%
2thesun.co.uk+599,31%
3google.co.uk+430,73%
4deezer.com+217,63%
5gettyimages.co.uk+203,45%
6giphy.com+190,91%
7ao.com+188,52%
8groupon.co.uk+176,41%
9makeuseof.com+121,44%
10spotify.com+114,62%
11freepik.com+113,52%
12oxforddictionaries.com+111,77%
13watchshop.com+105,31%
14twitter.com+98,20%
15pinterest.com+97,77%
16imdb.co.uk+97,75%
17money.co.uk+97,63%
18ryman.co.uk+95,69%
19songkick.com+94,97%
20nisbets.co.uk+94,66%
21smythstoys.com+93,61%
22flickr.com+93,16%
23techopedia.com+93,00%
24ranker.com+91,83%
25webuy.com+91,50%
26downloadastro.com+87,27%
27musixmatch.com+84,77%
28motors.co.uk+84,53%
29aol.com+80,82%
30monster.co.uk+79,76%
31toolstation.com+79,67%
32countryliving.com+77,55%
33shutterstock.com+77,01%
34waterstones.com+75,62%
35hubspot.com+74,78%
36netdoctor.co.uk+74,76%
37dawsons.co.uk+74,50%
38prettylittlething.com+74,50%
39cambridge.org+73,44%
40ldoceonline.com+72,08%
41habitat.co.uk+71,42%
42explainthatstuff.com+69,34%
43aljazeera.com+62,69%
44livestrong.com+60,42%
45patient.info+59,61%
46colgate.com+59,12%
47businessnewsdaily.com+59,01%
48booking.com+58,70%
49disneystore.co.uk+58,13%
50deliaonline.com+57,91%
51songsterr.com+57,04%
52soundcloud.com+56,62%
53skillsyouneed.com+55,94%
54tredz.co.uk+55,87%
55behindthename.com+55,57%
56genius.com+55,51%
57heavy.com+55,47%
58beatport.com+54,92%
59just-eat.co.uk+53,79%
60gamespot.com+52,00%
61digitalspy.co.uk+51,95%
62superdrug.com+51,71%
63screenrant.com+51,65%
64macmillandictionary.com+50,27%
65huffingtonpost.com+50,08%
66womenshealthmag.com+49,43%
67parenting.com+48,90%
68capterra.com+48,84%
69creativebloq.com+48,40%
70elsevier.com+48,24%
71boredpanda.com+48,17%
72primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk+47,58%
73biblestudytools.com+46,84%
74wikimedia.org+46,81%
75ancient.eu+46,51%
76menshealth.com+46,37%
77goodtoknow.co.uk+45,98%
78mowdirect.co.uk+45,21%
79thewhiskyexchange.com+45,00%
80fortune.com+44,75%
81demon-tweeks.co.uk+43,34%
82rogerebert.com+43,25%
83trivago.co.uk+43,22%
84bmstores.co.uk+42,45%
85visitlondon.com+42,31%
86bhf.org.uk+42,10%
87activityvillage.co.uk+42,08%
88scientificamerican.com+41,98%
89deviantart.com+41,98%
90whosampled.com+41,97%
91discogs.com+41,85%
92bandcamp.com+41,85%
93diabetes.org.uk+41,51%
94plumbcenter.co.uk+41,38%
95rd.com+41,12%
96howtogeek.com+40,76%
97lifehack.org+40,66%
98spectator.co.uk+40,33%
99instyle.com+40,17%
100khanacademy.org+39,97%

Let’s start out with good news: many of the winnings websites managed to escape the Penguin filter, which we already wrote about in Google Penguin 4.0.

Winners Top 3

Wyfair.co.uk (+601,42%)

Visibility of Wayfair.co.uk on Google.co.uk

Wayfair made it into the top winners list, once again. Last year, Wayfair.com (not Wayfair.co.uk) was at the 5th position. We saw small improvements, which suggested that they incrementally updated and changed their site instead of having one large re-launch. But why was Wayfair.co.uk not able to rank on Google.co.uk? I actually don’t have a good answer here, as there are no big differences to be found on Archive.org between Wayfair.co.uk and Wayfair.com for the year 2016.

It’s quite likely that they were blocking their own content for 2 years but it could also have been the work of the Penguin Update that affected this domain in those 2 years. The visibility of Wayfair.co.uk changed significantly around the same time the Penguin update was released. Simultaneously, Wayfair.com started to take over the rankings from the British domain, as we can see in this chart:

Visibility of Wayfair.com and Wayfair.co.uk on Google.co.uk

Thesun.co.uk (+599,31%)

Visibility of TheSun.co.uk on Google.co.uk

Thesun.co.uk got rid of its paywalls. This was a very brave step towards the open-access culture of the web. TheSun.co.uk seems to have recognized the difficulty of improving their rankings while using paywalls, if similar articles can be found just one click away on free news sites.

After getting rid of the paywall, TheSun.co.uk only had 229 keywords in the Top 10 and 4,740 in the Top 100. Now this domain ranks for 37.598 keywords in the Top 10 and for 509.363 keywords in the Top 100. And the percentage of keywords on the first page of Google’s search results continues to rise:

Evolution of the Keywords in the Top 10 of TheSun.co.uk

Even for a brand as strong as TheSun.co.uk having a paywall would, in the long run, have resulted in customer migration to their competitors and a weakening of the brand over a long term. The first newspaper to bet on paywalls was the Wall Street Journal. However, reading this newspaper is compulsory for everyone involved in the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. That also means that, if your article is not dealing with niche topics and if it is aimed at a broad audience, you will probably lose a lot of traffic by using a paywall.

Deezer.com (+217,63%)

Visibility of Deezer.com on Google.co.uk

The French music streaming service, Deezer.com, is currently showing a marvellous growth curve. The jumped from 10 points to 33 points last year. It looks as though they made a number of changes to their website that seem to have a positive effect for them. While the overall number of URLs for the domain has not really increased over the past year (actually it went down a little), more and more URLs get into the Top10 rankings:

URLs With Top100 (red) and the Top10 (blue) rankings

Last year we reported on how Spotify.com violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Some readers commented that Spotify is such a large brand, that Google downranking them will probably be of no importance to them. Deezer is a great example that, as long as you have competitors, all marketing channels (including Google) play an important role. Deezer does not really have more content now than they had a year ago, but their URLs are moving up in Google’s search results pages:

Ranking distribution for Deezer.com, showing the amount of keywords (in percent) found on the first Google result page, the second and so forth, over time.

Conclusion, the case of Pinterest.com

This domain is one of the overall top winners in total Visibility in all countries where we crawl our data (DE, ES, FR, IT, UK, USA, etc.). Let me just point you to this great Reforge.com Interview with Casey Winters, former growth product lead at Pinterest, where he gives us great insights into how they figured out the vast growth potential SEO holds but also has some constructive criticism for the SEO scene:

“What’s emerged is a group of people that are studying every detail of Google’s algorithm and patents and inferring what they think google wants, and end up recommending very non-scaleable platitudes like ‘write great content, get links.’

What he says is (sadly) not entirely wrong. In that sense: Let’s build great websites!

28. January 2017, 02:38

Hi Juan,

It’s incredible how websites like The Sun and specially Goole can gro even more.

Thanks for the data!

Kevin McLeod
9. February 2017, 13:54

“Thesun.co.uk got rid of its paywalls. This was a very brave step towards the open-access culture of the web.”
A brave step? More of a U-turn on a decision that vastly overestimated the brand. Of course removing a paywall on 10 years of archived news is going to result in massive visibility increases – including in this list like it’s some sort of achievement is farcical and makes a mockery of the whole post.