Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have long struggled to gain mainstream awareness and adoption, with much media coverage (understandably) focused on bitcoin’s get-rich-quick potential and its popularity with criminals.
While the mainstream media’s interest has focused on bitcoin and crypto’s shady but exciting underworld, bitcoin and crypto dedicated websites have sought to provide fair and balanced coverage of the blossoming industry since bitcoin’s creation 10 years ago.
Now, following search giant Google’s June 2019 Core Update, which rolled out on June 3, one of the biggest bitcoin and crypto sites, CCN.com, has said it will have to close its digital doors, citing “a 71% collapse in mobile traffic overnight”—with other bitcoin and cryptocurrency sites also taking heavy blows.
The Google update caused a more than 70% collapse in mobile traffic to bitcoin and cryptocurrency-focused news site CCN.com.
In addition to CCN’s problems, blockchain news specialist CoinDesk has experienced a 34.6% drop, according to Sistrix, a data company that tracks website visibility on Google.
Meanwhile, another major bitcoin and cryptocurrency publication, CoinTelegraph has experienced a drop of 21.1% on mobile and a website administrator at fellow bitcoin and crypto publication U.today complained of “the same issues,” on a Google Webmaster forum.
The sudden drop in traffic to bitcoin and cryptocurrency websites has caused editors to question whether this was an intentional attempt to undermine their coverage of the cryptocurrency sector.
“The answer is both yes and no,” wrote CCN founder Jonas Borchgrevink, announcing the site’s closure in a long blog post where he also called on the journalism industry to resist Google’s attempts to “control the world’s news consumption” and a future “Googlémocracy.”
“While all major crypto focused sites have taken a hit by Google’s June 2019 Core Update, other sites that are not affiliated with cryptocurrencies have experienced a startlingly similar impact.”
CCN uploaded an image to its website that said its cause of death was Google.
“We have tried to find out why our stories are no longer visible on Google by asking for guidance in Google’s Webmasters Forum. While we appreciate the help of the experts from the Google Forum, their theories for why Google has decided to basically ‘shut down’ CCN does not appear to be entirely accurate. Why would simple fixes be the cause of the immense Google-listing drop, when other similar sites are experiencing the same blowback,” Borchgrevink asked.
CCN was founded June 2013 as CryptoCoinsNews and claims to have grown from a one-man operation to a team of more than 60 people around the world.
“I am personally calling media organizations across the world to fight this hideous practice by Google, that basically can, with a snap of its fingers, decide who will thrive and who will die within a matter of minutes,” Borchgrevink wrote.
Meanwhile, a controversial study out this week found Google made $4.7 billion in advertising from news content last year.
The News Media Alliance study found that between 16% and 40% of Google search results are news content with revenue from its distribution of news content only $400 million less than the $5.1 billion brought in by the U.S. news industry as a whole from digital advertising last year.
“News publishers need to continue to invest in quality journalism, and they can’t do that if the platforms take what they want without paying for it,” said David Chavern, the alliance’s president, in an accompanying statement. “Information wants to be free, but reporters need to get paid.”
However, some have criticized the study, suggesting that its figures are inaccurate.
“Google does not monetize Google News,” journalism professor and host of the internet show This Week in Google Google, Jeff Jarvis wrote via Twitter. “When [Google] makes money on news it’s by serving ads on publishers’ sites.”