This January Google launched “Search Plus Your World (SPYW),” a service that drastically customized search results based on social connections while bolstering visibility of Google+ products. While the new changes absolutely increased visibility for Google+, there was concern that the changes would negatively affect other social networks. Five months into the SPYW era, some startling statistics have surfaced in regards to Facebook pages and their diminishing Google traffic. But oddly, Bing shows similar drops.
PageLever, a Facebook analytics company, uncovered a significant drop in traffic post SPYW launch. The company studied 500 fan pages with a minimum of 10,000 fans, looking at external referrals from Bing and Google. Internal Facebook referrals and searches did not play a factor in the data. The overall results show that Google traffic to Facebook pages has dropped 51%:
Before the Search Plus Your World launch, Google drove 9.25% of the external traffic to Facebook pages. After the SPYW launch, that percentage of Google referrals was down to just 4.52%.
Surprisingly, the numbers were down on Bing as well, dropping 59% year over year. Bing’s peaks and valleys mirrored Google’s numbers, just delayed by two weeks.
One possibility might be that since Bing uses rankings on Google as part of its search algorithm, a drop at Google might be reflected with a drop on Bing. Another might be that Facebook itself made some change that hurt referrals from both search engines, around that time. But we’re also checking further with PageLever for other possible explanations.
A few large unattributed spikes do show on both Bing and Google as well.
Quantcast numbers do show a aggregate drop in Facebook’s overall traffic since January, but does also show a slight peak in late February (near the launch of the official fMC event):
With the addition of Google’s Knowledge Graph sending all referrals to Google products, we can expect even a larger drop in Google referrals for Facebook pages. For a full report and statistics, see PageLever.