It’s been a crazy year for SEO. This year’s analysis of Google winners and losers shows significantly greater fluctuations than in previous years. Which UK websites rode the Google wave successfully in 2021? And which sites splashed and crashed? Additionally, what impact did the year’s two major Google Core Updates, the June/July Core Update and the November Core Update, have on rankings on Google.co.uk? Read on for more info on the analysis.

Google Update Rally: Many of 2020’s losers made the 2021 winners lists

Google giveth and Google taketh away. One of the negative trends seen in the past few years is clusters of websites being penalized by the updates. Then the algorithm is revised, and previous losers are back on top. We identified trend among some of the music and podcast sites we analyzed, for example. While discogs.com, last.fm, and spotify.com were among the biggest losers in the May 2020 Core Update, the July 2021 Core Update gave these sites a boost right through till the end of the year. This meant they ended 2021 with a clear increase in SEO visibility compared to pre-2020 levels.

Google Summer Party 2021: the June/July Core update had a big impact

The Google Core Update June/July 2021 caused near record movements up and down the SERPs and was a real summer rollercoaster ride for some sites. Rarely has the SEO visibility for domains gone through the roof like this. The losses, on the other hand, were comparatively moderate. And this is what the visibility histories of domains on Google UK (Google.co.uk) look like when Google’s algorithm is feeling really, really generous:

Searchmetrics looked at developments over the summer and came to the conclusion that this Google update was rather an unusual one. Among the losers were many sites with good content, including some from the YMYL and travel sectors.

In contrast, the second core update of the year was comparatively moderate. Google’s Core Update November 2021 also drew some ire from the SEO community as it came right in the middle of the biggest sales period of the year Black Friday on November 26. The winners from this update were mainly Wikis and dictionaries.

Google Social Network Award 2021: Instagram top, Pinterest flop

If Google were to have a social network award, it would most certainly have gone to Instagram in 2021. In absolute terms, Instagram achieved an unprecedented rise in SEO visibility in our index for Google.co.uk. For Pinterest, on other hand, it was all downhill. Pinterest was one of the biggest losers in 2021. This trend is the same across all the countries we analyzed. Instagram seems to be getting a lot right, while Pinterest seems to have fallen out of favor with Google.

The Top 100 Google Winners of 2021

Google’s 2021 winners came from a wide variety of different sectors. While previous years saw some ups and downs in areas such as dictionaries, health and finance, the patterns in 2021 are much more diverse. The following are examples from various sectors that recently made the 2021 list of Google UK winners:

  • Wikis: It was a good year for Wikis and dictionaries. These sectors had ups and downs in recent years but they were almost all winners in 2021.
    • Dictionaries: britannica.com, wiktionary.org, collindictionary.com, thesaurus.com
    • Films: imdb.com, tvtropes.org, rottentomatoes.com
    • Music: discogs.com, rateyourmusic.com
    • People: wiktionary.org, biography.com, thefamouspeople.com
  • Entertainment: Most certainly due to the pandemic and increased demand, numerous portals from the video and music streaming sectors ended up Google winners in 2021, such as spotify.com, tvguide.com, netflix.com, and last.fm. Games sites such as gameforge.com, crazygames.com, and xbox.com also saw gains in 2021.
  • Publishers: Numerous publishers also saw their numbers go up significantly in 2021. These include, e.g., mirror.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, thetimes.co.uk, cnbc.com, and cnn.com.

All the Top 100 Google Winners in 2021:

Rank Domain SEO Visibility Increase (absolute) SEO Visibility Increase in %
1 instagram.com 821,850 42%
2 imdb.com 595,023 29%
3 britannica.com 511,181 52%
4 google.com 499,887 17%
5 twitter.com 387,383 23%
6 collinsdictionary.com 301,948 86%
7 spotify.com 297,888 98%
8 linkedin.com 286,615 18%
9 apple.com 278,748 19%
11 tvtropes.org 263,402 401%
12 mirror.co.uk 257,666 47%
13 cambridge.org 221,248 24%
14 amazon.co.uk 205,568 7%
15 rottentomatoes.com 205,146 36%
17 gov.uk 180,246 18%
18 wiktionary.org 173,867 58%
19 dailymail.co.uk 159,574 27%
20 metro.co.uk 146,598 60%
21 mayoclinic.org 137,528 50%
22 live.com 132,681 28%
23 fandom.com 124,128 11%
24 discogs.com 113,684 62%
25 argos.co.uk 105,522 15%
26 quora.com 104,562 151%
27 johnlewis.com 97,280 28%
28 thetimes.co.uk 89,767 92%
29 webmd.com 89,621 23%
30 biography.com 88,477 64%
31 makeuseof.com 88,235 259%
32 crazygames.com 83,542 27%
33 lexico.com 82,615 50%
34 tvguide.com 82,328 138%
35 netflix.com 81,616 35%
36 cylex-uk.co.uk 81,283 213%
37 clevelandclinic.org 80,661 130%
38 last.fm 80,168 137%
39 lifewire.com 79,216 69%
40 thesaurus.com 77,342 28%
41 gameforge.com 75,072 252%
43 nidirect.gov.uk 72,012 71%
44 parade.com 71,614 220%
45 nytimes.com 71,121 36%
46 xbox.com 67,988 84%
47 alamy.com 64,095 237%
48 rateyourmusic.com 62,814 255%
49 genius.com 62,269 29%
50 cnn.com 60,569 55%
51 sky.com 60,262 19%
52 plex.tv 59,967 243%
53 medlineplus.gov 59,176 124%
54 softonic.com 58,874 34%
55 tiktok.com 58,238 969%
56 dailyrecord.co.uk 57,642 64%
57 gumtree.com 57,203 24%
58 vouchercodes.co.uk 57,005 121%
59 whattowatch.com 56,024 new
60 goodto.com 55,927 412%
61 twitch.tv 54,311 135%
62 rollingstone.com 53,914 58%
63 microsoft.com 52,609 9%
64 people.com 52,547 96%
65 hotels.com 51,380 53%
66 downdetector.com 51,135 219%
67 justwatch.com 51,106 164%
68 goodreads.com 48,248 34%
69 lagged.com 47,251 517%
70 skyscanner.net 45,801 27%
71 asda.com 45,129 24%
72 cnbc.com 43,689 106%
73 etsy.com 43,621 15%
74 steampowered.com 43,347 16%
75 usmagazine.com 42,375 229%
77 cdc.gov 41,864 45%
78 radiotimes.com 41,604 22%
79 kidshealth.org 41,285 49%
80 flickr.com 40,627 176%
81 twinkl.co.uk 40,622 66%
82 campaignlive.co.uk 40,120 75%
83 forbes.com 39,466 16%
84 foursquare.com 39,409 391%
85 similarweb.com 39,334 135%
86 digitaltrends.com 38,251 61%
87 ikea.com 36,821 26%
88 disneyplus.com 36,793 151%
89 thesun.co.uk 36,775 5%
90 liverpoolecho.co.uk 36,676 41%
91 marksandspencer.com 36,556 29%
92 parkers.co.uk 36,277 64%
93 webuy.com 36,273 72%
94 chroniclelive.co.uk 36,270 53%
96 tui.co.uk 35,072 13%
97 expertreviews.co.uk 34,845 72%
98 allinlondon.co.uk 34,765 900%
99 thefamouspeople.com 34,413 996%
100 loveholidays.com 34,390 33%

eCommerce 2021 – The Top 10 Google Winners:

Rank Domain SEO Visibility Increase (absolute) SEO Visibility Increase in %
1 apple.com 278,748 19%
2 amazon.co.uk 205,568 7%
3 argos.co.uk 105,522 15%
4 gumtree.com 57,203 24%
5 vouchercodes.co.uk 57,005 121%
6 hotels.com 51,380 53%
7 etsy.com 43,621 15%
8 ikea.com 36,821 26%
9 marksandspencer.com 36,556 29%
10 parkers.co.uk 36,277 64%

The Biggest Google Losers of 2021

As always, there are not only Google winners in any given year. Here are some of the losers from 2021:

  • Jobs: Some job portals in the UK index went down in 2021. These include reed.co.uk, simplyhired.co.uk, and jobsite.co.uk.
  • E-A-T Websites: As in previous years, there are some sectors with greater ups and downs than others. These includes E-A-T content about health and finance. Examples of losers this year include healthline.com and patient.info from the health sector and money.co.uk and moneysavingexpert.com from the finance sector. The algorithm seems to be testing domains at certain intervals. So, these sectors can’t afford to rest on their laurels.
  • Pinterest: Both Pinterest domains dropped down the list: pinterest.com and pinterest.ca. Incidentally, this trend not only applies to the UK. It was also a bad year for Pinterest SEO visibility in the Google SERPs in both the U.S. and Germany.
  • And what about eBay and Amazon? The two U.S. e-commerce giants were at the top of the losers list. While Amazon’s .com TLD fell in our index, amazon.co.uk was one of the winners. After a strong upward trend in 2020, things went downhill in 2021 for selling platform eBay.

Here is a selection of the biggest Google losers in 2021:

Domain SEO Visibility Decrease (absolute) SEO Visibility Decrease in %
amazon.com -318,473 -48%
ebay.co.uk -260,138 -15%
youtube.com -241,583 -14%
telegraph.co.uk -210,570 -38%
pinterest.com -197,480 -27%
google.co.uk -109,509 -17%
moneysavingexpert.com -101,746 -21%
ft.com -95,961 -30%
ebay.com -92,419 -74%
healthline.com -72,600 -13%
bt.com -69,319 -25%
money.co.uk -54,316 -51%
onthebeach.co.uk -48,514 -37%
popcornflix.com -47,885 -62%
agame.com -46,369 -43%
aha.video -42,836 -88%
pinterest.ca -38,377 -87%
reed.co.uk -37,235 -18%
openculture.com -36,219 -80%
marketingweek.com -35,363 -76%
usc.edu -34,773 -91%
ebookers.com -34,731 -68%
bing.com -32,639 -30%
mashable.com -31,472 -48%
carphonewarehouse.com -31,415 -33%
vulture.com -31,136 -39%
ofcom.org.uk -29,870 -54%
patient.info -29,300 -28%
webmail-provider.co.uk -28,697 -95%
simplyhired.co.uk -28,635 -96%
viamichelin.co.uk -27,734 -47%
vimeo.com -26,845 -69%
wickes.co.uk -25,671 -19%
hbr.org -24,824 -44%
teletextholidays.co.uk -24,503 -36%
springer.com -23,945 -62%
jobsite.co.uk -23,179 -31%
opodo.co.uk -22,754 -34%
oxfordstreet.co.uk -22,650 -74%
missguided.co.uk -21,565 -37%
dealchecker.co.uk -21,014 -36%
carandclassic.co.uk -20,617 -49%
emmasdiary.co.uk -20,195 -64%
thedrum.com -19,663 -42%
freemake.com -18,402 -43%
mentalfloss.com -18,128 -28%
reverso.net -17,999 -24%
virginholidays.co.uk -17,911 -27%
lottery.co.uk -17,790 -34%
crunchbase.com -17,504 -8%
yandex.com -16,419 -60%
historic-uk.com -16,224 -38%
hl.co.uk -15,978 -16%
dailymotion.com -15,936 -33%

 

 

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