featured graphic for the ellipsis weather report

Launching the weather report: WordPress is down -10.4%

Update: the auto-updating Weather Report is now live. You can see the Weather Report here.

At Ellipsis, we’re committed to enabling the WordPress community to better understand how their marketing is currently performing, and our specialisation is in helping clients deliver growth through effective marketing. 

Feedback we get regularly is that it’s hard for business owners to know whether their current performance is reflective of what’s going on in the bigger picture: “are other companies going through the same growth / slowdown, or is it just me?”

With data out of our FALCON AI, we’re uniquely positioned to provide insight here. FALCON stores information on tens of thousands of keywords on WordPress and WooCommerce. We store keyword data, alongside advertiser information and activity, and information about each URL in the results for each keyword.

We’re storing tens of thousands of data points about specifically which WordPress and WooCommerce solutions people are looking for. This gives us a “live” view into trends in the WordPress industry.

Today, we’re showing our first preview of a public view of this data: the Ellipsis Weather Report.

Introducing the Weather Report: -10.4% decrease year to date

The Weather Report will be a live view, updated weekly, on the “weather” of the WordPress industry, using FALCON data.

You’ll be able to see – live – when things are “sunny” and there’s growth, or when it’s “raining” and there’s a decline.

In future, we’ll have this available as a publicly available resource with data updated weekly automatically. Today, we’re launching a preview.

We’ve been collecting the data since the start of the year, and can share some headline stats on the WordPress industry:

  • Year to date: -10.4% decrease
  • Q1 2022: +9.5% increase
  • Q2 2022: -18.8% decrease

The year started very strongly. We saw consistent growth through Q1. At the start of April, FALCON is showing a strong downward trend that lasted through May. June has levelled off.

We’ve anecdotally heard people struggling with sales in recent months. This industry-wide data shows, for the first time, it’s not necessarily a “you” problem: the industry has suffered over the last quarter in particular.

Weather Report methodology, and how this differs from our search volume trends posts

The score for each week is a 4-week rolling average, so a positive value means growth over the previous 4 week period. This is what we’ll update each week going forward.

A question from our friends at Post Status is how this differs from our regular search volume analysis. This is a good question! The search volume posts also use data out of FALCON, but these are just focused on month-on-month search volume trends.

The Weather Report differs in methodology: we’re blending search volume data with advertiser activity, and crucially, this lets us include clicks as well as search volumes. We’re then surfacing the data much more frequently: going forward you’ll be able to access the report “live” with automatic weekly updates.

The other key difference is the output of the Weather Report is a relative figure, aggregated across the whole industry. The score each week is the 4-week rolling average of the blended search and advertiser activity data we’re collecting. This is then presented relative to the previous week’s score.

A key inspiration is Moz’s MozCast, a live view of “turbulence” in the Google algorithm. I assume this had a similar starting point: they had the data, so can surface it. We’re doing the same out of FALCON.

An interesting difference to the MozCast is they’ve set a “normal” level, and update the report relative to the normal level. We’re presenting the data relative to where we started in January, so as we update the data you’ll be able to see WordPress’ growth (or otherwise) relative to this start date. In a couple of years it will be fascinating to go back and see what’s changed.

We’ll continue to do the search volume analyses going forward, as these are opportunities to share absolute numbers and segment different verticals in the industry. The Weather Report serves a different purpose.

The WordPress climate remains excellent

We’d expect to see more self-run businesses as a result of current economic uncertainty, and the last global recession showed significantly more people stepping out on their own. Those people are going to need websites. This should help at the lower end of the WordPress economy; at the top end, we can expect to see growth from more of a B2B push, similar to Shopify’s strategy.

We will see some of capitalism’s creative destruction create changes in the industry, but I remain very optimistic and bullish on the future of the WordPress economy.

One of the outcomes from the WordPress market share discussion was the need for more data. Publishing the Weather Report publicly is part of our effort to support that. It’s important to remember the data is neutral: this helps us make better decisions, but the data on its own is not a stick with which to praise/beat the WordPress project in line with the weekly fluctuations.

The weather can be bad, whilst the climate is good. I remain incredibly optimistic that the climate in WordPress is excellent.

Picture of James Baldacchino

James Baldacchino

Hi, I’m James! I'm the Head of Strategy at Ellipsis, and when I'm not working on client strategies, I probably have my nose stuck in a book.