shutdown to result in 2.24 million lost US organic search traffic, $3.93 million in lost media value

We drill down into the Gawk­er con­tent archive from an SEO per­spec­tive. Who and what have been the most cov­ered, and most vis­i­ble, top­ics or indi­vid­u­als on And how much media val­ue will be lost when the site ceas­es...

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 1 comment is to cease oper­a­tions after 13 years of oper­a­tions. The site was recent­ly sub­ject to a 140 mil­lion dol­lar law­suit, which cul­mi­nat­ed in the pub­li­ca­tion’s demise. If the archive is to be tak­en offline in its entire­ty (and there is cur­rent­ly no word to sug­gest oth­er­wise), it will mean an unprece­dent­ed removal of con­tent from a high-traf­fic online pub­li­ca­tion. But how much organ­ic search traf­fic and media val­ue will the site be like­ly to lose?


The news that will be ceas­ing oper­a­tions this week, has been met with what can only be described as a mixed reac­tion.

There are some who have cham­pi­oned the pub­lish­er’s inde­pen­dence, and free­dom with which it afford­ed its writ­ers, how­ev­er, there are also those for whom the pub­li­ca­tion will not be missed.

Gawk­er’s forth­right style of jour­nal­ism has cer­tain­ly made the pub­li­ca­tion their fair share of ene­mies. The most notable of whom, Peter Thiel, was a man who played a key role in the site’s down­fall, and who once labeled Gawk­er a site which “ruined people’s lives for no rea­son.”

What we can say, is that as a pub­li­ca­tion, Gawk­er has always been unique amongst its peers, and that is reflect­ed in the nature of the site con­tent. “If you want[ed] com­plete free­dom to write what­ev­er the hell you want,” as a recent post put it, “you write on your per­son­al Tum­blr, where the whole world will ignore you. Gawk­er was one of the few places ever to exist that offered both a large, steady audi­ence and almost com­plete free­dom.”

It could, in oth­er words, make a fas­ci­nat­ing case study for which to dig a lit­tle deep­er into the data of a top flight online news and media pub­lish­er.

Which is why, with cur­rent­ly no word as to what will hap­pen to the Gawk­er archives at the end of this week, we’ve tak­en a clos­er look to see what Linkdex can reveal about Gawk­er from a con­tent and SEO per­spec­tive — a rare oppor­tu­ni­ty to peel back the lay­ers before the pub­li­ca­tion, and all it’s con­tent, dis­ap­pears from our radars for good. By the numbers

Data cov­ers the past 12 months of’s US oper­a­tions.

With Linkdex’s Vis­i­bil­i­ty fea­ture, we export­ed a list of’s rank­ing key­words — with options to seg­ment by region or device. For the pur­pos­es of this study, we looked at all rank­ing key­words for the US and UK.


The Linkdex plat­form also pro­vid­ed the esti­mat­ed organ­ic traf­fic for the site, based on key­word rank­ing posi­tions, search vol­umes, and pro­pri­ety click-through rate cal­cu­la­tions.

From this the plat­form also cal­cu­lat­ed a val­ue for the total poten­tial media val­ue of the site in the US (which is the cost-per-click val­ue for all rank­ing key­words mul­ti­plied by search vol­ume for each key­word). This is how much all of Gawk­er’s traf­fic would cost if it was all obtained via paid search based on cur­rent Google Adwords CPC val­ues.

In this instance, the total esti­mat­ed traf­fic is 2.24 mil­lion vis­its per month, giv­ing a poten­tial media val­ue of $3.93 mil­lion.

Most frequently used tags (for any page winning organic traffic) is some­what uncon­ven­tion­al for a news and media pub­lish­er in that site con­tent is not struc­tured around inbuilt cat­e­gori­sa­tion, but instead a metic­u­lous tag­ging sys­tem — i.e. a set of hor­i­zon­tal, rather than ver­ti­cal tax­onomies.

Whilst there is no nav­i­ga­tion bar, there are ded­i­cat­ed land­ing pages for each tag — for exam­ple, /tag/­too-insid­ery, or even /tag/tag (!)

The total num­ber of tags, for all con­tent across the site’s life­time, was revealed ear­li­er this week by Gawk­er­da­ta — show­ing that media and pol­i­tics were their most cov­ered top­ics.

For a slight­ly dif­fer­ent spin on this, we looked at the data from an organ­ic search per­spec­tive. Here are the most fre­quent­ly used tags from all rank­ing pages (any arti­cle or page, that has been receiv­ing organ­ic search traf­fic in the last 12 months).

Some of these tags, such as ‘Top’, ‘Jezebel’, or ‘Val­ley­wag’, refer to sis­ter pub­li­ca­tions, fil­tered tag pages, or relat­ed blogs.

What the results do illus­trate, is Gawk­er’s 2016 shift towards pol­i­tics — with pop­u­lar use of ‘don­ald trump’, ‘pol­i­tics’, and ‘elec­tion 2016’, and decreased use of ‘media’ and ‘jour­nal­is­mism’ (which were pop­u­lar tags in the afore­men­tioned Gawk­er­da­ta study across the site’s life­time).

Most visible content, grouped by tag

By piv­ot­ing on tags and esti­mat­ed traf­fic, we can get an idea of what the most vis­i­ble tag groups on Gawk­er are. In many cas­es, authors have used mul­ti­ple tags for a post, so the fol­low­ing graph shows the organ­ic search equi­ty (com­bined esti­mat­ed traf­fic) across all tags (where traf­fic for posts with mul­ti­ple tags is summed for each tag).

This gives us a pret­ty good sense of what the most read top­ic areas on Gawk­er are in the US

Fil­ter­ing out cer­tain top­ics gives us the most cov­ered indi­vid­u­als, as well as those attract­ing the great­est vis­i­bil­i­ty from organ­ic search.

On clos­er inspec­tion, the large amount of esti­mat­ed traf­fic for ‘don­ald trump jr’, ‘jared kush­n­er’ and ‘new york city’, is due to promi­nent vis­i­bil­i­ty of this arti­cle.

Here’s the same process applied to indi­vid­u­als only —  the most vis­i­ble con­tent tagged with an indi­vid­ual:

(Tags which exist­ed almost exclu­sive­ly across the same posts, and thus show­ing very sim­i­lar val­ues, such as those of the ‘kush­n­er fam­i­ly’ have been grouped).

Media Value

If the Gawk­er archive is to be removed in its entire­ty, that’s $3.93 mil­lion in media val­ue that will be fil­ter­ing its way onto com­peti­tor sites.

Plot­ting the 300 most valu­able key­words by media val­ue on a bub­blechart, shows us that there are a few huge­ly valu­able indi­vid­ual key­words, the most notable of which being ‘don­ald trump jr’.

(Click and drag a box to zoom)


The Gawk­er archive is huge and expan­sive — so much so that in-depth analy­sis is chal­leng­ing — and their con­tent cov­ers a huge range of top­ics and indi­vid­u­als. How­ev­er, analy­sis of arti­cle tags does show a shift towards pol­i­tics in the last year, with tags such as ‘don­ald trump’, ‘pol­i­tics’, and ‘elec­tion 2016’ amoung the most fre­quent­ly used in the past year.

Indi­vid­u­als that have been tagged in posts also show the pub­li­ca­tions polit­i­cal focus, with promi­nent US politi­cians such as Don­ald Trump and Eliz­a­beth War­ren, amongst the most fre­quent­ly tagged (i.e. covered/referenced often). Posts with these tags were also amongst the most vis­i­ble in Google.

Media val­ue for Gawk­er’s rank­ing key­words, totalling $3.93 mil­lion in the US, shows this val­ue is com­prised of a few high val­ue key­words. Inter­est­ing­ly, these are for indi­vid­u­als, and polit­i­cal­ly focused ‘don­ald trump jr’, ‘arnold schwarzeneg­ger’, which sug­gests the val­ues may relate to tran­sient polit­i­cal cam­paigns.

Nonethe­less, it’s clear that the removal Gawk­er’s con­tent archive will have a sig­nif­i­cant impact, and result in a great deal of lost traf­fic and media val­ue.

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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