Google News visibility in Australia: What you need to know 2017 to 20213. May 2022
Coronavirus. Covid. Scott Morrison. Omicron. Covid-19. These words make up the Top 5 most searched keywords on Google in Australia. Read on to see who the Top 5 most visible publishers were for Google News and the SERPs, as well as the Top 5 publishers for each category in 2021. And there’s more: In addition to our 2021 analysis, we compared last year with 2017.
Google News 2021
Top 5 most visible publishers: 2 foreign publishers make the cut
It’s not the changes in visibility over the year that’s most notable here, but rather the “who” that stands out. Two foreign publishers made it into the Top 5 for Google News, specifically, in fourth and fifth position- dailymail.co.uk and theguardian.com. Interestingly, these two publishers hold the first and second place in their native news market in the UK. And we’ve seen anecdotally that British publishers perform well in Australia.
Comparison: Who were the Top 5 publishers 5 years ago?
In 2017, the news landscape in Australia looked a bit different. For one, the top 5 included only native Australian publishers, with news.com.au taking first position overall. Theaustralian.com.au and dailytelegraph.com.au eventually dropped out of the top contenders over the next 5 years.
Google News: 2017-2021
In 2018, Google News received a global overhaul that offered many new features, including using AI to better organize news content. With it also came an emphasis on images and video articles, specifically videos on Google-owned YouTube receiving more visibility. Looking in summer 2018, you can see who benefited the most from this change.
All publishers, except The Australian, experienced a brief surge in visibility as a result, but it was short-lived. Soon after the launch, a drop that could be attributed to Google adding articles from more total publishers into Google News occurred.
Google News: 2021 category breakdown
These were the Top 5 publishers for each Google News category:
Headlines: abc.net.au; news.com.au; smh.com.au; theguardian.com; 9news.com.au
Australia: abc.net.au; news.com.au; smh.com.au; theguardian.com; 9news.com.au
World: abc.net.au; news.com.au; smh.com.au; theguardian.com; theaustralian.com.au
Business: news.com.au; smh.com.au; abc.net.au; afr.com; theaustralian.com.au
Sports: news.com.au; foxsports.com.au; nine.com.au; abc.net.au; smh.com.au
COVID-19: abc.net.au; 9news.com.au; smh.com.au; theguardian.com; 7news.com.au
Abc.net.au was by far the most visible publisher, leading in 5 out of 11 categories.
Mobile Visibility Overall: Abc.net.au dominates mobile in 2021
The Guardian deserves some recognition for increasing its visibility from last to second in less than a year.
Comparison: Organic ruled
Back in 2017, Wikipedia was the most visible publisher on mobile instead of abc.news.au, who didn’t rank back then. Foxsports.com.au made the cut in 2017, but not 2021.
Mobile Visibility Overall: 2017-2021
Wikipedia.com gradually declines in visibility as video rankings increase. At the end of the 5 years, abc.net.au takes over first position with a visibility boost from COVID news.
Mobile Visibility Overall: 2021 category breakdown
Top Stories: abc.net.au; 9news.com.au; theguardian.com; smh.com.au; youtube.com
Australia: abc.net.au; 9news.com.au; theguardian.com; smh.com.au; news.com.au
World: abc.net.au; theguardian.com; 9news.com.au; smh.com.au; youtube.com
Business: abc.net.au; smh.com.au; youtube.com; wikipedia.org; 9news.com.au
Entertainment: youtube.com; news.com.au; wikipedia.org; abc.net.au; nine.com.au
Sports: foxsports.com.au; youtube.com; abc.net.au; news.com.au; wikipedia.org
Health: abc.net.au; 9news.com.au; smh.com.au; health.gov.au; theguardian.com
COVID-19: abc.net.au; 9news.com.au; smh.com.au; health.gov.au; theguardian.com
Abc.net.au took the top position for six out of ten categories and ranked in every category except Technology. We also see a government site, health.gov.au, ranking fourth for both Health and COVID-19 categories.
What were people searching for on mobile in 2021?
Keywords related to COVID-19 make up 38% of the most searched for keywords in 2021.
Desktop Visibility Overall: More volatility
Abc.net.au passed YouTube for top visibility at the beginning of 2021 and held that spot for the whole year. In June, they reached peak visibility via their COVID live blogs. The Guardian not only increased their visibility in mobile but in desktop as well and by December closed in on YouTube.
Comparison: News Dashboard adds Organic rankings in 2017
What stands out about this data the most is obviously Wikipedia. We know Wikipedia has been around for a lot longer than August 2017, in fact it was launched on January 15, 2001. Does anyone remember what the internet looked like back then? Me neither.
The simple explanation for this sudden change is that the News Dashboard only began crawling for organic and other rankings in August 2017. Before Wikipedia shot to the top, news.com.au was in the lead but dropped out of the top 5 sometime during the 5-year period, which we’ll look at next.
5 years of Desktop visibility: Video makes an impact
During this 5-year period in Australia, we see video content surge in visibility, as video content occurred more on the SERP via Video Carousels. YouTube’s most visible video from their peak data point in 2019? The “Baby Shark” video, of course. It is important to note smh.com.au and abc.net.au’s most visible content was COVID articles; however, abc.net.au’s usage of live COVID updates really allowed them to stand out.
Desktop Visibility Overall: 2021 category breakdown
Top Stories: abc.net.au; theguardian.com; wikipedia.org; smh.com.au; youtube.com
Australia: abc.net.au; 9news.com.au; smh.com.au; theguardian.com; youtube.com
World: abc.net.au; theguardian.com; smh.com.au; 9news.com.au; youtube.com
Business: abc.net.au; smh.com.au; wikipedia.org; youtube.com; afr.com
Technology: youtube.com; wikipedia.org; apple.com; theverge.com; nasa.gov
Entertainment: youtube.com; news.com.au; wikipedia.org; abc.net.au; theguardian.com
Sports: foxsports.com.au; youtube.com; abc.net.au; wikipedia.org; news.com.au
Science: nasa.gov; youtube.com; wikipedia.org; abc.net.au; theguardian.com
Health: abc.net.au; 9news.com.au; smh.com.au; theguardian.com; health.gov.au
COVID-19: abc.net.au; 9news.com.au; smh.com.au; the guardian.com; health.gov.au
What were people searching for on desktop in 2021?
The most fascinating thing about the Top 5 most searched for keywords in each category is how similar desktop is to mobile. However, more COVID-19 related keywords ranked for desktop, at 42%.
What does it all mean?
Overall for 2021, we continue to see the impact of COVID-19 in the daily lives of Australians. This is especially true on the SERPs, where a large percentage of all searched for keywords centered around the virus. Publishers who took advantage of live updates benefited the most in visibility.
YouTube made a strong showing in 2021, holding onto the second position for the SERPs. YouTube is by far the most visible way to put your video content into Google. If you don’t already have one, you may want to strongly consider having a YouTube presence.
Core Web Vitals
Google started rolling out Core Web Vitals, a quantifiable way to measure user experience on your website, in summer 2021. If you haven’t looked at your website’s score, you’re already behind and could potentially be missing out on better rankings for your published content. Google laid out the steps to do this here.
Google Discover should also go onto your 2022 to-do list. In a recent post from Google, when describing the difference between Google Search and Discover, they said, “Discover surfaces content primarily based on what Google’s automated systems believe to be a good match with a user’s interests.”
Publishers can look to potential traffic from Discover as a supplement to a more solid SEO strategy in Google News and the SERPs. To learn more about Google Discover, check out this handy article from WTFSEO Substack.
The News Dashboard is currently rolling out the Search Console Discover API integration to customers.
New features in our tool
The News Dashboard will be rolling out some exciting new features in 2022. We’re excited to announce that we now crawl for Google Web Stories! Also, one of the biggest feature updates will be rolling out soon, and we can’t wait to reveal all the details soon!
Not yet part of the News Dashboard family? Request a FREE demo today!