Gawker.com 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 Gawker.com 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 Gawker.com 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.
Gawker.com: By the numbers
Data covers the past 12 months of Gawker.com’s US operations.
With Linkdex’s Visibility feature, we exported a list of gawker.com’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)
Gawker.com 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 — gawker.com/tag/top 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).
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.